Online Poker Laws - Finding Legal Poker Sites for Americans

Online poker is one of America’s pastimes. Like apple pie. Or baseball. Only not as popular. At least until 2003. That’s when your average every-day-guy, Chris Moneymaker, won the WSOP Main Event after winning his seat playing a $40 satellite.

That sparked a TON of INTEREST in poker. Especially online poker. Who wouldn’t want to win millions of dollars off the back of a $40 investment? So poker exploded. Tons of real money sites launched. Review portals hit the web. Strategy forums taught you how to play better. All good things. Lots of options. Lots of variety.

But… nowadays there’s too much. There are hundreds of sites to choose from. And those review portals – do they have your best interest in mind? It gets overwhelming. It can stop some people in their tracks. They’d rather not play at all.

And that’s why we exist. We wanted to create a portal that gives in-depth, unique and helpful advice for how to get started. Things like:

What you see before you is the culmination of our hard work. I recommend you read the rest of this page. It should give you some direction for where to go next. We hope you enjoy the site.

Legal Poker Sites in 2024

Is online poker legal?

Honestly, there’s not a definitive answer.

It varies on a state-by-state basis. In fact, many states don’t have language for online gambling.

You can imagine how confusing this might be when combined with outdated or vague offline gambling statutes.

What the heck are you allowed to do?

But some states do have clear online gaming laws. Some of those states include Washington and Utah. It is illegal to play online poker here.

Then there are states like Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware – it’s legal to play poker in one of these states and in some cases casino games, too.

And if you wait a couple of months you can probably add California to that list.

But that doesn’t answer your question. What’s legal? Can you legally play poker online?

This is our best answer—

No one has been arrested for online poker. It’s unlikely you’ll be.

But – we’re not lawyers and don’t play one on TV.

So you should consult with your local authorities, lawmakers and/or a lawyer. They’ll be in a better position to advise you on what’s okay or not okay to do.

We also have some legal pages that may answer your questions.

Compare Offshore Poker Sites in 2014

Got the legalities taken care of?

Good – now you can choose a room.

This is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Each site will be different in the games, stakes, promotions and deposit options they have.

My suggestion is to write down a few things you have to have in a site. This will make the research and review process way easier.

Here are some ideas to consider jotting down:

What stakes do I want to play?

Most sites will run lower limit games, but do they run for the specific games you want to play? But what if you want to play high stakes games? Then you might need to check out a different room.

Do I want to play popular games or lesser-popular, more unique games?

All sites have your standard options – things like guaranteed tournaments, cash games, SNGs, MTTs, step tourneys, holdem, omaha, etc.

But not every site will have mixed poker, or draw poker. Not every site will have double-or-nothing SNGs.

Then you have the 100% unique games like The Cage, available only at the Winning Poker Network.

Will I want to play from my phone?

Simple question – will I always play from my computer, or will I want to play poker on the go?

This affects your decision because not every room has mobile-friendly games.

More than that, not every site has compatible native apps or instant-play software. So you’ll have to take your specific device into consideration.

Do I want a deposit bonus? VIP program? Cash back?

Most sites offer deals like deposit bonuses and cash back.

But they’re not created equally.

Some are bigger than others. Some have easier terms than others. Some have longer expiration dates.

So you have to ask yourself – is the bonus big enough to make you happy, and will you be able to clear the terms in the time allotted playing your preferred games/stakes?

And if you plan to be a regular you’ll want to check for a reoccurring rewards program. Otherwise you’re leaving money on the table.

If you have any questions about any of this, ask the support at the room you join. You can also find these details in our poker site reviews.

Bank Help – How to Fund Your Poker Account

Great – you found a room and created your account. Your next step is to make a deposit.

But… being an American this is easier said than done. The US government passed the UIGEA in 2006, which prohibits any financial institution from processing transactions to/from offshore poker sites.

What this means is that when you try to make a deposit, your bank is supposed to say hell no.

So just know that going in making a deposit might be difficult. And that goes for legal states, too.

Alright, so what options do you have?

Time frames vary from instant to 7 business days. Most times you won’t have to pay a fee for deposits, but again, this can vary.

And don’t worry if you run into issues like your bank declining your credit card. Our deposit hub and individual deposit option guides will give you some tips for how to get around it.

Ready to Take Your Game to The Next Level?

Are you a beginner trying to turn pro? Are you just trying to figure out the difference between a 3-bet and continuation bet?

Read our Strategy Section.

Reading strategy can be helpful. You learn from people that have already been there and done that, which can save you hours of frustration and hundreds, EVEN thousands of dollars.

  • Want to learn how to beat SNGs? No problem.
  • Want to know how much to raise against an early raiser? We’ve got you covered.
  • Want to know how to play pocket aces? We can help.
  • Want to know when or if to fold queens? We have the answer.

So definitely give our articles a look.

But … and this is a big but… you shouldn’t rely on strategy.

What? I just told you how good it was.

Hear me out.

At the end of the day you still need to think for yourself. Not every situation is the same. And not everyone has the same playing style, experience or mental aptitude. So you should read strategy to give yourself some ideas for how to approach similar situations.

Make sense?

On top of that you’ll need to take what we suggest and actually do something with it. Too many people read theory and never take action on what they learned.

Don’t be that guy; otherwise all that theory will go to waste.

And so will your time and money.

Summary – Where to Go From Here

After all that there’s one question remaining—

Where the heck do you go from here?

That’s up to you. There’s a lot to read on this site. The sections above should give you a good idea for where to start.

And if you’re still not sure I suggest starting with our FAQ page. We answer a lot of questions there, many that link to more in-depth pages on the site. Those can lead you down some deep rabbit holes of poker goodness.