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How to Play Online Poker in the USA

How to Play Online Poker in the USA

Many events of 2020 made for jaw-dropping headlines, but one news that flew under the radar is that online poker is back in style, with user activity up more than 25%. While everyone knows that the world’s most popular card game ruled the world in the early to mid-2000s, riding the coattails of the movie Rounders and occasional WSOP telecasts, it began to fizzle out post-2006. However, during this period between 2000-2006, its player pool doubled each year. At one point, it seemed that playing real money poker on the internet stood a shot of becoming most American’s new favorite pastime.

Sadly, once the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 passed, many poker platforms shut down, while others left the United States altogether. Today, no federal law prohibits US players from enjoying this game online, but only four states allow it. These are Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Currently, 888 is the only poker platform that shares players between three states (Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware). 

That is why most US residents prefer to play at offshore sites. Below we explain how to get started with this hobby and list what many believe are the best and most trustworthy options in a sea packed with fierce competitors.

How to Open a Poker Account from the USA?

Never sign-up with a gambling platform without first doing your due diligence. Naturally, this requires some work. An easier route is to read US-friendly poker site reviews. Google the top interactive gaming info hubs and go through their analysis of the digital poker room that has caught your eye.

These review hubs provide in-depth articles that inform you of fine print and help you avoid common pitfalls with specific operators. For example, they will tell you if a site has a gaming license or not. Non-US operators face the same amount of scrutiny as state-regulated ones from international overseeing bodies. Curaçao master license holders, of which there are four, are the most popular choice for most offshore gambling companies.

That said, making the right choice as to where to play involves more than picking an operator with a terrific reputation. You also have to factor in the bonuses on offer and your deposit/withdrawal options. Poker promotion-wise, the most common deals you’ll find are no deposit bonus, a first-deposit one, and a Rakeback deal.

The Bonuses

No deposit bonuses are a rare thing, and they entail free playing funds without any deposit. Though the sum offered is never substantial and often falls in the $5 to $20 range. 

A first-deposit bonus usually involves percentage matching. Meaning, the operator will match the funds you place into your account up to a specific amount. For example, a 50% up to $200 promo means that if you make a first deposit of $200, the platform will award you $100. If you first fulfill the set conditions of their offer. 

A Rakeback deal provides a specified percentage of your rake back from the games you have participated in, typically between 10% to 30%. Other less popular deals include free-rolls, reload bonuses, and referral commissions. Always opt for any offer that features favorable terms. If you are a newbie, look at poker site reviews to see what they say on this subject.

Depositing and withdrawing funds from gambling sites is super-easy. All you have to do is follow simple instructions in the cashier/banking tab inside your profile page. All deposits should go through instantly, with your funds landing in your poker account within seconds. However, when it comes to withdrawals, things can drag out if you opt for a method such as a credit/debit card or a bank transfer. 

Remember that cryptocurrencies are the fastest way to get united with your money, and they provide anonymity. If they are not available, or if you do not have any digital coins, the next best option to use is e-wallets. Remember to check the processing times and associated fees provided by your operator. If you cannot find these, look them up in a poker site review.


BetOnline is a super-old poker site and one of the largest digital sportsbooks. Based in Panama, this industry pioneer has been around since 2001. However, it wasn’t until 2011 that it launched its poker section. In the beginning, BetOnline utilized the Chico Poker Network. In 2016, they established their proprietary software, developed by Connective Games. The platform also has a casino section that features close to 250 slots from Betsoft and Concept Gaming and a live lobby from Fresh Deck Studios.

BetOnline provides a welcome offer that will match your first deposit 100% up to $1,000 if you use the promo code – NEWBOL on sign-up. This site features impressive VIP Rakeback deals that can go up to 40% and a progressive prize via its Bad Beat Jackpot. It specializes in Texas Hold’em and Omaha, and it has re-buy, deep stack, freeze-out, and turbo tournaments. 

You can use six cryptocurrencies for deposits and withdrawals, but Visa and MasterCard are only available for funding your account. If you are not a crypto fan and want to remove your BetOnline funds, you will have to do it with a bank wire transfer or Check by Courier. 


Technically, Bovada has been around since the mid-1990s, as it is the brainchild of Canadian entrepreneur Calvin Ayre, who launched his digital gambling empire in 1996. In 2000, he established Bodog.com, and due to the passing of UIGEA, in 2011, he rebranded his US domain as Bovada. 

Thus, this is the North American brand of gambling juggernaut Bodog, which offers everything from sports and casino betting to poker and racehorse wagering. Though Bovada is best known as a sportsbook, its poker section is equally impressive, and its casino lobby isn’t shabby at all. The latter boasts 350 products from Rival Gaming, RTG, and Betsoft.

Bovada offers a sign-up deal that matches your first deposit 100% up to $500 if you type in the coupon code – PWB500 upon registration. Once you unlock this offer, you will have to download the Bovada app and begin earning poker reward points. Your free funds depend on your first deposit, but you will start unlocking this deal in increments of $5 for every 150 rewards points earned by playing poker. 

These points get credited upon exiting a cash game or finishing a tournament. Bovada’s VIP program bears the name the Red Room. You will have to contact the support staff to find out how you can join this club. Once you do, you will get treated to exclusive cash rewards, personalized service, and super-fast payouts. Speaking of money transfers, you can deposit funds via crypto and Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Union Pay. Yet, you can only make a withdrawal using Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Check by Courier, and through vouchers.


Though not a world-renowned brand, Intertops has a special place in gambling history. It is responsible for many firsts in this sphere. Few know that Intertops was the original mobile betting site. It was the initial platform to make a casino/sports/poker centralized player bank. It was also the first operator to accept an internet sports wager. Thus, its reliability is not in question, even though it has an obscure license from Saint Kitts and Nevis.

When it comes to poker, Intertops boasts one of the highest flat Rakeback deals ever. A lucrative 36% Rakeback program. That means that each time the site collects a rake of $28 from you, it pays back ten bucks. The welcome deal consists of an offer that matches your deposited funds 200% up to $1,000, and it features a rare 90-day deadline. 

On top of this, Intertops provides three no deposit bonuses, reload offers, and a loyalty program. Inside the latter, you accumulate frequent player points that you can turn into gold chips. You can make deposits on this platform using Visa and MasterCard, but you cannot withdraw your funds via these options. For that, you will have to rely on cryptocurrencies, bank transfers, and Check by Courier.

Online poker has made its long-awaited comeback. Even though the internet is swimming with platforms salivating to have you as a player, do not sign-up with any ole website. You must research operators before depositing any funds and sitting at their virtual tables. If you cannot do the required legwork, select one of the three options listed above or others with glowing reviews from premium iGaming review hubs. 

Remember to pay close attention to the transaction options at all poker platforms. Unnecessary fees or long processing times can sour your poker experience. Also, make sure to take advantage of any worthwhile bonus and always gamble responsibly.

About the Author

Shelly Schiff is an online gambling maven that has worked professionally in this industry for over a decade. Since 2009, she has been steadily providing countless gaming websites with quality
content but is best known for her work at Online United States Casinos, a premium online
casino review site. Shelly has in-depth knowledge of slots and is super-passionate about the
crypto side of the gambling sector. In her free time, she loves listening to 1980s rock music and
playing with her dog, Garry.