Online poker has exploded in popularity in recent years and players have many choices when it comes to choosing poker sites. Many of the biggest and best online gambling sites have their own poker rooms and there are also loads of dedicated poker sites that focus entirely on the game. While it is great news that there are so many choices for playing poker online, it does make it a bit harder to know where to play. With such a wide variety of online poker sites, choosing which one to sign up at can be difficult.
Our main objective on this page is to rate the best online poker sites in an honest and unbiased fashion. Many poker websites claim to be the best – but we plan on putting them all to the test evaluating factors such as rakeback and bonuses, ease of deposit, speed of withdrawal, and quality of game selection/traffic at stakes you want to play at.
The poker sites listed on this page all offer a large selection of different poker games, tournaments and cash games at a variety of stakes.
Factors We Consider When Choosing Where To Play
Below are just some of the factors we are reviewing to find the best online poker sites.
- Game Variations and Formats – whether a fan of tournaments or cash games, Texas Holdem or Omaha, online poker sites should not only offer your favorite types of games, but also be able to sustain traffic at your levels.
- Tournaments – one of the great things about playing online is being able to sit down and join any type of tournament you want, often instantly. Whether a sit and go pro, or an all day multi table tournament grinder – look at tournament schedules to see what’s offered before joining.
- Cash/Ring Games – A list of easy poker sites with loose and fishy games that are easy to beat, and a guide to traffic at various poker sites for each poker game variation.
- Stakes and Limits – play at levels you are comfortable with, and have options for moving up or down.
- Rake and Fees – nothing impacts a win rate more than the rake you pay to sit at the table, evaluate offers and promotions in order to get the most cash back on your action.
- Bonuses and Rewards – Finding the best value for your money is important when considering where to play poker online, but the fine print can be confusing. Know the terms and conditions before accepting any offer. Search the best deposit bonus for every poker site, on each online poker network. Bigger isn’t always better in the case of poker deposit bonuses and often times it’s important to read the fine print and determine the exact requirements of each poker signup bonus.
- Software – having fast, user friendly platforms is important. Additional considerations include compatibility with operating system, mobile availability, and add ons.
- Legality – as we said earlier, legal markets are safe to play at and attract the most recreational players. Stick to well trusted sites that are licensed in your part of the world to be safe.
- Poker Deposit Methods – funding online poker accounts can often be frustrating and complicated. We explore the best ways to deposit money at online poker sites without excessive fees, hassle, or delays. Poker site deposits are typically made with credit cards, but some players use echecks, bank transfers, third party wallets, or pre-paid vouchers to make payments.
Reputable websites also offer game variations and formats at various stake levels and betting structures, including No Limit, Pot Limit, Spread Limit and Fixed Limit. In addition, the best online poker sites offer several ways to play their poker game types, including cash games, free rolls, sit and go tournaments and multi-table tournaments. Many of the best online poker sites also allow players with a sufficient VIP level to create their own tournaments, in which the tournament organizer can decide certain rules as well as who to invite.
Choosing Poker Sites by Game Type
The most commonly played form of poker at online poker sites is Texas Hold’em, and every poker site will have plenty of tables offering poker in this form. However, some of the other forms of poker are steadily increasing in popularity – such as Omaha – and more and more players are starting to play these alternative games. The poker sites that we have listed on this page are great options for online poker in general, but if you are looking to focus on playing a particular form of poker then you definitely need to look for a poker site that caters for you specifically.
The attributes that we have mentioned above are still the factors that you should be taking into account, but you also need to be sure that a poker site is the best option for your preferred poker game. The best poker site for playing Texas Hold’em might not necessarily be the best poker site for playing Omaha, so it is important to make the right decision based on which poker games you want to be playing.
Six Max and Short Handed Poker Games
6-max poker is the game of choice for most Texas Holdem players today because it’s so much faster and generates more action than full ring games. You spend less time waiting on other people to make up their minds on what to do and you get to play more hands because there aren’t as many monsters lurking out there (fewer people = fewer big hands).
It’s the most popular format for cash games and is even featured in a good number of tournaments. Best of all, these shorthanded tables can be found all over the internet. The best 6-max poker sites differentiate themselves in the following manner:
- Action at all stakes
- Enough shorthanded tables that there aren’t long waiting lists
- Fast-moving ring games
- Selection of 6-max tournaments and SNGs
Heads Up Poker Games
Heads up poker is often considered one of the most exciting and profitable types of poker. Heads up poker is a one-on-one game where you are playing against just one other player. Playing heads up poker can often be quite risky, but can offer excellent pay outs if you understand the strategies involved.
You will want to choose a site that has a good rake structure and a lot of traffic. Carefully consider site features such as customer service and software functionality before signing up with a site.
Bigger is Better
You may notice that a few sites show up more often than others when ranking various poker games. This is because some poker sites just have more traffic and are able to offer multiple poker variants without running into a lack of players. Big poker sites tend to fare the best when we rank the best poker sites for non-Holdem variants.
If you like to play a few different poker games, your best bet would be to go with one of the larger poker sites. These sites have a lot of money to throw at marketing and so they constantly attract new players. Not only does that mean softer games, but it also means you can try different games at will and not have to switch poker sites every time you get the itch to try something new.
Poker Game Specific Listings
At Best Gambling Sites, we have played a lot of online poker, at a lot of different online poker sites. As a result, we know exactly which poker sites are the best for the different forms of poker and have produced the following pages, which each contain a list of the best poker sites for the relevant poker game.
- Best Omaha Poker Sites
- Best Razz Poker Sites
- Best Seven Card Stud Sites
- Best Texas Hold Em Sites
- Best Draw Poker Sites
- Best Horse Poker Sites
We are also developing ratings of poker websites that are format specific:
Real Money Online Poker
Alongside the general boom of online gambling, online poker has experienced a huge upsurge in the 21st century. It is probably the most popular peer to peer game that is played online for real money, with people from all over the world playing online poker regularly. One of the most appealing things about online poker is that is a really easy game to play. The rules and the betting rounds are pretty simple you can make all your decisions with a click of your mouse. Because online poker sites have evolved so much, the whole experience of playing poker online has been greatly enhanced.
One of the reasons for the significant growth in popularity of online poker is the fact that it appeals to such a wide range of people. You will find poker players of all ages and backgrounds at the tables, and people play the game for a variety of reasons. For many it is just a bit of fun, a form of entertainment that also offers the opportunity for winning money. Others take the game very seriously and regularly win money and some people even play poker as a full time job.
As you are playing the game against other human opponents rather than the house, providing you have some skills at the game it is perfectly possible to consistently turn a profit. This guide to online poker offers some useful advice as to how you can get the most out of playing poker online for real money.
Play at ONLY Reputable Online Poker Sites
With online poker being so popular, it is not surprising that there is a large number of online poker sites for players to choose from. There are lots of gambling sites that focus on other forms of gambling, such as sports betting or casino games, that also operate their own poker room and there are many sites that specifically concentrate on poker. With such a big range of online poker sites, you could be forgiven for struggling to know which one to play at. If you want to have the best possible experience playing poker online, then you really want to stick to the top poker sites out there.
Playing at the best online poker sites will ensure that you have a decent playing experience. The top sites tend to have better graphics, better software, a good range of different games and plenty of traffic. If you are quite new to online poker, then you may like to try out a few different poker sites and see what you prefer. We would suggest sticking to the top poker sites that we recommend though, as these all have proven track records. You can find out more in our section on the best online poker sites.
Poker Bonuses and Loyalty / VIP Programs
Online poker is a really competitive market place and poker sites are constantly vying with each other to get new customers, and keep those customers playing in their poker room. The top online poker sites use a variety of marketing methods to achieve this, such as sign up bonuses and loyalty schemes. At the best online poker sites you will find generous sign up bonuses on offer, and there is basically no downside to taking advantage of these. If you are planning on playing online poker anyway, then a sign up bonus is essentially free money.
Loyalty schemes also add some great extra value to your online poker play. Poker loyalty schemes can operate in a number of different ways but the basic principle is always the same, you get rewarded based on how much poker you are playing and the stakes you are playing at. The more you play, the more you get back. Some of the loyalty schemes offered by the best online poker sites can be very generous indeed and can greatly increase the amount of money you can make out of playing poker online.
Poker VIP programs are designed to keep players happy, loyal and active. In the hyper-competitive online poker industry, player loyalty is an important concept. Every site knows how easy it is for you to take your money elsewhere, so almost every operator has some sort of VIP or rewards program.
High volume grinders are obviously going to benefit the most from any VIP program. If you’re more of a casual player, I wouldn’t place as much importance on the VIP program or worry too much about the rewards given out at higher levels. If you do plan on putting in some serious volume, it is definitely worth taking a close look at the various VIP programs that are out there.
Compare The Return On Your Rake
The most effective method to compare the value of poker VIP programs is to calculate how much of your rake is returned to you in the form of rewards. Every rewards scheme is based on some sort of frequent player points system. The speed at which points are earned is always somehow determined by how much rake you pay as you play poker.
This allows us to determine how much rake is paid for each dollar in cash and other rewards returned to the player. The higher the return-on-rake percentage, the better the VIP program is for players. The chart at the top of this page ranks poker sites by how much rake is returned to players in the form of cash and other prizes.
Healthy Traffic and Multiple Game Variations
If you love to try different poker games but hate to move the bankroll around from site to site, congratulations: you’re completely normal. No-limit Texas Holdem may be the game of choice for most of us, but there are a lot of other great poker games out that offer freshness, excitement and new challenges.
We also take into account how active the different types of games are. It doesn’t help much if a site hosts a dozen different poker variations but doesn’t get enough traffic to support it. The best poker sites for game variety have to provide the games and the traffic.
Easy Deposits with Fast Payouts
The best poker websites allow for real money play by accepting a wide variety of deposit and payout methods, including e-wallets, credit and debit cards, prepaid cards and bank transfers. Ideally, you should look for online poker websites that process deposits for free and withdrawals for a nominal fee.
Many of the best online poker sites also accept many withdrawal methods free of charge, though you may still be required to pay a fee to your actual banking method.
It’s important to note that poker banking methods are generally restricted by country, and that some online poker websites only accept a limited number of deposit methods.
Customer Support Matters
Customer support is one of those things that you hope you never have to deal with, but you like to know it’s there if you need it. Being able to get help when you need it online goes a long ways in establishing a healthy, trusting relationship between the business and the customer.
Poker sites that are open, honest and available have nothing to hide regarding their financial situations. Time and again, sites that are secretive and unwilling to give clear answers to simple questions end up having major financial troubles and delayed payouts.
How Can You Tell a Poker Site Has Quality Support?
There are two effective means for determining the level of support offered by a poker site. First of all, you can reach out to the support staff yourself and see how they respond.
Check social media and poker discussion forums to see what other people have had to say about each of these poker sites. Doing so makes it possible to draw conclusions based on a larger sample size.
Even better, some poker sites have a habit of sending representatives to poker forums to talk with players directly.
What Does Good Customer Support Look Like?
We expect to see useful contact methods and hours of availability listed clearly on the operators website.
- 24/7 Live Support
- E-Mail Support
- Live Chat
These are the main points of contact that any poker site worth your while should offer. Live support, e-mail support, honest answers and quick responses all combine to make for a positive experience for the player.
Safe Poker Sites
Finding safe poker sites isn’t difficult. Instead of relying on luck to find a safe place to play online poker, you can look at hard data to determine which sites are truly deserving of the “safe” qualifier.
Licensing and Accreditation
The number one thing to look for in terms of safety is accreditation from a respected licensing authority.
There are other things to consider, but any site that has a license from a legitimate gaming commission is always going to be significantly safer than a site that doesn’t hold such a distinction.
You don’t have to take a site’s word for that it is accredited. Most reputable licensing authorities publish a list of licensees on the authority’s website. A look at this list will confirm that any particular site does indeed hold a license under that agency.
It’s also important to note the licensing agency itself. In some countries, anyone with enough money can get a “legitimate” license. Licenses issued by those authorities don’t tell the whole story. Other agencies, such as the UK Gambling Commission, are highly regarded.
Time in Business
Poker sites that have been in business for a long time are more likely to be safe places to play.
In general, sites that fail to operate with integrity tend to go out of business. Word spreads quickly if a site has problems paying winners or operating safe games.
Segregated Player Accounts
Most legitimate online poker licensing authorities require all player deposits to be held in a secure account separate from that poker site’s normal operating account. The purpose of segregation is to ensure the poker site always has enough money on hand to honor all deposits, even if every player asked for a withdrawal on the same day.
Withdrawal times only become apparent after a site has been in business long enough to build a reputation. The best way to verify payout times is to talk to other players. In doing research for this page, I looked at my own experiences and visited poker discussion forums to see reports from other players about withdrawal times. Eventually, you can get a fairly accurate gauge of the average withdrawal time at popular poker sites.
Poker sites in regulated markets tend to have the fastest payout times.
The safest poker sites are well prepared to detect, deter and prevent cheating.
Player identification serves as the first step in ensuring your safety. The first time you ask for a withdrawal from a poker site, you may be asked to scan and e-mail a copy of your driver’s license and proof of address. This may be an annoyance, but it helps avoid identity theft.
Additionally, secure poker sites have automated systems that look for signs of collusion. If suspicious playing patterns are detected (such as one player consistently folding superior hands to another player), the software flags the involved players and brings it to the attention of human security personnel. The security team will then take a look and determine if further action is necessary.
Loose and Fishy Poker Sites
The single most effective method for making more money with poker is to play in fishy games against loose opponents. Weak opponents call way too many bets as they chase too many draws and get too attached to subpar hands. Whatever their rationale, loose players are always good to see at the table.
There are a few ways to determine which online poker sites are the loosest.
Players to the Flop
If you visit the cash game lobby of most poker sites, you will see a stat for “players to the flop” listed next to each table. This stat tells you how many players, on average, see the flop every hand. The higher this number is, the looser the table is playing.
Average Pot Size
You can also take a look at the average pot size statistic provided in the lobby of most poker sites. This number tells you about how large the average pot has been over a certain number of recent hands. Bigger numbers are better as they indicate lots of money is moving around, which in turn indicates the table is playing loose.
Average pot size is only a moderately reliable indicator because it can be easily skewed.
Mobile Poker Sites and Apps
The best mobile poker sites take one of two approaches to deliver the games to your device. One method is to send you to a specially formatted section of their website that requires no download. All you do is sign in with your existing account and you’re ready to go.
Some sites in regulated markets even have apps in the official app store. If you go this route, you can save the app to your phone and then play as normal.
Some mobile poker apps even support multi-tabling, but you probably won’t be able to manage as many tables at a time due to screen space limitations.