Poker is one of the oldest games in the world of gambling. Its existence dates back to China and the Middle East. However, it is in New Orleans, Louisiana, that Poker is said to receive popularity. The game was known as ‘Poque’ among the players and would take place in gambling dens. The game would then spread in other areas in the country and overseas.
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What to Know About Poker in the US
After ‘Poque’ which was introduced by some French Sailors in New Orleans, a second card game gained its entry in the same way. This time it was a British game ‘Brag’ that would be played with only 20 cards on the deck. The gambling dens in New Orleans took shape and picked up thanks to Louisiana residents and travelers. Poker eventually spread through ports as New Orleans was a French colony situated in the Mississippi River Delta. This saw the birth of steamboat gambling in the 18th century.
The decks were then expanded to a 52-card set as opposed to the original 20-card set. The 52-card set is still the commonly used deck to date. The 5-card poker version also saw its evolution to a drawing game with an incentive of an additional round of betting making the pot sweeter. This period saw hands including the ‘flush’ where five cards would be contained all of the same suit. In the 1860s, ‘straight’ hands followed which would contain five consecutive cards not restricted to any suit.
Roll on the years, Poker is enjoyed globally with different variations introduced. However, what is common is that the rules and decks have been standardized. The main aim behind Poker is making the best hand you can manage with the cards you are dealt with. The years saw the 5-card draw poker game shifting to stud poker which was a 7-card game. Texas Hold’em would revolutionize the Poker industry and currently, the variant has been the most popular in the Poker industry.
The US has seen the Poker industry computerized over the 21st century thanks to the evolution of technology. Many bets would be taken until 2006 when UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) became effective. The bill made it ‘illegal’ for banks to process any transaction that stemmed from the poker platforms. This was as a result of fear of money laundering. The bill saw some poker sites leaving the US market while others continued offering the services. This also was to stop in 2011 after the US Department of Justice shut down all the sites that had remained.
However, the US poker market slowly shifted to state-by-state regulations which opened an avenue for players to play poker in the land-based casinos and online. By the end of 2017, three states had legalized online poker. They included; Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. This year also saw Pennsylvania become the fourth state to legalize online poker in the US.
Top Features in Poker Sites You Need to Look Out For
So what is it in an online poker site? Many factors will come into play when choosing the right poker site. Some of the factors in determining among the best poker sites will include;
Licensing and security
This is key in distinguishing between a fraud casino and a legitimate casino. For poker sites in Nevada, the Nevada Gaming Control Board will license the operators while New Jersey and Delaware states will have the New Jersey Casino Control Commission licensing the activities. Poker activities in Pennsylvania have been licensed by the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board. Additionally, security is another key component especially with crucial information being relayed on the platform. Sites with 128-bit SSL encryption will be good to go.
Promotions and bonuses
The sites should offer incentives to attract and retain players on the platforms. This will be done effectively by offering bonuses stemming from welcome bonuses among other bonuses including loyalty bonuses. The bonuses should also be high-valued to attract more traffic.
The sites should make it easy to withdraw funds and this should be done fast with less or no hassles.
The sites should offer flexible and convenient payment methods. This means that a variety of them should be offered and that the same method used should be available for both deposits and withdrawals.
The software incorporated on the online site is another key aspect to look up for. A reliable gaming software ensures that you get among the best experience through the different gaming themes, sounds, games, and top-notch graphics. What’s more, the providers employed offer other crucial aspects such as security and fast payouts.
A good site will ensure that it offers effective customer service. This stems from the methods they offer of solving queries that may arise. The availability of the team is also crucial. A 24/7 available team will be the most recommended.
The following online poker sites have met many if not all, the factors listed above and they come out as the best poker sites in the US;
A Closer Look on the Top Poker Sites in the US
PokerStars is the biggest poker operator in the world thanks to its huge variety of cash games it offers and the various tournaments incorporated. The first login welcomes you to a platform that offers high-reliability, a myriad of customization tools, fast play, and impressive multi-table options.
New players on the platform will be welcomed with a free play bonus of $30 when they make their first deposit of $20. The code ‘FREE30’ will be used to redeem the offer. On the $30 free play bonus, the first $20 will be awarded as a cash bonus while the remaining $10 will be awarded in tickets to play ‘Spin & Go’ tournaments. Additionally, a new player will also be offered a deposit bonus where his/her first deposit will be awarded a 100% bonus up to $600. The code to redeem the offer will be ‘STARS600’. The minimum deposit required will be $10.
PokerStars offers a variety of cash games including;
- Texas Hold’em Stud 8-Game Mix
- Omaha Stud Hi/Lo Hold’em/Omaha
- Omaha Hi/Lo Razz Badugi
- 5 Card Omaha Five Card Draw
- 5 Card Omaha Hi/Lo 2-7 Triple Draw
- Courchevel 2-7 Single Draw
- Courchevel Hi/Lo HORSE
More to it, PokerStars has also offered tournaments to players that have fitted both groups of gamblers (low stake and high rollers). Additionally, PokerStars has offered the tournaments that fit each preference a player may have on the platform. The majority of the events offered require medium buy-ins and are run often on the platform while those that require smaller buy-ins turn out to be slightly loose yet juicy. High rollers can have some of the tournaments with buy-ins of $500 and more with the prize pools going above $1 million.
A point to note is that the big buy-in events are harder to win the tournament thanks to the huge competition. However, the smaller buy-in events are likely to offer returns to the skilled players. Daily tournaments are offered with some of them having a minimum buy-in of $5 and a potential prize pool of $500. Other major tournaments include Spin & Go where with a minimum buy-in of $1, a player stands a chance to win up to $25,000 in minutes. Sunday Majors are other popular tournaments offered on the site. The events will be; Sunday Warm-up, Sunday Storm, Sunday Special, Sunday High-Roller, and Sunday Supersonic.
PokerStars also allows players to participate in tournament annual series such as SCOOP, COOP, and Turbo Series.
PokerStars has offered a mobile platform where through phone browsers or an app, players can access some of the games and tournaments. The payment methods allowed on the platform include; Visa/MasterCard, Skrill, Instant eChecks, PayPal, Stars Transfer, PayNearMe, Cash at the Resorts Cage, and PokerStars Play+ Card. The withdrawal methods, however, are limited. Contacting the customer support team is through a form you will submit on the ‘Contact us’ page.
Formerly known as Pacific Poker, 888 Poker is another huge and yet popular poker site in the world that has had its operations in the US. The major competitive edge that 888 Poker boasts over many poker sites is that its access is available in all the states that have legalized poker. The platform has seen more than 25 million customers playing on the poker section which is an impressive number.
New players on the platform will be welcomed with a no-deposit bonus of $20. This will be after the successful registration of an account with the site. Additionally, a deposit bonus will also be offered after making the first deposit of at least $10. A 100% bonus up to $1,500 will be awarded. This means if you deposited $50, you will be awarded an additional $50 and together, you will have $100 to play with.
The first login welcomes you to a platform with stunning 3D Table graphics, impressive multi-tabling abilities, intuitive design with a clean layout fitted with search functions. A variety of game options have been offered on the platform alongside various cash games, tournaments, and sit & go’s that are available 24/7 to the players. An impressive number of games in the three main variants (Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and 7 Card Stud) have also been offered. Below are the games;
- Texas Hold’em
- Omaha Hi
- Omaha Hi/Lo
- Seven Card Stud
- Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo
A BLAST Sit & Go game has also been provided which incorporates up to 4 players that compete for a randomly prize pool in a set period. Every buy-in made gives a player up to 10,000 chances for a prize pool play. In the tournament section, BLAST Poker, Multi Table Tournaments, and Sit & Go Tournaments have all been offered. The Multi-Table Tournaments and Sit & Go tournaments have buy-ins that go for as low as $.01 up to $600.
888 Poker has rolled out a mobile platform where players can access the site using their phone browsers or an app that is available for Android and iOS users. A good selection of payment methods has also been offered including; Visa/MasterCard, ACH, PayPal, Prepaid Card, Cash at the Cage, and Online Banking.
Launched in 2001, Party Poker has also been a major player in the US market. The site is accessible to the New Jersey residents where they can access various cash games, tournaments, Sit & Go tournaments, and fast-fold poker events at any time.
New players on the platform are welcomed with a free play bonus of up to $30 when they make the first deposit of at least $10. After successful registration, the platform welcomes you to a site boasting of crisper graphics, live previews, a large table design, and improved multi-tabling options.
Cash games have their minimum buy-ins going for as long as $.01/$.02 up to $200/$400. Some of them include; Fixed limit Hold’em, Pot-limit Omaha, and Short Deck. Fast fold/fast forward games, on the other hand, have offered their stakes for as low as $.01/$.02 up to $5/$10 giving players a seat at Pot Limit Omaha or No-Limit Hold’em. Sit & Go stakes go as low as $1.10 up to $5,200.
In the tournament section, Party poker has revolutionized the game and offered events that can take up to 1000 entrants including; the KO Series, POWERFEST, and Monster Series. They have also offered Party Poker live tour where tournaments such as MILLIONS, WPT, and WSOP are available. The MILLIONS tournament has its prize pools between $/£5 million to $/£10 million. WPT tournament prize pools range between $/£1.5 million to $/£3 million while WSOP tournament has its prize pool at $/£1 million
A mobile platform is rolled out and those players who wish to play some of the games using their phones can download the app from the website. Many services can be accessed through the app including payment transactions. The payment methods offered on the platform include; Visa/MasterCard, Skrill, Neteller, PayPal, UKash, ClickandBuy, PayNearMe, Click2Pay, Instant Banking, and Bank Transfer.
With its doors opened in 2017, Pala Poker has operated in the New Jersey market and offered players a limited number of game options to choose from. Pala Poker, compared to all the other sites in this piece, is not the biggest. However, players will have some of the games and tournaments to play.
New players on the platform will be welcomed with a $25 no-deposit bonus after successful account creation. The first $10 bonus will be awarded as Poker Dollars while the remaining $15 will be awarded as a Casino Bonus. Additionally, a deposit bonus will be awarded after making the first deposit of at least $10. A 100% bonus up to $500 will be awarded.
Pala Poker has offered 3 variants to the players. They include; Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and 7-Card Stud. They have attached the necessary rules you need to understand and follow as you play your favorite game. The tournament section has only included the Daily Tournaments offered on the platform. Pala Poker needs to lay more emphasis on the number of games provided and the game options offered. They have been far much limited.
That notwithstanding, Pala Poker has offered a friendly website with clear and sizeable text, impressive layout with great navigation tools such as drop-down tools.
A mobile application is provided and on a successful download, players can access some of the cash games and tournaments, access the bonuses, deposit and withdraw funds and contact customer service. The following methods are available for deposits and withdrawals; Visa/MasterCard, PayPal, ACH Bank Transfer, Online Banking, Pala Prepaid Card, PayNearMe, and Cash at Borgata Cage. Pala Poker boasts of 24/7 customer service and the following modes can be used to reach them; Phone Support, Email, and Live Chat
Last update : January 2020