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Online Poker for Real Money: An Expert Guide

Posted by Elliot Nield on
Last updated:

Our expert online poker guide will help you find the best poker sites, explain why real money games are so popular, walk you through the poker deposit process, highlight bonus offers and promotions, and share some tips for beginners.

  • What is online poker?
  • What are some popular variations of online poker?
  • What are the advantages vs. regular poker?
  • What are my deposit options?
  • What are some tips to winning online poker?

Best Online Poker Sites for US Players

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Advantages to Playing Poker Online

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Convenience

At the end of the day, online technologies do provide convenience. This ease of use is why online poker continues to gain new players and rise in popularity. No longer is there a need to book a hotel and a flight to Vegas or Atlantic City, sit in traffic on the way to a local casino or nag your buddies into hosting poker night at their house this time. You can hop into a poker game from the comfort of your own home without getting off the couch or putting down your mobile device.

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Variety

With so many online poker game variations, there’s a little bit of something for every taste. If you’re not a fan of Texas Hold’em, no problem, just hop into the next Omaha or Five-Card Draw session.

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Always a Seat at the Table

Most online poker casinos offer multiple rooms and tables. So, if you join a table and see there are no open seats, simply exit and find the next one. Due to the popularity of the online poker sites highlighted at the top of this page, games are always on and seats are always available.

A Timeline of Poker in the United States

From its inception in the early 1800s and for decades to follow, poker was known for its intimate in-person setting, with players positioned around a gaming table. Over the past 20 years, the iconic game has embraced technological advances. Online poker in the United States popped up in the late 1990s via the IRC (internet relay chat) format and opened up a new digital world for players that eventually led to the creation of Planet Poker, the first site to offer real money poker.

In the years to follow, more online poker sites were born and paved a new pathway to Las Vegas’ World Series of Poker. Online tournaments’ top prizes were a coveted seat at the main event. Once Chris Moneymaker not only won a seat via a PokerStars online satellite tournament, but became the 2003 WSOP Main Event champion, the digital poker boom erupted.

In the eight years to follow, more casual at-home players took their “talents” to the internet in hopes of becoming the next Moneymaker or Greg Raymer. As a result, more and more online poker sites were born to address the heavy demand. You could say poker enjoyed a renaissance during the first decade of the 21st century.

However, it was also short-lived. In April 2011, on what would become known as “Black Monday,” the federal government seized the three largest online poker site operators, PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute. The poker boom came to a screeching halt.

Black Friday forced offshore operators to step up their regulatory measures, which third-party authorities keep tabs on throughout the year. Only the top regulated sites manage to thrive in this online poker environment, such as the ones we recommend near the top of this page.

Learn about US online gambling history.

Poker - 4 of a kind

Deposit Options

After you sign up for a new online casino account, you’ll need to visit the cashier to make your first deposit. As you can see in the sample chart below, most online poker sites accept major credit cards and bank wire transfers, but cryptocurrencies have become a viable option in recent years and, depending on the casino, Bitcoin and the like enjoy generous deposit bonuses.

When you visit the cashier, you’ll provide financial information over an encrypted website so you can be assured those details are safe and secure. Once the deposit is processed, you’ll see the balance on your account reflect the amount added. From there, you can make your way to the online casino’s poker room.

Deposit Options Chart

Deposit Options Chart

Minimum/Maximum Deposits

Promotions are extremely common at the best online poker sites. Most large poker sites offer an initial deposit bonus, which matches your deposit up to a certain dollar amount (100% up to $500, for example). Poker bonuses are usually released in increments based on the stakes and number of hands you play. Other promotions to look for include bad beat jackpots, loyalty programs, rakeback, and giveaways to major tournaments like the WSOP. Be sure to do your homework on deposits and withdrawals before signing up for a new online casino account.

Read on below for a list of deposit options, and their likely limits for minimum and maximum deposits.

Deposit Type Min-Max Deposits
Bitcoin $20 – $100,000
Ethereum $20 – $100,000
Ripple $20 – $100,000
Litecoin $20 – $100,000
Bitcoin Cash $20 – $100,000
Visa $50 – $2,500
Mastercard $50 – $2,500
American Express $50- $2,500
Person to Person $100 – $600
Money Orders $300 – $9,000
Bank Wire Transfer $1,000 – No Max
Check $1,500- $15,000

Tips For Winning at Online Poker

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Position Matters

Table position does play a factor in online poker strategy. If you are one of the last players to bet on any given hand – known as late position – you are at an advantage because you get to see if previous players bet, raise, fold or check before making a decision. This can allow you to be more or less aggressive with your next move. If the rest of the table checks and you’re holding two KINGS, perhaps a raise is in order or you could slow-play the hand, lure them in and fatten the pot.

 

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Manage your Bankroll, and Plan Ahead

The best bankroll advice is: plan ahead. Know before you sit down at a table cash game or tournament how much you want to bet, have to bet and, if needed, how much you want to reload should you hit a cold streak. Don’t budge from the budget and your online poker experience will be an enjoyable one.

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Study Up

If you’re new to online poker or poker in general, it’s a good idea to study the game before you jump in and wager real money. Join an ongoing poker session, but don’t sit down. Get the lay of the land and how each hand works, including betting amounts and pace. By doing this, you’re improving your chances of winning in the early going, while you continue to build a knowledge base. No poker player is perfect and if you do your homework, anybody can find the edge needed to win the next pot or tournament.

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