Reviewing the Safest Poker Sites in 2020
Before you enjoy real money poker sites, you need to make sure your bankroll will be safe. While most trusted poker sites are reputable brands, avoiding the rogues should be a top priority for all players. This page covers the key factors involved in making sure you can play online poker safely and securely.
List of the Safest Poker Sites
The information on this page will help you play online poker with complete peace of mind. Here is what you will find:
- What Keeps the Deal Fair?
- Website Security
- Safe and Secure Ways to Get Money On & Off Site
- Terms and Conditions
- Most Trusted Poker Sites Licensing and Oversight
- Which are safe US poker sites?
After these factors are explained, you will find a list of the biggest and best poker rooms for U.S. and international players – with an overview of the safety measures in place for each.
Safe Poker: Is the Deal Fair?
- Prepaid Visa gift cards
- Money Transfer
- E-Wallet Services
- Wires/Bank Transfers
One of the biggest concerns online poker players have about the hobby is whether the deal is fair. When you are on the receiving end of a bad beat, it can feel like the online poker site is rigged against you.
While this is a common concern, the math does not back up the many claims. Since online poker began, there have been billions of hands dealt. Large-scale testing, player databases and tracking services are unanimous in acknowledging that the shuffle is random.
To back up their claims, the most trusted poker sites regularly use independent auditing companies. Games are tested over millions of hands, and any discrepancies highlighted. Good sites have their deal checked regularly and will display certificates or links to their results. Look out for the following names:
Website Security and Safe Poker
Of all the elements which go into making online gambling safe, website security is the easiest to check. All browsers use the ‘Secure’ tag to show sites which have valid security certificates. SSL is only the start of it. You can check the ‘about us’ information at all the main rooms for information on how your personal data is held. At the time of writing, there have been no data breaches at legit online poker sites for personal or payment data.
Depositing and Withdrawing Safely at Online Poker Sites
You’ll have a lot of options for depositing at real money poker sites. Which you choose will depend on your location (U.S. sites have fewer options due to banking restrictions) and your personal attitude to risk.
Credit cards and debit cards are the easiest way to deposit for both U.S. and international players. Using these is the same as shopping online – and very fast.
Alternative deposit methods which are even safer include the following:
- Bitcoin / Cryptocurrencies: All of the offshore safe U.S. poker sites now accept Bitcoin, including Bovada. This is the most secure of all deposit methods. It is also cheaper and faster than many alternatives.
- Prepaid Visa Cards: There are two types of prepaid options. First are the Visa gift cards that you buy from gas stations or convenience stores. These work like regular cards (for U.S. online poker players, you’ll need to get brands which work for international payments). The second type is ‘Virtual’ cards, which work via an online account. Examples include PaySafeCard (a card-like voucher system) and ecoCard / ecoPayz.
- Money Transfer: This is sometimes known as person-to-person transfer. Here you will use services like Western Union or MoneyGram.
- Electronic Wallet Services: This deposit method is ideal for online poker players who want to put a secure third party between their bank and the poker rooms.
- Wires / Bank Transfers: Many secure poker sites will accept bank wires, though the fees for these mean they are more suitable for bigger deposits.
This is not an exhaustive list. You will find many local options around the world, and more brands which fit into the categories above. From a safety perspective, you can choose the method which suits your attitude to risk the best.
Terms and Conditions and Poker Site Safety
The mark of a good reliable poker site is that they administer their bonuses in a fair and straightforward manner. Good online poker games have clear terms and will not void bonuses for small things like playing the wrong games.
Play-through or points requirements to clear bonuses are very different across the sites. You need to ensure that that excellent bonus deal is not impossible to clear due to slow point accumulation or limited time.
Reputable brands have ongoing rewards and promotions to boost the bankroll of loyal players. If you see a big headline bonus, and no promotions, it is possible that that room is not somewhere people hang around for long.
In addition to the bonus terms, look for a responsible gaming policy. This shows how seriously the safest online poker sites take problem online gambling. The best sites have self-exclusion and deposit limits, which players can volunteer to have in place.
Poker Site Licensing
Operating licenses are a great sign that you have found a secure and reputable room. There are very few reputable sites without a license.
Jurisdictions that license poker games will depend on the market they are serving. Big international sites do not accept players from the U.S. These sites are licensed in Malta, Gibraltar or the Isle of Man. In addition, many countries have their own site licensing setup. The U.K. Gambling Commission is among the strictest. A poker site licensed by them is more likely to be safe.
For U.S. sites, licenses are awarded by Caribbean nations and Central American countries. Jurisdictions include Antigua, Curacao and Panama. You will also find sites which are licensed by the Kahnawake tribe.
While the lack of a poker operations license should not stop you from playing poker at a site, it should mean your checks on reputation, RNG testing and security need to be more thorough.
Are There Any Safe Poker Sites for U.S. Players?
Since the big shakeup of Black Friday in 2011, a new group of legal online poker sites has taken over serving the U.S. market. These sites operate legally from the Caribbean or Central America – and have growing player bases.
Bovada / Ignition Poker: Bovada is the single biggest U.S.-friendly poker room by a wide margin. This site has a very long track record of looking after players well and paying out winnings quickly. Their site is secure and tested (by iTech Labs) and a wide range of deposit options, including Bitcoin, are available. You can find out more in our detailed Bovada Poker review.
Americas Cardroom: This site is part of the Winning Poker Network. ACR Poker is licensed by the government of Curacao. Their games are tested and their website secure. With more than eight years of online gambling experience, this is considered one of the best and safest U.S. poker sites, which is open to international markets too.
BetOnline / Sportsbetting Poker: This site recovered from some historical payment scandals and is now under new management. They are part of the ‘Chico Poker Network.’ Both rooms are licensed in Panama.
Know Your Customer Checks and Safe Poker Sites
Document / ID checks are something which divide players. Many reputable sites will ask for ID. This can happen when you make a deposit, and if not, it will always happen when you make your first withdrawal. Typical requests include a picture of your photo ID, and proof of address. Some sites also ask for a picture of both sides of your credit card (you can black out some of the numbers).
Our view on these is that they protect player funds as they do the poker sites. Without them, poker games would be the target of fraud and money laundering – making the games unsafe for regular players.