How to Choose a US Poker Site

Finding a poker site post Black Friday can be difficult, especially a poker site that you can trust. The last thing you want to happen is you deposit your money online and lose it due to a poker site being shut down or being dishonest and running off with your money. So it’s very important that you do your due diligence and research each room before you sign up and make your first deposit. I’ve explained this in more detail below.

How is Choosing a US Poker Site Different Than a Non-US Poker Site?

Okay, so first off, choosing a US poker site is going to be different than a non-US poker site because there are more restrictions in the US, and as a result, there are fewer poker sites that allow US players.

Almost all of this can be contributed to the laws that prevent banking transactions to take place between the customer and the poker site. US banks and financial institutes are not supposed to complete transactions between the two parties, so as a result, fewer rooms decide to participate in the US market.

On top of that you have several states within the US that are 100% against online gambling.

In other words US players cannot just sign up to any old room like non-US poker players can.

Not only that, but not all of the poker sites in US are worth signing up to. So that makes choosing a US poker site that much more difficult. And below I want to highlight the few things that I feel US players should check out first before signing up, depositing and playing at a US poker website.

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Important Things to Look For Before Signing Up to a US Poker Site

Okay so there are two things that I think you should look for and research before signing up to a US based poker site.

Reputation – Reputation is going to be most important factor when choosing what room to play at. If your room has a shady or poor reputation, then it’s not going to be in your best interest to play there. Most shady rooms will eventually stick you whether it’s not paying you for a big tournament score, cashing out your money or just closing up shop without notice.

This is a bigger issue now compared to before Black Friday. Not that this issue didn’t exist, it’s not that at all. However, before Black Friday most players played at PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. So they didn’t play at the shady poker sites, nor did the shady poker site have much of an opportunity in the US market.

However, since PokerStars and Full Tilt had to leave the US market, it left the door wide open for any poker site to enter the market and accept American players. Many of these sites that are running today have been in business for less than one year, maybe two. And sadly, most of the rooms that are in business haven’t gone those one or two years without complaints and banking issues.

So you want to check a poker site’s reputation before signing up. There are a number of ways to do this:

  • Check out a poker forum such as PartTimePoker or 2+2. If there is a problem with payouts or security you’ll likely here it from one of these sources first.
  • Online poker news sites.
  • Poker affiliate forums. Often times when players get screwed, affiliates were being screwed well beforehand.

Banking – Banking options are another important factor to look at before choosing what poker site to play at. It’s not just the banking options either, but the entire money transaction process.

For the banking options, all you need to do is visit the poker site in question and check out their banking page. This page will tell you what options they accept, what limits there are and the frequency in which you can make a deposit or a withdrawal. So this is very simple.

Payouts on the other hand are a little bit harder to gauge especially without signing up and playing at the site first. However, what you can do is once again check out the forums and see if there are any threads on the payout times for that poker site. If a poker site isn’t paying players you should be able to find out right away. Also check for payout times. A week to two weeks is going to be pretty good, and a month is probably standard for US players. I’d start to worry a little if I haven’t seen anything for almost 2 months or longer.

What About the “Other Stuff?” VIP, Bonuses, Games, etc…

I wouldn’t worry about all the standard stuff that you would usually research and compare between poker sites, including the games, bonuses and VIP programs. Obviously it would be nice if you could find a poker site that has all of the things you want, but at the end of the day it’s more important to find a site that is safe and honest. Being in the US you’ll have to take what you get.

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What Are the Possible Dangers of Playing Online From the US

I wanted to point out a couple possible dangers of playing online poker from the US. I’m not doing this to scare you from playing online, but instead I just want to make sure that you’re informed. That way you can make the most educated decision possible with your money.

There are a number of these so I will just include them in bullet point form and include a brief description or explanation:

Poker Site Shuts Down – This is probably going to be the thing I’d fear the most. We saw PokerStars, Full Tilt, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet get shut down and only one poker site survived (PokerStars). All of the others were forced to shut down, file bankruptcy and players still haven’t received their money.

One way to avoid this is to make sure that you play at US poker sites that are not using a .com domain. This is out of the jurisdiction of the DOJ, so they won’t be able to be shut the site down and force them out of the US.

Poker Site Runs with Your Money – Because so many sites online have been online for less than a year, it’s hard to say which rooms are trustworthy and which rooms are not. Many rooms also start up with very little capital because it’s so cheap nowadays to start an online poker site. Any genius with 10k can do it. As a result, they are not prepared for the bad things that can happen, and if/when this happens, who do you think will get shafted. You, obviously.

How to Reduce Your Risk

If you’re still going to play online then there are a couple of things that you can do to reduce the risk of losing all of your money.

  • Only play with what you can afford to lose. This is common gambling advice, but it holds truer for US players. In fact, I would only play online for fun and only deposit $25 or $50. I wouldn’t deposit my entire bankroll; at least not at one poker site.
  • Another option is to spread your bankroll amongst several sites. Of course this is assuming that you can even find a couple poker sites worthy to play at. However, the idea here is to spread the risk, so that if one room is shut down or goes out of business, then you don’t lose as much money. It might also give you enough time to withdrawal your funds from the other poker sites before losing it.

Again, this isn’t a scare tactic to keep you from playing online, but I think it’s important to understand what to look for and understand what your risks are. That way you can do everything possible to minimize those risks so that you don’t end up getting burned again.