Best Legal Online Poker

Are you looking for the best US legal online poker sites or a real money poker app? If the answer is yes, then you came to the right place. This is one of our many online poker reviews where you can find more about the best online poker options.

Without further ado, keep reading to discover how to play the best online poker for money and how to form an online poker strategy. So, let’s get started!

Online poker rooms were a part of the synchronized launch of NJ’s first legal online gambling sites. Today, the online poker market includes seven sites, interstate player pools, and apps so you can play. Is Online Poker Legal in the US? Online poker is currently illegal in all the states where this type of activity is not regulated. Only five states legalized poker on the web — Delaware, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. However, players from other states are still free to join offshore-licensed poker. As of 2021 online poker is legal, licensed, and live in the state. Plus, the way is pretty much clear for Michigan to offer interstate online poker tables (joined with other states) due to a confirmed interpretation of 1961’s Federal Wire Act (more on that below). Are MI Poker Sites Legal? Yes – MI online poker is 100% legal.

Contents

Best Legal Online Poker Sites

  1. WSOP
  2. PartyPoker
  3. PokerStars
  4. Pala Poker
  5. 888poker
  6. Global Poker

Is online poker legal? It's not always the same as legal online casinos and legal online sportsbooks. All new players who decide to explore the vast universe of real money poker sites should know that federally, online poker sites are illegal. However, on the individual level, online poker is legal in some of the states.

Some websites such as Global Poker (which is a sweepstakes poker site) are allowed in 49 out of 50 US states. Only Washington does not allow it. At the moment of writing our online poker reviews, only four states offer legal online poker websites in the United States. These are the following: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

For more information about some of the available sites, make sure to consult our Global Poker review.


US Legal Online Poker: State by State

Is online poker legal in your state? If the answer is no, keep in mind that the situation can change pretty quickly. Unsurprisingly, Nevada was the leader of regulated online poker. Once the ice was broken, the domino-effect followed.

One by one, many states tried or are still trying to pass the legislation. As you can see, some of them even succeeded. The last one to recently pass online poker is West Virginia, and we expect more legal US poker sites to be launched in the future.

When it comes to future predictions, we believe that chances are pretty good for some of the states to overcome all the legal obstacles and finally launch real money poker sites so their residents become able to play legal online poker.

Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, New York are some of the states that’ll probably make some innovations when it comes to the possibilities of playing poker online. These are the states that have active supporters of online poker in the state senate.

What’s more, regulated real money poker sites in neighboring states can only have a positive effect on public opinion. Additionally, within the borders of the aforementioned states, you can find a considerable number of land-based casinos.

Many of them come with the best online poker rooms where you can play various variants of poker, including the most popular one - Texas Hold’em. In other words, these poker offline options make it easier to launch legal poker sites and eventually start to offer legal online poker.

States Where Legal Online Poker Seems Like a Distant Dream

From this point of view, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah are just some of the states where we can see a certain legislative hostility towards online gambling. Therefore, we don’t believe that we won’t be able to play Texas Hold’em online there for quite some time.

Sweepstakes Legal Online Poker - Play Poker Free No Matter Which State You’re In

As said before, Global Poker, a sweepstakes legal online poker site, can be accessed in all US states except for the state of Washington. This legal online poker platform was launched in 2106, and since then, many players use its services. The virtual currency gaming business model is what makes it unique.

Instead of playing for real money, players play poker free, using gold coins or sweeps cash. That’s why Global Poker often appears when players search for “play poker free” or “play poker online, free”.

To understand how sweepstakes poker works, let’s start with some poker basics and make sure to understand sweeps poker terminology clearly. There’s a difference between gold coins and sweeps cash, and there’s a reason for which “play poker online, free” is actually a bit of a misnomer here.

Gold Coins are the name for the virtual currency in Global Poker, and they are equivalent to what regular legal online poker sites usually call “play money”. In other words, you can’t cash them out, but you can use them to play Texas Hold’em online or participate in some of the available tournaments with other players. On the other hand, “$weeps cash” is a promotional, virtual currency that can be cashed out through PayPal.

To sum up, you can buy gold coins that don’t have any monetary value and can’t be cashed out. “$weeps cash” is obtained as free of charge once you buy Gold Coins. Because of this virtual currency online poker model, Global Poker is not quite considered an online gambling activity. Therefore, it’s allowed in almost all of the US.

Where Can I Play Legal Online Poker in the US?

Pennsylvania is the last state where online poker had become legal when PokerStars was launched there at the end of 2019. Right now that’s also the only available option to play online poker for money in Pennsylvania.

If we don’t count Global Poker, which can be accessed in 49 states, all the other legal online poker sites come with pretty restricted access. For example, Pala Poker and PartyPoker are only available in the state of New Jersey.

However, they are not the only NJ poker sites one can access. WSOP, America's top legal online poker site, is available in the Garden State, and it’s also accessible to all Nevada online poker fans as well. Likewise, PokerStars NJ, available both independently and within the FOX Bet app

Claim the WSOP promo code in New Jersey and Nevada to get a $1,000 signup bonus!

Where Can I Play Poker Live?

Most of the land-based casinos across different states include special poker rooms where you can play live poker. Playing Texas Hold’em online is definitely the most popular option. After all, poker is an American thing, so it’s no wonder to see it available in the vast majority of mortar and bricks casinos.

In fact, instead of listing all the states where you can sit back, relax and try out your luck with live poker, it’s better to list all those where you can’t play poker online. It’ll be easier to remember this list:

  • Alaska
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • New Hampshire
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

We must add that in Texas, private poker clubs aren’t forbidden. As long as no house makes a profit from the game, poker can be played in private places for fun.

US Online Poker Basics

When talking about the current status of legal US poker sites, there are two especially important laws that you should be aware of. Let’s take a look at these two federal laws that govern online poker in the country.

The Wire Act

The first one is the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, often called the Federal Wire Act. As you can see, it passed long before online poker or even the internet existed. However, it prohibits certain types of betting businesses to operate via wired communications.

In 2011, the US Department of Justice concluded that the scope of the act was limited to sporting events. Therefore, states, where online poker is now regulated, found that the bill didn’t apply to online poker nor other forms of gambling.

However, in 2019, the US Department of Justice reversed its opinion. The new opinion concludes that the Wire Act applies to all types of online gambling.

The UIGEA

The other relevant law is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) from 2006. This law made it illegal for US banks to proceed with transactions for offshore gambling companies. That’s how they were pushed out of the market.

History of US Legal Online Poker

Online casinos started to appear back in 1994. They were usually situated in Antigua or the Isle of Man. However, the vast majority of their users were US-based customers. Two years later, in 1996, online gambling was also brought to the North American market soil.

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established just outside Montreal. They started issuing licenses, and pretty soon, it was possible to find hundreds of new online gambling websites.

Once again, two years later and again in Canada, the first-ever poker online website saw the light of day. Planet Poker was the favorite source of fun to thousands of Americans who were spending endless hours playing the first real-money online Texas Hold’em.

Over the next few years, thanks to technological advances, better online poker software was developed, while the number of websites kept increasing. These online poker operators also started to offer various tournaments and cash games and got a solid fan base all over the world.

The Industry Kept Growing & Then It Collapsed

Even though there were different interpretations of the law, especially of the famous Wire Act, the newly developed industry kept growing.

The year 2003 is especially important in the evolution of online poker. Using an account from Tennessee, Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker after participating in the event through an online satellite. In Chris Moneymaker's case, we guess, it's okay to say that name determines destiny.

This online poker strategy was live-streamed on ESPN. Suddenly, the whole nation knew about Chris's story. A good number of Americans were hoping to be the next. All of a sudden, poker was everywhere on TV. Live games were followed carefully, and commercial breaks had one purpose: promoting online poker for money and playing Texas Hold 'em online.

The great number of promoted sites were, in fact, offshore online poker sites. A lot of them disappeared from American browsers after Congress passed the above-mentioned UIGEA in 2006.

However, even though a lot of sites weren't accessible anymore, online poker couldn't be erased that easily. Some of the offshore gambling companies had found a way around the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, but not for long.

In 2011, some of the largest online poker operators, including PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet, were accused of violating UIGEA and money laundering. These websites were definitely excluded from the significant US online poker market, which seemed to come to an end at the time.

Legal Online Poker Sites Rise Again

Also in 2011, the DOJ released a legal opinion that the Federal Wire act exclusively applied only to one form of gambling: sports betting. A few states saw this as a possibility, paving the way to regulated online casinos and legal US poker sites.

In 2012, Delaware was the first state that managed to do just that. Then, in December 2013, Nevada followed the example of passing online poker legislation. A week later, the Garden State became the third to legalize online gambling, and plans for NJ poker sites were made.

The first-ever regulated US online poker site was launched in Nevada in April 2013. Delaware and NJ poker sites went live that same year, a few months later. In 2017, Pennsylvania became the fourth state to join this group. West Virginia is the fifth state where online poker was regulated in 2019. Probably, more states will try to do the same thing in the near future.

Which State is Next?

Is online poker legal in California or New York? This is one of the frequently asked questions that people search for in the USA. They also search for different terms of poker terminology that sound unfamiliar to them. However, that’s another question that we could discuss on some other occasion.

Let’s get back to our question of legal online poker sites and the possible new markets in the USA. Michigan has made significant efforts to legalize online gambling, particularly online poker, while California, New York, and Massachusetts also seem to be moving in the right direction.

Real Money Poker App: How to Find the Best Poker App

It doesn’t matter if you are a Pennsylvania online poker fan or a regular visitor of NJ poker sites, the good news is that you can play poker whenever you want, anywhere within the borders of one or the other state.

Many of the best online poker websites have launched a dedicated real money poker app that you can easily download and install on your device. The best poker apps are available for both iOS and Android operating systems.

In order to find the best poker app, make sure you visit one of the websites we listed at the beginning of our review.

Also, before you replace your poker offline adventure with the one that can be found on the internet, make sure to read some of the online poker reviews and get to know the poker terminology used by the players worldwide. After a brief introduction to the poker basics, it’s time to create your own online poker strategy and join one of the legal online poker communities!

Michigan has joined Nevada, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey as the fifth state to offer legalized online poker in the United States. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a comprehensive gambling package into law back in 2019, and 2021 ushered in the first legal online gambling sites and poker rooms in Michigan.

Top Michigan Online Poker Apps

Casino
Features

$30 Free

  • or $600 Deposit Match
  • Play Hold 'em, SNGs & More
  • Earn Prizes Inside Custom Chests
  • Best Poker Software

Now, a cornucopia of betting sites are active and offering real money gaming over the internet. Users all over Michigan can try their hands at online gambling, including the world’s favorite card game: poker.

MI Online Poker Sites

Michigan online poker is still in its infancy, so there aren’t a ton of sites to play on yet. However, as the laws are set and licensure is on the table for a number of big name providers, the list will grow. Michigan has also built in provisions that allow them to share players with other states. While it hasn’t gone into effect yet, when it does, it will make the proposition of opening a new site all the more enticing.

Poker SiteLicenseeLaunch Date
PokerStarsLittle Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians - Odawa CasinosJanuary 29, 2021
BetMGM Poker
MGM Grand DetroitTBD
PartyPokerTBDTBD
WSOP .comTBDTBD
888pokerTBDTBD
  • PokerStars: The biggest name in online poker has arrived in Michigan. Currently the only game in town, PokerStars is a globally-recognized platform known for having excellent software, service, and the biggest prize pools across the industry. Through a partnership with the tribally-owned Odawa Casinos, PokerStars is available to play in Michigan anywhere you have an internet connection and a supported device. PokerStars Casino and FOX Bet round out the company’s offerings in the state.

Coming Soon for MI Online Poker

Additional online poker platforms are on the way to Michigan. Based on the activity in other states and current developments in MI, the following represent excellent candidates to join PokerStars:

  • BetMGM Poker
  • PartyPoker
  • 888Poker
  • WSOP.com

Poker Networks in Michigan

Online poker sites need a network to operate on. Game offerings like cash tables, tournaments, and Sit & Gos are generally hosted across an entire network. This allows any player, across any site on that network to participate in the same games and sit at the same tables. Some online poker rooms choose to share a network, which gives their players access to a better selection of games, and the opportunity to win larger prizes.

PokerStars is the only Michigan-based online poker client available right now, and as such, is the only poker network available in the state. As new sites launch, so too will new poker networks. While PokerStars doesn’t traditionally share its network, other operators have been more inclined to do so.

For example, in New Jersey, players on the WSOP.com platform are able to play poker against players using the 888poker platform since they share the same network. Similarly in NJ, PartyPoker, BetMGM Poker, and Borgata Poker share a network, and by extension, their player bases can compete against one another. As Michigan online poker develops there will be similar groupings.

Michigan Online Poker Bonuses

If you’re at all familiar with the world of online gambling, you’re probably aware of bonuses. Either way, here’s a quick primer: it’s in the best interest of online poker providers to offer incentives for both new and existing users. They get new players to the tables for the first time, and existing players to jump back in.

Particularly of interest are the welcome offers, which are promotions intended to entice new users to a service. Online poker providers in Michigan generally offer some sort of bonus for new users. Let’s look into some of the most common online poker bonuses and how they work:

No-deposit bonuses / free money bonuses

No-deposit bonuses are as they sound– you don’t have to deposit any funds into your online poker account before you get access to them. In a sense, they are free money. For example, a site like PokerStars might offer Michigan players something like $30 in tournament tickets or bonus cash to use at the tables just for signing up. These sorts of offers are typically waiting in a new users account immediately after they are created, though some may require an opt-in… be sure to read the terms and conditions.

Deposit bonuses

A deposit bonus, often referred to as a match bonus, is where an online poker provider will match a certain amount of your first deposit with bonus cash. For example, with use of a specific promo code an online poker room might offer a 100% up to $600 deposit match bonus. That means the site will match your deposit, dollar for dollar (100%) up to a total of $600. With poker offers the bonus dollars aren’t available for use right away. Instead, as you play you gradually unlock the bonus cash to your account.

Reload bonuses

Reload bonuses, in a nutshell, are deposit match bonuses that apply to deposits other than your first ever deposit. These are offered as an incentive for existing players to “reload” their bankrolls and keep playing with the service. It’s a great to see online poker providers incentivizing existing users to stay with the site.

Michigan Online Poker Eligibility

Michigan’s online gambling law has been fraught with complexity, but has now taken shape. As of 2021 online poker is legal, licensed, and live in the state. Plus, the way is pretty much clear for Michigan to offer interstate online poker tables (joined with other states) due to a confirmed interpretation of 1961’s Federal Wire Act (more on that below).

Are MI Poker Sites Legal?

Yes – MI online poker is 100% legal. PokerStars is already offering their full selection of tables and tournaments to Michigan-area players, and is expected to start offering interstate play in the near future. More poker rooms will be launching soon. You can get online and start playing legal online poker in Michigan today.

Who can play online poker in MI?

The following eligibility requirements are in place for Michigan online poker:

  • Users must be 21+ to sign up with online poker sites in MI.
  • You must physically be located in Michigan to wager real money using a Michigan online poker site or app. Platforms will need to be able to access your location whenever you are wagering with real money, so make sure you enable location services when prompted. It is possible to live outside of Michigan, but in order to play a hand you must be in the state – there are no exceptions.
  • If you’ve participated in self-exclusion as a part of Responsible Gaming initiatives, you won’t be able to wager using any online poker sites until your “cooling off” period is over.

Is Michigan online poker safe?

Absolutely, as long as you’re playing with a site or app that’s licensed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board. There are a lot of offshore operators (meaning, not based in a state with legal online wagering) claiming to be legal, but they should be avoided. While you won’t necessarily be prosecuted for using an offshore operator, your funds there are not guaranteed by federal or state law, meaning a provider could just up and close up shop, taking your hard-earned money with them. When looking for an online poker site to try, always check here on MIBets and make sure to look for the MGCB logo before you make a deposit.

Additionally, all legal online poker rooms have passed numerous rounds of testing to make sure they’re compliant with state law and not “rigged” in any way. They also offer ways for users to opt-out of playing for a while if they feel their action is getting out of hand. Any way you look at it, using legal and regulated sites is safe, and a much better bet than using anything based offshore.

Anti-cheating measures

Anytime that players are competing against other players, some will try to gain an edge. The MGCB has several measures in place to assure that players aren’t cheating, colluding, or otherwise gaming things to give themselves an advantage. Quite obviously, cheating isn’t worth it on an online poker site. Modern platforms allow for so much collection of information including hands, who you played with at a given table, etc. If you’re trying to get an edge by playing with a friend, the service will notice that you continue to share tables with another player, and can suspend or close your account.

Additionally, all modern poker platforms have incredibly sophisticated algorithms with 80+ key metrics that look for bots, collusion, third-party software, or any number of ways to cheat. Fact is, you don’t hear a lot about online poker cheaters because it’s A) extremely difficult to pull off, and B) the punishments are severe. Don’t be concerned, Michigan online poker games are fair.

Michigan Poker FAQs

Poker

What formats are available on Michigan poker sites?

  • Regular cash games are available in a wide variety of game types. With minimum stakes ranging from $.01/$.02 where you can buy-in for less than a buck – to $25/$50+ where you’ll need a few thousand to ante up. On Michigan poker sites it’s possible to play for just about as much, or as little as you want.
  • Multi-table tournaments (MTTs) are what you typically see on TV. The World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour popularized tournament play as the tension and excitement builds with each elimination. The goal is simple – stay alive and accumulate chips. MTTs generally begin with a large number of players. It can be 18 people, or 18,000. The deeper you go, the more you earn as a payout, with the last man standing taking the lion’s share.
  • Sit & Go games are available on pretty much every online poker site. In essence, SNGs are single table tournaments. Rather than beginning at a set time like a MTT, sit & go tournaments will start as soon as the required number of players is met. 3 player, 6 player, and 9 player SNGs are extremely common. They offer lower variance than large field MTTs, while still giving participants a genuine tournament experience.
  • Unique, site specific game types will be available on each site. For example, PokerStars offers Spin & Go games that are quick, lottery style poker tables where you select your buy-in and play a lightning fast round of poker. For each game the prizepool is randomly determined by a drawing. It could be small, or it could be humongous.

What poker games can I play in MI?

See full list on bubnoslots.com. Michigan has legalized all sorts of poker games. While No Limit Hold’em remains the biggest draw, there are plenty of real money options out there to enjoy:

  • No Limit Texas Hold’em (and other limits)
  • Pot Limit Omaha (and other limits)
  • 5 Card Omaha
  • Omaha Hi/Lo
  • 7 Card Stud
  • 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo
  • 5 Card Draw
  • 2 – 7 Triple Draw
  • 2 – 7 Single Draw
  • Badugi
  • 8-Game Mix
  • HORSE
  • HOSE

What is the traffic like in Michigan?

Traffic in the early stages of Michigan’s online poker industry has been very promising. PokerStars has regularly boasted more than 1,000 concurrent players at a time, with a solid number of cash games running. Multi-table tournaments often run with hundreds of players.

Take a look for yourself by downloading one of the available online poker clients and scrolling through the available tables. You’ll note a wealth of populated tables from penny stakes to nosebleeds. Once interstate play gets the go-ahead, these numbers will increase substantially, too.

Do sites offer major tournaments and events?

Absolutely, major tournaments and events are a poker website’s bread and butter. If you’ve got the stamina, tournaments are a great way to get a feel for a platform and have a day’s worth of fun. The following are great examples of major offerings in-state:

  • PokerStars Sunday Majors are available at the end of every week. Sundays are THE day for online poker tournaments, and PokerStars has designed its schedule accordingly. The variety on Sunday’s is unmatched by any other day of the week. If you’re gonna get on your online poker account only one day every week, let it be Sunday. The prizepools and variety are unmatched.
  • The MICOOP, or Michigan Championship of Online Poker, will be the premier tournament series in the state. There’s no set schedule of events just yet, but keep an eye out!
  • Daily tournaments on PokerStars include The Daily Bigs, The Hot Turbos, Bounty Builders and more, each with their respective rules and formatting. For example, Bounty Builders is a progressive knockout tournament, meaning you win cash for knocking out other players, but doing so increases the bounty on your own head. This extra competitive aspect makes this game type particularly thrilling if you’re on a roll.

What kind of loyalty programs are there?

Michigan poker sites offer solid VIP rewards. Often, a loyalty program will reward you points for every dollar you spend in rake on the website. Spend a certain amount, and your reward tier level is increased, granting you access to a variety of bonuses and perks. Stop using your account, and your tier can be downgraded. This is essentially a way to incentivize people to stay active on the site, hence the name “loyalty program”. Loyalty bonuses include:

  • Cashback rewards granting you credit to play with based on how much you’ve spent and your reward tier.
  • Express comps at participating casino resort locations, netting you hotel stays, meals, and unique experiences.
  • VIP promotions not available to the general public, like bigger bonuses.

MI Poker Sites: Looking Ahead

Can MI poker players compete with people in other states?

Not right now, though it is likely to be available soon. Before a poker website or app is allowed to offer interstate play, three things must be in place:

  1. Interstate play must be allowed by all participating states’ gambling law.
  2. States must enter compacts, agreements allowing for online poker funds to be transferred between states, and taxes paid.
  3. Sites must configure their platforms to connect to users in other states, and in the case of poker networks, users of other platforms.

It sounds a bit daunting, but almost every poker provider offering legal online tables already has experience offering networked, interstate play. We’re not reinventing the wheel here– as soon as Michigan’s interstate portion of the Lawful Internet Gaming Act is triggered, state compacts and interstate poker tables are soon to follow.

What about international player pooling?

Not going to happen. Player pooling, whether national or international, mainly hinges on something called shared liquidity— when Michigan begins allowing poker platforms to offer interstate play, those funds must be available (“liquid”) for operators in each state to pay out winnings and other fees. This requires the participating online poker rooms to share the liquidity, so that each platform can pay out prize winnings irrespective of where the winner was located. Without a compact agreeing on this shared liquidity, states are unable to offer interstate play.

For example, if users in Michigan and New Jersey are all buying in to a legal online poker tournament, the winner will be receiving payout funds from both states, necessitating a compact. When you add in international borders and regulations, it gets significantly more complicated.

International player pooling is not likely to be a reality until there is a compact between the U.S. and another nations to share the liquidity and enable them to pay out prizes and fees across international borders. Online poker legality on an international stage is still quite complex. For now, Michiganders should keep their fingers crossed for the addition of new legal online poker states – new countries are a pipe dream.

Circuit Court and the Wire Act

In January 2021, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held up a previous clarification of the 1961 Wire Act, namely that said act only applies to sports wagering. The 1961 Wire Act was suggested by Robert F. Kennedy and enacted by his brother, then-President John F. Kennedy, in an attempt to curb trafficking by organized crime groups, a major issue in the country at the time. Essentially, this act barred any gambling money to cross state lines by means of electronic transfer, making it more difficult for illegal bookies to hide their operations.

In 2011, the definitions of the Wire Act were clarified to mean “only wagering on sporting events is limited by the Wire Act”; then, in 2018, the Trump administration’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) came out with a new opinion: that the Wire Act limited more than just sports betting.

Are you still with us? With legal online gambling becoming an increasing practice in the States, questions about the language of the Wire Act were again brought up by several District Courts in 2019 and 2020. The whiplash is considerable, but hopefully our sore necks will get a rest– after a 2021 case settled in the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals, the opinion of the U.S. government seems likely to remain thus: online poker games between states for real money is not federally illegal.