Best Poker Sites
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In this section of our site you'll find the best poker sites we've ranked with input from both our editors and visitors to our site. These poker rooms represent some of the best from within the industry and all have a ton of features ranging from awesome sign up bonuses to promotions, tournaments, VIP programs and much more.
Each month, we take a look at all of the poker sites listed on PlayPokerOnline.com to determine the overall best for players to sign up with and list them on this page for our visitors. Because the online poker industry is always changing we recommend that you visit this page frequently if you are thinking of signing up at a new site. Below you'll find the current best poker websites of 2013 along with a description of each and info on our evaluation criteria.
888 Poker (www.888Poker.com) also know as Pacific Poker is another great site especially for European and Canadian players. The entire 888 brand has recently undergone a huge revamp and the new software plus upgraded bonuses have made the site a real market contender comparable to some of the more established rooms.
Some of the best features of being a player at 888 Poker include a one wallet account that gives you access to not only the poker room but full online casino, sports betting site and bingo room. Another great thing is the wide variety of banking options (including echeck) available.
New players will also get up to $1,400 in bonuses when they create a real money account at the site through the multiple sign up bonuses offered to 888 players. To check out the poker room now click the sign up button below to get instant access to the welcome package.
Sportsbook Poker (www.Sportsbook.com) is currently one of the leading poker rooms online. The site is one the Cake Network which is known for having very weak players making Sportsbook an ideal choice for those looking to increase their bankroll without strong competitors. Included at the site is also a full online casino and sportsbook website.
On the poker side of the operations, while sportsbook's website graphics lack some appeal the actual software itself is quite robust and offers a number of excellent features including player tracking and notations, personal statistics on game play as well as custom avatars.
In addition to all these features all new players that create a real money account at Sportsbook Poker and make a deposit will be entitled to receive a 100% up to $650 sign up bonus. To claim the offer, simply create your Sportsbook account below and start playing.
Party Poker (www.PartyPoker.com) is one of the top poker sites for European players looking for a poker room to call home. Although this site stopped accepting US players in 2006, Party Poker has done a great job at improving their site and focusing on European operations. Overall, Party is one of the best options for players online worldwide.
Some of the coolest features at PartyPoker.com include great software with excellent graphics and player features. The software includes all of the usual features like hand histories, player notes, tracking and sortable tables as well as embedded casino games in the software.
In addition to all these great features, Party also offers an exclusive bonus through our website of 100% up to $500 free for new players. In order to claim the bonus, simply download the sites software and make your first real money deposit to receive the free bonus offer.
The Best Poker Sites Are Always Changing
We're not sure how many online poker sites there are online, but it's got to be at least a couple hundred. Bigger networks such as Merge and Cake have 60 rooms each, and smaller networks such as Everleaf have 25+. That's a lot of sites, not to mention a lot of options for someone trying to choose the best poker sites to play at. Where do you even start?
Well, most sites will tell you to consider the following factors:
Bonus Offers: How much free money is offered? How easy is it for you to clear the bonus?
Software: Does the software look good? Is it easy to use? Is the software compatible with Mac computers or 3rd party programs such as Poker Tracker, Hold'em Manager or Table Ninja?
Reputation: How long has the poker room been around? Did they just launch yesterday? Is the company in good standing?
USA/Canada/UK: Is the site available to players in your country or state?
Banking: Most sites make it very easy to deposit money online, but you still want to make sure your preferred banking method is accepted. More importantly, you need to look at withdrawals. How easy is it for you to withdraw your money, and how long is the average wait to receive it?
Traffic: How many players are on the site at any given time? What are the peak hours? What online poker real money games are the most popular (do you play these games)?
These are all important factors to consider before choosing a site. However, you shouldn't use these factors to choose one site, but instead to choose a primary site and a backup site or two as well.
That's right. You need to choose more than one site to play at. And no, this isn't some marketing ploy from us to try to get you to sign up to more rooms. We only want to make sure you have the best experience online and history has shown us that there isn't one "best site" to play at anyway.
History Shows Us The Landscape of Online Poker is Constantly Changing
The online poker rooms that informational websites label as the "best" are constantly changing. This is mostly due to laws and regulations in countries such as the USA, France, Australia, etc. Look at the following timeline and you'll see what I mean:
2006: 2006 is known for the year that the UIGEA, or Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, was signed and put into effect by President Bush. While this didn't make online poker illegal for Americans, it made the transactions illegal, making it more difficult for poker rooms to move money on/offline. As a result, larger rooms such as Party Poker and Pacific Poker stopped serving players from the USA.
With Party Poker out of the picture, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker emerged as the best and biggest sites to play at.
2010: In 2010 France put into effect the Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (regulatory authority for online games) law, commonly referred to as ARJEL. This is France's attempt at regulating online gambling.
As a result of this law, all online gambling sites that serviced French players without ARJEL's approaval was asked to stop. Sites that were cleared, such as PokerStars, created French versions of their software. PokerStars was big to begin with -- expanding their reach only made them bigger.
2011: In 2011 poker players witnessed the infamous "Black Friday," where several companies including PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet were charged with fraud, money laundering and other offenses. The biggest (and best) poker sites now had to stop operations in the USA.
PokerStars came out ok, and managed to keep their reputation intact by quickly refunding players.
Full Tilt and AP/UB weren't so lucky. Full Tilt folded (temporarily) as they were unable to send back players their money, which of course uncovered other issues from within the company. They were labeled as a Ponzi scheme, as members of the company still managed to pay themselves, yet didn't have enough money to pay players. It looked as if Full Tilt Poker was done for, but then in July news broke that Groupe Bernard Tapie agreed to buy the company, provided that player's balances were paid. Time will only tell if Full Tilt fully recovers.
AP/UB came out the worst, as they filed for bankruptcy shortly after Black Friday. Few players received any of their funds at all with the majority not receiving anything.
Despite all of this, sites from Merge, Cake and Bodog stuck around to pick up the pieces, becoming the best options for US players. Traffic levels rose to nearly 10k players (on Merge sites) at any given time, matching traffic levels once seen by AP/UB. Nothing changed much for PokerStars, as they still remain as one of the largest (and best) poker sites online, only being challenged by Party Poker, despite not serving the US market.
Lessons Poker Players Can Take Away From This
There are several lessons that real money poker players can take from these historic events. The most important lesson would have to be that online poker is still in it's infancy, and as a result, is very unstable. At any time news can break (and often does) that a poker site has bitten the dust. So to reiterate, as a poker player you need to have a couple rooms to play at. Breaking this lesson down, you can see several reasons why this is a good idea:
- Diversify your bankroll: The last thing you want to deal with when a room shuts down is trying to get your bankroll off so you can put it on another site. History has shown us that it can take weeks, if not months for players to recover their funds. Having an (active) account at several sites will allow you to evenly distribute your money, so that you always have some available if your funds are not accessible elsewhere.
- To find games. Many sites, especially from Merge or Cake, are busy throughout the day due to the overlap from UK and US time zones. However, the games slow down significantly in the evening. Having a few sites to play at means you can get your volume in, even if it's only a couple of games on one site and a couple on another.
- US serving poker sites are fewer and fewer everyday, as new companies fold and existing ones either stop (due to laws being enforced) or fold themselves. US players will want to have backups in case a site is available one day, but not the next.
Generally speaking, there isn't a poker site that is the best, especially on a player-by-player basis. As always, the "best poker site" is relative, but more than that the best sites are constantly changing. Today it might be the best, but tomorrow it can be the worst. So as a player shopping around for a site to play at, it's in your best interest to find a couple of sites that will suit your needs so that no matter what you have a site to play at, even in a worse case scenario.