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Can I Play Online Poker in the US?

1,387 Views Comments on 15/1/18

Most of the biggest poker sites remain off-limits to Americans, but a handful of reliable offerings remain that permit US players to satisfy their online poker desires.

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It's often stated by the poker media that online poker is regulated in only Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. While that is undeniably true, it gives one the impression that players throughout the rest of the US are left out and cannot play real money online poker.

Let's put an end to that untruth right here and now.

Thousands of American online poker players, myself included, continue to log on and play the game that we love, battling it out on the cash game tables, MTTs, and SitNGos at poker rooms that cater to those based in the US. Of course most of the biggest poker sites such as PokerStars and Party Poker remain off-limits to Americans, but a handful of reliable offerings remain that permit US players to satisfy their online poker desires.


A Brief History of US Online Poker

The advent of online poker for real money began in 1998 and continued merrily along until 2006 when the Bush administration passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The UIGEA is often misunderstood, as it didn't directly outlaw online poker, but instead made it illegal for banks, financial institutions, and gambling companies to accept financial transactions for the purpose of Internet gambling.

The language used in the UIGEA was seen by many as vague, prompting some online poker operators to stop accepting US players, while others consulted with their attorneys and chose to remain. While players may have experienced more difficulty making deposits at online poker sites for the next five years due to the UIGEA, those who persisted were able to do so, often with help from online poker operators who disguised the transactions as pertaining to purchases not related to online gambling.

In 2011, the US Department of Justice took aim against the largest online poker operators on a famed Black Friday, seizing their domains, shutting down the sites, and forcing tons of US poker players to relocate abroad in order to continue playing. In reality, those players didn't have to go anywhere, they just needed to transition to playing at poker sites that weren't in the crosshairs of the DoJ.



Present Day US Online Poker

Here we are nearly seven years later, US players whose accounts had been frozen at the shuttered sites have been reimbursed, and online poker chugs merrily along once again. While players in the three regulated states (with Pennsylvania soon to join the mix) play only among themselves, those in other states can avail themselves of other reliable online poker options.

One of those options is Intertops Poker, a site that was established more than 20 years ago, is known as the oldest and most trusted poker room, and sports a reputation for soft action and swift cashouts - usually within 48 hours. Other advantages include rakeback of up to 36% and a generous first-time deposit bonus of 200% up to $1,000.

With the exception of a handful of states such as Kentucky, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Missouri and Washington, players within the US are more than welcome at Intertops Poker. While player traffic may not be as high as other poker rooms, there is no shortage of value by way of tournament overlays and that awesome rakeback percentage.



More Options For US Players

Another option available to US players can be found at the other end of the spectrum in terms of poker site longevity. Global Poker may be the newest kid on the block, but certainly shouldn't be overlooked by Americans who want their online poker - and want it "legally."

I highlighted "legally," in short to emphasize the fact that Intertops and other sites currently catering to US players such as Ignition Poker and Bet Online are not illegal. They just aren't in the "regulated" category such as the sites in the states of Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey.

It's worth mentioning that throughout the history of US online poker, including the UIGEA in 2006 and Black Friday in 2011, players themselves were never in jeopardy of being prosecuted for playing online poker. That remains the law of the land to this day.

However, Global Poker set out on a different course, perhaps as a way to appease US players who remain squeamish about the events of 2006 and 2011 and are afraid that the DoJ may come calling once again. That's not bloody likely, but it's no matter as far as Global Poker is concerned, as the site has embraced the sweepstakes model of online poker that allows for real money cashouts and is 100% on the up and up in all 50 states.



Gold Coins and $weeps Cash

Global Poker's sweepstakes model consists of selling to players a virtual currency called Gold Coins. The coins are virtual chips that are used to play with but cannot be cashed out for real money.

The purchase of Gold Coins results in players being given sweepstakes prizes as a bonus, aptly known as $weeps Cash. Players use the $weeps Cash to enter tournaments and ring games, with prize money won available to be redeemed in the form of cash payouts via PayPal.

It's a unique and patented concept, resulting in Global Poker billing itself as the world's fastest growing poker site. Part of that growth is evident in the current running of its second edition of the Global Poker Championships - the Grizzly Games. The action runs from Jan. 15 through Feb. 4 and includes tons of prizes and a guarantee of SC$1.5 million in payouts.

New signups at Global Poker get $2 in $weeps Cash and 10,000 in Gold Coins just for registering. Regular freerolls and a Flops Challenge can boost player bankrolls, with a cashout via PayPal not far away for winning players. 


Keep in mind that the history of online poker in the US has been fraught with regulatory changes throughout and that may continue - for better or worse. But I think it's safe to say that the oldest and most trusted site of Intertops Poker, as well as the newest and fastest growing poker room that is endorsed by PayPal and Facebook, Global Poker, will be around for years to come.

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