Frequently Asked Questions About Legal Online Poker

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Are online poker sites legal and safe?

Every online poker site featured on our site is licensed and regulated in the U.S. It’s just as safe to deposit and play on these sites as it is to deposit money into a bank. So yes, the sites we list and recommend are as safe as it gets.

On the other hand, as there are many online poker sites that are not legal within the U.S. and are not guaranteed to be safe with your money. There are online poker sites that accept American poker players even though they are not licensed or regulated within the U.S. These sites are operating illegally and are defying the U.S. Department of Justice, and your money is not always secure there.

We will never list such poker sites, but other websites might. If you would like to be 100 percent sure that a poker site is a safe place to deposit money, check to see if it’s on our list of U.S. legal online poker sites.

Which online poker sites allow you to play legal poker online within the US?

The list of legal online poker sites is growing very quickly. Therefore, the best way to answer this question is to point you to our list of legal US online poker sites that have either launched already or will launch soon.

Where can I play legal online poker in the US?

The quick answer: Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Michigan, as of the end of September 2021. Other states may follow suit, but nothing is imminent. Check out our U.S. Online Poker Laws by State for the latest.

Online poker isn't likely to be legalized nationally in the immediate future, but there are plenty of states looking to legalize online poker on their own. Nevada was the first state to make online poker legal, and the first online poker sites are already launching.

Online poker isn't likely to be legalized on a federal level in the immediate future, but there are plenty of states looking to legalize online poker on their own. Nevada was the first state to make online poker legal, and the first online poker sites have already launched. New Jersey and Delaware also both went live in November 2013.

Connecticut and West Virginia have legalized it, but haven't launched yet. Other states that are seriously considering the legalization of online poker include California, Washington, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Illinois and Texas.

Do I have to live in a state where online poker is legal to sign up and play?

This is a three-part answer. You can register on these sites from anywhere. You may or may not be able to deposit money from anywhere. Some online poker sites will let you deposit from out of state, while others have disabled the deposit process unless you can also play there. You won't be able to play unless you're present within the borders of the state where the site operates. But you don't have to be a legal resident. It's just like visiting a land-based casino from out of state.

So, you could sign up for a Nevada online poker site while sitting in Texas as a Texas resident, and then you can deposit money and play online poker next time you’re visiting Las Vegas.

How does an online poker site know where I’m playing from?

Online poker sites use a number of methods to verify that you are currently located in a place that it’s legal for you to be playing. Most sites look at your IP address, which gives details regarding where your computer is connecting from. Many sites combine that IP address check with other methods, like triangulation via cell phone towers (they ping your registered cell phone number, and occasionally text you, to ensure that your cell phone is currently in your possession and in a legal state).

How can I learn how to play poker?

This is a tricky question, because everyone’s level of knowledge is different. If you don’t know what beats what, take a look at our easy-to-understand chart of poker hand rankings. If you don’t know the basic game mechanics -- what to do, and when you’re allowed to do it – we've also got a guide to playing Texas hold'em.

If you understand at least those fundamentals, the absolute best way to learn how to play poker is to jump right in and play! Experience is the best teacher, and there are plenty of options for online poker that allow you to play for free or very cheaply — as little as $0.01. (Keep in mind that the minimum deposit is usually $10.)

Once you’re comfortable with the value of hands and the structure of the game, you might want to start looking into more intermediate or advanced strategy. There are plenty of resources available for you to learn poker strategy, including poker books and training videos.

You can also branch out into different poker variants and learn an entirely new poker game! If you’re comfortable and having fun with Texas hold'em, you might want to try Omaha or seven-card stud. There are dozens of different variations of poker being played at casinos throughout the U.S.

How is online poker different from live poker?

Because the act of shuffling, handling chips and dealing takes time, online poker is a much faster game than live poker. In fact, though there are usually no time limits on decisions in live poker (though someone can call a staff member if you're too slow), in online poker, every decision has a time limit. It may take some time to get used to the pace of a typical online poker session.

How do online poker sites make money?

Online poker sites stay in business by collecting two things. The first is a fee from each hand played, called the rake. The second is a flat fee added on to each entry into a tournament, called the tournament fee. Check each online site carefully for the current rake and fee amounts.

How can I deposit money onto a legal online poker site?

This question varies depending upon both the state and the online poker site. Most sites will allow deposits in some or all of the following ways:

  • Electronic check / ACH
  • Bank wire
  • Major Credit Cards (if allowed, this often is considered a cash advance, and may incur an additional fee from the credit-card company)
  • Mailed check
  • In person cash deposit (many online poker sites are owned by companies that also own brick-and-mortar casinos)

How do I withdraw money or collect my winnings from an online poker site?

The most common method for withdrawing winnings from an online poker site (cashing out) is via a mailed check. Most online poker sites will send you a check for your winnings to your registered mailing address. Some sites offer additional cashout methods. For instance, if an online poker site has a land-based casino counterpart, it often is possible to cash out and then simply pick up your winnings from the casino’s cashier cage.

Where can I find out about the latest online poker promotions?

By signing up to an online poker site through Poker Atlas, you can gain numerous bonuses that will help you get ahead at the tables. To find out about the latest deals we offer, take a look at Overlay, by Poker Atlas.