Online Poker

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Twelve years after the darkest day for online poker in America, the US online poker industry is slowly staging a comeback. Dubbed Black Friday, players were in disbelief when they logged into their online poker accounts on April 15, 2011. Instead of a schedule of MTTs and cash games, US players discovered a takedown notice stating that Full Tilt, PokerStars, and the Cereus Network (Ultimate Bet & Absolute Poker) had been taken down.

While the days of competing with tens of millions of poker players worldwide may be gone for good, online poker is enjoying a resurgence in the US, one state and a time. Players in five states have access to legal online poker, while a handful of new states look like good candidates for legalization. As a growing number of states embrace legal sports betting, advocates hope online poker will be next in line.

What is Poker?

Poker is a popular card game with numerous variations where players compete against one another to have the best hand (assortment of cards), which is based on specific card values and pairings. Players work to build the best hand possible over the course of several rounds utilizing tactics like bluffing to discourage players from continuing on with the round.  

While the origins of poker are up for debate, there's no question that its popularity increased heavily during the 1970s with the introduction of the World Series of Poker. Now one of the largest casino games — both in-person and online — in the world, poker is a strategical card game that comes with ounces of luck as well, depending on what the dealer rolls out with the community cards. Even if you have nothing of value in your hand, half the fun of poker comes in bluffing versus the other players at your table. That's where having the best poker face can turn a losing hand into a winning one.

Where is Online Poker Legal in the U.S. in 2023?

Legal online poker is available to play in five US states (Nevada, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware). Online poker is legal, but not available in Connecticut and West Virginia. To follow the legalization process of online sportsbooks, casinos and poker alike, view our legalization tracker.

As we have alluded to, users have many options when it comes to playing online poker. The most common places to play online poker can be broken into two categories: online casinos and dedicated poker websites.

Where to Play Online Poker

Caesars Palace Online Casino logo

Caesars Palace Online Casino

  • Read our Caesars Palace Online Casino Promo Code and review
  • Bonus Offer: Get a 100% Deposit Match up to $2,500 + 2,500 Rewards Points! when you use promo code ACTION22500
  • Alternative Bonus Offer: Get $10 on Registration + 100% Deposit Match up to $1000! Use the bonus code ACTIONLAUNCH

  • Available States: Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia
  • Poker Game Offerings: 14
  • Live Games Available: Yes 

With a social and a real money online casino as well as more than 50 brick-and-mortar resorts, Caesars Entertainment is a leader in gaming and hospitality. The company’s digital arm,  Caesars Palace Online Casino, recently released a revamped real money casino and mobile app. Upgrades include bigger bonuses, a larger library of games and an improved user experience. 

BetMGM Casino

BetMGM Online Casino

  • Read our BetMGM Casino Bonus Code and review
  • Bonus Offer:
    • MI, NJ and PA users can use promo code ACTIONCASINO to Get a 100% Deposit Match up to $1000 + $25 on the House!
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  • Available States: Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia
  • Poker Game Offerings: 11
  • Live Games Available: Yes 

Most online casinos are heavily weighted towards slots at the expense of table games. With 58 types of blackjack, roulette, poker and more, BetMGM Online Casino is the exception. The table game page is easy to navigate because of its intuitive layout. ‘Featured Games’ are on top, followed by ‘Top Blackjack Games’, ‘Top Roulette Games’, ‘Top Poker Games’ and ‘All Table Games’. Searching for games is more efficient when they’re divided by type.

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Bet365 Online Casino

A global brand with an online presence in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, bet365 launched in New Jersey in 2019. The UK-based online gambling business makes player satisfaction a priority. Customer service agents are available 24/7, by phone, Live Chat or email.

DraftKings Casino logo

DraftKings Online Casino

      Must be 21+. Min. $5 Deposit. Must be physically located in: MI, NJ, PA, WV. New DraftKings Casino customers only. Bonus issued as site credits that can only be used on DraftKings Casino. Eligibility restrictions apply. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER or text "CTGAMB" TO 53342. See for full terms and conditions.

      DraftKings is already a major player among online sportsbooks, but their online casino offerings are steadily rising in popularity. There are a variety of live poker and video poker options to check out. In addition, DraftKings Casino currently has a "Get $35 in Casino Credits + a 100% Deposit Match up to $100!" deal for new users to take advantage of.

      FanDuel Casino logo

      FanDuel Online Casino

           New casino users only, 21+. Must be physically present in MI, NJ, PA and WV. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. Full T&C apply.

          In partnership with Evolution Gaming, FanDuel Online Casino live streams poker, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and other casino-style games, 24/7. A human dealer shuffles and distributes the cards in real time, simulating an in-person casino experience.

          Borgata Casino logo

          Borgata Online Casino

          • Read our Borgata Casino Bonus Code & Review
          • Bonus Offer: $20 no deposit bonus + 100% first deposit match up to $1,000 using code ACTIONBCASINO.
          • Available States: Pennsylvania and New Jersey
          • Poker Game Offerings: 12
          • Live Games Available: Yes

          When Borgata Online Casino debuted in New Jersey in 2013, it was one of the first legal internet gambling sites in the US. Over the years, Borgata has become one of the most trusted brands in the online casino space with a slew of loyal players. 

          Best Poker Websites


          The undisputed top dog in the online poker space, PokerStars is the biggest poker website in the world in terms of player traffic. For the first time this year, PokerStars NJ and PokerStars MI are combining player pools. More players mean tournaments with bigger fields and larger prize pools.

          Most poker players with access have already competed in one of PokerStars’ renowned tournament series like the weekly Sunday Million or the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP). If you can’t devote a good portion of your day to an MTT, PokerStars offers a 3-player hyper-turbo sit-&-go with a randomly selected payout of up to $1 million. If you’re a beginner, the Sunday Billion is a good place to start. The weekly high-stakes play money tournament features a one billion chip prize pool.

          Bonus Offer: 100% First Deposit Bonus up to $600. 

          A division of Caesars Entertainment, offers online satellite and bracelet events for the World Series of Poker. In 2013, the biggest name in tournament poker launched the first legal US online poker site in Nevada. Offering a variety of No-limit Hold ’em, Omaha and stud cash games, is America's largest legal online poker room.

          New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware sites share a multi-state online player pool. It was the first multi-state online poker network. Traffic skyrocketed on in 2018 when it started sharing players with 888Poker in all three states. The number of MTTs and cash games increased as did tournament registration, resulting in larger guarantees.

          Bonus Offer: Get a 100% first deposit bonus up to $1000, up to $100 in bonus play and tickets to seven $100 freerolls when you make your first deposit. No bonus code required.  


          While no-limit Texas hold'em is the main attraction at 888poker, Omaha Hi-Lo and Seven Card Stud are popular with versatile players. Exclusive to 888, Snap Poker is a cash game with a fast-fold format. There’s no waiting in between hands. The instant you fold, you’re moved to a new table and dealt a new hand. Another poker variant found only on 888, Blast is a 3-player, super-turbo sit & go. A random draw determines the prize pool which can be anywhere from two times to 10,000 times your buy-in.

          You can improve your game by taking advantage of 888poker’s exceptional educational resources.  Attend poker school online at no cost, or learn to play any other game in the casino. Whether you need a refresher course or you’re learning the game from scratch, 888’s in-house poker experts are qualified to train players of nearly any skill level. 

          Bonus Offer: Get a $20 poker bonus just for signing up. Get a 100% first deposit match up to $1,500. No bonus code required.


          PartyPoker goes out of its way to level the playing field for first-timers. Heads-up displays (HUDs) are banned, making it tougher for pros to target beginners and exploit their weaknesses. With anonymous cash tables, any notes you take are worthless once you leave the table, and you can’t find the same player and attempt to stack him day after day.  Rules like these don’t sit well with professional players, but PartyPoker provides other incentives like soft games and an abundance of recreational players. 

          Stakes begin at $.01/$.02 for hold'em and Omaha cash games. Micro stakes cash games are effective for beginners, players with a limited bankroll or anyone who wants to experiment with new moves while taking on minimal risk. 

          Bonus Offer: 100% First Deposit Bonus up to $600 and 30 days worth of tickets for MTTs and Spins.

          GG Poker

          Although US residents don’t have access to this awesome site, it’s been given the green light to launch an online poker room and casino in Pennsylvania. No timeline has been established, but the launch is reported to be on hold until at least 2024. In the meantime, GG Poker offers a subscription site available to US residents. 

          The online poker room is known for its innovative features like bubble protection when you register early. If you register before the tournament begins, the ‘Bubble Protection’ stamp will be visible in the tournament lobby. Tap the ‘Register’ button and your buy-in will be refunded if you finish just outside the money. 

          Bonus Offer: Get $100 in rewards or a match bonus up to $600 when you make your first deposit. No bonus code required.

          How to Play Poker: Poker Basics

          A player can win a hand of poker in one of two ways. He can show up with the best hand at showdown or successfully bluff his opponent into folding the better hand. Since poker is a game of skill, players can improve their results by reviewing hands and putting in the necessary hours it takes to get better.


          Antes that are used in tournaments differ from small and big blinds because it requires all players (besides the designated small and big blind players) in a match to put in a set amount of chips at the beginning of each round. Typically, antes are much smaller than the actual bets being played in the round, and are kind of like a "warm-up" bet to get things rolling. 

          Big & Small Blinds 

          In poker, players have to submit chips at the beginning of each round in a rotating fashion. In simpler terms, the two players who are the big and small blinds need to place a certain amount of chips into the winning pot before the round begins.

          Casino chips for blinds

          For example, if the big blind is $100, the small blind is $50. In a multi-table-tournament (MTT), blinds aren’t fixed like in cash games. Blinds typically increase every 15 to 30 minutes in a well-structured MTT. 


          To start the hand, the dealer delivers two hole cards face down to every player. They examine their hands and the player in the under-the-gun (UTG) position, to the left of the big blind, is the first to act. Playing a tighter range of hands in early position, he raises pre-flop with something like high pocket pairs, AK, AQ suited and some suited broadways (K-Js,  K-Qs, AJs). In an unraised pot, a player can conserve chips by just calling, called limping, and contributing one big blind. The rest of the cards go into the muck, aside from a few bluffs with non-premiums like small-suited aces and small pairs.

          Re-raising another player’s bet for value or as a bluff is called 3-betting. Another aggressive move in a poker player’s arsenal, going all-in, means putting all your chips in the pot. It’s an easy way to lose your stack, but it’s also an opportunity to double up fast if your opponent has you covered. In most cases, getting all your opponents to fold and collecting the blinds and antes is the best outcome.


          Once the pre-flop action wraps up, the first three community cards, called the flop, are turned over. They can be used to improve the hand of any player at the table. A player who raises or 3-bets pre-flop frequently makes a continuation bet, or c-bet, on the flop. Sometimes he makes a small value bet, while other times he overbets the pot. Aside from betting, players may check, call, 3-bet or go all-in on the flop.


          After the flop, the next community card, called the turn, is revealed. When it improves a player’s hand, he may bet, 3-bet or go all-in. When it doesn’t he has the option to check, fold or bluff. A check-raise on the turn represents strength so fold vs. one unless you have a strong read or a premium hand.


          The fifth community card called the river, is exposed in the final betting round. It’s the last chance for a player to build the pot when he’s confident he has the best hand. It’s also his final chance to bluff when his hand’s too weak to win at showdown.


          Players make their best five-card poker hands using any combination of the five community cards and the two they were dealt. The last player to place a bet is the first to turn his cards over. The rest of the table follows and the player with the highest-ranking poker hand wins the pot.


          A professional poker player can’t survive by only winning pots when he has the best hand. He must balance the number of value bets he makes with the number of bluffs. Online, timing tells are the most reliable indicator of your opponent’s strength or weakness. For instance, acting too quickly is usually a sign of weakness, especially if your opponent is a recreational player. Avoid bluffing in group pots and do it sparingly in the microstakes because your opponents are unlikely to fold.


          Players typically limp with medium-strength hands or worse, hoping to see a cheap flop. Advanced players have a balanced limping range. But in the micros, don’t be surprised to see a player limp with pocket aces from UTG to disguise the strength of his holding. He’s counting on a loose aggressive player to isolate him by putting in a hefty raise. Inevitably, an aggro player raises to punish the limper and the UTG player snap re-raises all-in. The loose aggressive player typically folds whatever weak holding he was raising with, and the player with aces loses out on maximum value.

          Winning Card Combinations by Rank

          There are 10 winning combinations in poker. Here’s a list of winning combinations that are ranked by value:

          Number "1" icon Royal Flush - 10, J, Q, K, A that are all the same suit. 

          Royal Flush Image

          Number "2" icon Straight Flush Any combination of cards that are in numerical order with the same suit.

          Number "3" icon Four of a KindFour cards of the same rank.

          Number "4' icon Full HouseA combination of three cards of a certain rank and two cards of a different rank.

          Number "5" icon Flush — Any combination of cards that have the same suit.

          Example of a flush in online poker

          Number "6" icon Straight — A hand that contains cards in numerical order. 

          Number "7" icon Three of a KindA hand containing three cards of the same rank.

          Number "8" icon Two Pair A hand containing any two pairs of cards.

          Number "9" icon Pair A hand containing two cards of the same rank.

          Number "10" icon High Card The worst hand you can win with in poker. It is the highest-ranking card in your hand.

          Game Types

          Cash Game

          Sometimes called a ring game, a cash game player can join the table and leave whenever he wishes. Tables are split into 6-max and full-ring which is typically 9 - 10-max.

          Multi-table-tournament (MTT)

          Players on multiple tables compete to make it into the money. Once the bubble bursts, you may see players take on some risk to chip up in anticipation of the final table and heads-up play.

          Sit & Go (SNG)

          Sit & gos are single table tournaments that start when a set number of players sign up. While MTTs can last all day, sit & gos generally wrap up in less than an hour. Some poker sites offer buy-ins for less than $1.

          Poker Variants

          It is likely that you have heard people talk about a specific type of poker before. Poker has evolved to exist in three distinct categories of gameplay:

          Heart icon for card poker section Community Card Poker

          Community cards are shared by all players to improve the strength of their hands. Players make the best possible poker hand using a combination of their two cards, known as ‘hole’ cards, and the community cards. 

          Spade for Draw poker section Draw Poker

          A player has the option to discard cards from his hand and draw new ones. Hand rankings are the same as in no-limit hold 'em. 

          Diamond for Stud poker section Stud Poker

          Players are dealt a mix of face-up and face-down cards in Stud Poker. Rather than beginning with the player seated UTG, the one with the lowest value face-up card goes first. 

          Popular Poker Games

          In addition to the categories listed above, there are also a variety of distinct poker games that fall within each of these categories. The ultimate object of the game remains to have the best hand compared to other players, but the play style for each specific game can vary significantly.

          Clubs for Poker Games Texas Hold’em 

          The objective of Texas Hold ‘em is to make the highest-ranking hand at showdown. A player can also win with the worst hand if he bets an amount that gets his opponents to fold before showdown. The most popular variants are limit and no-limit hold 'em. no-limit hold ‘em is the most frequently used format during televised poker events like the World Series of Poker Main Event. 

          clover icon Omaha High 

          Omaha players receive four cards instead of two and must make their best hand using two of their hole cards and three community cards. It’s more common to draw monsters like a royal flush or four of a kind at Omaha than it is at Texas hold ‘em. However, premium pairs, like pocket aces, are rarely good at showdown.

          clover icon Omaha Hi-Lo

          Players must form two hands with their four cards and combine it with the community cards to get the highest and lowest hands in order to win. The pot is split evenly between the players with the high and low hands. When there is no qualifying low hand, the high hand takes the entire pot.

          spade icon 5-Card Draw

          Each player is dealt five cards and must create the highest hand possible. All other players' hands remain hidden throughout the round, requiring players to guess at how their hand will compare at the end. There is only a single round of drawing in this game, meaning that this is a fast-paced option for players.

          These are just a few of the many different poker games that players are likely to encounter when playing poker.

          spade icon 7-Card Stud

          Still a hit at home games and mixed game tournaments, 7-Card Stud was once the most popular poker game around. 7-Card Stud is not played with community cards. Instead, each player is dealt seven hole cards beginning with two face down and one face up on the first street.

          Video Poker

          Video poker offers some of the best odds in the online casino, with returns as high as 99%. Improve your win rate by choosing the game with the highest pay table and learning basic strategy. The system is based on millions of computer-simulated hands. Consult strategy charts to make the best mathematically derived playing decisions. You can find them online or in most casino gift shops.

          The game begins when five cards appear on your screen. You can hold any or all of them, or exchange your cards for new ones. Press the hold button corresponding to the cards you wish to keep and click "deal." The player’s unwanted cards are discarded, and new ones are drawn, forming his final five-card poker hand. Video poker players get paid based on the strength of their hands.

          Online Casino Poker Variants

          While poker websites offer MTTs and cash games, online casinos offer highly entertaining spinoffs of the classic game. The biggest difference is in the variants, players compete against the dealer, not each other. Bluffing is useless, so the only way to win is with the best hand.

          Three Card Poker

          Players make an Ante bet and an optional Pair Plus side bet to set a hand of Three Card Poker into motion. Three cards are dealt face down to the players and the dealer. A player looks at his cards and makes a Play bet equal to the size of his Ante when he thinks he has a better hand than the dealer. When his cards don’t make the cut, a player folds and forfeits his Ante bet. The optimal strategy says to make a Play bet when you’re dealt Q-6-4 or better.

          The dealer turns over his hand and compares it to each of the player’s hands. If the dealer doesn’t have at least queen high, the player wins even money on his Ante bet and his Play bet is returned. When the dealer’s hand qualifies, the player wins even money on his Ante and Play bets when he has the highest-ranking three-card poker hand. The player loses both bets when the dealer qualifies and has the better hand. The Pair Plus side bet pays out on a pair or better according to the strength of your hand. You can lose against the dealer and still win the Pair Plus side bet by matching the pay table.

          Ultimate Texas Hold'em

          Ultimate Texas Hold’em is unique because the amount players are permitted to wager is reduced with each betting round. Only allowed one bet, a player holding a premium hand should make it immediately. To start the action, players make equal bets in the Ante and Blind circles and an optional Trips Bonus side bet that pays out on three of a kind or better. Two cards are dealt face-down to the dealer and the players. Five community cards are placed face-down in the center of the table.

          A player examines his cards and has the option to check or make a Play bet 3x to 4x his Ante. The dealer turns over the first three community cards and players who checked can make a Play bet twice their Ante. Players who chose to bet during the previous betting round are forced to check, and the dealer turns over the final two community cards. Players who haven’t made a Play bet must make one equal to the size of their Ante if they want to stay in the game. The alternative is to fold and lose their Ante and Blind bets. The players and dealer make their best possible five-card poker hands using a combination of their hole cards and five community cards.

          When the dealer has less than a pair, his hand doesn’t qualify. In that case, a player’s Ante bet is returned but his Blind and Play bets remain active. When the dealer’s hand qualifies, the player wins even money on his Ante and Play bets when his hand outranks the dealer’s. His Blind bet’s a push when he beats the dealer with less than a straight. When he makes a straight or better, his Blind bet pays based on the strength of his hand. A player can lose to the dealer and still win his Blind bet. He can lose or fold and still win the Trips Bonus side bet by making three of a kind or better.

          Let it Ride

          A player needs a pair of 10s or better to win at Let it Ride. He’s not competing against the dealer or the players seated next to him. The player wins when his hand matches one of the hands on the pay table. The game begins when players place three equal bets and an optional Three Card Bonus side bet. As the hand proceeds, players will have the opportunity to take back two of their bets without folding. After the bets are posted, three cards are dealt face down to each player, and two community cards are dealt face down in the center of the table.

          Players examine their cards and based on the value of their hands, either ‘Pull Back’ their first bet, or leave it on the table and ‘Let it Ride’. The first community card is turned over and with four out of five cards revealed, players can ‘Pull Back’ their second bet or ‘Let it Ride’. The third bet stays on the table. After the dealer turns over the second community card, he turns the player’s cards face-up. Hands are paid based on standard poker hand rankings charts.

          Online Real Money Poker

          Online poker has become increasingly popular over the past several years with the rise of video poker sites and online casinos. Many poker sites and online casinos offer players bonus play and real money options. Bonus play poker means that users are simply playing for fun without wagering any actual money. The chips used are purely symbolic to keep the flow of the game intact. Real money poker, as the name indicates, is competitive play against other players wagering actual money. It is important to know the distinction to avoid accidentally losing money. 

          Online Poker Resources

          Confidence is key to being a successful poker player. Take advantage of the following poker guides to help boost your play:

          Online poker is currently legal in Nevada, MichiganNew JerseyPennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Delaware. For more legal information regarding your state, take a look at our online casino legalization tracker.

          Frequently Asked Questions
          Can I play poker online?
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