The 8 Safest Bets For Real Money Online Poker

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When looking for the best and safest online poker site to play for real money on, one cannot be too careful on picking a place to trust with their hard-earned money.  Even so, if you choose a poker site from the following list, you can rest easy at night, since I only include the most popular & legit online casinos for both US players and the rest of the world.

In choosing my list, I used the top criteria that makes poker sites popular. These include the size of the poker site, the softness of the network, the amount of value to take advantage of, and the quality of the software.

Unlike other online reviews, my review is personal in that I have played hundreds of thousands of hands on many of the sites on this list. The goal is to save you the trial and error that I have gone through over the past several years! Read on as I share with you the best and safest short stack friendly real money poker sites in the world.

#1. Ignition & Bovada Poker (US Friendly)

With a shared network, these are the biggest & softest legit places to play for US poker players, by far. The games are anonymous, however, a HUD will work if you use a card catcher or Hold’em Indicator. My advice is to choose the site with the best bonus at this time.

  • Rating: 5.0/5.0
  • Softness: Ignition and Bovada are still among the fishest poker sites in the world. The most fish are found below 200NL, however, whales still abound  at high stakes. Up to 2000NL!
  • Bonus Offer: Yes. However, bonuses vary throughout the year. Check the current Ignition bonus or current Bovada bonus.
  • Full Review

#2. Bodog

One of the softest large sites in the world. If you can’t play on Ignition or Bovada, due to the country you live in, give Bodog a try.

  • Rating: 5.0/5.0
  • Softness: Bodog is part of the same player pool as Ignition and Bovada. Therefore, you will be playing against the same fish and recreational players. So many fish, so little time!
  • Bonus Offer: Yes. However, bonuses vary throughout the year. Check the current Bodog bonus
  • Full Review

  #3. BetOnline  & Sportsbetting Poker (US Friendly)

Recent software improvements and balance between softness and value, make the Chico Network a strong choice for any player’s needs. A HUD also works if you use a converter. Also, there are many ongoing promotions that add value to a site setup around the recreational model. Trust me, a better win-rate is much better than better rakeback!

  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Softness: BetOnline is part of the same player pool as Sportsbetting Poker. Therefore, you will be playing against the same fish and recreational players. So many fish, so little time!
  • Bonus Offer: Yes. However, bonuses vary throughout the year. Check the current Betonline bonus or current Sportsbetting Poker bonus.
  • Full Review

#4. PartyPoker

Legendary poker site with soft games & huge selection. Unfortunately, US players cannot play here anymore. However, for the rest of the world, PartyPoker is a solid option as it has high traffic & nice value via the VIP program. The rakeback equivalent is around 20%.  Party Poker also offers frequent reload bonuses & other promotions.

  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Softness: PartyPoker went anonymous back in 2016. However, similar to Ignition & Bovada, you can track session stats and use a HUD. The games are softest at 50NL & below, at 100NL & higher, there is a significant increase in the quality of play. Even so, the games are still a lot softer than bigger sites, like Pokerstars.
  • Bonus Offer: Check the current bonus.
  • Full Review

#5. Winner Poker (US Friendly)

A site you may never have heard of, it should seriously be considered, especially if you cannot play on one of my top 3 sites. Winner Poker has huge value and high traffic for all players to enjoy. Offering 60% and higher rakeback, there is insane value to be had! You can also play 16 tables or more, which could make this site a great place to play for “rakeback pros.”

  • Rating: 4.0/5
  • Softness: There are fish to be had with a bit of table selection. The games are definitely not as soft as my top 3 sites, but not nearly as tough as your average poker site nowadays. The amount of rakeback should more than make up for the small amounts of recreational players. As a bonus, there is full support for all the major tracking software programs.
  • Bonus Offer: Check the current bonus.
  • Full Review

#6. America’s Cardroom & Black Chip Poker (US Friendly)

On the Winning Poker Network, ACR and BCP offer the best value for US Players. VIP or Rakeback, you choose!  If you are a US player & miss Pokerstars, this is the place for you. The games look and feel the same. In fact, WPN is modeled directly from how Pokerstars was back in “the day.” You can even chase after Supernova, or at least the equivalent, by a different name.

  • Rating: 4.0/5
  • Softness: I’m not going to mince words here, this is one of the tougher sites around. However, if you are a hardcore grinder and can put in a lot of volume, there is value to be had here. Ongoing promotions, such as the beast, make playing a lot of hours attractive. Furthermore, if you are a fan of Pokerstars, ACR and BCP will bring a nostalgic feel back for you since they were  originally setup to mimic Pokerstars, almost exactly.
  • Bonus Offer: Yes. However, bonuses can vary throughout the year. Check the current America’s Cardroom bonus or current Black Chip Poker bonus.
  • Full Review

#7. Natural8

Natural 8 is a very soft Asian poker site on the GG Network that is rapidly growing. If you can play here, you should seriously consider giving it a try. Unconfirmed anecdotal evidence suggests that the next poker book is happening right now on this network! Unfortunately, I am unable to play here due to where I live, but hope to be able to someday.

  • Rating: 3.5/5
  • Softness: Based on thorough research, Natural 8 is reported to have some of the softest games in the world.. circa 2006 softness in fact! Please drop me a line and let me know what your experience is, I would love to know.
  • Bonus Offer: Check the current bonus.
  • Full Review

#8. 888 Poker

High cash game traffic with an amazing tournament schedule. 888 is loved by some and hated by others. It all comes down to personal preference. My advice before deciding, is to download the software & see what you think. Try out the free money games and see if you like the feel of the site. Then, make an informed decision.

  • Rating: 3.5/5
  • Softness: Comparatively speaking, the games are softer than many of the other sites. I think this is mostly due to the higher tournament traffic. You should not have any problem maintaining a win-rate on this site, with any reasonably strong strategy.
  • Bonus Offer: Check the current bonus.
  • Visit Site

Honorable Mention

Unibet

Sleek new site designed for recreational players. If you want something a bit different, give Unibet a try!

  • Rating: 3.0/5
  • Softness: The games are about fun. Therefore, it’s only natural that there are more recreational players taking part. The lack of tracking software & HUDs make this a great place to find fish of all stripes.
  • Bonus Offer: Check the current bonus.

Criteria Used To Compile My List

All of the poker sites on my list have a few common elements, so I won’t waste my time or yours trying to differentiate each one based on those.  Instead, let’s go ahead and list what those qualities are:

  • Fast Cash Outs: With almost all poker rooms now having a bitcoin option, you can typically withdrawal and receive your money in less than a week, sometimes same day!
  • Great Bonuses: I haven’t seen a poker site in awhile that did not have a huge first-time deposit bonus.
  • Good Customer Service: Online poker is a competitive beast nowadays, any site with bad service goes the way of the dodo fairly quickly.
  • High Traffic: I only included the largest online poker sites.  There is a reason they are so big.  It’s due to years of providing reliable, safe, and quality service to their customers.

Where sites diverge will be the focus of my reviews.

  • Target Audience: Who the site catering to, whether it be recreational players or hardcore grinders.
  • Softness: This is the biggest area of misinformation out there.  I have been down in the trenches playing on many of these sites and can give you the skinny on which sites are the loosest and which are regfests.
  • Traffic: I only included the largest online poker sites.  There is a reason they are so big.  It’s due to years of providing reliable, safe, and quality service to their customers.  The nature of the traffic does vary, however.  Some sites have more cash game traffic, some have more multi-table tournament players.  Some sites have very little high stakes action, others have solid big money competition.  A few have a solid mix of everything.
  • Value: Every poker network or site has it’s own unique way of providing a good experience to it’s customers, either through rakeback or ongoing promotions.
  • Software: Although a lot of sites have had recent improvements, there is a noticeable difference in software quality from site to site.
  • US Friendly: I will break down which sites are the best for poker players in the USA and the rest of world.

How To Choose The Best Poker Site For You

Today, there are basically three different types of online poker rooms.  Those based on a recreational model who tries to attract players looking for fun only, those that cater to hardcore grinders, and those that fall somewhere in between. You have to decide which environment suits your taste and needs best.

Do you want to play for fun in a social environment?  Do you want to grind on a ton of tables and get value from a VIP or Rakeback system?  Or do you want a site that offers a little bit everything?  To make things easy for you, here is a list of sites falling into each category.  If you are unsure, choose one from each category and give them each a test drive.  It’s up to you.

Recreational Sites

Sites For Grinders

Balanced Sites

Having a strong poker strategy is only half the battle.  In order to reach your full potential, you must carefully select where to put your playing volume in and also which tools to employ in order to enhance your sessions and study.  I have done a lot of the work for you, with detailed reviews of both the top places to play online poker and the best poker software and tools.

As a bonus, each of the sites on my list are friendly to short stackers, in varying degrees. In other words, you can buy in for 50 big blinds or less and play a CAP or short stacked strategy on every site on the list. The ability to buy in short stacked is attractive to recreational players, and more fish means more profit!

I have played millions of poker hands and used every single poker tool listed on this site, so you can rest easy knowing that the reviews are real and accurate.  I made sure to include reviews on US friendly poker sites as well as real money poker sites for the rest of the world.  And, whether you need info on poker tracking software, analysis software, or other tools such as odds calculators and HUDs, we’ve got you covered.


FAQ

Can you still play online poker in the United States?  Is it legal?
There are no federal laws prohibiting the play of online poker in the United States. However, Washington state does explicitly state that online poker is not legal. Kentucky also has an adversarial stance when it comes to online gambling. My advice is to do thorough research on your state before playing.What about the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)?
The UIGEA made it illegal for banks in the United States to process transactions regarding any form of online gambling, and before being redefined recently, poker fell into that category.  The law said nothing about private citizens actually playing online poker.Which states have fully regulated online poker?
So far, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have passed online poker bills. California and New York also show promise to potentially be regulated in the near future.Isn’t online poker rigged?  I hear people talk about it all the time.
When you hear someone talking about online poker being rigged, it is almost always a sign that they are a bad player and are just looking for something to blame their losses on.  Think about it.  If online poker really were rigged, who exactly are the poker sites choosing to rig it against?  And don’t you think smart people, with software tracking their play, would figure out of the frequencies were way off or something?Trust me on this one.  People that play on the poker sites may try and cheat, but the sites themselves are 100% legit and have no vested interest in singling you out and “rigging” a hand against you. Furthermore, poker sites make their money off of rake.  No matter who wins, the rake is still paid.You might also hear some people counter my facts by saying that the sites rig poker to help the fish win so they stay around and keep depositing.  Well, won’t they deposit sooner if they lose faster?  Like I said, a bunch of B.S. talk from bitter, shoddy players, who are looking for someone or something to blame.  My advice to them is to take responsibility and redirect that negative energy to try and improve their game.

Why should I trust your reviews?
First off, I am a real player, not a shill for the poker industry.  I know how difficult it is to find quality online poker site reviews and have been annoyed at the same “canned” information that has obviously been written by the poker sites themselves.  Those so-called “review” websites are all about driving traffic to the poker sites and couldn’t care less about whether you are happy with your choice or not.  I have spent years combing through all the features on numerous networks and have a feel for all the factors that go into making a great poker site.  If I wouldn’t play on a site, it wouldn’t be on my list!

Which poker sites in the United States have the most players?

  1. Ignition: The king of the US, at the moment.  Ignition (formerly Bovada), enjoys roughly double the traffic of the #2 site.  If you want the softest games imaginable along with the best game selection, Ignition is your site.
  2. America’s Cardroom: The winning poker network is growing rapidly due to it’s high value and smooth software and interface.
  3. Betonline: This recreational oriented poker site was growing fast before they vastly improved their software, now I expect it to flourish and possibly even contend for #1 very soon.

Overall, I predict US sites to continue to increase in traffic (possibly explode) with the addition of Bitcoin as a deposit and withdrawal option.

Speaking of Bitcoin, what are all of the deposit options?
US sites typically now offer a plethora of ways to deposit.  It only seems like yesterday that you could only use a credit card, that was rife with rejections and had low deposit limits.  Now you can typically use credit cards, debit cards, Western Union, Moneygram, as well as Bitcoin.  We still are way behind the rest of the world, who seemingly can deposit hundreds of way, but getting there.  I can’t overstate how big of a game changer Bitcoin is likely to be.  We shall see.

I am a PLO player, which site is best for me?

  • In my opinion, Ignition is the best poker site for PLO player in the US.  Games run as high as 2000PLO and fish are abundant.  We may look back at this time on Ignition as being the golden age of Omaha in America.
  • The Winning Poker Network is a reasonable alternative.  The network has a decent number of games running during the US peak times.  Hold’em Manager and Pokertracker both work like a charm there.  In many respects, WPN is like a mini Pokerstars.
  • If you want to be able to use a HUD but want to avoid tons of regs, try Betonline.  Mid-stakes does run often and I expect that high stakes either runs now or will in the near future.  You will need to a hand converter to get the hands into HEM or PT, but the software is fairly inexpensive.