Things have been tough for players from the USA for over a year now. Since April 15 2011, Black Friday as come to be known, the online poker landscape has been a virtual mine field. Many players have yet to recover their bankrolls as Full Tilt, UB and Absolute poker are still in legal limbo.
My strong advise to players in the USA is to not play online poker for money. There is no reason to believe your money is safe. Since there are still thousands of players from the USA who play online poker each day, I will try to explain the options.
First and foremost is moving money. You will have to wait a long time to get your money out of any online poker site if you are a US player. The days of instant transfers are long gone. If you are lucky when you cash out at any online poker site for US players you will have your money in 2-3 week. Many players are reporting 2-3 month waits for checks, and sometimes they bounce and you have to restart the process. Sometimes you can get a WU transfer, but even these can take over a week to be sent. I am sorry to be so grim, I just don’t want to mislead anyone.
Merge Poker Network
Since Black Friday this has been the largest poker network for US players, and it still is. The Merge Poker Networks flagship site is Carbon Poker (Play Now). Merge offers the most players, the highest guaranteed tournaments and the most game types. I personally like to play 7 card stud, and you will want to play at merge if you ever want a game, as Revolution does not even offer it.
The traffic at Merge has just taken a huge hit, as Lock Poker has left the network. It is still holding its position as the largest network for US players, but the margin is slimmer.
Where to Play: Carbon Poker
Why: Largest site on the network, great VIP rewards, regular reload bonuses.
Revolution Gaming Network
The Revolution Gaming Network was the Cake Poker Network up until June 1st, when they where purchase by Lock Poker. Lock Poker had been on the merge network, but chose to make a move. The addition of the Lock Poker player base has made the traffic levels surge, but it is still not as large as merge.
The software is considered by many to low quality. Many players express trouble with multi-tabling causing too much lag to be effective. The good news is the new owners have claimed they will improve the software. It is very reasonable to assume this network will have huge improvements over the next 6 months and years to come.
Where to Play: Juicy Stakes
Why: Juicy Stakes has a nice first deposit bonus, USA Players allowed.
Bovada Poker is the re branding of Bodog for the US market. The big advantage to Bovada is it is a full service gambling site. Not only can you play poker, but they have a huge casino, sportsbook and racebook. If you are the type of player that likes to wager on a wide range of things, this is a convenient place to have a bankroll.
The misses for Bovada are many, the poker software is not great and recently pay out have been slow. One thing Bovada has always had going for it is fast payouts, but the players forums are reporting a reversal in this. Bovada reps have stated it is a short term problem related to changing processes, but only time will tell. The growth rate at Bovada is likely to be slower then other sites, as they are a stand alone and not a network.
Where to Play: Bovada Poker
Why: It is the only option, this is not a network.
You will have to decide for yourself what to do with your money. If you are a resident of the USA, and insist on playing online poker, I suggest splitting your online bankroll. You could choose two, or all three of the listed option. The advantage to this is you will be able to maximize your play. Because the traffic is splintered, you will be able to have the most choices. It also may provide a bit of protection if the US DOJ steps in again. If only one site gets squashed, you will still have a bankroll somewhere.
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