This will be a compendium of all important factors to poker players for choosing a site. Firstly, cash out processing times. This is the most important thing to any current poker player, if you can't get the money you win then you are basically playing with play money chips that you paid for and that is an incredibly discouraging thing. Also if the climate begins to shift in the online poker market for one reason or another, everyone wants to be able to move money on or off a site quickly so cash out processing time is of paramount importance. And as we all know Black Friday made us all very weary and as such keeping more than 30 BI for ring games and ~50 average tournament buy-ins online is pretty foolish so being able to move money on and offline quickly becomes exceptionally important.
Before I get into any detail about the sites, I will say the software is basically equal across the board with each site having little things that make it nicer than the other. The exception to this being Bovada which will be chronicled later in the Bovada section, but basically software boils down to preference.
Below the networks are the criteria for a good poker site based on the type of player you are.
For professional poker players the importance of criteria is listed as:
1. Cash Out Processing Times
For recreational poker players the importance of criteria is listed as:
1. Cash Out Processing Times
Winning Poker Network: #1 Network for Professional Players
Let's start with the best Poker Network for Professional Poker Players.
Winning Poker Network, Formerly Yatahay Network
Recommended skins: America's Cardroom, Black Chip Poker, and True Poker.
Note: In this review, we will be using America's Cardroom as our top skin for the network.
Cash Out Processing Times
- 1-2 weeks
- $100 - $2995. 1 free check every 30 days.
Cash Transfers/Western Union
- 1-3 days, usually within 24 hours
- ($100 - $299) $60 fee
- ($300 - $499) $70 fee
- ($500 - $749) $85 fee
- ($750 - $999) $95 fee
- ($1,000 - $1500) $110 fee
Now you may be saying to yourself, that is an absurdly high fee for a withdrawal. However most of these fees are taken by WU for processing and not by Winning Poker Network. If you've ever sent or received WU money then you already know how ridiculous these fees are.
- $50 - $2500 up to $10,000 each month
- 1-2 weeks for debit card to arrive
- 1-3 days after debit card arrives for subsequent withdrawals. Usually within 24 hours.
Winning Poker Network offers a unique system for quick low cost cash outs. Basically you request a debit card from Winning Poker Network. This card costs you a one time fee of $25 to activate and a $5 a month fee to remain active. However once active you have very quick and easy access to your poker money. I cannot stress enough how awesome this option is and how I wish every site would adopt this option as a cash out method.
Winning Poker Network's traffic, is unfortunately a bit behind some of the other networks' traffic. During peak time (7pm EST) Winning Poker Network will only have around 5,500 players online, appropriately 800 of them being ring game players. This compared to Revolution Gaming's 1,700 cash players on at peak time and Merge Gaming's 1,200 cash players.
Support queries are all answered within 24 hours, usually within 4-8. Pro Tip: Send support emails to their VIP person instead of email@example.com, so firstname.lastname@example.org and they will get answered faster as well as more in-depth and detail to your actual query.
You can straddle on Winning Poker Network. Lemme preface this by saying from a pure EV stand point you should never straddle. Some fish like doing it and it makes the game bigger. Just a warning.
All in all, this is the best site for American poker players who play professionally. They just fixed their rake system to mirror PokerStars/Full Tilt, they have 27-35% rake back, quick cash outs, and a large rake race. Support is good and cash outs are very fast. They plan on adding a sports betting and casino section to the network, while I don't understand anything about the legal effect this will have on the network in the short term is it sure to attract more recreational players. My only compliant against this site is their Bad Beat Jackpot, as it hurts every true grinder's win-rate considerably.
How to Signup on the Winning Poker Network
We recommend creating a new account at Americas Cardroom, our top skin in the Winning Poker network. To create your account and start playing, follow the steps below:
1) Visit Americas Cardroom using this link.
2) Download the software.
3) Create a new account, and use the Bonus Code FTR1000 when prompted.
4) Make your first deposit and receive a bonus of 100% up to $1,000!
For more information on Americas Cardroom you can view our full review here: http://www.flopturnriver.com/americas-cardroom.php
Bovada Poker Network: #1 Network for Recreational Players
Now for the best site for Recreational players.
Bovada, Formerly Bodog
Cash Out Processing Times
$200 - $3,000 1.5-3 weeks.
One free check a month, additional checks have a $50 fee. They come from Canada and Singapore. If you deposit checks in person to bank tellers be prepared for odd looks and questions but you can side step that by depositing the checks in an ATM or by phone if your bank offers that.
Bank Wires: WARNING
They are available. HOWEVER, two major banks, one of which involves “chasing” and the other being a bank of “amurrrica” do not accept them and players have had bank accounts frozen temporarily from receiving bank wires. These banks are intentionally misspelled for obvious reasons. Along with this bank wires take 2-3+ months to process. There are many other better, faster options than this.
- 1-4 days
- ($100 - $200) $40 fee
- ($201 - $500) $50 fee
- ($501 - $1,000) $80 fee
- ($1,001 - $2000) $150 fee
As previously stated above, these ridiculous fees are more due to WU than Bovada. Given that Bovada offers 1 free check a month you can be assured if Bovada could lower these fees, they probably would. Western Union has stupidly high fees and unfortunately these are fees are passed on to you.
- ($100 - $200) $20 fee
- ($201 - $400) $30 fee
- ($401 - $600) $45 fee
- ($601 - $800) $60 fee
Based on research this appears to be something along the lines of Western Union, but with very limited availability to due it's very limited locations.
Bovada has the absolute best software in the market for the recreational player, and it's not close at all. First off the site runs a unique system which provides for anonymous poker. This means you are only known to other players as your seat name, and as such the only reads any players can pick up is your tendencies from that specific table from only the hands you've played on that table since the time you sat down at the table for the current session. For a recreational player this is huge, a professional player on other sites has access to a plethora of information to be used against you, from tendencies with certain hand strengths to how often you check raise flops, as well as things like exact four-bet/call percentages. On Bovada there is nothing left but actual poker skill and this provides for a far more level playing field as everyone you are playing against is an unknown.
Not only this, but Heads Up Displays, or HUDs, are banned on Bovada. HUDs give professional players a huge edge against recreational players because professional players know how to use their HUDs very well. Even if a recreational player has a HUD, he will not have spent the massive amount of hours spent mastering all the details of the HUD to it's full potential, thus giving another edge to the professional. Since HUDs are banned on Bovada this evens the playing field even further.
In short, everything about Bovada's software in setup to ensure that recreational players are protected and can have a fun time playing poker without getting massacred by professional players with large edges that recreational players just don't have.
Bovada has one of the industries best support systems in online poker. This being due to their 24/7 toll free phone support. Email inquiries are usually responded to within 4 hours though some times more complicated questions take longer.
Bovada's software makes it impossible to fully understand how much traffic there is on this site. This is because, as soon as a table fills up on Bovada it is taken off the list and hidden until a seat opens up on that table. However MTT traffic seems reasonably good so it can be assumed that ring game traffic is good as well.
Bovada, for the reasons illustrated above, is the absolute best place to play for any recreational player in the whole world. The software is setup to protect the less experienced players. Cash outs are reasonably quick, and support is among the best, if not the best in the world. They also offer sports betting, a casino as well as horse betting along with their poker. I also have a tremendous amount of respect for Bovada's owner, Calvin Ayre, who has done nothing but awesome things for the online poker industry.
How to Signup on the Bovada Poker Network
Follow the steps below to signup at Bovada:
1) Bovada's website is http://www.bovada.lv. Use the link on this page to get started.
2) Download the software and create a new account.
3) While making your first deposit you will receive a 100% up to $1,000 bonus on your first two deposits.
For even more information on Bovada, including how to clear your bonus, see our full Bovada review: http://www.flopturnriver.com/bovada.php
From this point on this article will chronicle the remaining viable sites for American online poker players that less optimal for professional and recreational players alike than Winning Poker Network and Bovada. They are listed in descending order from best to worst.
This brief summary is first on Intertops because Intertops no longer accepts new sign ups from U.S. players. However Intertops currently allows U.S. players who have an account currently open to continue to play on their site. It is separated from the rest of Revolution Gaming Network because it has an independent cashier.
Cash Out Processing Times
- Less than a week
- ($100 - $3,000) $50 fee
- 2-3 weeks
- ($100 - $2,500) $50 fee
- 1-3 days
- ($150 - $500) $70 fee
- ($501 - $1,000) $85 fee
- ($1,001 - $2,000) $180 fee
Intertops boasts fastest cash outs via check and bank wire in the American poker industry. The only downside about these cash out times is that there is no free withdrawal each month like many other sites offer.
Intertops, being on the Revolution Gaming Network, has the best traffic America has to offer. With over 1,750 cash players on during peak time, Intertops players have a wide variety of No Limit, and Pot Limit games to table select from.
Intertops operates it's own support. They are reachable by email 24/7. They also have phone and Skype support during business hours of 9am to 9pm EST. Support queries are always returned promptly and questions are thoroughly answered.
Intertops software is a bit dated and looks a bit like 2007 Party Poker. That being said you can customize it easily so that the games look cleaner and a bit more modern. They are still using Cake Poker's old software so if you enjoyed that, then you will enjoy Intertops.
Intertops poker has the big perk of the Revolution Gaming Network, with none of the pitfalls that plague the other skins. Mainly that Intertops processes withdrawals at an American Industry fastest time and informs players of delays and the reasons behind them and the rest of Revolution Gaming Network has an industry worst withdrawal processing time and it's support says nothing of value pertaining to reasons for the current delays. Overall, I would suggest if you already had an account on Intertops and can play there, then they are the best choice hands down for a professional or semi-professional poker player.
How to Signup on the Intertops Poker Network
As stated earlier, Intertops Poker does not accept new US poker players. However, if you're interested in learning more about Intertops, you can read our full review here: http://www.flopturnriver.com/intertops-poker.php
Merge Gaming Network
Recommended Skins: Carbon Poker, Hero Poker.
Note: In this review, we will be using Carbon Poker as our top skin for the network.
Cash Out Processing Times
- 1-10 weeks, 1 free check every calendar month, extra checks $40 fee
- $50 - $2,500
Checks on Merge Network are incredibly inconsistent. Checks go out in batches, meaning that Merge will wait for whatever reason, be it finding a processor or just waiting for a bunch of checks to send out at once (no one actually knows the true reason except Merge), so once you request a check withdrawal you end up waiting for approval for 1-10 weeks depending on how lucky you are. This is very frustrating for obvious reasons. Once approved checks tend to arrive within 4-5 business days.
Cash Transfer/Western Union
- 1-3 days
- Up to $900 per transfer up to $4,000 a month. $30 fee each transfer.
This option is not available to most of the player base. It is however unlockable for everyone but no one knows the exact steps necessary to unlock it. From the research I've done and talking to various affiliates as well as an owner of one of the skins this is the best guide I can give. I can give no guarantee if this will work for you but it seems to have worked for a fair few people who have tried it. Merge would be such a better option for Americans if they offered this option for everyone.
- Be a reasonably medium – high volume player or play consistently at the higher stakes.
- Make one deposit at Western Union, and fill out the information on the skin you deposited it at.
- Wait two weeks.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 again and WU withdrawal should be enabled.
Not available to Americans but it is worth noting that sometimes Skrill cash outs take weeks instead of days like they do on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.
Merge offers the second best traffic of any U.S. operable network. At peak times they have around 1,250 cash players. This beats out every other network except Revolution Gaming.
Send support queries to VIP@whateversite.com instead of email@example.com for much faster and improved support answers.
Massively improved with the last software update. Nothing else notable about the software. However, recently Merge Network made a decision to disallow player to player transfers last November. Speculative reasons vary from cash flow problems, to Merge getting sick of people circumventing long cash out times and small cash out limits. Regardless, Merge made a poor choice that ended up hurting the Merge Network. Before they made this change I would have happily given Merge Network the title of the “Best option for American poker players”. However since they made this change they are near the bottom.
Removing transfers from Merge Network both removed players abilities to stake other players for tournaments and cash games but also removed the only reliable quick method of cash outs on Merge. What used to happen to get money off Merge Network is you would sell your Merge money to a verified and trusted buyer, there were many of them, with a certain amount of vig. You would transfer them the money and they would send you the cash in the form of a bank wire, cashier's check or Paypal and you would end up receiving your money in a matter of days. Since that change everyone is at the mercy of Merge checks which take anywhere from 1-10 weeks.
Any of the skins on Merge Network are a reasonably good choice. Their software is up to par, their support is good and their traffic is second highest for all American networks. However long and inconsistent cash out waiting times combined with the inability to transfer funds to other players for whatever reason make Merge a less viable option than Winning Poker Network or Bovada.
How to Signup on the Merge Poker Network
We recommend Carbon Poker as the top skin on the Merge Network. To signup:
1) Visit CarbonPoker.ag
2) Download & create a new account
3) On your first deposit, use the Coupon Code CARBONPK
4) You will receive a deposit bonus of 200% up to $5,000!
If you want to learn more about Carbon Poker, check out our full review: http://www.flopturnriver.com/carbon-poker.php
Revolution Gaming Network
Preferred Skins: Lock Poker, Cake Poker
I do not recommend playing on Revolution Gaming at all. However I feel this article would be lacking if I did not include the largest U.S. operating network. For the last several months up to now the wait time to receive a check, money transfer or bank wire is 10+ weeks, that's 10 weeks at the minimum. Support is not sharing the details on why this is taking so long or even giving it's players a time frame. This is unacceptable, no amount of traffic, or bonuses or incentives should convince you to play here. 10+ weeks is a preposterous amount of time to be waiting to receive your money. Even the rest of the world players are experiencing 3-4 weeks on Skrill and Neteller withdrawals, which normally take 1-4 days.
This is not how a poker network should treat it's customers and you as a player shouldn't stand for the absurdity that is abysmal support and 3+ month cash out times.