The 7 Best Poker Sites for 2018
With the value of the global online gambling industry set to reach $52 billion this year, it’s not surprising there are plenty of sites competing for a share of this lucrative market. Online poker may just account for just a fraction of this, it’s nonetheless a magnet for ambitious entrepreneurs.
The reality is that some sites are shady in terms of how they do business. In most cases, they are easy enough to spot and it’s strongly advised you stay away from them, no matter how good the “free bonus” deal seems.
The list below includes some of the very best, reputable sites that look after you – the player. There are some genuinely great bonus deals and special offers to be found.
Founded in 2001, PokerStars is a relative elder statesman of the online poker industry. It’s the biggest poker site in the world in terms of traffic, with the company claiming they have around 80% of the global market.
With up to 30,000 players online at any given time, PokerStars boasts an impressive community. The site offers the full range of games both free and for cash. The self-proclaimed “Home of Online Poker” hosts some of the biggest online tournaments and gives you the opportunity to play with professional players.
PokerStars holds the record for hosting the largest ever online poker tournament with 253,692 players in October 2015.
There’s also the PokerStars School, which includes courses, videos, and practice tournaments. If you’re looking to enter the world of poker – then this site is a good place to start.
It’s also important to note that only players from New Jersey can play in the US and other selected countries will have their own versions of PokerStars. In Australia, you will not be able to play the cash games.
888Poker began life as “Pacific Poker” way back in 1997, before the DotCom boom and bust. Its parent company, 888 Holdings is listed on the FTSE 250 in London’s Stock Exchange. Therefore, it’s one of the most financially secure online poker sites out there.
After joining an exodus of poker companies from the US market in 2006, 888Poker returned in 2013, setting up in New Jersey. Ever since, the site has consolidated its number two position globally for online poker.
888Poker’s appeal is the number of relatively “soft” tournaments, filled with recreational players. This is underlined by the brand’s use of celebrity endorsements including cricket legend Shane Warne and Brazilian soccer star Denilson.
The site’s customer support line also has a strong reputation in the online poker community. Operating 24/7, the team is on hand to deal with any query you may have.
There are regular promotions, tournaments with prizes, and bonuses on offer. For poker players who are looking for a bit of fun rather than serious poker games, then this should be your pick.
Until 2006 when it was forced out of the US market, PartyPoker held the largest poker site crown. Since being usurped by PokerStars, it has held together, remained focused, and bounced back into the United States.
As the name suggests, the site is a little on the soft side, with tournaments being populated by recreational players. Plenty of opportunity for the novices to learn their trade against easier opposition, and for the sharks to take advantage.
Its raft of online games is complemented by regular PartyPoker live events, which take place all over world. Cash prizes of up to $10 million attract some of the top players to locations including the Bahamas, United States, and UK.
The site itself has recently undergone a revamp, and is now one of the best designed out there. It’s easily navigable and you’ll be able to jump straight into the games you want to play.
PartyPoker is making up for lost time, and having fun along the way. It’s back in the US too, working within the legal minefield as much as it can.
Winamax is a French poker company with great software, if not the best on the market. It’s the dominant platform in France with over 2.5 million registered players. They are preparing to expand into Spain and Portugal.
Winamax’s world-class software means it offers one the top mobile poker experiences. It offers a wide range of poker products for all mobile devices operating on iOS and Android.
It was Winamax that first introduced the popular “Espresso” tournament format, which has since been adopted by the likes of PokerStars, PartyPoker, and 888Poker. The weekly €10 million cash pot is another big plus point.
The platform operates within French laws, and so has specific sign up requirements. Failing to do so will mean you will not be able to play. Also, you will need to make additional steps to verify your identity before you make your first withdrawal.
Once all the details are filled and requirements met, then Winamax is a great platform for European players.
5. Ladbrokes Poker
Ladbrokes has been around long before the internet was born. Founded in 1886 to serve the horse racing industry, the company has grown to be one of the world’s biggest betting companies.
Ladbrokes Poker is effectively a “skin” to the iPoker network, which means the software is exactly the same of many others. The only difference is the branding i.e. PaddyPower, Coral Poker, Betfair, and several others. As a result, you can be reassured its poker site is safe to play with. It’s a smooth running software with all the modern features, but it does not work for Mac users.
Ladbrokes is perfect for those who like their poker but also dabble in other forms of betting. It offers all the classic games including Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Seven Card Stud. As one of Europe’s most popular platforms, it has no problems handling high-volume traffic so there’s little risk of your hand being disrupted half-way through.
One of its most appealing features for new users is the 200% deposit bonus for up to €1,500. This is a great way to get your poker game off the ground.
Due to US legislation, Ladbrokes Poker is not available to US players.
Primarily a sportsbook, Bet-At-Home was founded in 1999. Its poker section is a bit of a hidden gem, using the same iPoker network system as Ladbrokes. It includes all the usual Texas Hold’em and Omaha games, as well as some of the more unusual like SOKO and Five-Card-Draw.
The site is not going to win any beauty contests but Bet-At-Home uses simple and effective software that’s easy to use. The promotions are in line with the industry average. It offers a 100% deposit bonus for up to €1,500, for example.
Bet-At-Home also hosts regular tournaments, with a guaranteed €3 million a month in prize money. If you’re a beginner or an intermediate player, then this is the site to learn and improve your game. For the more established players, this is where you can boost your profits if you’re making a loss on the more competitive games.
7. TigerGaming Poker
For a site that has been around since 1999, TigerGaming still operates slightly under the radar. This means it’s relatively free of sharks and where the fish come to play. Which equals winnable games.
There’s no catch either. TigerGaming’s software runs smoothly, cash deposits are secure, and customer reviews are largely positive. Given the nature of its audience, the stakes tend to be on the small-side, which partly explains the lack of sharks.
The site has the usual variety of games, Sit & Go tournaments, and the weekly leaderboard prizes of $10,000. TigerGaming offers a welcome bonus of up to $2,500
TigerGaming could well be one of online poker’s best-kept secrets, but it’s growing quickly. The easy games may not last for much longer.
TigerGaming is one of a number of sites that operate on unregulated platforms, which mean a bigger risk to your deposits. Here are the three networks you will likely come across:
- Winning Poker Network (including their flagship skin, America’s Cardroom)
- Ignition Poker
- Chico Network (including TigerGaming and BetOnline)
These sites will not be as secure as the major players such as PokerStars or 888Poker. We are happy to include these sites on the list but it’s advisable to be wary.
These sites are all dependable and enjoy solid reputations. The perfect poker site for all of us is the one where we always win. That, of course, will never exist.
In the real world, poker players look for three key elements in a site:
- Secure, safe deposits and withdrawals
- Attractive bonuses and promotions
- Smooth running software
No poker player wants to see their game disrupted half-way through simply because the software couldn’t cope. So any serious site will treat this as a priority. In this day and age of data breaches, the same goes for the safety and security of your cash deposits.
This is why you should stick to the big names like PokerStars or 888Poker. Their reputation and fame is your protection.
The “smaller” sites on this list like TigerGaming and Bet-At-Home are still multi-million dollar businesses. Therefore, they also have a reputation to protect and continue to have ambitions to grow.
In the world of poker, if a site smells a bit fishy – stay away, even if you’re a shark.