It has been a turbulent year in the online poker industry. Since I am a poker player from the United States, its been really hard to find a good poker site to play at. This all started when the US government seized the domains of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker among a long list of others. Since April, there hasn’t been a lot of interest generated because of the lack of legitimate places to play.
Every once in a while, you will see another poker site that tries to fill the void, but the majority of American poker players have stopped playing poker online. Some of these poker sites that came back in the subsequent months were also shut down or had their domain names confiscated.
Some poker sites, like Bodog, were able to stay open and grow. But they are almost officially out of the US market as they receive full licensing from the UK in 2012. (Update 1/1/12 – USA poker players can now play at Bovada Poker, which spun off from Bodog late in December) Other sites like BetOnline and some of the more obscure sportsbooks also offer small poker rooms and tournaments.
Other poker sites, like Full Tilt Poker, had to close their doors entirely because of the online poker crackdown in the US. A lot of these sites were strictly targeting US players and had no other options because they didn’t have enough international players. Full Tilt Poker was a different case altogether.
Full Tilt Poker made some very bad decisions at the end of 2010. This included giving players credit for money that they deposited when Full Tilt couldn’t actually collect the money deposited. By the time that “Black Friday” happened in April, Full Tilt was in the hole $150 million because they hadn’t actually received the deposits. This caused the current calamity that caused Full Tilt to close. The Full Tilt name and rights have since been sold, though it isn’t clear whether Full Tilt will come back under this name.
2012 Top Poker Sites
This brings me to the part where I tell you about the best poker sites of the upcoming year of 2012. Unfortunately, I am not going to currently list a poker site that accepts US customers. That means this won’t be helpful for a lot of people. If you want to see the top poker sites including those that allow US players, check out the link above.
Right now, the top 2 poker sites for the upcoming year are as follows:
1. PokerStars – Yes, they are still around after the US market left. PokerStars is still the largest online poker site in the world. A large percentage of the foreign players that played at Full Tilt left for PokerStars. The largest tournaments and biggest prizes are found here.
You can get a $600 bonus after making your first deposit at PokerStars. You will receive this bonus $10 at a time by earning 170 FPPs (Frequent Player Points). You earn 5.5 FPPs for each dollar collected in rake or tournament fees.
2. Party Poker – Yes, they are still around after leaving the US back when the US first made this illegal in 2006. Party Poker is number 2 in total number of player behind PokerStars and is every bit the equal. Party Poker offers a 500 bonus in 3 different currencies: UK £, EU € and US $. One dollar is earned for every 10 points that you accumulate.
Of course, online poker news can change very quickly. If I find out any really good deals, I will let you know. Currently, your best bet if you live in the United States is to play at a local bar or casino. Hopefully, the government will realize how much money they are missing out on and create a law that doesn’t create a modern day prohibition. If the US likes 100% of money being made in this industry to flow outside of the country, that is up to them and the archaric laws they create.