Playing Online Poker Tournaments
Tourney Tracks lists every major tournament series that happens in a casino in North America, but now that online poker is back in the United States, there are tournaments available online too! Residents of New Jersey and Nevada, and more states very soon, can play everything from freerolls (free poker tournaments with cash prizes) to real money tournaments with big buy-ins and bigger prize pools.
To help you find the best online poker tournaments and freerolls, we have chosen the three best regulated US poker sites and created this guide. These sites are completely legal to play in the states where they operate, and they are the best places to play for real money online.
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100% up to $500
100% up to $400
100% up to $600
WSoP.com has an excellent schedule of online tournaments, both freerolls and tournaments played for real money and they are currently the largest site in Nevada and the second largest site in New Jersey. We expect the site to continue to grow with the best name in tournament poker backing them and qualifiers to live events during the World Series of Poker bringing in players in big numbers during the live events of the summer.
Having a recognizable name and offering deposit and withdrawal options from Caesars properties makes WSoP a great site to play online tournaments and a nice freeroll schedule means that you don’t even have to deposit to build up a bankroll.
888 Poker has been around the online poker scene since the beginning, but live players may not recognize them. The freeroll schedule is generous, with big cash prizes for the winners, and the real money tournament schedule is also very good. With their extensive experience in the online poker world, and a partnership with a strong brick and mortar casino, we expect 888 poker to be around for a long time.
The Borgata is one of the best names in live poker, and in their partnership with Party Poker they are poised to become one of the biggest names in online poker as well. The poker tournament schedule at Borgata Poker is excellent, with a nice selection of freerolls and the largest tournament fields of any online poker site that is legal in the United States.
Daily freerolls that pay real cash prizes, a wide selection of real money tournaments, and easy deposit options make Borgata a great place to play.
These sites are all fairly new, opening soon after online poker was regulated within Nevada and New Jersey in 2013, and we expect the market to continue to change. The three sites we have reviewed are not only the largest sites now, but also the most reputable and we think they are the most likely to continue to thrive.
The Future of Online Poker Tournaments in the United States
The tournaments at all three sites are excellent, with good structures and reasonable field sizes. US sites can’t compete with the big worldwide sites yet, but they are growing and the fields are already large enough to win serious cash. In an open and regulated market, with strong competition, the future of online poker in the US will only get better.
We expect WSoP.com to continue to dominate the market in Nevada because the brand is so strong there already. With a huge influx of new players every summer trying to qualify for WSoP events, the fields should be very large during the live World Series of Poker events in June and July, and some of these players will play on WSoP.com whenever they visit Nevada later, so this brand certainly has a chance to grow with an opportunity that other brands do not.
888 Poker is a well known brand in online poker, and they got off to a fast start, but numbers have fallen recently. They are still the second largest site in New Jersey, well ahead of the rest of the pack, and an established brand like 888 will almost certainly find a way to stop the slide, but they will likely lose out to both WSoP and Borgata unless they find a new partner or a new way to promote the brand.
Borgata Poker and their online partnership with Party Poker got off to a fast start, and they are the most successful online poker brand operating in the regulated system in America. Their numbers in New Jersey have dropped off in recent months, but they are still the largest legal US online poker site right now.
Party is one of the most successful brands in the history of online poker, possibly second only to PokerStars, and they have won everywhere they have gone. With Stars having trouble getting a New Jersey license, Party has a nice head start and they will have the knowledge and the funding to move quickly as more states open up. We expect this brand to dominate pretty much everywhere except Nevada, and they could choose to make a strong run there as well, especially if they can partner with a large live casino chain.
The Domino Effect
Online poker tournaments in the United States, especially those with cash prizes, have been tough to find since the four major sites were shut down on the now infamous Black Friday by the Department of Justice. With the opening of legal online poker in New Jersey and Nevada, the market is slowly starting to grow again.
The key to a successful site, especially when it comes to tournaments, is large player pools. A tournament with ten players does not interest many players, but if 1,000 players join, then hundreds more will join next week because of the allure of a large first place prize. This critical mass will bring in many more players and much larger prize pools, but it won’t happen in a single state.
When states start working together, and combining their player pools, the fields will be large enough that critical mass will happen and players will be excited to play online again. The buzz around legal online poker in the US will grow quickly once this happens, and the process is already happening. Multiple states are looking at regulated online poker, including Pennsylvania and California with their huge populations, and a few large states banding together would cause many more states to get in line for a share of the cash.
Until this critical mass is reached, player pools will be a little smaller, but they will also be very soft and easy to beat. That makes today the perfect time to sign up for an online poker site and start learning to beat the tournament game. As the sites grow, so will your winnings, and you’ll have a significant head start on your opponents who are learning the game while you are already way ahead of the curve.