Best Poker Room Awards
In the online poker world, there's a certain level of self-policing that goes on. Because there aren't international standards on what these sites should be like, and because different regulatory commissions have slightly different rules, it's up to independent bodies to issue rewards and recognition for the best poker room in different categories.
That's exactly what we're doing here with our own awards for what we believe are the most important categories that matter for online poker.
The software used at a site is important because it can make or break your experience as a whole. Being able to quickly and easily find the games that you want to get in and play at a number of tables simultaneously without it slowing down your computer is one of the key factors that players look for in today's environment.
If you have followed the online poker industry for any length of time, you will know that PokerStars is the software that everyone tries to copy because they innovated a number of the important features that we think of as being standard today. With Full Tilt effectively being their sister site right now, we have given them second place honors.
While several things in these awards for the best poker sites can be seen as being somewhat subjective, traffic is something that's easily measured. It goes without saying that there is one major winner in this regard.
The traffic available at PokerStars is on another level of magnitude when compared to the number of players anywhere else, so they are the clear winner. No matter what game you want to play and no matter what stakes you want to play that game for, PokerStars is going to have tables ready for you.
It's worth noting that we have given Bovada second place honors even though they don't have the next-highest amount of traffic, and here's why. Many poker sites have a lot of players logged in at any given time that are not actually playing, so this can inflate their numbers a little. The majority of the players logged into Bovada are actually in games, so this gives them a higher effective traffic.
Having a lot of players to play against is nice, but having weak competition to face is even better because the whole point of playing poker is to make money. There's no use in facing strong competition at lower stakes, and you don't have to do that if you choose your sites correctly.
The reason for this is that Americas Cardroom gives you options to study and take notes on specific players, but Bovada does not.
This means that with just a small amount of effort, you will be picking players apart left and right. The anonymous tables at Bovada drop them down to second place because it's harder to stay with weaker players when you find them.
Because you're transferring real money back and forth for these games, having solid customer service is critical for any site that wants to try to be the best poker room in the world. This means more help with deposits, more assistance with cashing out and 24/7/365 support for anything at all that comes up.
In most cases, an award for customer service in any industry will be based on some type of subjective criteria. For Black Chip Poker, however, they are so far ahead of the competition that it's not even close. Here's what you can find with their top-rate support:
- They will walk you through deposits and withdrawals with step-by-step instructions so that there is no confusion on what to do.
- A customer support representative can help you to figure out exactly what the issue is if you run into problems with your software.
- If you have suggestions on how they can improve their service, then they will take your recommendations seriously.
Overall, it really just comes down to showing that they honestly value you as a customer instead of just treating you like a number.
In poker, trying to come out with a profit is the bottom line that all decisions have to be based on. Promotions can go a long way towards making this a reality, and so we have a special category for the sites that offer the best promotions that will give you value for your play.
Paddy Power Poker wins top honors here because they give tons of bonus opportunities to players all the time in addition to money-added tournaments that have tremendous overlays for special events. This is largely the case because they have to make up for their lack of reasonable rakeback options.
On the other hand, Americas Cardroom is known for having an excellent welcome bonus that will add up to $1,000 to your bankroll. However, they also put on other special promotions like freeroll tournaments, leaderboard competitions and rake races on a regular basis. These are often underrated as sources of value, and they are in addition to a solid rakeback deal.
We have to give PokerStars a special mention because they have the best promotions for players who put in a very high volume of play.
While their VIP system is lacking for people who aren't high volume grinders, it is by far the best option if you're playing more than 100,000 hands per month because that allows you to get to the upper tiers of their system and claim regular bonuses in the four-figure range. Obviously this is going to be a minority of players, which is why they did not receive the top award in this category.
Rakeback is one of the single most important things that you can have if you want to be a winning player as quickly as possible in the online poker world. The best poker rooms will always be the ones that give players the most opportunities to succeed, and rakeback is a major indicator of where their thinking is in that particular area.
You can get very similar rakeback deals between Americas Cardroom and Black Chip Poker with a 27 percent deal at each of these rooms, but we believe Americas Cardroom edges them out. Here's what the Americas Cardroom rakeback program includes:
- A favorable method for calculating average rake that rewards solid play.
- Tournament fees are also given rakeback in this program, so it's not only for cash games.
- Weekly rakeback payments mean that you won't have to wait for long to get a boost to your account.
- Tracking is available on a daily basis so that you can plan ahead for what your next rakeback payment is going to be.
It's worth noting that both of these rakeback programs are excellent options.
The options for American players are somewhat limited compared to the rest of the world, but there are still several different options to choose from. With that having been said, we have a very clear winner for the best US poker site award that we would like to share with you here.
Our pick for the top US poker site is Americas Cardroom.
This is the best poker room in the world for American players for a few main reasons. First, they work with you to make sure that you're able to get your deposits in with whatever method you choose, and they have an excellent track record of paying out withdrawals when they are supposed to.
Second, they have the right mix of awesome software, easy competition and solid rakeback to give you everything that you need to win.
Americas Cardroom pays 27% weekly rakeback to all players.
It's hard to beat the best when they have been the best for almost a decade, and that's definitely the case with the site that we have decided is the best overall poker room. Unsurprisingly, our award for best overall poker site goes to PokerStars.
Finding something new to say about PokerStars that people don't already know is difficult at this point because they are such a juggernaut in this industry. Just remember that while they are definitely the top dog in the general sense, that doesn't mean that they are going to be the best pick for you specifically depending on your personal wants and needs for an online poker experience.