The Largest Online Poker Rooms and Networks
The online poker industry has been changing and evolving over the past ten years and during that time there has been an explosion of poker rooms and networks. The biggest misconception by many new online poker players is that there are only a few poker rooms out there, whether they be PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Party Poker, or UB.com. There are in fact a number of very reputable poker rooms and networks out there, but not all allow U.S.-based players to play.
The key factor to understand is the difference between an independent poker room (i.e. Poker Stars and PartyPoker) and a network of poker “skins” (Merge Network and iPoker).
U.S. Friendly Poker Rooms and Networks
Lets start by looking at the largest poker rooms in the world that are U.S. friendly and the first two happen to be the largest in the world.
- PokerStars: PokerStars is the most recognizable online poker room in the world and led by Team pro Daniel Negreanu. With the largest poker tournaments and constant games available at all hours of the day it is growing year after year.
- Full Tilt Poker: Full Tilt Poker is the second largest poker room in the world and has a stable of sponsored poker pros like Tom “durrrr” Dwan and Phil Ivey. This room is most known for high stakes poker games and has had one of the rooms with the most sustained growth.
- Cereus Poker Network: The Cereus Poker Network hosts poker rooms UB.com and Absolute Poker. This network has been up and down in traffic over 2010, but always stayed within the top 10 of poker rooms in the world. With decent guaranteed tournaments and excellent pro sponsorships, the Cereus Network of rooms is on an upswing going into 2011.
- Merge Poker Network: The Merge Poker Network is the fastest growing poker room in the world. Over 2010 the network more than doubled in size of players with growth from poker rooms (skins) Carbon Poker, FeltStars, and PlayersOnly Poker. The network is constantly growing and has one of the most attracted pieces of poker software in the industry.
- Cake Poker Network: The Cake Poker Network is one of the oldest poker networks and has one of the largest network of poker rooms including Doyles Room (Doyle Brunson’s Room), Victory Poker, and Power Poker. Also has one of the most attractive loyalty programs ever created in the industry.
Non-US Friendly Poker Rooms and Networks
Since 2006 poker rooms and networks have been displaced between those that allow U.S. players and those who don’t due to the fear of U.S. government prosecution. Even though playing online poker in the U.S. is not illegal, the offering of it to U.S. players is filled with legal gray areas. Here are the largest online poker rooms and networks in the world that do not allow Americans to play.
- PartyPoker: PartyPoker was once the king of the online poker industry until 2006 when the U.S. government decided to make an example out of the poker giant. After making restitution with the government the room continued to be a force in the industry routinely following behind Full Tilt Poker in the number of active players without have one U.S. based player playing for real money.
- iPoker Network: The iPoker Network has been steadily growing over the past five years into a dominating force in the industry that is popular around the world. With flagship rooms like Titan Poker, Celeb Poker, Poker770, and William Hill Poker the iPoker Network is a growing network constantly threatening PartyPoker’s #3 status.
- Ongame Network: The Ongame Network is the dark horse in the industry that is carefully biding its time. This 5th largest network is creeping up to the big guys with the help of the massive bwin poker room, Betfair, and Guru Play.
- 888Poker: For years 888Poker was known as Pacific Poker but after a re-branding and enormous marketing push this standalone poker room is a popular place for poker regulars and with fre emoney hand outs attracts weak players too. 888Poker is currently in rumored talks about a merger with other major poker rooms like Ladbrokes.
There are countless rooms to choose from based upon the networks listed above, each offer specific deals to their players and also to their affiliate partner websites. From free poker money to rakeback and unique deposit bonus deals there is a lot of choice out there. The best course of action is to go to a poker community like Pokerspace.com or a major poker site like Pokerlisiting.com and read reviews of poker rooms and ask your fellow poker players where to play to ensure a balanced decision.