Online poker boomed throughout 2020 and 2021, as COVID-19 shutdowns of live poker rooms prompted players to head online for poker action. Online poker offers the opportunity to play against friends from all over the world.
Many different poker rooms await players looking to play online. Some jurisdictions restrict access to specific poker sites, but players in most areas of the world can find at least one online poker room.
Some of the top online poker rooms available to U.S. players include Americas Cardroom, Global Poker, WSOP.com, PokerStars USA, and the partypoker US Network.
Where can you play online poker with friends?
Numerous online poker rooms operate around the globe. Depending on where you’re playing from, you might not enjoy legal access to all of the world’s available online poker sites.
Players in the U.S. can’t legally play on the international versions of PokerStars, partypoker, or GGPoker. Partypoker and PokerStars do operate online poker sites in certain U.S. states, but those networks only allow players from within their respective states.
U.S. players can still enjoy plenty of online poker options, however. Here’s a look at some of the world’s top poker sites and where they operate:
Best apps to play poker with friends online
Here are the four top apps and sites for playing online poker with your friends.
1. Americas Cardroom
Americas Cardroom functions as the flagship skin on the Winning Poker Network (WPN). Americas Cardroom (aka ACR) offers online poker to U.S. players in all 50 states.
Other skins on WPN include Black Chip Poker and True Poker, both available in the U.S. The U.S. skins on WPN also include player networks from the network’s international family of poker sites.
2. Global Poker
Global Poker offers online poker under a sweepstakes gaming model. You can’t directly deposit money at Global Poker, but you can purchase “Gold Coins” play money credits and earn “Sweeps Coins” as a gift with those purchases.
Sweeps Coins can be used to play in the sweepstakes poker games at Global Poker and can then be redeemed for cash prizes. Global Poker offers games in all U.S. states except Washington state.
3. WSOP.com/888poker Delaware
Players in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware can play against each other on WSOP New Jersey, WSOP Nevada, and the 888poker Delaware network. These sites all share the same player pool, and the network could expand to include other states in the future.
4. International poker sites
PokerStars, GGPoker, and partypoker all operate major international poker sites. These sites are ideal for getting together with groups of friends outside of the U.S.
U.S. players do have access to online poker sites like PokerStars New Jersey, PokerStars Michigan, PokerStars Pennsylvania, partypoker NJ, and BetMGM Poker Michigan. All of those sites, however, only allow players from within their respective states.
Best places to play online poker for free with friends
Playing online poker with friends for free is fun and easy with the following top options.
1. PokerStars Home Games
Players from the U.S. and abroad can put together free online poker games via the PokerStars Home Games service. You can start a private poker club and invite anyone you want, and the games play out on the familiar PokerStars software.
In the U.S., you’ll need to download one of PokerStars U.S.-based platforms (PokerStars NJ, MI, or PA). You can’t play for real money unless you live in one of those states, but you can sign up for an account and access the Home Games.
Much like PokerStars, WSOP offers free online poker for players not looking to play for real money. The PlayWSOP app allows friends to gather and compete against each other and is available as both a mobile app and a desktop browser-based client.
3. Zynga Poker
Another “social poker” site available worldwide, Zynga Poker persists as a popular play money platform. Zynga Poker functions very much like PlayWSOP and PlayWPT, and is available as a downloadable app for Android and Apple iOS devices.
Players can also access Zynga Poker directly through a desktop browser, with no download required.
How to Play Online with Friends for Money
PokerStars Home Games offers the best platform to set up a private game out of the options listed in this article. The other free poker sites (PlayWSOP, Zynga Poker) are fun play-money options, but PokerStars Home Games allows you to set up truly private clubs and games.
While PokerStars Home Games doesn’t facilitate real-money transactions, you can keep track of your private game’s results and settle up with real money after the game.
PayPal, Venmo, and other instant payment processors offer great ways to reconcile real-money cash game stacks or tournament results at the end of a private home game with friends. It’s generally best to have the club manager, or another financially inclined member of the game, collect all real money beforehand, escrowing the player funds until the game is over.
Creating Private Tournaments
PokerStars Home Games allows club managers to set up both private cash games and tournaments. These private tournaments can revolve around several different poker variants, not just limited to Texas Hold’em.
The club manager sets the game, buy-in, and structure for the tournament. From there, the tournament plays out just as a real-money tournament would on PokerStars.
Like the cash games, you won’t be able to use PokerStars’ payment processors to facilitate real-money play in a Home Game tournament. To play for real money, you should have all players send their entry fee to a designated escrow manager, who then pays out winning players after the tournament.
How to set up a poker game on Zoom
Getting an online poker game together becomes even more fun when you match with a group call on Zoom. There’s no way to directly link a Zoom call to an online poker site, so participating players will have to bring up Zoom in a separate window alongside the poker game.
At least one player should splurge for a paid account on Zoom if you want to gather your friends for a virtual poker game. The free version of Zoom only allows multi-person calls to go on for 40 minutes.
If at least one member of your private game has a paid Zoom subscription, however, the entire group can stay on the call for an unlimited amount of time.