Best Independent Poker Sites

What Is An Independent Poker Site?

When online poker started, poker sites all were stand alone operations. They started from scratch and looked to develop enough momentum to get their operations off the ground. The big challenge that faced them was to get enough players playing at their poker site so that other players would want to play there as well. Below we have listed a comprehensive table of the best and most secure independent poker sites in the industry at the moment.

Independent Poker Rooms for United States

Rank Site Download Mac Linux Bonus Visit Site
1 Pkr $500 www.pkr.comRead Review
2 PokerStars $600 www.pokerstars.comRead Review

As we were saying earlier… it was a lot like getting a snowball to roll down a hill, where the further the snowball travels, the bigger it gets, and the faster it moves. However, that’s pretty easy to do with a snowball, but with new poker sites it starts out more like a rock lying in the middle of a field. It doesn’t roll by itself and since it is still just a rock people don’t tend to be all that interested in it either.

I’ve seen some sites just plain die before they are born due to not getting enough people there. There would be one table, say, with a few people at it, but that would be it. Then, as these few players left for greener pastures, they were down to no tables, and no one really interested in starting them up. So that would be it for them and they would go belly up and die. Some sites never saw any action at them at all and just died period.

All during this time, these fledgling poker sites had to compete with the big boys, the ones which were well off the ground and already had plenty of traffic. So players could go to these more established poker sites and get in the game of their choice whenever they wanted. At the new sites, while they did tend to run some more enticing promotions, unless they had at least a decent amount of traffic right out of the gate, their chances of survival wasn’t very high.

The best thing about all of this though is it did separate those poker sites who really had the skills to attract and keep players from the ones that had inferior skills and knowledge and a lesser understanding of what it takes to create a successful poker site. So today we have some very good poker sites out there who have managed to be good enough at what they do to not only make it but prosper in the competitive world of online poker.

If not for these independent poker sites, online poker as we know it would probably not even exist. They were the pioneers, and the concept of poker sites teaming up to form a poker network didn’t come until later, after these independent poker sites proved that it could be done.

Independent Poker Sites Vs. Poker Network Skins

These days, most poker rooms are on poker networks, which allow them to avoid this often painful and even deadly startup process, and start out with an existing medium to large player base. So for instance if we were looking to start up a new poker room, we could join one of the poker networks, pay a licensing fee to them, and then offer the players that we get the ability to play at all of the games and all of the tables on the network.

So as we build our player base, our players add to the total amount of players that play on the network, and therefore it gets bigger with every new poker site which joins in. Some of these networks have therefore now become very large indeed and now rival all but the biggest independent poker site, Poker Stars.

So a lot of players wonder whether or not they should play at an independent site or on a poker network, and what the differences are between them. Essentially, a poker network is like a poker site in itself, with the various poker sites that comprise the network, or their skins as they are most often referred to, merely being components of the site.

While this is true for the most part where poker networks are concerned, it is true that there is more cohesion and consistency with independent poker sites. This is the case simply because poker sites on a poker network are independently owned, and while there are some pretty strict rules as far as how these individual skins must operate, at the same time there is always some variation. Some of this may be good and some may be not so good.

However, this really isn’t much of a problem due to the amount of control that poker networks exercise on their member poker sites to ensure that players have a consistently good experience regardless of whichever skin they choose. Still though, you can’t beat the consistency you get when you’re only dealing with one owner and operator, which purely independent poker sites offer.

Poker networks also offer opportunities to extend the reach of online poker into markets not generally available. Many network skins, for instance, consist of sideline poker rooms that are offshoots of sites which offer other forms of gambling, such as online casinos or online sports betting operations. Not only does tapping into these other markets increase the popularity of online poker overall, they bring in less skilled players to the mix, which every poker player wants to see and wants to play against.

However, many of the independent poker sites have looked to expand their reach themselves, by offering other forms of betting and therefore attracting other types of gamblers to their site, and then cross promoting poker to them as well. So this has also served to bring in more true fish to the mix and allowed them to also offer the opportunity to play against a pretty bad mix of players as well.

So in the end, whether it’s better to play at an independent poker site or at a skin on a poker network depends on the quality of the particular poker sites or networks themselves, not on whether it is on a network or not. So since you are interested in independent poker sites, I’ve provided a brief review of the best of the bunch, which you are welcome to give a try.


PKR ( isn’t one of the biggest poker sites online, but still manages to get a fair amount of traffic, especially at the lower stakes. PKR is a beautiful example of how quantity of traffic isn’t the most important thing and sometimes isn’t that important at all.

At PKR the ratio of bad players to good players is extraordinarily high in fact. This is because good players simply don’t play there, and casual and weaker players tend to love it.

This poker site is set up more like a video game than a poker room, with their 3D graphics and realistic game play. For instance, they are the only poker site that makes you peek at your cards just like at a real poker room. Most of the better players find this to be a problem though since they like to play several tables at once and can’t readily see their hands.

So what you end up with is a bunch of fish playing there, and in fact you get the most off the beaten track kind of players than you will find anywhere else. So if you are still struggling to become profitable there may be no better place to play then at a poker room like this, where you will be going against what is likely the weakest players around. This will have you losing less now and getting to winning much sooner.

Poker Stars

Poker Stars ( has been one of the most successful online poker rooms of all time, and even though they have experienced some difficulties not long ago with the U.S. authorities looking to shut them down, they not only emerged unscathed, but further solidified their position as the world’s favorite place to play poker.

Now, they not only are number one, they have more traffic than every other poker room in the world combined. Their goal has always been to offer the highest quality online poker experience available, and if the votes of players are to be used to decide this, they have succeeded very well indeed.

Poker Stars has been so confident of their abilities here that it has only been in the last few years that they even bothered offering bonuses to players to try them out, and were the only poker site that didn’t feel the need to do so. However, they have changed their stance and now offer a competitive welcome bonus, which has made them even more successful.

The knock on Poker Stars has always been that due to attracting so many good players, the competition there is considerably stronger than other poker sites, but at the same time they offer the most action by far, and also offer players who are looking to improve their game the best opportunity to do so.

So if you’re a higher stakes player looking for more action, or a player that simply wants to improve by going up against the best, Poker Stars can be a good choice. While it’s a good idea not to make this your sole site, as you do want the ability to play weaker players as well, just about everyone has an account here and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t as well.


Bodog ( is one of the few poker rooms that have consistently offered online poker to all players regardless of country of residence. They still offer poker to Americans to this day, under their new Bovada ( brand, which allows U.S. residents access to their main room through a different skin.

Bodog never really reached the level of popularity that the biggest poker sites achieved, but they have persevered and while you may not want to make this your sole poker site, it’s still a good addition to your list of poker rooms where you want to have an account at.

Since there are so few good options these days for U.S. players, and none of them feature very heavy traffic, the best strategy these days is to have accounts at all the worthwhile ones to ensure that you put yourself in the best position possible to succeed by giving yourself the best quality game selection possible.

If you reside elsewhere, Bodog is still a poker site well worthy of your consideration, and is at the very least worth trying out if you have never played there, if for no other reason than to collect the bonus money they have for you and to expand your first hand knowledge of the poker sites out there worthy of your attention.

Party Poker

Party Poker was the reigning champion for many years until they made the decision to exit the U.S. market back in 2006, which dropped them to the number three position. They are currently second in traffic since the demise of Full Tilt Poker who are currently out of operation.

While the sheer amount of traffic is Poker Stars’ biggest drawing card, at Party Poker, it’s always been about the sheer amount of fish that they have. This remains the case today.

Party Poker actually started out as an online casino, several years prior to the birth of online poker, and they also were one of the first online poker sites. So they have always had their online casino traffic to draw upon, and have also attracted a much more casual type of player than Poker Stars and some other tougher sites.

So if you want to play against weaker players, and you definitely should want this, then Party Poker always has been an outstanding choice. They have recently made some significant improvements in their poker site, and are now not only a very popular operation, they are also now world class in every aspect, and are out to be the best at everything.

So given that they are looking to reward you for coming over to their poker site if you haven’t had an account there already, and given that they have and still are one of the very best places to play online poker on the internet, there’s no reason not to let them pay you to experience all of this for yourself.