last updated Sept. 6, 2004
Poker sites pimped by grubby
Oh, there are so many poker sites out there, how do you choose? The best and biggest, in my opinion, is where I can be found daily: Party Poker. If that's you too, why would you stray? In a word: Bonuses! Many of the online poker rooms offer deposit bonuses every now and again, which does wonders in luring in more fish. But you're playing anyway, you might as well work off a bonus while you're at it. Then you can leave and go back to your poker site of choice (or stay if you find you like the new site).

Bonuses can be fulfilled by playing a certain amount of raked hands. Check the sites for their requirements. In the case of Party and their skins, it's 5 to 10 times the amount of the bonus -- so if you get a $100 bonus and you have a 5x requirement, you need to play 500 raked hands before you get the cash. This is no matter what level; even .50/1 qualifies. The fastest way to work off a bonus is by playing 1/2 where most hands are raked (it only takes $5 in the pot).

Please note that because of a recent crackdown, you won't be able to sign up to a Party skin if you already have a Party account. And vice-versa. But you can if you sign up from a different computer and ISP.

By signing up to many of the sites below, you'll get a deposit bonus and you'll be helping me out as well, since I'm an affiliate at each of them. Think of it as paying it forward -- if you like Poker Grub and want to support us, use one of the links below to sign up to a poker site. Particularly if you were planning on signing up anyway. It costs you nothing extra. Plus, you'd help fund things such as the Hands of the Week and my shameful booze and tube socks addiction.

(Sadly, these only work for PCs so if you have a Mac you won't be able to join in on the fun.)

p.s. You also know about the IGMPAY code, right? If you're already using Party or Empire, you can use this code with a $500 deposit to get a $100 bonus. You just need to deposit through IGM-Pay and enter IGMPAY as the deposit code. It's simple to set up -- they'll walk you through it the first time to connect to your bank account, and then for the next two (yes, this bonus is good for each of the sites) you won't have to go through the registration process again. Easy $200, eh? Hurry, though -- this offer could expire at any time.

Though not a real money poker site, PokerSchoolOnline will get you in fighting shape for the real game by letting you practice for play money through their software, access private forums, and sponsoring an annual convention. What differentiates PSO from other sites is advice and tutoring helping you every step of the way by top professionals including Mike Caro, Lou Krieger, Daniel Negreanu, Jennifer Harman, and many more. As your play money grows, top earners win awards of real money. A great place to begin, even if you've already begun.

Party Poker
The creme de la creme of sites, Party's the biggest with over 40,000 people online daily (and will only go up when 2004's WSOP airs on ESPN). Click here to sign up or use the signup code HAMMER and you'll get a 20 percent bonus (up to $100) when you make your first deposit. In other words, if you deposit $500 you'll get $100. If you deposit $100, you'll get $20.

Empire Poker
Empire is a skin of Party. It's the same tables and players as Party, just a different name and color scheme (the blue of which is more soothing than the orange of Party). Think of it like a football game. You have fans of the Redskins (okay, maybe three of them) and you have fans of the Cowboys. But in the stadium, they're all football fans. Hope that didn't confuse you more. Heck, just sign up and you'll see. Same deal: 20 percent bonus, up to $100 if you sign up using this link.

Another skin of Party. Yes, you can have accounts at all of these. But you'll also notice you can't play against yourself (because that would be wrong). Another benefit of a different skin is if people already know your other aliases. Just sign up your new name (even a girl's name!) at a different skin, and you'll still be playing at Party's tables with the same Party opponents... completely incognito! Take that, buddy lists. Click here to sign up and get your 20 percent bonus, up to $75.

Primarily a sports betting site, the poker part of Intertops is yet another Party skin. It's a bit more complex in that you have to deposit money into Intertops and then move it over to Intertops Poker, but isn't another 15 percent bonus (up to $75) worth it? Sign up at this link.

And the final Party skin. Eurobet is also a casino with the Party skin acting as their poker room. I leave it here mostly to complete the list of Party skins. I rarely play at Eurobet because the cashier and hand histories go through their own website, making for a slow experience. Other than that it's the same ol' Party. Email me and I'll refer you as a friend. You'll get $50 after your first deposit.

Paradise Poker
Paradise Poker was the first site I played and drifted from for awhile... until they introduced their tournaments. The months and months of beta testing paid off, because their tourney lobby is my favorite out of all the sites, and the players in the rebuy tourneys are remarkably bad. You'll often find me in the nightly $35K guaranteed tourneys ($30 buy-in) at 9 p.m. The standard signup bonus is 25 percent (up to $50) but courtesy of GrannyMae, if you enter the code GRANNY that bonus is bumped to 50 percent (up to $100).

The Gaming Club Poker
The Gaming Club has daily multi-table hold'em tournaments with incredible overlays. Part of the Prima Network, they share the same tables and players of other Prima poker sites. And they're backed by the casinos, so they can afford to continually add money to tournaments -- tens of thousands of dollars even. As of July 2004, they're offering weekly guaranteed $100K tourneys for only a $50+5 buy-in. I play this every time, because the overlay is so good and few people enter. Even better, games are soft. Particularly no-limit ring. First-time signups get $200 with a $20 deposit.

River Belle Poker
Like Party and their skins, Prima is another network that contains The Gaming Club and River Belle is under the Prima network, the same as The Gaming Club. Like Party and their skins, you'll see the same tables and players but experience a different interface. First-time signups get $30 for a $30 deposit.

River Belle - The Greatest li` ol` Riverboat Casino

Lucky Nugget Poker
Lucky Nugget Poker is also part of the Prima Network. First-time signups get $50 for a $50 deposit.

Lucky Nugget - Where anyone can strike gold

Pacific Poker
The dirty little secret is that Pacific Poker is the softest game on the Internet. The players are mostly from the casino side and they don't know how to play hold'em. Most play any two cards just to see the flop. And they rarely raise. Even if they have the nuts. How could you go wrong? Well, the software is darn slow and pretty clunky. Plus you can only have one table open at a time. Still, a good place to start. And the bonus is good: click here to get a 25 percent bonus, up to $100. (Click here for a special Poker Grub promo -- prizes galore!)

Absolute Poker
Absolute Poker has the most bonuses around, clocking in at least two 20 percent bonuses per month (sometimes three times a month), up to $200 with a $1000 deposit. Your first deposit also gets you 35 percent, up to $210 (promotion through the end of July).

UltimateBet is where Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke hang out, because they work there. Phil's often been seen at the .50/1 tables, so you can actually say you played with the great whiner himself. They have exceptionally fast, smooth, and slick software, but out of all the above sites, the players are better here. Ultimate often has reload bonuses that are just as generous. Very worthwhile getting an account at Ultimate. (Click here for a special Poker Grub promo -- prizes galore!)

PokerStars is where Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer won satellites to the WSOP and ended up winning the whole thing. Terrific tournaments and a class act all around. Sometimes reload bonuses, but not often.

Online Casinos
A good reason to play online casinos is for the bonuses. The odds are certainly better playing online than live and with monthly matchplays, you can actually come out ahead. Like the poker sites, they lure you in with attractive first-time deposit bonuses. Unlike the poker sites, they give you the money upfront to play with. The catch is you can't withdraw until you've met their playthrough requirements (read the Terms and Conditions on their promotions before you sign up and deposit).

Alas, each time I've updated this page we've had another casino group drop out. Captain Cooks (and Casino Kingdom), Belle Rock (Lucky Nugget, River Belle, etc.) and Casino Rewards (Blackjack Ballroom, Golden Tiger, etc.) have all ceased their good bonuses and have upped their wage requirements so much that it isn't worth chasing the bonus.

Here, however, are a few remaining ones.

  • Peach Casino offers a monthly bonus of 100 percent up to $80. Deposit $80, receive $80, and playthrough 30x the bonus ($2400). You'll have to wait for a security code in the mail before you can withdraw. Alas, no autoplay and tedious, but not a bad hourly rate for betting basic strategy at $1/hand.

  • Nostalgia Casino has a 100 percent match up to $300 by redeeming their coupon. If you deposit $300, they'll give you $300 to play with. When you withdraw, they will reclaim that $300, so be careful. It gives you the illusion of playing with more than you have, but if you should lose $300 and cash out your remaining $300, well, they'll take that $300. The nice part, however, is that there are zero wage requirements (for now -- check the terms and conditions), and NETeller payments occur within minutes. Other casinos typically take a few days to over a week.

  • Phoenician Casino has a 50 percent match up to $500 by redeeming their coupon. Deposit $1000, get $500. Similar to Nostalgia in every way (even the look and feel of the casino), they'll remove the bonus when you go to cash out. The wage requirement is 8x the deposit plus the bonus, and they have the same lightning fast NETeller payments. Unfortunately, there's no autoplay. I would only go with Phoenician if you do well at Nostalgia and don't mind playing $12,000 worth of manual blackjack.

  • Casino-on-Net has a 20 percent bonus (up to $200) with a 10x playthrough on the bonus (most wage requirements are bonus plus deposit). So if you deposit $1000, they'll add an extra $200 that you can play with immediately, and you have to wager $2000 before you can cash out. They will also deposit money into your account every month to play with. The downside: they take an incredibly long time to withdraw -- a week is not unheard of.