- US Online Poker
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Nevada was one of the first three states to offer legal US poker sites, back in 2013.
Those original three states – NV, NJ and DE – also have a mutual agreement to conduct multi-state poker between themselves. That’s good news, as it allows Nevada players access to a much larger network than would be possible exclusively within the state.
On the other hand, Nevada is an exception to the general rule that online casinos and online poker go hand-in-hand. Although the same law which legalized online poker allows for NV online casino gaming as well, the state regulator has avoided implementing the latter at the behest of the brick-and-mortar casino industry.
The first online poker site in the state, which was also the first in the country, was the now-defunct Ultimate Poker. These days, however, there is only one game in town: WSOP.com.
There’s only one operator in Nevada at the moment, and it’s not the usual one.
In recent years, PokerStars has consistently been the first poker operator to enter new states. However, Nevada regulators have taken a hard-line stance when it comes to companies that operated illegally in the US before Black Friday.
Although it is a very different company now than it was then, PokerStars has nonetheless been denied entry. Instead, WSOP is the only operator serving Nevada customers, at least for now.
WSOP may only hold a monopoly due to PokerStars’ exclusion from the market, but it would probably have a major presence in the state regardless. After all, Las Vegas is the home of the live World Series of Poker each summer, and the WSOP online poker room is now an integral part of that.
WSOP NV is part of a network that also comprises Delaware (where it is also the only operator) and New Jersey. Eventually, other states will join this compact, and other operators may launch their own networks. For now, however, WSOP is the only option in the US for interstate poker.
Game options are a bit limited on WSOP and the software gets so-so reviews. However, thanks to its interstate player pool, it often sets records for tournament prize pools. This is especially true when it hosts special series awarding its coveted WSOP Circuit rings or even WSOP gold bracelets.
Few poker sites these days offer in-browser play. Whether you’re playing on desktop or mobile, you’ll have to download a standalone client or app. Every legal operator will offer these for all the major platforms, including iOS and Android.
Playing poker on a mobile device is very popular these days, but it does have some limitations. Firstly, most apps only let you display a single table at a time. The lack of a keyboard can make bet sizing a chore, unless you’re willing to limit yourself to certain pre-set sizes.
The current WSOP NV poker app is good, but not great. It’s functional and easy to use, but a bit lacking in polish and some modern features. It also doesn’t currently allow for Pot-Limit Omaha play, even though this game is available on desktop.
There are a couple of pieces of good news here. Firstly, the fact that it’s based on older 888 software means it will run on older devices, down to Android 2.3 or iOS 6.1, while other poker apps require newer devices. Secondly, WSOP plans on switching over to 888’s newer Poker 8 platform soon.
Downloading poker apps is easier than ever, thanks to a change in Google’s policies. It used to be that Android users had to download directly from the operator’s website, which added some steps. That’s no longer the case.
Real money poker apps are always free to download. You’ll find them in the Apple App Store or Android Play Store just like any other apps. The only restrictions are that in order to download them, you must be of legal age, and physically located in a state where they’re legal to use.
Once you download the app, just open it and it will walk you through the signup process if you don’t already have an account.
Nevada has an enormous number of land-based casinos, any of which can theoretically partner with an online company to launch a poker product. In practice, however, online poker is a small enough industry that there will never be a lot of competition.
At the moment, WSOP is the only Nevada poker site. It is owned by Caesars, which owns over a dozen casinos in the state, so doesn’t need to partner with an outside company.
The brand most likely to launch a second site in the state is BetMGM. There too, the parent company, MGM Resorts International, has a retail presence in the state, so wouldn’t have to seek out a partnership.
Nevada is an exciting place for online poker tournaments, due to the relationship between WSOP.com and the live World Series of Poker.
The WSOP regular weekly tournament schedule is pretty standard fare. The biggest weekly event takes place on Sundays at 3 PM, and features a $320 buy-in and a $100,000 guarantee. WSOP additionally runs quarterly Online Championship series, which typically feature combined guarantees in the millions.
Where things get interesting is that you’ll occasionally have the opportunity to win WSOP Circuit rings and series bracelets in online events. Since 2015, each summer’s World Series of Poker has featured a growing number of online bracelet events. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WSOP additionally began hosting online circuit events, awarding rings, and moved the entire summer series online, awarding a total of 31 gold bracelets for US players.
Exactly how many such events we’ll see in the future remains to be seen, but their success has been such that they should become a standard part of the rotation. For starters, WSOP kicked off 2021 by announcing monthly online circuit events throughout the year.
WSOP accepts a standard array of deposit options, including:
Most, but not all of these are also available as withdrawal options. Some, however, like credit cards, are deposit only. However, if none of the available electronic withdrawal options work for you, you can elect to receive a check in the mail, or receive cash at the cage of any Caesars property.
Although the state has only one online poker room at the moment, you won’t be lacking for promotions, as WSOP has a robust array on offer. As with other operators in other states, these fall into a few basic categories.
If you’re looking to get started in online poker without putting any of your own money at risk, you’ll want to look for no deposit poker offers. In the case of WSOP NV, it’s a $10 bonus, enough to buy in to a small tournament or play a few orbits at a cash table. Plus, a $10 minimum deposit gets you a $50 free bonus.
Online casinos and poker rooms often offer a matching bonus on first deposits. These are a one-shot offer, so you’ll want to take maximum advantage. In the case of WSOP NV, it’s a 100% match up to $1,000. In other words, whatever you deposit, the site will double it.
Note, however, that these offers pretty much always come with a play through requirement attached, often with a time limit. Thus, the maximum benefit you’ll receive in practice might be much less than $1,000, depending on how much you’re willing to play to clear your bonus.
Deposit matching isn’t always limited to first deposits. If you see a similar deal for subsequent deposits, that’s called a reload bonus. Unlike first deposit bonuses, these are often limited time offers, sometimes associated with a tournament series or holiday season. You may need to check the site’s promotions page to find a special bonus code to activate these.
Most poker sites also have a VIP program of some sort. Typically the way this works is that you earn points by playing, which can be redeemed for cash or other bonuses. There are usually tiers or levels to move through by earning a certain number of points per year or per month, which accelerate the rate at which you earn rewards.
In WSOP’s case, there are five tiers. The highest of these, Champions Club, allows you to redeem points at a rate that works out to 32% rakeback, and requires a relatively modest $10,000 in rake per year to achieve. The program also integrates with Caesars Total Rewards, so your online and retail play will combine to boost your Tier in that program.
Most poker rooms offer various other sorts of promotions on a limited time basis. WSOP has a lot of these. Many are volume based, meaning they task you with playing a certain number of hands or earning a certain number of rewards points in order to unlock a direct bonus or a chance to win a prize.
Such promotions are usually opt-in, so you’ll want to check the operator’s promotions page on a regular basis to make sure you’re not missing out.
Poker is a complicated game, with more ways to play than most people could name. Relatively few of these are available online, however, especially in the US.
The main reason for that is that poker requires opponents to play against. The smaller the market’s population, the lower site traffic will be, and the harder it is to keep games running. Less popular variants just produce empty tables with few or no hands being dealt. Operators don’t want that, so they only offer games that will produce action.
Here’s what you’ll find in Nevada at the moment:
Cash games, also known as ring games, are the traditional way to play poker. You’ll exchange money in your account for chips, and play one hand at a time until you want to cash out. You can stand up at any point (as long as you’re not currently involved in a hand) and convert your chips back to money.
These days, the most popular way to play cash games is six handed, which is a smaller table size than you’ll see in most tournaments. Cash games tend to be aggressive and volatile, and the amount you can win will be in proportion to the amount you risk.
Also known as multi-table tournaments (MTTs), scheduled tournaments have a reward-to-risk ratio that scales with the number of players involved. There’s no cashing out from a tournament; you pay a fixed buy-in, receive a number of chips, and play until you’ve lost all your chips or are the last player standing.
Prizes depend on the order of elimination. Typically the top 10% to 15% of players will receive some sort of prize, with a significant portion of the prize money going to the overall winner. You’re therefore much more likely to lose your money than to win anything, yet a final table finish can produce a huge return on your investment.
Sit-and-go is an on-demand tournament format. Usually, but not always, it consists of just a single table of players. The tournament will have a specific capacity and pay structure, and start when the requisite number of players have signed up.
Lottery sit-and-go (LSNG) is a variant on the sit-and-go concept. It was pioneered by the French site Winamax, and popularized by PokerStars, where it’s known as Spin & Go. These are very short-handed tournaments in which the prize pool is multiplied by a random factor. Usually, you’ll be playing for slightly less than you would be in a regular sit-and-go, but occasionally you’ll get the chance to win a lot more.
WSOP’s version of LSNG is called BLAST. It’s 4-handed, whereas most LSNGs are 3-handed, and has a maximum multiplier of 10,000x.
Since the early 2000s, the game of No-Limit Texas Hold’em is the game most people think of when you say “poker.” Every online poker site offers this, and it’s the default for most tables and tournaments.
That said, depending on where you play, you’ll probably have some other options. Fixed Limit betting is an older, more conservative way to play. It’s no longer a popular format for Hold’em, but works better than No-Limit for certain categories of games, like Stud. Pot Limit is an in-between option, where the betting is capped at the size of the pot, and is the preferred structure for some Hold’em variants like Omaha.
WSOP offers Hold’em, Omaha and Stud, with a variety of betting structures, and Hi/Lo variants for both Omaha and Stud. However, only Hold’em can be played using the mobile app. For the others, you’ll need the desktop client. There is currently no way to play Draw poker variants online in Nevada.
It is frustrating for US poker players not to be able to play on international poker sites. The traffic for those is much higher, meaning a better variety of games and bigger tournament prize pools.
Unfortunately, attempting to play on those while disguising your location is a good way to find yourself banned and your account balance seized. Don’t do it.
It’s likewise a bad idea to play on black market offshore sites. They’ll accept you as a customer, but they’re very risky. Here are some of the ways it’s better to stick to legal sites like WSOP NV:
Telling whether a site is legal or not is easy in Nevada right now: If it’s WSOP.com, it’s legal. Any other site isn’t. However, more generally, here’s how to tell if a site is licensed in the US:
Yes, as long as you are playing at a site licensed by Nevada gaming regulators. Currently the only active site is WSOP.com.
No. PokerStars is considered a “bad actor” by Nevada regulators due to its actions prior to the 2011 crackdown, and cannot obtain a license in the state. It is, however, legal in certain other states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
To sign up for real-money play on WSOP.com in Nevada, players must:
You must be physically located within the state’s borders to play, but don’t necessarily have to be a resident.
WSOP.com offers variants of Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Seven Card Stud as cash games. Tournaments are available for Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo. Limits start at pennies and run up to blinds in the hundreds of dollars.
Tournaments start at $1 and run up to major bracelet event buy-ins of $1,000 and higher. There are also sit-and-go tournaments with buy-ins ranging from micro-stakes to hundreds of dollars.
A combination of checks are instituted to verify if a player is located in Nevada at the time of login:
Geo-location technology has vastly improved since it was first adopted by Nevada’s regulated sites, especially with regards to mobile. Now, players connected to the Internet via wireless or 4G LTE should have little trouble logging on and staying connected to the WSOP.com software.
Just one, WSOP.com. A second operator, Real Gaming, holds a license, but doesn’t have a viable product on the market.
Yes, although they will not be able to wager funds unless they are physically located in the state of Nevada. Withdrawals can also be processed from out-of-state.
Yes. As of April 2018, Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey share player pools. It is expected Pennsylvania players will also be pooled when the state’s regulated market goes live in 2018.
Game options are limited because there’s only one legal operator. WSOP offers only No-Limit Texas Hold’em through its app, though you can play cash games, tournaments or sit-and-goes. Through the desktop client, you’ll have access to a slightly wider range of games, including Omaha and Stud.
Yes, but with limitations.
Online sports betting exists in Nevada, but most sportsbooks require you to deposit in person, so you’ll still have to visit a casino.
The state’s online gambling law technically allows for online casinos as well as poker. However, the retail casino industry is opposed to the idea, fearing the disruption that it would bring. So far, the state’s regulators have complied with the industry’s wishes and haven’t authorized online casino gaming, though they could do so in future.
Browse our more in-depth timeline below.
On December 23, 2011 — just seven months after Black Friday ravaged the US online poker industry — the Department Of Justice publicly released a legal opinion stating that online poker did not constitute a violation of the Wire Act.
This historical ruling effectively gave the thumbs up to legislators who wished to enact licensing and regulatory procedures for online poker.
Nevada’s regulations paved the way for future legislation, covering finer points such as:
Because these safeguards were absent from the U.S. industry previously, fraud, cheating and misrepresentation of funds were commonplace — that would no longer be the case in the regulated era.
More than one year would pass before Nevada lawmakers looked at online poker. On February 21, 2013, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Assembly Bill 114 into law. The bill legalized online poker within Nevada’s borders in the absence of federal intervention, and also cleared a path for interstate liquidity compacts.
Two months later, on April 30, Ultimate Poker made history as the first regulated online poker site to accept real-money players. Ultimate Poker was a majority-owned subsidiary of Stations Casinos, a company most well-known for operating a host of locals casinos in the Las Vegas area.
The new site also served as the official and exclusive online gambling partner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Both Stations and the UFC heavily marketed its new home-grown online poker site to the masses, as least in its early days.
In the three years plus that Nevada has offered legal online poker, the industry has undergone a litany of changes. The first, and perhaps the most noteworthy, occurred in September 2013, when WSOP.com entered the market.
WSOP.com, officially went live on September 19, 2013. It wouldn’t be long before it became the go-to site for online poker players situated in Nevada.
The backing of arguably the biggest name in land-based casino gaming in Caesars, combined with the brand recognition of the World Series of Poker, and a client powered by online gaming behemoth 888, proved to be a potent combination.
If that weren’t already enough, WSOP.com would soon strengthen its position in the US by launching as part of the first wave of regulated online poker sites in New Jersey.
According to Poker Industry Pro (paywall) via online traffic tracking site PokerScout.com, it only took six weeks for WSOP NV to erase the gap between itself and Ultimate Poker. In early November 2013, a new market share king was crowned.
Ultimate didn’t exactly help its own cause. The software was riddled with technical failings, and lacked many of the features players had become accustomed to in the pre-Black Friday days. It also offered fewer cash game variants and smaller tournament guarantees than its rival.
A stellar customer service offering and a timely sponsorship deal with then rising star Jason Somerville helped to slow the bleeding, but that hardly proved enough to prevent WSOP NV from extending its lead throughout late 2013 and into 2014.
In June 2014, WSOP NV experienced its best month ever, thanks largely to the presence of the live Series in Las Vegas and the site’s own cross-promotional efforts. Every summer since, the site has bucked the seasonal downtrend that plagues the online poker industry during the warmer months.
WSOP NV has taken advantage of its ties to the live World Series of Poker in Las Vegas to great effect.
Beginning in 2014, the site began offering numerous entry paths to live events via satellite, capped off by a 25 Seat Scramble that awarded, at minimum, 25 seats into the WSOP Main Event.
The site also began hosting big summer series’ of its own, in an attempt to capitalize upon the increased poker tourism. The strategy proved a wise one, as both cash game liquidity and revenue reached their high points during the summer months.
In 2015, tested the waters ever further, when it held the first online bracelet event. “Online” is a bit of misnomer, as the online portion of the tournament paused when the final table was set, with the final six combatants facing each other in a live setting at the Rio.
In either case, the formula worked: as the first bracelet event drew 905 players, and the second in 2016, 927 players and 1,247 total entries. That proved enough to create the largest prize pool in WSOP NV history: $1,184,650.
WSOP NV made history in July 2015 when it hosted the first online bracelet event. The $1,000 entry tournament saw players battle down to six players online. Then, the final six combatants convened at the Rio for the live final table.
The event was an unprecedented success, generating the largest prize pool by far in US regulated online poker history ($859,750). That mark stood for exactly one year when it was outdone by the second running of the event.
Since then, the online portion of the WSOP has only increased in stature. The WSOP featured multiple events in 2018, and a New Jersey resident even won from the comfort of his own home thanks to multistate online poker.
A third online poker site, the South Point-backed Real Gaming, launched in February 2014. The move struck as somewhat odd, as the Nevada market was hardly capable of sustaining two online poker operators, let alone a third and unproven entry.
Not surprisingly, Real Gaming struggled right from the start, and although the site is still operational today, it’s traffic remains negligible.
On an interesting side, there was once the possibility of up to six online poker rooms in the Nevada market. The notion that new operators could thrive in a market barely capable of sustaining two active sites was far-fetched.
It appears that the potential operators realized this, and (wisely) abandoned their plans.
In November 2014, some 19 months after becoming the first U.S. regulated sites, Ultimate Poker decided to pull out of the Nevada market.
The move came as little surprise, as two months earlier Ultimate ceased operations in New Jersey, where it was a perennial basement dweller behind more recognizable brands.
The operator cited the challenging operating environment as the reason behind its departure.
At the time, cash game liquidity was split approximately 60-40 between WSOP NV and Ultimate Poker. In the wake of UP’s departure, WSOP NV launched a marketing campaign centered on attracting former Ultimate players.
WSOP’s aggressive stance combined with its newly-minted monopoly position in the Nevada market led to traffic rising 60 percent from mid-November to mid-December 2014.
On February 25, 2014, Nevada and Delaware entered into the U.S regulated market’s first interstate liquidity pact. The agreement, signed by Brian Sandoval and Delaware Governor Jack Markell, was originally supposed to go live in the summer of 2014.
But so-called “technical glitches” resulted in numerous delays, and it wasn’t until March 2015 that the agreement went live.
As per the agreement, operators had to have been licensed in both states. Luckily, 888 operates all three skins on the Delaware poker network, and provides the WSOP.com platform in New Jersey and Nevada.
For Nevada, the pact represented little more than a symbolic victory, as Delaware’s player pool was but a tiny fraction of its own. It is unlikely that NV players even noticed the addition of the Delaware pool.
On the flip side, the pact was a boon for Delaware players, who suddenly saw traffic increase by a multiple of twenty.
By 2018, New Jersey had joined the compact. So far, the net impact has not been to grow the overall market. But it has given WSOP — which is the only site active in both Nevada and NJ — a sizable advantage in the US online poker market.
In 2020, the WSOP went online in a bigger way than ever before. Prior to the pandemic, it was already planining on upping the number of online bracelet events to 14. However, the shutdown of retail casinos combined with travel limitations forced it to cancel the summer series entirely.
Instead, it hosted a purely online series, consisting of 31 bracelet events for US players. This was, far and away, the largest online series ever hosted legally in the US. WSOP also partnered with GGPoker to create a separate series for international players.
It likewise brought its Circuit events online, and continued that into 2021. Given how successful these online events have been, it’s likely that WSOP will continue to run online ring and bracelet events in future years, even after the pandemic has abated.
The Nevada market, which is now nearly synonymous with WSOP.com, is in a much better place than it was at launch:
Still, there is plenty of room for improvement: