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Play WPT Global in California: Is it Possible?

Despite California’s rich poker heritage and its reputation as a top poker destination in the United States, the state currently lacks legal online poker options for real money play.

Efforts have been made by certain California lawmakers to legalize online poker, yet their endeavors have not yet come to fruition. Presently, California players are limited to participating in social and sweepstakes poker sites for their online poker needs.

At GlobalWPT, we diligently monitor any updates or progress related to the legalization of online poker in California. In the meantime, this page serves as a comprehensive resource, providing a detailed overview of the historical background, current situation, and potential future of real money online poker in the state.

Is Online Poker Legal in California?

No, online poker for real money is not legal in California. The state prohibits online poker under Section 330 of the California Penal Code, which explicitly states the penalties for engaging in such activities:

“Every person who plays or bets at or against any of those prohibited games is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punishable by a fine not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by both the fine and imprisonment.”

For residents of California, the only legal options to play poker online are sweepstakes or social gaming sites. These platforms operate within the legal boundaries and provide an alternative for Californians interested in playing poker online.

Social and WPT Global Online Poker in California

For players in California, the current legal options for online poker are limited to social and sweepstakes poker sites. One of the leading sweepstakes sites available today is Global Poker. These sites utilize virtual currencies instead of real money for gameplay, allowing players to redeem their winnings for cash prizes.

Games and Tournaments at Global Poker

Creating an account on Global Poker is free, and once your account is verified, you can start enjoying the games offered on the site. Global Poker provides both cash games and tournaments that can be played using their virtual currencies.

Tournaments are particularly popular on Global Poker, often attracting large fields and offering substantial prize pools. The site’s availability in nearly every US state and across most of Canada contributes to these impressive numbers.

Global Poker hosts a wide range of daily and weekly poker tournaments, including the Daily Hundo, the Bonanza, the Sunday Scrimmage, the Golden Scrimmage, and the Gold Rush. Additionally, players can participate in recurring tournament series such as the Eagle Cup, the Grizzly Games, the Rattlesnake Open, and The Goat. Keep an eye out for seasonal series like the Spring Carnival or Summer Ring Dash as well.

 Future of Legal Online Poker Sites in California

It appears that the availability of legal online poker sites for real money in California is not imminent. The current focus of gambling expansion in the state revolves around the potential introduction of legal sports betting. While online sports betting could be included in this expansion, other forms of online gambling, such as online poker, are not currently part of the discussion.

The earliest possible timeline for the introduction of sports betting in California is likely 2024, following the unsuccessful outcomes of Props 26 and 27. If online poker were to be legalized, it would likely occur at a later stage, potentially as early as 2025.

However, this does not mean that there is no interest in legalizing online poker for real money in California. In previous years, state lawmakers have consistently introduced legislation with the aim of achieving this goal. Moreover, poker enjoys significant popularity in the state, thanks to the numerous cardrooms and poker rooms found in California’s tribal casinos.

While the process may take time, the legalization of sports betting could potentially pave the way for other gambling expansions in California, including the legalization of online poker.

Safety of Offshore Poker Sites for California Players

It is crucial to avoid offshore poker sites as they are not safe for California players.

While searching online, you may come across poker sites that invite players from California to join and play for real money. However, it is important to understand that these sites operate outside of the United States and do not adhere to US or California gambling laws. Consequently, regulatory authorities in California have no jurisdiction over these sites, making them risky for players from the state.

If you encounter any issues while playing on an offshore poker site in California, there is no guarantee that the site will address your concerns. In cases of suspected fraud or improper conduct in games, such as collusion, ghosting, or multi-accounting, you can only hope that the site will respond to your complaints. The same applies to security issues involving your funds or personal information. In the event of any problems, you have no legal recourse as these sites are not bound by US or California laws and regulations.

On the other hand, legal and regulated online poker sites in California must comply with a comprehensive set of rules in order to operate. If any issues arise on a regulated site, they are obligated to address player concerns and resolve problems promptly, or risk losing their license.

Due to the lack of accountability and the technical violation of California gambling laws, we strongly advise California players to refrain from playing on offshore poker sites. It is in your best interest to choose regulated, legal options for online poker within the state.

Real Money Online Poker Options in Nevada

As neighboring states, Nevada has emerged as one of the few regions in the United States with legalized online poker options for real money play. Presently, the primary platform available in the Silver State is

WSOP affiliated with the prestigious World Series of Poker, holds global recognition as a leading poker brand. Operating within a multi-state network encompassing WSOP New Jersey and 888 Poker in Delaware, the WSOP Nevada online poker site offers an array of cash games and multi-table tournaments, including the highly coveted WSOP bracelet events.

Individuals aged 21 and above can access the WSOP Nevada site while physically located within the state’s borders. This includes Californians who venture across the border to visit the casinos in Las Vegas or elsewhere in Nevada. Remarkably, it is possible to create a WSOP Nevada account and make deposits while in California. However, actual gameplay on the site is restricted to Nevada territory. To ensure compliance, the site utilizes geolocation technology, confirming players’ physical presence in the state.

While traveling to another state solely for the purpose of online poker may not be feasible for everyone, Californians already journeying to Nevada for other reasons should bear in mind the opportunity to engage in real money online poker. As we await potential legalization in California, playing poker online in Nevada serves as a worthwhile alternative.

Popular Real Money Poker Games in Online Poker Rooms

When it comes to online poker rooms, players can indulge in a wide variety of their favorite poker games. Many of the games that evoke nostalgic memories from childhood or friendly gatherings can be found on these platforms.

Undoubtedly, the most widely favored game worldwide is no-limit Texas hold’em (NLHE). Regardless of the online poker application you opt for, you can rest assured that you’ll find an NLHE game available.

In addition to NLHE, several other popular poker games can commonly be found online, including:

Pot-limit Omaha
Omaha hi-lo (eight or better)
Fixed-limit hold’em
Seven-card stud
Moreover, certain poker sites may offer additional poker game variations, and some platforms have even introduced their own unique twists to the traditional formats. The assortment of games accessible to players is contingent upon the specific site they choose to engage with.

Crazy Pineapple and Other Poker Games on Global Poker

For most Californians, the social and sweepstakes site Global Poker stands as the primary choice, offering a range of games, including some less commonly explored options.

As expected, Global Poker presents the popular variants of no-limit hold ’em and pot-limit Omaha, two widely enjoyed poker formats featured on the site and across the poker community. Additionally, players can engage in Omaha hi-lo games. Global Poker caters to both “cash” games, utilizing virtual currency, and various tournaments, such as multi-table tournaments and sit-n-go events.

An intriguing addition to Global Poker‘s repertoire is Crazy Pineapple, a hold ’em variant that may seem more unfamiliar to most poker players. Similar to hold ’em, Crazy Pineapple involves combining hole cards with community cards and features four rounds of betting. However, the key distinction lies in the initial deal, where players receive three hole cards instead of the usual two. Following the pre-flop betting round, players must discard one of their three hole cards before proceeding with the hand.

In terms of strategy, Crazy Pineapple generally necessitates stronger hands due to the increased number of cards. Although not as complex as Omaha, Crazy Pineapple often provides more opportunities to craft a premium five-card hand. If given the opportunity, trying out Crazy Pineapple can serve as a refreshing change of pace from the typical hold ’em gameplay.

Global Poker also offers a couple of alternative variants. Players can indulge in Caribbean Poker, a popular dealer-versus-player game found in many brick-and-mortar casinos. Additionally, the site features Surge Poker, a “fast-fold” game where players join a pool and switch seats after each hand, ensuring a dynamic and fast-paced experience.

Title: Live Poker in California: Cardrooms and Tribal Casinos

In California, while online poker remains unregulated, live poker thrives within the state’s borders. Boasting a multitude of legal cardrooms, including some of the largest in the country, Californians have ample opportunities to indulge in live poker gameplay. Additionally, many tribal casinos in the state also offer poker rooms, further expanding the options for players.

California Cardrooms: A Rich History

California has a rich history of legal and licensed poker, dating back to the establishment of the first Gardena card clubs in the 1930s. Presently, the state is home to nearly 100 commercial cardrooms. While technically classified as cardrooms rather than full-fledged casinos, many of these establishments possess a casino-like ambiance. In fact, some of the larger poker rooms incorporate the term “casino” in their names, such as The Commerce Casino & Hotel, The Bicycle Hotel & Casino, and The Gardens Casino.

These cardrooms predominantly feature poker games, with No-Limit Texas Hold’em reigning as the most popular variant. However, larger establishments also offer a range of other games, including fixed-limit hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, seven-card stud, and occasionally razz and other variations. Some cardrooms even feature “casino poker” games like pai gow, three-card poker, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em.

Apart from cash games, the larger cardrooms frequently host prestigious tournament series such as the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker Circuit. Mid-major tours like the Mid-States Poker Tour and the RunGood Poker Series also frequently include stops at various California poker rooms. Here are some of the largest non-tribal cardrooms in the state:

  1. The Commerce Casino & Hotel (Los Angeles) – 200-plus tables
  2. The Bicycle Hotel & Casino (Bell Gardens) – 185 tables
  3. The Gardens Casino (Hawaiian Gardens) – 184 tables
  4. Hollywood Park Casino (Inglewood) – 51 tables
  5. Hustler Casino (Gardena) – 50 tables

While these cardrooms are primarily concentrated in Southern California, popular establishments can be found throughout the state. The Central Valley region, for instance, is home to notable cardrooms like the Club One Casino (31 tables) and the 500 Club Casino (20 tables), located in Fresno. Northern California also boasts several prominent cardrooms, including the Oaks Card Club (35 tables) and the Lucky Chances Casino (19 tables) in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Poker at Tribal Casinos in California

California is home to nearly 70 tribal casinos, many of which feature dedicated poker rooms. Some of the largest tribal casinos offering poker include:

  1. Pechanga Resort Casino (Temecula) – 42 tables
  2. Thunder Valley Casino (Lincoln) – 24 tables
  3. Graton Resort & Casino (Rohnert Park) – 20 tables
  4. Cache Creek Casino (Brooks) – 14 tables
  5. Morongo Casino (Cabazon) – 13 tables

For a comprehensive list of all the cardrooms in California, as well as information about poker rooms at tribal casinos, please refer to this resource.

Note: Please be aware that the availability of poker games and the number of tables may vary. It is recommended to check with specific establishments for the most up-to-date information.

History of Online Poker in California: From Efforts to Legalize to Current Status

The history of online poker in California has been marked by efforts to legalize the game, although real money online poker has never been officially legal within the state. Despite attempts made by some to change the status quo, various legal and regulatory challenges have hindered the progress of online poker legislation in California.

The Turning Point: UIGEA and Black Friday

In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was enacted as a federal law, effectively prohibiting financial service providers from facilitating transactions related to online gambling. Subsequently, on April 15, 2011, the US Department of Justice unsealed indictments and civil complaints against several online poker sites for violating the UIGEA. This event, commonly referred to as “Black Friday,” had a significant impact on the online poker landscape, leading many poker rooms to retreat from the California market.

Attempts to Legalize Online Poker in California

In 2008, lawmakers in California began drafting and introducing bills in both the state Assembly and Senate aimed at legalizing intrastate online poker. These bills proposed various plans involving gaming tribes, card rooms, racetracks, and other entities as potential licensees for online poker operations within the state.

One notable player in the discussion was PokerStars, an international online poker giant, which actively lobbied to enter the California market. However, some bills included provisions known as “bad actor” clauses, effectively barring PokerStars from participation due to its past involvement in serving California players in the period between UIGEA and Black Friday (2006-2011).

The Complex Politics and Stalled Legislation

The online poker landscape in California became even more convoluted as PokerStars opposed bills that sought to exclude them, while other groups opposed bills supported by PokerStars. This clash of interests, combined with the already intricate politics surrounding gambling in the state, made it challenging for any legislation to gain sufficient support and consensus to become law. Despite multiple attempts, including the last online poker bills introduced in 2017, no significant progress has been made.

Current Status and Future Prospects

At present, it seems unlikely that online poker will be reconsidered until California resolves the question of legalizing sports betting. However, any new developments regarding online poker legislation will be closely monitored. Should online poker regain prominence on the legislative agenda, we will provide updates on its potential resurgence in California.

California Online Poker FAQ: Legal Status, Options, and Regulation**

Can You Legally Play Online Poker in California?

No, real money online poker is illegal in California due to the state’s gambling laws. However, you can play online poker on social and sweepstakes sites like Global Poker, which utilize virtual currencies.

When Was the Last Attempt to Legalize Online Poker in California?

The last time California introduced online poker bills was in 2017. Since then, the focus of lawmakers and stakeholders has shifted towards sports betting rather than online poker.

Where Can I Play Legal Online Poker?

Californians can travel to Nevada to play online poker legally. It is not necessary to be a resident of Nevada, but you must be physically located within the state’s borders to participate on Nevada’s online poker sites. Additionally, legal online poker rooms are available in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Delaware.

Is PokerStars Permitted in California?

No, despite previous efforts to establish its presence in the state, PokerStars does not operate in California, and therefore, Californians cannot play on the site for real money. However, they can enjoy the play money version of PokerStars.

Who Will Regulate Online Poker if it Becomes Legal in California?

The California Gambling Control Commission currently oversees gambling activities in the state. If online poker were to become legal, it is likely that the commission would be responsible for regulating and overseeing online poker operations.

Please note that online gambling laws and regulations can change. It is advisable to stay informed about the latest updates and consult official sources for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding online poker in California.

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