Nevada, and Las Vegas, in particular, is known around the world as the center for poker dreams. Host to the World Series of Poker since 1970, the emergence of online poker can be directly traced to the 2003 WSOP championship won by Chris Moneymaker, who had qualified for his $10,000 seat at an online poker site.
Since that momentous day, the online poker industry has seen some serious highs and lows, with Nevada leading the charge. Today, the state is one of the few that offers fully regulated online poker to its residents and visitors, but the game is in a far different place than it once was. Let’s have a look at online poker in Nevada in a little more detail.
When did online poker become legal in Nevada
In 2006, and again in 2011, the U.S. government took positions to try to control, and ultimately squash, the online poker industry that had blossomed off the backs of offshore sites that were not licensed by any American gaming body. At its height, online poker was responsible for sending thousands of players to large tournaments in cities like Las Vegas, peaking in 2006 when over 4,000 online qualifiers made up the record-setting field of over 8,600 runners in the World Series of Poker Main Event.
With the action taken by the Department of Justice in 2011, the offshore industry was essentially shut down. However, poker’s popularity never wavered, and some states took it upon themselves to try to create regulated environments for their players. Nevada was one of the first of the states to make waves, passing online poker legislation in 2013.
How does regulated online poker work?
Back in 2013, there were three states that had passed legislation and launched online poker sites in this new regulated environment – Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. However, one of the biggest issues facing these states was how to keep enough players playing to have games available all day and night. This liquidity was never an issue in the early days of online poker, as Nevada residents were playing in pools pf players from across the United States and around the world. Unfortunately, the Wire Act prohibited gambling across state lines, so initially, each of the states had to ringfence its players to the physical borders of the state. This made it very difficult to make sites popular and profitable, so the three states entered into an agreement in early 2014 that would allow players from each of the states to play in the same games together. This gave a bit of a bounce to the sites that were live in each state, but ultimately it will need to expand to allow other states into the mix if we are ever to see numbers that compete with the glory days of the game.
Where can players play online poker in Nevada
Originally, there were three sites that players could access to play online poker in Nevada. The first site to launch, Ultimate Poker, couldn’t maintain the site with the low traffic from only Nevada players, and ultimately it met its demise the next year.
Today, while there are two options available to Nevada players, the only online poker site of prominence is WSOP.com. The site, backed by Caesars Entertainment and taking advantage of the brand recognition of the World Series of Poker, is the best available site for players in the state.
It is expected that more sites may open, especially in light of the growth of regulated sports betting, however as part of the initial legislation in Nevada, many sites that offered poker in the unregulated market are banned from applying for licenses. This means that industry giants like 888 Poker and Poker Stars are shut out of the potentially lucrative market. There was a statute of limitations on these sites entering the market, and this is coming to an end in the coming years. The companies may lobby the government to speed up this process.
How to play online poker in Nevada
When it comes to getting to the online felt, it is very easy to create an account and make a deposit. Rather than the sportsbook industry that forces players to head to a land-based casino to make an account, online poker players in Nevada just have to head to the site and click on the “Register” button. There, players are prompted to give some information about themselves, and within a few minutes, an account is created. This account can only be used within the state borders, however, so if you are traveling to Las Vegas, you will not be able to access your credentials upon leaving the state.
Once you have an account created, all you have to do is find the cashier section of the site and select one of the approved payment methods. You are also able to make deposits to WSOP.com directly at any participating Caesars casino in the state. If you choose an online method, you may have to provide documents to verify your identity, but aside from that, you are only a few clicks away from having a fully funded account!
What games you can play at online poker sites in Nevada
With a smaller pool of players, you are not going to find the massive tournament events that at one time littered the online poker space. However, there are still loads of great options for players of all skill levels and buy-ins. The most commonly found poker games at online poker sites in Nevada include:
Texas Hold’em continues to lead the way in popularity, and when you look at the tournament schedule on WSOP.com, you will see the majority of events are in this discipline. There are some other smaller events in games like Omaha and Stud, and we encourage you to give those a try as the fields are small and less experienced.
One of the most popular types of tournaments in Nevada are World Series of Poker bracelet events, and on the last few years, the company has added online-only bracelet events, meaning you could become a champion without ever leaving your couch or hotel room. The bracelet events happen in conjunction with the land-based WSOP in June. Players will also find satellite events online to qualify players for the $10,000 Main Event, which still has thousands of players entering each year.
If you are looking to grow your bankroll without having to make a big deposit, you can take advantage of the regularly-scheduled Freeroll tournaments at an online poker site. These events, which cost nothing to enter, tend to have weak fields as if you are disciplined, you could find yourself winning some real cash with zero money invested.
While tournaments are where you will find many of the casual players at an online poker site, cash games are where the real money is made. With games starting as low as pennies per hand, a player can get used to the flow of cash games versus tournaments without having to spend a ton of money doing so. Cash games are available in all types of poker, but just like tournaments, Hold’em is where most of the players gravitate. The fact remains that other games offer great value if you can find them open and available for play.
Offshore sites still exist – but buyer beware
Even though the majority of online poker sites that led the way in the growth phase of the early 2000s are now gone from the United States, some smaller sites seemed to avoid the legal fate of the giants. These sites continue to operate from outside the jurisdiction of the United States, accepting players from across the country, including those in Nevada. However, these sites make it very difficult to get your money out when you win, and with the added risk that they cannot be prosecuted should something happen to your account, we do not think these are a great option considering that you could become a World Series of Poker champion playing in the regulated online poker industry!