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The Best Online Poker Sites for Australian Players

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On March 21, 2017, the Parliament of Australia voted to prohibit online poker in Australia, and the text of the bill was finalized and passed on Aug. 9. This doesn't mean you can't still play Texas Hold'em and the other games you love. Despite the departure of 888poker, PokerStars, PartyPoker, and other leading online gambling firms, there are still sites that are willing to take a chance by offering poker games to Australians. Some of them are upstanding, honest companies, but as you can imagine, there are others that are not as good. We've reviewed the existing operators to identify where to find the best online poker in Australia so that you don't have to rely on guesswork.

As regards you, the individual player, Australian gambling law is clear: There are no penalties attached to personally engaging in online wagering yourself. It's solely the organizations that provide the games that are subject to enforcement actions. This means that you can participate in internet-based virtual card games without worry or fear of prosecution.

Is a VPN Required?

One of the opponents of the recent bill to end online poker in Australia is Senator David Leyonhjelm. During an emotionally charged speech, he said:

if the legislation passes, I would like to take this opportunity to give some advice to online poker players. Notwithstanding the risk of offshore hosts, screw the government: get yourself a VPN and an offshore account and carry on as you were. And I wish all of you the best of luck.

We empathize with the senator's counsel to do what's necessary to preverve your own individual freedoms against government encroachment. Fortunately, however, there's no need to get fancy with VPNs, offshore accounts, phoney addresses, and the like. In fact, taking this course of action may expose you to violating the terms and conditions of the sites you play at and therby jeopardizing your account balances.

Plenty of online poker operators gladly accept Aussies as customers, and you can use your own name, address, and other personal information. They're acting under the framework of well-established World Trade Organization guidelines that require member countries to allow cross-border access to each other's markets for virtual card games as well as all sorts of other goods. When you register at one of our recommended sites below, you won't be breaking any laws, and so there's no need for you to engage in convoluted rigmaroles designed to obfuscate your whereabouts.

Top Online Poker Sites: Australians Welcome

Every AUS online poker site has its advantages and disadvantages. Here at Professional Rakeback, we're all seasoned players who have been around the internet poker scene for years – in some cases, for more than a decade. We're comfortable and proficient at evaluating poker sites according to game quality and variety, bonuses and promotions, cashout methods and speeds, and numerous other criteria. This is exactly what we've done with the companies serving the Australian market, so you can have confidence in the fact that the options we present to you are the leading organizations in the industry, even after this unpopular government intervention.

Ignition Poker

Ignition Casino Poker Logo

Ignition is the newest entrant into the Australian internet poker scene, having only begun to offer its services in the country in July 2017. Don't be misled into thinking this is some kind of upstart or fly-by-night organization though: Ignition is part of the Bodog Group, which has been running an online poker operation since 2004. Ignition and its partner sites are contained within the PaiWangLuo Network.

There are several things that set this poker provider apart from the others on our list. First of all, it's the largest one. You'll find a bustling cash game section and tons of tournaments with high guarantees. Secondly, all games are anonymized to give newcomers a level playing field against their more experienced opponents. Third, it's the only site on our list with a fast-fold game variety, which it calls Zone Poker. This format brings players to new tables whenever they fold their hands, and they're immediately dealt new hole cards for new hands.
ignition sign up button

Non-Zone ring games run up to $10/$20 for NL Hold'em, PLO, and PLO-8. There's also LHE and LO8 up to $30/$60. You can play a max of only four cash tables at a time at Ignition, and you shouldn't have any trouble filling your quota unless you prefer tables above $1/$2 or limit games, in which case you might have to wait a short while for action.

The tournament lineup at Ignition is strong with a $150 + $12 $100,000 guaranteed event every Sunday headlining the schedule. Throughout the week, you'll find other guaranteed tourneys priced as low as $3 + $0.30 and as high as $250 + $20. Single-table tournaments go from $1 + $0.10 to $200 + $14. Ignition is proud of its recurring tournament series, like the Black Diamond Poker Open, which hand out millions of dollars in prizes across dozens of events.

New depositors at Ignition get a 100% up to $1,000 poker bonus, which clears at a rate equal to 30% rakeback in SNGs and MTTs. The RB equivalent is more difficult to determine for cash games because of the way that poker points are awarded, but it's less than in tournaments. You can trade in your points for tournament tickets too, but this is only worth an additional few percentage points in value.

There are download poker installers for Mac and Windows desktops. You can also access the poker room from your mobile device, but sit-and-gos and multi-table tournaments are absent from the mobile selection.Australian account creation link

Ignition allows you to fund your balance with credit cards and Bitcoin, and it pays out winnings via check or Bitcoin. To minimize the possibility of declined transactions and lengthy payout delays, we counsel you to use Bitcoin. Our Ignition Poker review will show you how to get started at this one-of-a-kind poker site.

TigerGaming

Tiger Gaming Logo

TigerGaming is available to most countries around the globe, and that includes Australia. It's part of the Chico Poker Network, and crossover sports-betting and casino traffic from network partners means that the tables are quite loose and filled with action.

The NL Texas Hold'em tables run from $0.01/$0.02 up to $5/$10, and PL Omaha is offered at these same stakes. You'll usually find at least a game or two active at every level, and during peak hours, it's possible to multitable even at the highest stakes. PLO/8 is also present, but traffic tends to be sporadic. You can play sit-and-go contests from $0.05 to $200 + $10, and they start frequently up to the $108 buyins. MTTs are a bit weak here with the only sizeable tourney of note being the $90 + $9 Main Event, which guarantees $50,000. On the final Sunday of every month, this minimum prize pool amount is augmented to $100,000.

Promotions are where Tiger really shines. As a newly depositing player, you'll be entitled to receive a 100% up to $2,500 bonus, which is worth 33% rakeback. There are weekly leaderboards for cash, SNG, and tourney play, which award a total of $20,000. Through the comp points program, you can obtain about another 5% back in tournament entries.

Tiger Gaming play now cta

TigerGaming is one of the few destinations that delivers the full poker room experience on PCs, Macs, and mobile devices. From any of these three types of systems, you can play almost the entire range of cash games, sit-n-gos, and multi-table tournaments that are listed.

Funding your account is easy at TigerGaming because it accepts Skrill, Neteller, and EcoPayz. When it's time to make a withdrawal, you'll receive your money within 24 hours if you employ one of these three processors – or you'll get double the amount of your payout request. Numerous other payment methods, like credit cards and wire transfers, can be used here also. Peruse our review of TigerGaming to acquaint yourself with all the details, including how to sign up for a new account.

BlackChip Poker

BlackChip Poker Logo

BlackChip Poker is housed within the Winning Poker Network, a collection of sites that has seen its player numbers soar over the past year or so. It's now the sixth most popular place for poker over the internet.

BlackChip spreads the highest ring games among our recommended Australian online sites: up to $25/$50 for both No Limit Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha. These games aren't entirely barren either; multiple tables sometimes fill up. This makes BCP an ideal place if you're a high-roller looking to play for stakes that are meaningful to you. Fans of Limit O8 and Seven Card Stud will also find a couple of games running in these difficult-to-find variants.

Normal SNGs are listed in the lobby from micros up to $1,200 + $15. In addition, there are two special formats of sit-and-go here: three-person Jackpot Poker, a type of lottery SNG, and SNG 2.0, which seats nine and determines the prize pool in a randomized pre-game round.

black chip rakeback cta

Large tournaments include the $200 + $15 Sunday Special, guaranteeing $150,000, and the Million Dollar Sunday, a $500 + $40 event that takes place once every few months and awards no less than $1,000,000. The regular weekly schedule contains hundreds of tourneys with guarantees at both low and high price points.

Deposits and withdrawals are done by e-wallet, credit card, checks, debit card, and money transfer service. However, you might be best served by the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which is fully supported by BCP.

Unfortunately, you can only play on a Windows machine; there's no software for Macs or mobile here. Every newcomer to BlackChip will get a 100% up to $1,000 first deposit bonus, which delivers 20% in value back on your rake and tournament fees. You have the option to enroll in a 27% straight rakeback scheme or forgo traditional rakeback and participate in the Elite Benefits program instead. Learn about these and other promos in our BlackChip Poker review.

Intertops

Intertops Logo

Intertops isn't as large as TigerGaming or BlackChip because it's mainly a sportsbook with poker as a sideline. You shouldn't feel hesitant to trust it with your money though because it has been in business for more than 30 years and has achieved an excellent reputation within the online gambling space.

Most of the populated tables here are for blinds of $.50/$1.00 and below in both NLHE and PLO although you will occasionally be able to find higher action. There are not very many SNGs firing, and the multi-table tourneys have small fields and low guarantees.

Despite these shortcomings, Intertops is wonderful if you're a promotion hunter because of its 200% up to $1,000 welcome bonus and the possibility of signing up for 36% dealt rakeback. Furthermore, there are frequent reloads and other seasonal specials. The loyalty levels VIP club will add extra money into your balance as you complete tiers, and the gold chips that you'll accumulate through normal play can be traded in for no-deposit bonuses.

Intertops big poker cta

The cashier at Intertops is well-regarded because of the myriad funding options present, such as Skrill, Neteller, and Bitcoin. You can play through the normal PC software or a special Instant Play client that's compatible with Macs, smartphones, and tablets. Read up on the many reasons for opening an Intertops account in our Intertops poker review.

Grand Poker

Grand Poker Logo

Grand Poker is a tiny network that only started in late 2014, but it's trustworthy because it's an offshoot of the 5Dimes group, a top-rated association of casino and bookmaking entities. Because of its fledgling status, this site remains virtually unknown and ignored by skilled sharks, so the games are some of the softest around.

Cash games from $0.05/$0.10 to $1/$2 await you in NL Texas Hold'em, and PLO in hi-only and split-pot forms also beckons. Tournaments here all cost $5.50 or less to enter, and there's a pretty decent lineup of tourneys with NO HOUSE FEES. The combination of clueless opponents and feeless events means that Grand is the ideal place to run up a bankroll starting from a pittance. With the $500 freeroll every Sunday, you can even begin your real-money poker adventure from $0.

Grand is compatible with Windows and Mac desktop computers, and there's a Flash client that allows mobile users to enjoy the tables too. Join one of the Grand Network sites today, and 50% rakeback will be credited to you on a regular basis. Fund your account with credit card, bitcoins, person-to-person transfer, or one of several other methods.


 

How to Decide Where to Play

The right place to play is ultimately dependent upon your personal goals and preferences. Each of the online card rooms we've highlighted above is top-notch, so we can't say definitively that one is “better” than another. Bearing this in mind, we can provide some guidance on which one is likely appropriate for you based upon your particular situation:

  • If you're looking for a large number of active games at stakes both high and low, then either BlackChip Poker or Ignition would fit the bill well.
  • If cash is low at the moment, and you want the best opportunity to maximize limited financial resources, then Grand Poker could be the place to go.
  • If you wish to participate in the frenetic action of fast-fold poker, then Ignition and its Zone Poker should satisfy your needs.
  • If you play a tighter poker strategy, waiting for good hands before committing your chips, then the 36% dealt rakeback offer at Intertops will pad your profits nicely.
  • If a fast-clearing bonus and array of other promos entices you, then TigerGaming or Intertops is the answer.
  • If you like unusual or non-standard styles of gameplay, then BlackChip's SNG 2.0, Jackpot Poker, and other unique variants should appeal to you.
  • If you are an Omaha hi lo player looking for action, the sites with the most games are: Ignition, Black Chip, and TigerGaming.

 

Map of Australia

Online Poker and Australian Law

The basic legal framework for handling online poker in Australia was established in the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act, which sought to protect Australians from the harms caused by online gambling. Some forms of wagering were explicitly permitted, like sports-betting and lotteries. The bill was intended to have online poker in Australia banned, along with most other forms of virtual gambling, but there were inconsistencies and ambiguities in the wording of the legislation. Due to this fact, foreign online gambling providers were able to offer their services like normal without being hit by lawsuits.

After a review of the existing laws in 2015, the Australian Parliament finalized in 2017 the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill, which modified the 2001 law to close up some of the loopholes and make it tougher to circumvent. This amendment had broad-based support, and efforts by Liberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm and the Australian Online Poker Alliance to thwart it proved futile.

It's now illegal for offshore gambling firms to offer their services to Australians or to advertise their products in any way. There are exceptions for properly licensed sites, but no licensing regime is in place or is laid out for poker in the text of the amendment. It will probably be years, maybe even a decade, before any such regulatory framework can be contemplated, debated, instituted, and inaugurated.

The good news is that there's nothing in the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act or the subsequent 2016 Interactive Gambling Amendment that directly targets Australian players. The entire focus of the laws and their penalty provisions is on the organizations actually providing poker games over the 'net. Rank-and-file players themselves are perfectly safe as they pursue their favored pastime.

Some have speculated that there are powerful and interested forces behind the ban. None of the revenue generated by offshore poker sites in Australia finds its way into the pockets of either the Australian government or the existing companies offering various forms of regulated gambling. Tabcorp and billionaire James Packer both control vast swathes of the AUS gambling market, and they both have the resources to make themselves felt on the political scene. They and others like them may have been pushing for the speedy adoption of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill, and this may be one reason why it was signed into law before the results of the parliamentary inquiry into online poker were released. The final result of these antics may turn out to be a ring-fenced, regulated environment for internet poker in Australia with licenses only issued to locally run organizations.

Why Did Some Sites Leave and Some Remain?

The management of each online room has had to make some tough choices. Those that are licensed in certain areas of the world can only maintain their good standing with the authorities by avoiding grey and black markets, like Australia. Companies that are publicly listed must steer clear of even the appearance of doing anything unsavory lest they be subject to legal action from shareholders.

On the other hand, the Australian market is pretty lucrative, so there are some corporations that are willing to run the risk of falling afoul of the law. A similar phenomenon occurred in the United States after the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006. Needless to say, there are today several virtual poker rooms that operate in the U.S. while still dealing fair card games and sending payouts speedily to winners. The same thing has happened in Australia regardless of the wishes of those in power.

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History of Poker in Australia

Old Fan Tan Game in Progress
1890s Fan-Tan Parlor

Gambling games of all types date back to the beginning of Australia, but poker didn't dominate the scene in the 19th century like it did in America. Rather, a coin game called Two-Up was the most popular game of chance along with betting on horseraces. Chinese immigrants brought with them a variety of traditional gambling pastimes, like Fan-Tan. In the 1950s, poker machines, or "pokies," were legalized in New South Wales, and they soon spread to the rest of the country. Despite their name, they have little to do with poker as such.

Melbourne Crown Casino
Crown Casino in Melbourne

In the late '80s and early '90s, a small community grew up around the Adelaide Casino and its once- or twice-a-year poker events. But it was destined to be the Crown Casino in Melbourne that would become the place to go for cardroom action. Its Australian Poker Championship started in 1998 with the Limit Hold'em Main Event costing $1,000 to enter. As the buyins and prize pools grew over the years and the Main Event switched to No Limit Hold'em, this series came to be known as the “Aussie Millions.” In 2017, the prize pool exceeded $7 million.

Joe Hachem
Joe Hachem, 2005 WSOP ME Champ

Internet-based poker took off in Australia after one of the Crown regulars, Joe Hachem, became the champion of the 2005 Main Event of the WSOP in Las Vegas. This led to a larger public awareness of the game, similar to the "Moneymaker effect" in the United States a couple of years earlier. Online poker became a pretty popular and mainstream activity for Australians.

Australian residents spend more per capita on gambling than any other country on Earth, making Australians highly coveted customers for internet poker sites. Even after playing poker over the internet was banned in Australia, plenty of card rooms still exist that happily serve Australians.