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Playing Online Poker in the State of New York

New York
New York Flag

New York online poker is a diverting form of entertainment that many of the state's residents eagerly participate in. You might be under the impression that it's against the law to play the games you love over the internet, but this is not true. Online poker in New York carries no penalties or risks of legal persecution for individual players.

New York has had a very long and tenuous relationship with online poker. On one hand, the online poker landscape was changed forever when the district attorney of Southern New York Preet Bharara brought charges against PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet in what is now known as “Black Friday.”  On the other hand, it was one of the two states that asked the federal government to clarify what exactly constituted illegal gambling in late 2011 and for further clarification as to the definition of the Wire Act. This led to a determination that the Wire Act did not apply to online poker and thus made the provisions of the UIGEA irrelevant for card games played over the internet.

These vacillations on both sides of the issue have caused some sites to not want to offer games to those in New York, but some offshore gambling sites have decided that the situation is still good enough to operate within.  Below is some quick information on the sites that still offer games to those in New York and the perks you can get for playing on those networks.

 

What Online Poker Sites Can I Play in New York?

While some operators have elected to exit the New York market, others feel that the population of potential players in the state is too large to ignore. We've checked out all these companies to verify that they're honest, reliable, and competent when it comes to their poker games and software products. Simply read the descriptions below, and when you see a site that looks like it might be right for you, click to sign up to it and begin playing today.

 

        Chico Network

Beneficial Features of the Chico Network

Many New Yorkers like playing at BetOnline, on the Chico Poker Network, because of its bustling player volume, plethora of promotions, and soft tables inhabited by weak opposition. Upon making your first deposit at BoL, you'll receive a 100% up to $2,500 poker bonus that clears at a rate equal to 33% rakeback.

CTA for Chico Poker Play Now

The ring game action here starts at $0.01/$0.02, and it goes all the way up to $5/$10 in No Limit Texas Hold'em poker and Pot Limit Omaha. If you fancy a game of Pot Limit Omaha/8, you'll be able to satisfy your cravings although the range of blind levels for this format is restricted a little bit. Sit n' goes are a pretty popular type of contest at BetOnline with the low end comprised of $0.05, no-fee SNGs and the higher buyins reaching up to $500 + $25.

The download poker software comes in Mac and PC versions, and in addition, there's a mobile app if you should feel like playing poker away from home. The mobile poker client deploted at the CPN is among the richest, easiest-to-use such programs that we've ever come across in our online poker explorations. Besides the smoothly functioning poker room, you'll also get to play in a casino, a sportsbook, a racebook, and a few other distinct gambling platforms.

Cash gamers, SNG fans, and multi-table tournament aficionados all have their own leaderboards to compete in every week. In total, these points-based competitions award $20,000 every seven days to the most prominent achievers in their discipline of choice. You'll also earn comp points while you play that you can exchange for valuable tournament buyins. Another interesting feature at BetOnline is the Bad Beat Jackpot, which triggers at specially designated tables when quad jacks or better loses at showdown. The BBJ has grown to more than $600,000 in the past.

Professional Rakeback BetOnline cta

Click the banner above to begin your quest for big poker winnings. If you'd rather get more info first, then check out our review of the BetOnline poker platform. Or you can check out their sister site Sportsbetting.ag!

 

     Winning Network

Image of WPN's Positive Features

The Winning Poker Network is the largest place available online to play cards in New York according to numbers from respected industry resource PokerScout. WPN and its top site, Americas Cardroom, didn't attain this amount of success just through blind luck. This network takes care of its players, which is evident when we consider the 100% up to $1,000 welcome bonus and free $50 that's given to newcomes to try out the Jackpot Poker games.

Play Now at Americas Cardroom

These Jackpot Poker sit-and-goes are lottery-style games that begin when three people register. They're winner-takes-all, and the prize pool is determined by a random number that can equal 2,500 times the buyin! Another type of SNG that incorporates random elements is a nine-handed affair called SNG 2.0. Of course, you'll also encounter normal single-table competitions at stakes both low and high. Through the weekly Sit & Crush leaderboard, the most dedicated sit n' go grinders are rewarded with cash prizes and satellite entry tokens.

Cash games encompass price points as low as $2 buyin games and as lofty as $5,000. This is true in both PLO and NLHE, and even the uppermost of this spectrum sees real money play from time to time. Other games present include PLO/8, Seven Card Stud, and Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. Every hand you play, except in heads-up matches, counts toward The Beast leaderboard, which has paid out more than $12 million over its history.

The most exciting part of the Americas Cardroom product lineup, however, is the tournament lobby. The weekly Sunday Special, costing $200 + $15 to join, has the highest guarantee of any regular, weekly MTT open to Americans: $150,000. ACR is also host to the largest recurring tourney for U.S. residents, the Million Dollar Sunday. This has a buyin of $500 + $40, and it pays out no less than $1,000,000 every time it runs. Tournament series, like the Online Super Series, give you something to look forward to if you like the structure and potential profitability of a procession of big tourneys.

ProfRB's CTA for Americas Cardroom

To create your ACR account today, click on the banner above. For an in-depth analysis of the elements that make this a top-tier NY online poker room, take a look at our accurate review of the Americas Cardroom poker offering.

Americas Cardroom is a member of a poker network, and as such, it doesn't run the whole show by itself. If you wish to learn more about the organizations that have joined forces to bring you superb poker gameplay, then BlackChip Poker (read review), True Poker (read review), and PokerHost (read review) are some of the names to keep in mind. If you're searching for a good rakeback deal, then our page on WPN rakeback ought to meet with your approval.

 

        Grand Network

GPN's positive attributes image

Grand Poker Network doesn't have the same extensive history as many of the enterprises we mentioned above, but this is OK becuase its leading company, 5Dimes, does. It's one of the most well-respected bookies online, and it's known for its fair dealings with players and its support for many desireable payment processors.

When you open up the lobby at the 5Dimes poker room, you may be slightly surprised to see that there are seldom more than a dozen active games in total. Like we said, this is a newer site, and it's still growing its player base. The tables that are populated tend to be quite juicy because sophisticated poker pros haven't yet latched onto this site. Ring games are capped at $1/$2, and tourneys have a maximum buyin of just $5 + $.50, so if you're a high-roller, we advise you to make one of our other recommended options your poker home instead.

If you're just getting started on your poker adventure, though, then 5Dimes is one of the best rooms you could play at. The everyday low rake, combined with our 50% rakeback special, means you won't get bled dry over time as you pay the house its share. Furthermore, some of the sub-$5 tournaments here have no house fees whatsoever, giving you a chance to build up your roll even if you're not Phil Ivey or Daniel Negreanu. You can play in a $500 freeroll every Sunday to attempt to run up your balance.

GPN/5D Banner highlights cta

Become a member of 5Dimes today by clicking on the link above and registering your account. Our Grand Poker Network review is a great place to go to get a better handle on what this site has to offer.

 

Nitrogen Poker

New York is a financial hub for the world, and so it's no wonder many New Yorkers have begun dabbling in the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Nitrogen Sports Poker allows you to indulge your fondness for freedom and anonymity by permitting you to play directly in BTC without having to ever use fiat currencies whether for deposits, withdrawals, or actual buyins at the tables. Each chip is worth 1/1,000 of a bitcoin.

There's a decent selection of micro-stakes NLHE here, but action above about .10/.20 is sparse at best. Many of the tournaments come with guarantees, and overlays are commonplace. As you play at the tables, you'll get a spendable rewards currency called Nitro, which can be exchanged for sports free bets and direct mBTC credits to your balance. On top of this, there are many freerolls that you can enter depending upon how many ring game hands you play at various stakes throughout the week. Needless to say, withdrawals are super-fast and come with the low fees that typify Bitcoin transactions.

Nitrogen Sports signup banner

You can sample the BTC poker room at Nitrogen by following our banner link above. Read more about what this innovative firm brings to its customers in our comprehensive page covering Nitrogen Sports Poker.

 

SwCPoker

Enviable Features of SwCPoker

Descended from the first Bitcoin-only poker operator on the planet, SwCPoker continues in the tradition of dox-free, no-nonsense poker thrills. Your virtual chips are each worth 0.001 BTC, and since you never have to trade them in for USD at any point, there are no conversion charges, exchange-rate manipulations, or any other shady financial tactics.

SwC is the leading poker site in the New York market for “other” poker games, like Razz, HORSE, Open Face Chinese, Limit Omaha-8, and 8-Game. The rake here is super-low, and you can hook yourself up with a refund on the rake you do pay through the Krill program, which tracks your history and delivers higher-percentage returns the more you play. You'll also see 50% rakeback applied automatically whenever you play two-handed or three-handed.

Play at SwcPoker Now CTA

Hit up the link above to go directly to SwCPoker. You can also peruse our carefully compiled SwC page for all the details on what to expect.

 


 

Selecting a Good Site for Online Poker in New York

Now that we've listed some of the top organizations dealing online poker in New York, it's about time we let you know how to choose where to play. No single room is best in all categories because they each have their own pluses and minueses. It's ultimately up to you to evaluate their features and pick the most attractive option. We realize that this can be difficult, so we've come up with a handful of things for you to consider.

+ If you think it's critical to be able to pick and choose from the largest number of active games, then the Winning Network has the highest traffic numbers.


+ If you're eager to start playing poker on your mobile device or Mac, then Chico, Grand, and Nitrogen all feature the cross-platform functionality that you seek.


+ If you feel that you deserve a huge welcome bonus, then there's no doubt that Chico Network's $2,500 deal is among the biggest to be found anywhere.


+ If you enjoy non-standard types of SNGs and tournaments, then the Winning Poker Network has Jackpot Poker, SNG 2.0, Million Dollar Sundays, and more.


+ If you're looking for cash games in less-common poker variants, then SwC is number 1 while the WPN is a distant second place.


+ If you believe that Bitcoin is the wave of the future, then Nitrogen and SwC permit you to play poker without using fiat money at any point.

 

Payout Report for Players located in New York State

Black Money Bag

All of the sites we work with allow you to use virtual bitcoins to both fund your accounts and receive your winnings. There are other methods available, like credit cards and money transfer services, but these tend to be a bit cumbersome to work with. Bitcoin permits you to avoid the exorbitant surcharges and lengthy waiting times that sometimes come with traditional payment solutions. If you haven't yet opened your Bitcoin exchange and wallet accounts, then you can learn how to do so here. For general information on payout processing speeds, browse over to our monthy U.S. poker payouts report.

 

New York's Gambling Laws

Legal Book

The laws pertaining to wagering activities in the State of New York are contained in Article 225 of the Penal Code. After looking over this chapter thoroughly, we conclude that there's no law penalizing individuals who participate in online poker games. You have nothing whatsoever to fear from the law in this matter.

The first part of this section, 225.00, contains important definitions that are referred to in the rest of the gambling laws. As far as what counts as illegal gambling, we read the following:

12. “Unlawful” means not specifically authorized by law.

Well, that's short and sweet. As long as any type of gambling isn't specifically permitted by other statutes in effect within the Empire State, it's illegal. This brings up the subject of what counts as gambling. From the same definitions text:

2. “Gambling.” A person engages in gambling when he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.

The legislators have helpfully told us what constitutes a “contest of chance”:

1. “Contest of chance” means any contest, game, gaming scheme or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance, notwithstanding that skill of the contestants may also be a factor therein.

The wording contained herein is duplicated more or less verbatim across several jurisdictions throughout the United States. It applies the Material Element Test, which is somewhat vague and open to interpretation. In his 2012 ruling in the case involving NY poker room owner Lawrence DiCristina, Federal District Judge Jack Weinstein presented compelling evidence for the proposition that poker is a game of skill.

All of this is immaterial, though, to what we're talking about today. DiCristina was charged because he was actually running poker games and taking a small rake for his troubles. There are no laws criminalizing poker for the ordinary players joining such games in NY. There are provisions making promoting gambling against the law, but only someone who “knowingly advances or profits from unlawful gambling activity” would fall into this category:

“Advance gambling activity.” A person “advances gambling activity” when, acting other than as a player [emphasis added], he engages in conduct which materially aids any form of gambling activity.

Other parts of the law make it clear that someone organizing, providing equipment for, and inviting people to a game in which he or she derives no financial gain, except through actual gameplay, is considered just a player for the purposes of these rules. Thus, social home games are unquestionably legally OK.

Some individuals who like to see monsters hiding in every shadow feel that online pokerists are liable to prosecution under 225.30, “Possession of a gambling device.” A computer, the argument goes, could be considered a gambling device if it's used to play cards at unlicensed sites. Well, let's take a look and see what the law really says:

a. A person is guilty of possession of a gambling device when, with knowledge of the character thereof, he or she manufactures, sells, transports, places or possesses, or conducts or negotiates any transaction affecting or designed to affect ownership, custody or use of:
1. A slot machine, unless such possession is permitted pursuant to article nine-A of the general municipal law; or
2. Any other gambling device, believing that the same is to be used in the advancement of unlawful gambling activity; or
3. A coin operated gambling device with intent to use such device in the advancement of unlawful gambling activity.

We can dismiss parts 1 and 3 right away because there's no way a PC is a slot machine or a coin operated gambling device. And the second part only comes into play if the accused acts “believing that the same [the device] is to be used in the advancement of unlawful gambling activity.” We've already seen that advancing gambling activity isn't taking place if someone is acting merely as a player. So these restrictions won't affect you if you just play poker on your machine normally. The State of New York goes after operators, not regular players.

The penalties on the books for illegal gambling firms aren't very severe. These infractions are categorized mostly as misdemeanors or low-level felonies. One reason that some poker sites refuse to operate in New York is that perceived violations of state law can trigger the activation of much more severe federal codes. The events of Black Friday in April 2011 loom large in the minds of gambling operators. Around a dozen people connected with PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker were indicted on various federal gambling-related charges in the Southern District of New York. There were also multi-million dollar civil suits involved.

Nevertheless, some internet poker sites are willing to take the risks involved in catering to the New York market. You'll be able to successfully play cards from the comfort of your own home despite the fact that your options are a bit more limited than in some other states.

 

New York's Poker History

Hourglass

As one of the original 13 colonies of the United States, New York held a population that was not averse to taking risks whether we're talking about crossing the Atlantic to seek a better life or putting their money down on the turn of a card at the gaming tables. Because it wasn't quite as puritanical as some of its New England brethren to the north, it probably exceeded them in toleration for gambling. As with many New World colonies at this time, lotteries were especially popular as they were seen as an easy way to raise funds for public improvement projects without levying taxes.

Yet after American Independence, New Yorkers moved to halt further lottery sales with a rule in the 1821 state constitution against forming any new lottery organizations. In 1848, those preexisting lotteries that had been grandfathered in under the 1821 constitution were barred from operating as well.

John Morrissey
John Morrissey,
19th Century NY Gambler

While lottery mavens, both legitimate and shady, were thus put out of commission, other types of real money wagering flourished. Saratoga Springs was a vacation spot for those seeking out its supposedly healing waters, but merely sitting in the water all day drove visitors to boredom, so they were inclined toward more stimulating pursuits. Several gaming houses and race tracks opened up, and John Morrissey, leader of the Dead Rabbits gang in 1850s New York City, was lured there to try his fortune as a gambling proprietor. Morrissey opened up the Saratoga Race Course and a casino, which is still running today under the name Canfield Casino and Congress Park. Journalist Herbert Ashbury, in his 1938 work “Sucker's Progress: An Informal History of Gambling in America,” had this to say about Morrissey:

He was an expert Poker player, and in private sessions with his friends was noted for scrupulous fairness. But in his public games he was not so particular; his resorts were operated as skinning houses except when honesty brought greater returns…

In the 1890s, the House with the Bronze Door became famed as THE place to go for luxurious upscale gambling in Gotham. Located on 33rd street in Manhattan, the ornate bronze portal which lent the establishment its name presented a respectable if somewhat ordinary image to unknowing passers-by. Within the rooms of the building, however, one encountered sumptuous décor: velvet carpeting, marble sculptures, oil paintings by the masters, and all the other accoutrements of a tastefully arranged aristocratic mansion. The Bronze Door itself was rumored to have been imported from Venice and cost $20,000 – about half a million dollars today. Clearly, this was not a casino that catered to the average Joe.

In addition to faro, roulette, baccarat, and several other popular house-banked games, it featured rooms to which members could adjourn for private gaming. Poker was one of the pastimes that the well-to-do indulged in away from the prying eyes of the public. The largest pot in these games was reportedly $27,000, which was won by a full house of AAAKK. We can thus gauge the kinds of stakes being played for by comparing this figure to the exorbitant cost of the totemic Bronze Door itself and what that amount is equivalent to today.

New York got a new constitution in 1894, and it banned all types of gambling, so the days of the House with the Bronze Door and other, humbler betting parlors were numbered. The House was shut down by the authorities in 1902. Several successor underground casinos popped up, but none compared with the original either in terms of aesthetic splendor or the level of the action taking place.

Arnold Rothstein
NYC Crime Boss
Arnold Rothstein

Rather than disappearing altogether, gambling businesses found ways around the restrictive laws. This was especially true after Prohibition was passed in 1920. Pioneering NYC bootlegging crime boss Arnold Rothstein, implicated but eventually cleared in baseball's 1919 “Black Sox” scandal, became the big name in illicit gambling parlors, which contributed to his alleged fortune of $10 million in ill-gotten gains. He outmaneuvered the corrupt Tammany Hall political machine to become a major power broker in his own right. It was poker that inadvertently led to his demise. After a multi-day, high-stakes poker game in 1928, Rothstein found himself stuck $320,000. He refused to pay, claiming that the game had been rigged, and was shot dead several weeks later.

Perhaps seeking to curtail the exploits of such criminals, the state amended its constitution in 1939 to legitimize pari-mutuel racetrack betting. Charitable bingo followed in 1957 and educational lotteries in 1966. But there was still no place to go for legal poker in New York.

Underground gin, backgammon, and poker clubs began to appear in the Big Apple. It was in these environments that players such as Stu Ungar, Howard Lederer, and Erik Seidel got their starts. As the years wore on, these establishments became an open secret and hosted cash games at ever-escalating blind levels. One of the sharks in these games was Joel “Bagels” Rosenberg, immortalized in the movie “Rounders” as Joey “Knish.” The most prominent of the clubs was the Mayfair, but it was shut down in the year 2000 during the Giuliani mayoral administration. The remaining unauthorized poker facilities either closed down as well or scaled back their endeavors so as to not attract the attention of law enforcement.

In 1993, tribal gaming came to New York with the creation of Turning Stone Casino in the Oneida Nation. In 2013, commercial casinos were authorized in the state for the first time, and three of them opened their doors a few years later.

 

Regulation Chance for Online Poker

File Folder

With a population large enough to support several online sites, pretty liberal attitudes in the New York City area, and a demonstrated willingness to allow many types of authorized gaming, New York seems like a no-brainer for licensed online poker. Since 2014, there have been a number of bills introduced that would formalize an internet poker regulation scheme. In 2017, online poker licensing bill S03898 was passed by the Senate, but the companion legislation in the Assembly, A05250, only made it past the Codes committee before time ran out in the legislative session. We appear to be getting closer and closer to success every year, so New York is one of a handful of states that actually seem serious about enabling its citizens to do what they please with their own money online.

 

Land Based Gambling

Large Building

The five major types of brick-and-mortar gambling are all available in the Empire State. They are tribal casinos, state lotteries, charitable gaming, pari-mutuel racetrack betting, and commercial casinos. One quirk of the way live gambling is set up in NY is that all tribal and commercial casinos are located upstate some distance away from New York City. For the majority of residents in The City That Never Sleeps, a jaunt over to Atlantic City in New Jersey may be more convenient.

Turning Stone in Verona has the largest poker room for New Yorkers with 32 tables. Cash games in No Limit Texas Hold'em, Limit Hold'em, Pot Limit Omaha, and Limit Omaha/8 await you. Dealers stand prepared to spread other forms of poker upon request.

 

Conclusion

There aren't as many alternatives for online poker in New York as there are in some other parts of the country, but you can still play cards over the internet as much as you wish. There are no laws against playing privately for your own recreation and profit. Choose a good New York online poker site, and shuffle up and deal!

 

 

Do you have an address in a nearby state?

New York's Neighboring States

If you are lucky enough to have another address in a nearby state, be it your business address, summer home, second apartment, family home, etc, you may have other online poker options available to you.  Here are a list of the states that border New York and Professional Rakeback's review on each of them: Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware.

Many New Yorkers are jet setters and travel all over the country and the world.  Thus, it would not surprise us if you, as a New Yorker, happen to have a secondary residence outside of the handful of states we just mentioned.  But fear not, we have more information for you to gobble up. Take a look at our Online Poker Guide for US players, which has data regarding real money play on all 50 states. From there, you can easily find a poker site to play at, or zoom in and check out the options in any other state of the union.

Unfortunately many players across our country don't realize that they have options to play poker online. If you've found this information helpful, please take a moment to share it with your friends and family and thus help to grow the game that we all love so much.