On March 21, 2017, the Parliament of Australia voted to prohibit real money 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, Intertops, 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 try to randomly luck in and find an upstanding room purely through chance.
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. This is very similar to the US online poker situation, and for your reference, in that market, no person has ever been indicted, prosecuted or convicted of playing poker privately as a citizen. Nor will they. The political will does not exist to do this in any Westernized country, especially not one such as Australia: a country with the highest gambling rate in the world.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and it is a method by which some players might attempt to obfuscate their actual location by altering their IP address to appear to be located somewhere other than Australia.
One of the opponents of the recent bill to end Australian online poker 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 preserve your own individual freedoms against unwanted and unneeded government encroachment. Fortunately, however, there's no need to get fancy with VPNs, offshore bank accounts, phony 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 thereby 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.
In fact there are advantages to using offshore Australian poker sites. Tabcorp is one of the main companies responsible for the 2016 Interactive Gambling Amendment legislation that has forced you to stop playing on PokerStars, 888, Party Poker, etc. Unwittingly Tabcorp outlined some major advantages for Australians who wish to use offshore Aussie-friendly poker sites in their "Submission to the Impact of Offshore Wagering Review". On page 4 section c they wrote:
Some people may also choose to use... offshore wagering providers for reasons of secrecy... offshore wagering providers are not subject to Australian laws or regulatory oversight, so individuals who are prohibited or excluded from betting on an event... can do so undetected. This also applies to high profile individuals who may not want their betting habits subjected to regulatory scrutiny. 
As you can see, by their own admission, it is advantageous for Australian citizens to gamble with foreign operators. At least for those of you who value your privacy and care not for the "nanny state" and/or "big brother" peeking over your shoulder. By using crypto-currencies, you can further insulate yourself and your private activities from those who would intrude upon your liberties. Without any further ado, here are our top poker site picks for Australians.
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 real money poker sites according to game quality and variety, bonuses and promotions, cashout speeds and methods, as well as 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 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 organisation 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 open only to Australians and Americans! If you're eager to pit your wits against U.S. fish without having to battle against grinders from Eastern Europe, then this is the place to be.
Normal ring games run up to $10/$20 for NL Hold'em, PLO, and PLO-8. In addition, you can play LHE and LO8 up to $30/$60. There's also a fast-fold type of poker called Zone that lets you fold your hand and start up a new one at another table without having to wait for the previous hand to complete. 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. 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.
Single-table tournaments go from $1 + $0.10 to $200 + $14. Jackpot Sit & Go is the latest addition to the Ignition game portfolio. It's a type of lottery SNG that applies a randomized multiplier to the buyin amount to determine the total prize pool, which can reach as high as 1,200x the buyin.
New depositors at Ignition get a 100% up to $1,000 poker bonus, which clears at a rate equal to 50% rakeback. The RB equivalent is even higher in Jackpots as hard as this may be to believe. You can trade in your points for tournament tickets too, but this is only worth an additional few percentage points in value.
Ignition allows you to fund your balance with credit cards, Bitcoin (BTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Winnings are paid out via check, BTC or BCH. To minimize the possibility of declined transactions and lengthy payout delays, we counsel you to use Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash. Our Ignition Poker review will show you how to get started at this one-of-a-kind poker site, and our Bitcoin Gambling Guide will show you step-by-step how to purchase your first Bitcoins.
Bodog88 is a sister site of Ignition Casino, and so you'll encounter the same cash games and tournaments, including the bespoke Jackpot Sit & Go lottery contests and fast-fold Zone Poker. However, some gamblers may prefer Bodog88 because it has a sportsbook, which is not the case at Ignition.
Moreover, the casino at Bodog88 has additional games not found at other sites on the PaiWangLuo Network, including titles from such renowned software companies as Microgaming, iSoftbet, Realtime Gaming, and Rival. There are also proprietary games that were developed exclusively for Bodog88 and its related partner casinos.
There are a ton of welcome bonuses available to new customers, including a 100% up to $1,000 poker deal. This bonus clears at a very slightly slower rate than Ignition's, so those who don't intend to leave the poker room might be better off signing up at our #1 listed poker site instead. Yet, if the prospect of a sports bonus up to $168, free casino cash up to $258, and $168 to use in Live Dealer games appeals to you, then Bodog88 is the place to be. There are many other seasonal specials that change frequently but tend to reward those who play regularly over time.
Bodog88 transacts in the convenient Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash crypto-currencies. Australians also have the ability to deposit via credit card and prepaid Astropay debit card. You can play poker on a Mac, PC, or even a mobile device.
To find out more about the poker, casino, and sports selection at Bodog88, browse over to our Bodog88 real money gaming review page.
Juicy Stakes isn't as large as Ignition or BCP; yet, you shouldn't feel hesitant to trust it with your money. It's affiliated with the renowned Intertops group, a sportsbetting and casino organisation that 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, Juicy Stakes 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. New depositors also earn a ticket to a new player freeroll as well as get 25 free spins on casino pokies.
The cashier at Juicy Stakes 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 a 36% rakeback account in this Juicy Stakes poker review.
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 fee-free 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.
Nitrogen was one of the leading Bitcoin-only sportsbooks before creating its own poker room in 2014. Just like its sports division, the poker room at Nitrogen transacts only in Bitcoin, bypassing heavy-handed banking and government regulations.
Traffic is a bit light at Nitrogen, but you should have no trouble finding a microstakes NLHE table or two. PLO also runs from time to time. The smallest MTTs here cost just 0.4 of a chip (about $1.50) to join, but if you're willing to spend 25 chips (~$80), then you can play in the weekly Nitro Blast on Sundays and compete for half a bitcoin in prizes.
Further benefits come to players from the Nitro Rewards program - a type of Nitrogen Poker rakeback - and freerolls. Some of the freerolls are open to all whereas some are exclusive to players who see a certain number of daily or weekly flops at varying cash game stakes.
The Bitcoin withdrawal process at Nitrogen is blazing-fast with coins sent to users' wallets often within a few hours. For more information about this well-respected poker operator, browse over to our review of Nitrogen Sports Poker.
SwCPoker is the current incarnation of the old Seals With Clubs, which was the first online poker room to deal with bitcoins. Each chip here is worth 1/1,000,000 of a bitcoin, and fiat currency, like the Australian dollar, isn't used at all
The biggest selling point of SwC is probably its unparalleled game selection. Not only will you find the NL Hold'em and PL Omaha tables that you'll encounter at virtually every other site, but there's also HORSE, Open Face Chinese, draw games, Badugi, Stud, and a whole lot more. Unfortunately, player volume is low, but it's not too hard to get action if you're willing to table-start.
The Krill rewards system is based on your lifetime playing history, and it provides rakeback of up to 50%. There are plenty of freerolls at SwCPoker, and although the prize pools are small, there are larger freerolls available depending on your Krill total. Peruse our SwCPoker review for additional facts about this room.
BlackChip Poker is housed within the Winning Poker Network, a collection of sites that has seen its player numbers soar over the few years. It's now the ninth most popular place in the world for poker over the internet. [EDITOR'S NOTE: This site will only work via VPN and using crypto-currency for deposits and withdrawals if you are in the AU]
BlackChip spreads the highest ring games among our recommended Australian online sites: up to $50/$100 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 Jackpot Poker lottery games, which give you a randomised chance to compete for prizes as high as 2,500 times the buyin.
Large tournaments include the $200 + $15 Sunday Special, guaranteeing $150,000, and the various MTTs spread as part of the recurring tourney series at the site, like the OSS Cub3d. The regular weekly schedule contains hundreds of tournaments with guarantees at both low and high price points.
Deposits and withdrawals are done by e-wallet, credit card, checks, and debit card. However, you might be best served by the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which is fully supported by BCP. There are also 60+ altcoins also accepted for both deposits and withdrawals.
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'll also get long-term rewards through the Elite Benefits program. Learn about these and other promos in our BlackChip Poker review. If you're more interested in flat rakeback instead of Elite Benefits, then check out our guide to rakeback on the WPN.xx
PokerStars was by far the most popular online poker destination for Aussies before the legislature prohibited this pastime, and so many wonder if it's still open to Australians. The short answer is: no. PokerStars voluntarily exited the country, and so nobody from Australia can play at 'Stars for real money.
Some have attempted to circumvent this fact by using VPNs and false addresses to try to continue playing at the world's largest internet cardroom. However, doing so is against the terms and conditions of the poker site. This is specifically noted in a FAQ for Australian users that PokerStars maintains on its website:
Unlike certain other operators who might not crack down too hard on VPNs and basically tolerate them with a wink and a nod, PokerStars is actually pretty strict in this department. There are countless reports on poker forums of players who were blocked by the company because it detected that they were accessing the games via VPN.
As a resident of Australia, the only way you can participate in 'Stars is with the play money games. There are both cash games and tournaments that use these fake chips to conduct gameplay. Needless to say, you can never cash these chips out, and even transferring them to another user is disallowed because in the past, third-party marketplaces have appeared for private sales of play chips.
In August 2017, PokerStars unveiled a new social poker app called PokerStars Play. It has Texas Hold'em and Omaha cash games, Poker Clubs, trophies, Live Dealer table games, and slots. PokerStars Play is available to residents of Australia and the United States on iOS and Android devices.
The best Australian online poker site to play is ultimately dependent upon your personal goals and preferences; what is right for you, may not be best for someone else. 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:
You might be wondering what's the best way to fund your online poker account and receive your winnings back via cashout. Paysafe, the owner of eWallet services Neteller and Skrill, has announced intentions to stop doing business with Australian customers while credit card acceptance rates hover between 50% - 65%. If you want a payment method that's free from government control and the meddlesome interference of banks and other financial institutions, then perhaps crypto-currency is the way to go.
Bitcoin is the largest such digital currency, and it's supported by all the rooms on our list. You can learn how to start using Bitcoin for online poker with our thorough guide to Bitcoin real money gaming. Other popular virtual coins that you may wish to consider are Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash. They're accepted at fewer internet poker destinations than Bitcoin is. However, they do confer certain advantages, like faster transaction times and lower fees. Read our Ethereum gambling guide and our page describing Bitcoin Cash poker sites for all the relevant info.
One thing to note is that we recommend Coinbase as an exchange where you can buy crypto coins. When it's time to translate your BTC, ETH, or BCH back into AUD, Coinbase won't work. That's because this exchange is open to Australians only for crypto purchases, not sales.
You can instead sign up for CoinJar, a company that was founded in Australia although it has since moved to London's financial district. It can be used to both purchase and sell bitcoins. Once you verify your ID and bank account (it takes up to three business days), you'll be able to sell your BTC and have the funds deposited to your bank through the BPAY system. There's also a CoinJar Swipe debit card that converts your bitcoins into AUD and can be used at any merchant compatible with the EFTPOS system and any Australian ATM.
Remember though that you should always use an intermediate wallet (we really like blockchain.com) between CoinJar and any gambling sites you bet at so that your transactions aren't subject to undue scrutiny by the company, which views online gambling with disfavour.
Another option is LocalBitcoins.com, which facilitates private trades for Bitcoin. Because of its escrow system, you're protected in case the other party doesn't fulfil his or her obligations. You can also try Bitcoin ATMs although there are only about a couple dozen throughout the country, and they're mainly clustered in major cities, such as Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne. ATM firm Stargroup has announced plans to add thousands of Bitcoin-friendly ATM machines in Australia, so you'll have many more locations available in the future.
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 favoured 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.
The long-awaited Senate report on the participation of Australians in online poker was finally presented Oct. 18, 2017. The report was based on submissions collected from gambling firms, anti-gambling advocates, and hundreds of ordinary players.
It's understandable that organisations involved in representing the gaming industry and individual players would testify in favour of the legalisation of online poker, but actually, there was broad support for this policy change from groups that are not specifically involved with the game. For example, the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance and MyChoice filed a joint submission in support of the legalisation of internet poker. They based their argument on the principles of consumer choice, personal responsibility, and freedom from burdensome governmental restrictions on individuals and businesses.
Many were optimistically envisioning a proposal to legitimise online poker, but they were to be disappointed. The tone of the report was pretty conservative, and it counselled those in power to not relax the gaming ban pending further study of the subject and the adoption of the National Consumer Protection Framework.
The Framework was finally completed in November 2018 after much negotiation and back-and-forth among the various stakeholders, but it's expected to take 18 months from this time for all the measures to be fully implemented. Because it requires the cooperation of the federal, state, and territorial governments along with many other parties, the process could take much longer. We feel that players shouldn't hold their breath waiting for a state-supervised internet poker regime to appear.
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 unsavoury 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. These are private corporations hosted and organized in offshore jurisdictions. They put together defensible arguments purporting their legality based not on Australian law, but on International trade agreements and World Trade Organization rulings (of which Australia is a prime member).
A similar phenomenon occurred in the United States after the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006. This lead to a series of internationally based World Court hearings and government vs government lawsuits. In one example, The World Trade Organization ruled against the USA in favour of Antigua and Barbuda and ordered the US to pay damages to the island nation.
Those same rulings are a basis for the legal right of offshore poker sites to offer games to Australian players. 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 compromised politicians currently in power.
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 horse races. 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.
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.
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. Poker became a pretty popular and mainstream activity, and Australian online poker proliferated and flourished over the following decade.
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 because the ban only legally applies to operators within the country of Australia, not offshore operators and not individual citizens of Australia.
If you suspect that you have a gambling problem, can not control your urges to gamble, spend your rent money on poker, or any other degenerate behaviour, we highly suggest that you seek Gambling Help Online's counsel. If you are not certain if you have a problem and are unwilling to contact GHO yet, please at least take the time to read this document from Financial Counselling Australia where you can read real world case studies of problem sports bettors.
Please gamble responsibly!