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Online Poker Australia - Best sites to play poker online 2021

Australian Flag

On March 21, 2017, the Parliament of Australia voted to prohibit real money online poker in Australia, and the text of the bill was finalised and passed on Aug. 9. However, 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, Chico, WPN, 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. Rest assured, all of the sites mentioned are safe and trusted, for if they were not, we would not include them here and instead put them in our list of blacklisted sites.

As regards you, the individual player, Australian poker law is clear: There are no penalties attached to personally engaging in online wagering yourself. It's solely the organisations that provide the games that are subject to enforcement actions.

This means that you can participate in internet-based virtual card games, while wagering real money, 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 charged, 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 Westernised country especially not one such as Australia: the country with the highest gambling rate in the world.[1]

Perhaps one of the reasons Aussies love gambling, and particularly a skill game such as poker, so much is the fact that gambling wins are tax-free for all but a handful of players. Thus, if you possess the necessary skills, you can earn yourself a nice income from online poker without having to hand anything over to the Australian Taxation Office.[2]


Some people think they need VPNs, offshore addresses, foreign bank accounts, and the like to enjoy Australian online poker, but the truth is that this is all unnecessary. At most, you may need to perform a simple 2 minute modification to your computer's DNS tables. You can find out more about what a VPN is, how to quickly modify DNS, and other questions about how to play Australia online poker by clicking here to go to the FAQ at the bottom of this article.

Plenty of online poker operators gladly accept Aussies as customers, and you can use your own name, address, and other personal information when setting up your account. These companies are acting under the framework of well-established and litigated 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. In fact, the USA attempted to flout these rules and was sanctioned by the WTO when it denied Antigua and Barbuda access to online gambling markets [3]. Thus, when you register at one of the recommended sites below, you will not be breaking any laws, and so there is 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, as cited below by one of their biggest critics no less!

Tabcorp is one of the main companies responsible for the 2016 Interactive Gambling Amendment legislation that has forced you and other Australians to stop playing on PokerStars, 888, Party Poker, etc. Tabcorp unwittingly 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. [4]

By their own admission, it is advantageous for Australian citizens to gamble with foreign operators. At least for those who value 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.

Australian Online Poker Sites

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 organisations in the industry even after this unpopular government intervention.

If you have trouble accessing any of the websites below, it may be because your Internet Service Provider (Telestra / Optus) has blocked a website's domain. There is an easy fix to this ISP-induced issue that involves changing your Domain Name Servers. This may sound complicated, however all you need to do is read these instructions on how to quickly change DNS servers in order to access and play at any of the sites below.

Ignition Poker

Ignition Casino Poker Logo
Our Top Rated Poker Room

Ignition is a relatively new entrant into the Australian internet poker scene, having only begun to offer its services in the country in July 2017. Don't you get the mistaken impression that this is some kind of upstart or fly-by-night organisation though: Ignition is part of the Bodog Group, which has been running one of the world's largest online poker operations since 2004. Ignition and its partner sites share players as well as tables and together they comprise the PaiWangLuo Poker Network. For most players, Ignition Poker is the best Australian poker site.

There are several things that set this poker provider apart from most other Aussie-friendly internet cardrooms. First of all, it is by far the largest. There is a bustling cash game section and tons of Hold'em and Omaha tournaments with five, six, and occasionally seven-figure guarantees. Secondly, all players and games are anonymised in order to provide 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 sharks and grinders from Russian and Europe, then this is certainly a poker site to consider.

Please note that some Australian ISPs [Telestra / Optus] are attempting to block players from accessing the Ignition Poker website. If you are unable to reach the Ignition website after clicking our link below, please hit the back button in your browser and follow these instructions from Cloudflare on how to properly set up a DNS bypass. It sounds technical but it is very easy with the step-by-step instructions provided by Cloudflare. Furthermore, implementing this DNS bypass will probably slightly speed up your Internet browsing speeds as well as protect you from DNS based hijacking attacks.

Normal cash ring games run up to $10/$20 for NL Hold'em, PLO, and PLO-8. In addition, you can play LHE 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 four tables worth of action.

The tournament line-up at Ignition is strong with a $150 + $12 $150,000 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 randomised multiplier to the buyin amount to determine the total prize pool, which can reach as high as 5,000x the buyin.

New depositors at Ignition get a 100% up to $1,350 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.

There are downloadable poker installers for Mac and Windows desktops. The mobile poker client enables playing from Android, iOS, and other common smartphone and tablet operating environments without the need to download any bloated apps.

Ignition allows you to fund your balance with credit cards, Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV). Winnings are paid out via check, BTC, BCH, or BSV. To minimise the possibility of declined transactions and lengthy payout delays, it's a good idea to transact with Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, or BSV. In addition, crypto depositors qualify for a special poker bonus of 150% up to $1,500.

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.

Juicy Stakes

Juicy Stakes Logo

Juicy Stakes isn't as large as Ignition; yet, it's a trustworthy place to deposit money for internet gaming. 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 higher action occasionally runs. 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 for promotion hunters 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 adds extra money as players complete tiers, and the gold chips accumulated through normal play can be traded in for no-deposit bonuses. Depositors also earn a ticket to a freeroll as well as 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.


Logo of SwC 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 does it possess the NL Hold'em and PL Omaha tables that are standard 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 for people who are 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.

Blockchain Poker

Logo of

Blockchain Poker is a fairly new site that conducts its gaming in three crypto-currencies: original Bitcoin (BTC), forked descendent Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Bitcoin SV (BSV), which is itself an offshoot of BCH. Each chip in any of these three currencies is worth 1 satoshi or 1/100,000,000 of a crypto coin.

Upon creating a new account, you'll get 50 free chips of BTC as well as 100 apiece of BCH and BSV to try out the games. The tables are exclusively No Limit Hold'em here, and traffic is pretty light, which is a drawback, but there are compensating advantages, like the fact that withdrawals are processed speedily, sometimes within 10 minutes. The ability to create private cash games and tournaments is another cool feature.

Through a system of points, Blockchain.Poker provides rewards that are worth as much as 50% cashback. You can also boost your bankroll through the frequent freerolls that are offered. Browse over to our Review of to learn more.

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 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 the Australian online sites on this list: 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 for high-rollers looking to play for stakes that are meaningful. 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 $100 + $9. In addition, there are Jackpot Poker lottery games, which provide the randomised chance to compete for prizes as high as 2,500 times the buyin.

black chip Elite Benefits cta

Large tournaments include the $200 + $15 Sunday Special, guaranteeing $200,000, 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, a growing percentage of users find themselves 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, the full gaming suite at BCP runs only on Windows and Mac machines; the mobile software contains only a few game types. 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.

What About PokerStars?

Logo of PokerStars

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 card room. 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:

Can I use a VPN or other tool to appear as though I am outside Australia and still play from within Australia?

No. Players who attempt to play for real money while they are physically located in Australia with the aid of VPNs or other technical workarounds will lose their playing privileges and/or funds in their account in accordance with Section 5.11 of our Terms of Service.

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 to participate in 'Stars game offerings is with the play money games. There are both cash games and tournaments that use these fake chips to conduct gameplay. Needless to say, it's impossible to ever 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.

Play Money Games Listed at PokerStars Game Lobby at Play Money-Only

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.

How to Decide Where to Play

The best Australian online poker site to play at is ultimately dependent upon 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 based upon your particular situation:

  • If you're looking for a large number of active games at stakes both high and low, then Ignition and BlackChip would fit the bill well.
  • If cash is low at the moment, and you want the best opportunity to maximise limited financial resources, then could be the place to go.
  • If you wish to participate in the frenetic action of fast-fold poker, then Ignition and BlackChip Poker should satisfy your needs.
  • If a fast-clearing bonus and array of other promos entices you, then Juicy Stakes is the answer.
  • If you like unusual or non-standard styles of gameplay, then SwCPoker's myriad variants should appeal to you.
  • If you are an Omaha hi lo player looking for action, the sites with the most games are BlackChip and SwCPoker.
  • If you're a fan of rewards programs that offer a steady stream of free cash, then Juicy Stakes may be for you.
  • If you want to play in games denominated in Bitcoin, then SwCPoker and Blockchain Poker are two possibilities.

Online Poker Deposits and Withdrawals

Bills and Coins

Many Australian real money gamers wonder: What is the best way to fund online poker accounts and receive winnings back via cashouts? 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%. For a payment method that's free from government control and the meddlesome interference of banks and other financial institutions, perhaps crypto-currency is the way to go.

Bitcoin is the largest such digital currency, and it's supported by all the rooms on the list above. 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 serve much the same purpose 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 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. Upon ID and bank account verification (it takes up to three business days), you'll be able to sell your BTC and have the funds deposited to a bank through the BPAY system. There's also a CoinJar Swipe debit card that converts bitcoins into AUD and can be used at any merchant compatible with the EFTPOS system and any Australian ATM.

Remember though that using an intermediate wallet (like between CoinJar and any gambling sites is necessary to prevent transactions from being subject to undue scrutiny by the company, which views online gambling with disfavour.

Another option is, which facilitates private trades for Bitcoin. Because of its escrow system, users are protected in case other parties don't fulfil their obligations.

Bitcoin ATMs are another option although there are only a few 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 many more locations will become available in the future.

Several years ago, retail network Blueshyft teamed up with Bitcoin Australia to make it possible to purchase BTC at more than a thousand retail locations. After setting up a wallet on the Bitcoin Australia website, customers bring cash to a participating newsagent and exchange it for Bitcoin, which is then sent to the appropriate crypto wallet address.

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,[5] which sought to protect Australians from the harms caused by online gambling.[6] 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 finalised in 2017 the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill,[7] 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 [8] 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 organisations actually providing poker games over the 'net. Rank-and-file players themselves are perfectly safe as they pursue their favoured pastime. For more info on the various anti-gambling statutes and the way they work in practice, check out this overview of online poker law in Australia.

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 might be one reason why it was signed into law before the results of the parliamentary inquiry into online poker [9] were released. The final result of these antics could turn out to be a ring-fenced, regulated environment for internet poker in Australia with licences only issued to locally run organisations.

Will the Ban Be Overturned?

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.[10] They based their argument on the principles of consumer choice, personal responsibility, and freedom from burdensome governmental restrictions on individuals and businesses.

Yet, there was plenty of pressure coming from the other side of the argument too. The Australian Gambling Research Centre[11], for instance, made the argument that poker players were several times more likely than other gamblers to become addicted. This study had its issues, most notably the fact that it did not distinguish between brick-and-mortar and online poker, but it undoubtedly influenced the way legislators felt about the matter.

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.

Why Did Some Sites Leave and Some Remain?

The managers 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 organised in offshore jurisdictions. They have 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.[12]

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.

Regulated Online Gambling

As previously mentioned, there are no online poker or casino providers that are legally licensed to offer their services to Australians. Nevertheless, there are other forms of betting that are permitted. The laws against online gambling have exceptions for racetrack betting, sports wagering, and lottery sales conducted over the internet.

Sportsbooks, betting exchanges, and racebooks that wish to offer these services must still be duly licensed by an Australian gambling regulator. Somewhat unusually, there is no federal regulatory agency that awards such licences. Instead, each state and territory has its own licence-issuing body.

However, it's not necessary for an entity that provides online betting platforms for Australians to obtain licensure in each jurisdiction that it transacts in. Rather, it can receive a single licence, which will be good countrywide.

The governmental organisations that approve licences for internet gambling across Australia are:

  • Northern Territory Licensing Commission[13]
  • The ACT Gambling and Racing Commission[14]
  • Liquor & Gaming NSW[15]
  • Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation[16]
  • South Australia Liquor, Gambling & Lotteries[17]
  • Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission[18]
  • Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation[19]
  • Western Australia Racing, Gaming and Liquor[20]

Most of these agencies are mainly concerned with live gaming, like casinos and racetracks, and have only a handful of licence holders who conduct their businesses online. However, the Northern Territory is an exception. When we look at a list of Australia-licensed online betting operators maintained by the ACMA[21], we see that a solid majority of them are regulated by the Northern Territory Racing Commission.

Many prominent international firms, like bet365 and DraftKings, have been lured in by the low fees and reasonable tax rates that are key features of a Northern Territory gambling licence. It's also true that the Northern Territory has, in the past, been viewed as a hands-off regulator although the NTRC has cracked down on what it perceives as violations of the rules from time to time.

In addition to following the demands of the Northern Territory or another state or territorial government, these corporations must also comply with the restrictions imposed on them federally. For instance, sportsbooks are not allowed to offer in-play betting, and there are various advertising regulations that all licensed bookmakers must follow.

Australia Banner Divider

History of Poker in Australia

Old Fan Tan Game in Progress1890s Fan-Tan Parlour

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 legalised 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 CasinoCrown 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 card room 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. 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.

This was amply proven during the COVID-19 scare in 2020 when casinos and clubs were closed down. Australians merely headed to international online sites. These internet poker and casino companies, which the Australian government considers illegal, saw highly increased traffic figures. [22]

Timeline of major events relating to Australian poker, online and offline.

Online Poker Australia FAQ

The subject of internet poker for Australians is one that's full of obscure corners and esoteric wrinkles. It's completely understandable if you have questions that have not yet been addressed. Look below for the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding this field.

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and it is a method by which some players might attempt to obfuscate their actual locations by altering their IP addresses 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 appreciate the senator's counsel to do what's necessary to preserve individual freedoms against unwanted and unneeded government encroachment. Fortunately, however, there's no need to get fancy with VPNs, offshore bank 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 thereby jeopardising your account balances.

Yes, you can play online poker without any legal fear. NONE of the laws that Parliament has passed to try to eliminate internet gaming are directed at players.

All the fines and possible prison sentences that are attached to online gambling target those who manage and run the websites, not ordinary players. Therefore, you can open up internet poker tables to your heart’s content free of worry that you’re doing something wrong.

No, there are no government-regulated online poker sites located in Australia. This isn’t because major gambling companies believe that it’s not worth it to offer their services in the Land Down Under. Nor is it because licence applications have been denied through some fault of the applicants.

The truth is that there does not currently exist any licensing regime for interactive poker in Australia. That’s right – having prohibited unlicenced online poker and casino businesses, legislators failed to establish any mechanism for such licensing to occur. Even the most squeaky-clean organisation cannot obtain a licence. This is why offshore poker is really the only available choice.

Online poker confers several benefits that are absent or reduced in the live poker realm. First of all, you can play from virtually anywhere on your mobile rather than just while physically present in a designated card room. You can even play in bed wearing your pyjamas if you so choose.

Secondly, internet poker is less expensive than the live game. Whereas the rake in Australian card parlours is typically 10% of the pot up to a max of $10, $15, or even more, the rake online is almost always no more than 5%, and the cap is generally less than $5.

Finally, there are more games taking place 24/7 over the internet. No matter what form of poker you prefer, it’s almost a given that you will find more tables running online in that format around the clock than in your local poker room.

Well, it depends. If you’re lucky enough to find an agent you can trust and the club he or she represents has enough games running for your tastes and your agent remains in the good graces of the club owner, then, yes, you might have a great experience with an online poker club that employs agents.

However, this is a few too many “and”s to make these clubs a viable choice for most people. Moreover, since the overall player experience depends so much on the particular agent involved, it’s impossible to really issue recommendations that are valid for every prospective player.

You need only look at the case of “NYPokerKing” to see what happens when shady and/or foolish individuals are entrusted with thousands of dollars of players’ funds. This episode serves as a cautionary tale for those looking to dabble in the confusing world of agent poker rooms.

There are quite a few ways of moving money around online for poker. Credit cards, bank transfers, person-to-person transactions, and other well-known payment methods are supported. The exact options supported will depend on the specific site you intend to play at.

Now that internet poker is frowned-upon by officials in Canberra, though, the old-school financial sector sometimes blocks real money gaming funding mechanisms. Thus, a growing proportion of users is turning to innovative mechanisms such as crypto-currency.

ALL of the poker sites described on this page let you deposit and withdraw via Bitcoin. Indeed, at a few of them, BTC is the only way to make transactions.

Bitcoin gives you full control over your finances without having to put up with meddling by nanny-state bureaucrats. Furthermore, fees are low, and transactions are completed speedily.

 Please gamble responsibly! 

If you suspect that you have a gambling problem, cannot 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.[23] 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.[24]