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Real Money Online Poker California - legal & safe sites 2023

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Can I play online poker in California? The answer is yes!

Is it legal to play real money online poker in California? The answer to this is also yes!


California is the largest state in the Union by population, and it isn't even close. With 39.5 million people calling themselves citizens of this great state, it is no surprise to learn that the largest amount of player traffic to US-friendly poker sites emanates from The Golden State.

Unfortunately, California has not managed to pass any state-wide regulation of poker online or any form of online gambling. It seems that every time a bill comes up for negotiation, the established powers go to war and strike it down. Whether it is politicians angling for more kickbacks, Native American Indian tribes battling amongst themselves for carve-outs, or special interest lobbying by existing poker sites hoping to get "bad actor" clauses passed to keep the competition away, there just doesn't seem to be any consensus.

Fortunately, however, California online poker is not illegal. Neither Federal law nor California state law prohibit citizens from partaking in real money online poker games. You may have heard of UIGEA or Black Friday, but those events do not make your favorite pastime a crime.

UIGEA was snuck into law on a must-pass Port Authority bill by two Senators on the take from the US Casino Lobby. The law shook up the scene, but it targeted the banks and credit cards, not private citizens. Ultimately, UIGEA's policies and certain interpretations of The Wire Act of 1960 led to the ill-fated closure of a number of top poker sites by the US Department of Justice on "Black Friday," April 15th, 2011. However, since then, the DOJ has reversed its negative interpretation of The Wire Act, opening the way for more sites to service the US markets.

Online poker sites have taken notice. As of this moment, there are nearly a dozen sites serving US players. Of those sites, none of them block Californians from partaking in their games. Professional Rakeback's staff has combed through them, played on them extensively, and chosen the most reputable, reliable, and fastest-paying California poker sites to offer to our customers. Directly below, you will find overviews of our favorite poker rooms, links to more full-featured reviews of those sites, and direct sign up links if you want to get started right away.

What Online Poker Sites Can I Play in California?

In order to help you avoid shady and fly-by-night operators, we've taken a good, hard look at all the legal online poker California sites to present you with only top-notch options. Online gambling in California is exciting enough without your taking any unnecessary chances with your valuable money. We've considered the speed of payouts, multi-device compatibility, traffic numbers, and many other factors when coming up with our shortlist of the best online poker sites for California residents. We are professional poker players and long-time enthusiasts of the game, and below you will find what we consider to be the best online poker sites California has to offer.



150% up to $1,500
4.7 / 5



Ignition is the Cali-friendly internet poker room with the greatest number of games running on average and action sometimes going up to $10/$20. Some of the formats spread include NL Hold'em, LHE, PL Omaha, fast-fold tables, SNGs, Jackpots, and tournaments. Speaking of tournaments, there's a $150K Gtd event every week and regular MTT series that award seven figures in prize money. All play is anonymized at Ignition to protect recreational users from being targeted by sharks.

The poker software here comes in Mac and PC downloadable forms as well as a web client that you can access from your phone or tablet. Get a 100% up to $1,000 poker bonus (150% up to $1,500 for Bitcoin deposits) at Ignition as well as another $1,000 for casino games.



100% up to $1,000
4.5 / 5


READ REVIEW is the third-largest room for Americans with blinds as high as $5/$10 in NL Texas Hold'em cash games. PLO and PLO/8 await you too as does the increasingly popular 6+ Hold'em. houses the largest Bad Beat Jackpot currently available to U.S. players – it has occasionally topped $1 million before! SNGs, fast-fold Boost poker, MTTs, and lottery-inspired Windfall poker are also present. Grow your bankroll with leaderboards for sit-n-gos and cash games.

You can install SB Poker on your Windows or Mac desktop, and there's also an excellent mobile product for iOS and Android. You'll get a 100% up to $1,000 poker bonus on your first deposit, and other promotions apply to the attached sportsbook and casino.



100% up to $500
4.4 / 5



As a partner of Ignition, Bovada has all the same poker games and players as its sister site. What sets Bovada apart, though, is that it lets you bet on sports and horses too within the attached sportsbook and racebook. Even wagers on esports, politics, and television programs are possible in addition to more standard fare, like NFL football, MLB baseball, NCAA college athletics, et cetera.

Bovada is compatible with mobile (iOS, Android, and more) and desktop systems (PC + Mac). The poker bonus is 100% up to $500, and there are casino and sports deals worth up to $3,000 and $250 respectively. BTC users get even larger bonuses.



100% up to $1,000
4.3 / 5


READ REVIEW is a partner site of SB Poker, and so you will encounter all the same games and tables at either site. BOL is especially renowned for the quality and responsiveness of its mobile client, which is available for iOS and Android. In addition, there's a web-based interface that's compatible with other mobile systems, Mac, and Linux. The entire gamut of poker games that's accessible from your desktop is also found in the mobile poker room.

BetOnline's poker bonus is a 100% up to $1,000 match. In addition, you will be able to claim a 100% up to $1,000 sports betting crypto-currency bonus, three separate 100% up to $1,000 casino welcome bonuses, a $25 risk-free horse racing bet, and many other promos.



200% up to $1,000
4.2 / 5



Everygame lacks the bustling lobbies of some of its more-frequented competitors, but where it shines is in the value of its promotional offerings. 36% rakeback is standard, and you'll be able to boost your fortunes even more with the weekly rake races, reload bonuses, overlay tournaments, VIP levels program, and other rewards.

Windows users can install the Everygame Poker download client while those on other hardware can use an Instant Play interface to play through their browsers. The poker welcome bonus is 200% up to $1,000 + 25 free casino spins, and further bonuses await you in three separate casinos and the sportsbook.



100% up to $2,000
4.1 / 5


$10 FREE

ACR Poker is where you want to be if you intend to build up a bankroll from nothing. There are numerous freerolls, freebuys, and micro-stakes tournaments where you can participate for a pittance. Notably, ACR is one of the few poker options that still has $0.01/$0.02 cash game tables. Of course, there are a lot of higher-stakes games too if you already have the funds to play in them.

ACR Poker supports Windows machines, and there's a limited mobile app too. Our ACR bonus code PRB10FREE is good for a $10 no deposit bonus. Upon making your first deposit, you'll get 100% up to $2,000.



100% up to $700
4.0 / 5



Coin Poker is a crypto-focused poker room that has implemented several innovative technologies that are not commonly found at competing sites. There's an in-house token, CHP, that fluctuates in value against USD as well as more well-known coins, like Bitcoin. Then there's a decentralized shuffling algorithm, ID verification through Civic, and a couple of other newfangled elements present.

CoinPoker has software that works with PCs, Macs, Android, and iOS. CoinPoker boasts an exceptional set of welcome bonuses. You can get three separate bonuses worth 100% of your deposit of up to $700, 100% up to $300, and 100% up to $700. It is possible to get 33% weekly rakeback if you hold a balance of CHP, CoinPoker's proprietary crypto coin.



200% up to $1,000
3.9 / 5



Juicy Stakes is a sister site of Everygame. The poker side of things is virtually identical although Juicy lacks a sportsbook and a few of the additional casino gaming options that Everygame has. Juicy Stakes nevertheless is a fine place to play because of its frequent promotions, like overlay tournaments, free blackjack bets, freerolls, and reload bonuses.

Juicy Stakes downloads are provided only for Windows PCs. Nevertheless, you can play on your mobile device or Mac computer through the Instant Play feature on the website. Newcomers can look forward to a 200% up to $1,000 poker bonus as well as 25 free slot spins.



100% up to $2,000
3.8 / 5



BlackChip Poker is part of the same network as ACR Poker, so it has most of the same tables and tournaments. These tournaments are many and varied, and they include a weekly $215 Sunday Special with $200,000 guaranteed, a recurring $5M+ Venom event, and numerous MTT series that often come with eight figures in prize pools. When you sign up through our links, you'll get 27% BlackChip Poker rakeback.

BCP provides desktop software that works on Macs and Windows. Furthermore, there's a mobile client, but it only contains a few of the types of games available at BlackChip. Beyond the 27% rakeback deal, BCP also will reward you with a 100% up to $2,000 first deposit bonus.



100% up to $2,000
3.7 / 5



True Poker – part of the Winning Poker Network along with ACR Poker and Black Chip Poker – is a fine destination if you seek a comprehensive rewards program to compensate you for your frequent play. Through its Elite Benefits program, True Poker gives back cash bonuses and other perks to its loyal customers. The rate of return gets better and better the more volume you put in.

For the best gaming experience at True Poker, you ought to download either the Windows or Mac poker client. A mobile poker room also exists, but the selection of games on it is very narrow. Deposit at True Poker and get a 100% up to $2,000 bonus.



3.5 / 5



SwCPoker is a Bitcoin poker room that spreads, in addition to NL Hold'em and PL Omaha, Razz, HORSE, Open Face Chinese, 2-7 Triple Draw, and a whole host of other poker variants. There are many freeroll opportunities in these various types of games to give you the chance to play them without committing your own funds.

Though SwC used to only be available for Windows PCs, it now boasts compatibility with mobile OSes as well as Mac. There's no initial deposit bonus, but you can obtain periodic rakeback payments through the Krill rewards system.



100% up to 25mBTC
3.5 / 5



Nitrobetting is another poker site that transacts solely in Bitcoin. There's No Limit Hold 'em, Pot Limit Omaha, Limit Hold'em, 6+ Hold'em, and Crazy Pineapple waiting for you to take a seat. Nitrobetting rewards its regular users with weekly freerolls and free BTC credits through the Nitro Rewards program.

Because it opens up right in your web browser, Nitrobetting is compatible with almost every computing platform in existence. Nitrobetting Poker offers a welcome bonus of 100% up to 25mBTC. Visit the attached sportsbook and casino for additional promotions and extras.


How to Choose the Best California Poker Site For Your Style of Play

All of the poker rooms we've told you about above are fine destinations for real-money online poker in California, and we can't really say that any one is the best. The most satisfying place to play for you personally will depend largely on your own preferences and the styles of poker you're most comfortable with. We do have a set of considerations that you may wish to keep in mind when making your decision.

☛ If you're looking for the poker sites with the most active tables, then Ignition and Bovada have the most games running.

☛ If you want a high rakeback percentage to increase your long-term profitability, Everygame or BlackChip may be right for you.

☛ If a remunerative first deposit bonus is your principal concern, then Ignition has a $1,000 deal ($1,500 with BTC) that clears pretty rapidly.

☛ If you're interested in fast-fold poker, then Ignition, Bovada, SB Poker, BetOnline, ACR Poker, BCP, and True Poker all have such a product.

☛ If you'd like to try out mobile poker, then the apps from, Ignition, BetOnline, and Bovada are all excellent solutions.

☛ If you're eager to compete against soft opposition, then Ignition, Bovada, Sportsbetting Poker, and BOL provide the means to do so.

☛ If large tournament guarantees fill you with excitement, then ACR, True Poker, BlackChip, Ignition, and Bovada give you the chance to score a big payout.

How Do I Receive Withdrawals and Payouts in California?

Coins and Bills

Players can expect no real difference in the payout times from California than the rest of the states chronicled in our report. Ignition, Bovada, ACR Poker, Everygame, and SB Poker all have Bitcoin withdrawal options that make payouts exceptionally fast.

More traditional methods such as check, bank draft, bank wire, cash transfer via Western Union and Money Gram, and credit cards are also available for payouts and deposits. Traditional methods are also fast at our recommended sites, but do take longer than the Bitcoin option, hence our rather strong recommendation that you utilize the Bitcoin crypto-currency.

Bitcoin deposits are instant, withdrawals typically take 12-72 business hours at the aforementioned sites. Traditional withdrawal methods like checks tend to take 5-12 business days depending on the site and its withdrawal queue at the time of your payout request.

Alternatives to Registering Your Account in the State of California

California'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 is a list of the states that border California and Professional Rakeback's review on each of them: Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. We know many of you may have access to properties in other states, however, and if you do, you'll want to take a look at our US Online Poker guide, where you can learn about all 50 states and navigate to our specific state review of any state of your choosing.

If you have found the information in this guide helpful, please consider sharing it with a friend or family member. Many people are ignorant as to their legal poker options; please help enlighten them!

Facts About California Poker Industry

This section aims to detail factual information regarding the laws and legality of online poker and gambling within the state of California, live gambling information, current and future state regulations, and the rich history of poker and gambling all across the state.

Private Citizens and the Legality of Playing Poker Online in California

Individual Pushing a Ball

California is a very interesting state when it comes to gambling laws because there are the kinds of state laws that every state has, but then there are also a lot of local laws that can greatly change how gambling is viewed in that specific city or county. Looking at the state laws is going to be easiest, though, because trying to dissect the county laws and to give them fair evaluation would be nearly impossible. So in this state, more than any other, you will need to make sure you look at local laws for more specifics on how things are treated. It is also important to say though that no one has ever been charged with playing poker online, so even the local laws really don’t provide the latitude to prosecute on that end.

The word "poker" is only mentioned once in California's gambling code, under Penal Code Sec. 337j(e)(1). This law basically states that it is illegal to run any type of "controlled game," meaning any poker or Pai Gow game, and any other game “played with cards or tiles, or both, and approved by the Division of Gambling Control." Fortunately, in Penal Code Sec. 337j(e)(2)(D) we learn that "(games) not prohibited and made unlawful by statute or local ordinance" are just fine. And (2)(D) states that "Games played with cards in private homes or residences, in which no person makes money for operating the game, except as a player" are perfectly legal.

Online poker is played privately and you, the player, are the only one with money at stake. So worry not; private citizens are free to engage in the online games without legal risk.

California Online Poker Operators

Magnifying Glass

California doesn’t have any online poker-specific laws against operators, but they are fairly harsh on illegal gambling as they try to protect their state industry. As we've mentioned, any game taking a percentage of the pot as rake would fall into the illegal gambling designation. This means that all of the popular online sites would fall into this category pretty easily.

However, there are no specific provisions mentioning online poker operators in the myriad laws concerning gambling in the state. This puts poker into a gray area where there are no laws forbidding it but no laws making it explicitly legal either. The operators themselves are taking some risk by entering this market.

However, since virtually all online poker operators are licensed and regulated in other countries, they use International trade laws, such as those set forth by the World Trade Organization, as the basis for their legal operation in the Californian and US market. The WTO has consistently upheld the right of foreign companies to offer their services in the USA, ruling against the US government and fining them repeatedly (look up Antigua and Barbuda's WTO win against the USA for more details).

This likely would change if there were legalized poker in the state, especially if a "bad actor clause" was implemented, but that is not the case right now, and it seems far from ever happening with the constant bickering on both sides of the aisle politically.

Land Based Gambling

Logo of the Commerce Casino

California has a myriad of land-based gaming that includes the lottery, tribal casinos, commercial cardrooms, and horse tracks. The tribal casinos are some of the largest in the United States, and many have partnerships with major gaming giants, such as Harrahs. As a result, California has become one of the largest havens for gambling in the Western Hampshire, and while it isn’t known only for gambling like Las Vegas or Atlantic City, it actually has larger poker rooms than either of those cities. Commerce Casino, for example, is the largest brick-and-mortar card room in the entire world.

California isn’t just large in terms of poker though as all types of legalized land-based gambling flourish in the state. This is great if you enjoy taking a trip to your local casino on the weekends, but the casino lobby is strong here. And the casino lobby is very slow to adopt measures to regulate any form of online gambling due to their protectionist viewpoints.

If online gambling were to be regulated, you can be sure that there will be an arms race to become the biggest and best regulated site because the chance to get access to the large and affluent population of the state would be too great for anyone to miss out on. New Jersey, one of the few regulated states, with a population less than 1/6th of that of California, has had over a dozen major corporations apply for licensing in their state. One can only imagine how many companies would flood into Cali markets if they were given a clear path.

In fact, the giants have already started staking claim to different parts of the state via alliances with various American Indian tribes, and it’s not hard to see what will happen if and when online gambling gets regulated. If PokerStars can make a return, like they wish to, it will be most interesting to see if the most people flock there or if another site can come out of the woodwork to overthrow them. Although, if a bad actor clause is implemented, PokerStars may not get a chance to enter the market for a number of years after regulation.

State Regulation


California is a state that has gone from hopeful to pessimistic and then back to hopeful again in terms of regulation chances. Overall, it seems likely that California will eventually legalize online poker as the state is having budget problems, and with the population and wealth of the state, it could help alleviate some of those concerns more so than most other states.

The major issue is going to be finding a solution that the tribes, casinos, and conservative populations can agree on, but there does come a time when there is too much money on the table for everyone to ignore. PokerStars has also been putting money into the state in the hopes of getting online poker regulated and securing a spot in the new industry, which they have been unable to do in some states that offer regulated online poker.

How Do Offshore Gambling Sites Operate in California?


This is likely a case of the market being just too large to ignore. While California has some pretty specific laws on what is illegal gambling, online sites have never really considered not offering games to the state. With such a large and affluent population, this isn’t terribly surprising. As such, all the major sites available to US-based players are also available to those citizens living in California.

With the backing of International trade agreements and legal decisions pertaining thereto on their side, many offshore companies seem to think that it is a very lucrative and +EV proposition to offer games in this state. So long as no attorney general in this state indicts any operators, things will continue as they are. And even if an up-and-coming AG decides to try to make his mark by taking on the offshore gambling industry, he would likely find a plethora of sites willing to have their day in court in order to remain in this large, upscale market.

History of Poker in California

History Books
Parker House in San Francisco The Parker House, San Francisco Gambling Den, 1849

California had been occupied by first the Spanish then later the Mexican governments up until the mid-nineteenth century. It was a sleepy backwater, and most of the non-Native population consisted of ranchers and fur traders. Resentment against the Mexican government on the part of American settlers led to several revolts, and the area was transferred to U.S. sovereignty in 1848 in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War.

The California Gold Rush changed the composition of Californian society completely. “Forty-niners” (so called because they began appearing in droves in the year 1849) flooded into the territory with hundreds of thousands of them seeking to secure their fortunes. Not only did they attempt to strike it rich through lucky mining claims, but they also sought to boost their earnings at the gambling tables. California became a state in 1850, and the Gold Rush continued.

With enormous sums of precious metal-derived wealth changing hands every day, the area became a magnet for professional gamblers. Formerly, New Orleans was the heart of American real-money gaming, but that distinction was soon taken over by San Francisco.

Poker wasn't the most popular betting table game on offer – that honor was held by faro – but five-card gambling did have numerous adherents. Luxurious venues sprang up for wagering pastimes, such as the Parker House where it was rumored that the appropriately named Jack Gamble rented the second floor for $60,000 per year for the purpose of operating games of chance.

An observer of this degenerate scene was quoted in the 1852 report of the Association for the Suppression of Gambling:

The gambling saloons of San Francisco are the most splendid in the world…the saloons of London, Havana, New York or New Orleans is far below them in splendor of decoration and magnitude of dealings.

The good times weren't destined to last forever. Toward the latter part of the 1800s, laws were passed banning certain forms of gambling, including "stud-horse poker." A 1911 ruling held that this applied to stud poker, which was somehow deemed to be a game of chance, but not draw poker, which was believed to be a game of skill.

Card rooms dealing draw varieties of poker began to spring up throughout the state. However, such facilities were not permitted everywhere because California allows local counties and municipalities great leeway in ordering their own affairs, and some of them opted to ban poker.

Starting in the 1930s and '40s Gardena became a hotspot for card parlors. They weren't allowed to charge a rake so instead charged a fee for occupying a seat in a game for a certain length of time. Restrictions were in place limiting bets to a dollar or two. And, like we mentioned earlier, they were only allowed to spread draw poker, not stud. Still, there was intense demand for the services of these cardrooms, and more up them began to appear in Gardena and the rest of the state.

In the '80s, when Texas Hold'em rose in popularity, some venues decided to start featuring it. However, it wasn't clear whether or not this was considered a type of "stud-horse poker" and thus banned by the ancient statute against this game. There was plenty of legal uncertainty and wrangling about this topic, but in 1990, an appellate court ruled that nobody knew what "stud-horse poker" was anymore because the legislature hadn't bothered to define it and the game was no longer played. Therefore, all types of poker were legal whether they involved stud, draw, community cards or some other dealing mechanism.

In 1980, the Cabazon Band of Native Americans opened up bingo and poker gaming on tribal lands. The Riverside County sheriff shut down these operations, believing them to be contrary to the law. The case wound up in federal court, and the right to conduct tribal gambling was affirmed. This opened up a new avenue for poker playing in California, and there are now plenty of tables to be found in dozens of tribal locations. Below, you will find a detailed historical timeline featuring all of the major gambling-related events to occur in the state of California.

California Poker Timeline

Famous California Poker Players

Shooting Star

As the most populous state, it only stands to reason that California has produced its fair share of notable poker practitioners. This includes people who were born and raised in the Golden State as well as those who relocated from elsewhere and made California their home.

Chris “Jesus” Ferguson

Chris “Jesus” Ferguson

Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, from Los Angeles, began playing poker for play money online through IRC chatrooms in the '90s while he was a college student. He then started participating in live tournaments though he continued with his studies and achieved a Ph.D. in computer science in 1999.

In 2004, Ferguson became one of the co-founders of the now-closed (but later reopened under new management) Full Tilt Poker, and he was implicated in the investigations around fraud associated with this failed poker site. He eventually settled the suit while admitting no wrongdoing.

On the felt, Chris' accomplishments remain untarnished and impressive. His biggest live tournament cash came when he won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2000, picking up $1.5 million in prize money after trouncing T.J. Cloutier heads-up. Another WSOP-related achievement that Ferguson attained was having 17 cashes in a single year (2017): a record he shares with John Racener. Chris has nearly $9 million in brick-and-mortar tournament cashes.

Jerry Yang is another Californian WSOP ME victor, winning the championship in 2007. Originally from Laos, Yang moved to California with his family in the '70s.

The Temecula-based Yang began playing poker in 2005, just two years before his epic win, and won his entry into the 2007 Main Event from a $225 live satellite. For his efforts, Jerry collected the top prize of $8,250,000. Yang has kept a low profile since then although he appeared in the news in 2013 when the IRS seized his WSOP bracelet to satisfy a tax lien.

Other prominent poker players from California include Brian Rast of Poway, who has won more than $20 million in live MTTs, J.C. Tran from Sacramento with $12 million in lifetime offline tournament prizes, 2006 ME champ and talent agent Jamie Gold, and Men “The Master” Nguyen.

Other Types of Online Gambling in California

California offers a wide variety of live, in-state gambling opportunities, but many players are looking to play from the comfort of their own homes on the internet. There are numerous casinos online serving California players, but it can be hard to know which casinos are reputable and worth your time. Our expert team has scoured the web and put together a list of the most trustworthy and reliable casinos and sportsbooks below. We only recommend casinos and sportsbooks that we have personally used by placing real-money wagers.

Online Casinos

There are literally hundreds of California-friendly online casinos available on the Internet. However, most of those casinos are not worth your time for one reason or another such as slow payouts, lack of deposit options, a small selection of games, and other various negative factors.

The following list is just a small sampling of reputable California-friendly casino sites which can be found in a more detailed article titled, Best Real Money California Online Casinos: sites, laws, games & more

1. Ignition Casino - Up to $1,000 Bonus and Weekly Boosts
2. Bovada Casino - Triple 100% up to $1,000 Bonus ($3,000 in Total)
3. Sportsbetting Casino - Bonuses, Free Spins, Leaderboards, and Challenges

If you happen to be one of those lucky people who have residence in multiple states, then you may wish to read this article which focuses on the best online casinos in the USA, when viewed on the country level as opposed to state-specific.

Online Sportsbooks

There are fewer sports betting websites for Californians than there are online casino sites, however, there are still dozens of books that offer betting to Cali residents. As was true in the poker and casino categories however, Professional Rakeback would not recommend the overwhelming majority of them to anyone. Our top 3 online sportsbooks are as follows:

1. Bovada Sports - 50% bonus up to $250 ($750 Bonus for Bitcoiners)

2. - 50% up to $1,000 Bonus and Never-ending 25% Reloads
3. Everygame Sports - Get a $250 Bonus on Your First Three Deposits

Learn more about USA-friendly sportsbooks.

Summary of Online Poker in California

Online poker is available, safe, and legal to play from within the state of California. People seeking to play at the California-friendly online poker sites listed in this article can rest assured that they will have fair games, convenient deposits, expedient withdrawals, and an overall positive experience.

The legislation of real money online poker in the Golden State has not been straightforward, but eventually, California will join other states that have introduced regulatory poker and gambling bills into state law.

Poker players who want to play for cash in CA have plenty of legal options even without regulation. Cash game and tournament players can choose from a number of safe and legal internet poker operators instead of laboriously driving or flying to Indian tribal casinos or Nevada cardrooms.

While the well-known Pokerstars only offers play money games in The Golden State at this time, the list of best real money sites that accept poker fans from California includes industry operators like Ignition, SB Poker, Everygame, ACR Poker, and Bovada.

These poker rooms offer valuable deposit bonus deals alongside occasional no deposit bonuses. They also run a full suite of tournaments and cash poker games, and they accept deposits and make payouts using cryptocurrencies or credit/debit cards. Some offer other forms of betting too with online casino and sportsbook options widely available.

Frequently Asked Questions

We see a lot of people asking the following questions in forums, on social media, and even in search results. We're going to tackle a few of them in here for those of you who don't have the time or the inclination to read through our extensive reviews above.

No. Despite years of debate and tens of millions of dollars spent on lobbying, California lawmakers have yet to adopt regulations concerning online poker. Without laws on the books regulating or specifically making online poker and gambling illegal, these activities are, by default, completely legal.

The states of New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada have passed regulations starting in 2013; however, CA is lagging behind. Because of this undefined legal gray area, all operators recommended in this article maintain their companies in offshore havens such as Costa Rica, Malta, the Isle of Man, Kahnawake, Curacao, Antigua and Barbuda, et cetera where their businesses are licensed and regulated by local governments instead of by the state of California or the US Federal Government.

With almost 40 million residents and a bustling live card game scene, California seems like it should be a shoo-in for legalized internet poker. However, it's exactly these favorable prospects for lucrative revenue generation that are perhaps responsible for the state's failure to pass the necessary legislation.

You see, between the tribal casinos, horse racing industry, commercial cardrooms, and major online poker sites, there are enough stakeholders involved that it's difficult to reach a consensus on how to structure any online poker licensure regime. Despite much talk and discussion, none of the myriad proposals over the years have garnered sufficient support from all interested parties to stand a chance of passing into law.

Efforts to legalize online gaming in The Golden State date back to a decade ago. Oddly, one of the first movers in this area was tilt-prone YouTuber Anthony “Tuff Fish” Sandstrom. He started a petition to put the idea of a state-run internet poker site to the voters as a ballot initiative, but he failed to obtain the required 430,000 signatures.

The first legislation that aimed to regulate in-state online poker was the 2008 California Gambling Control/Intrastate Online Poker Legalization Act (AB 2026), which was introduced by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine. In a harbinger of things to come, it faced opposition from powerful tribal gaming interests and was quickly shelved. Similar endeavors in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 also petered out without really accomplishing much.

In February 2016, the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2016 (AB 2863) was introduced by Adam Gray and Reggie Jones-Sawyer in the Assembly. It sought to placate the racetracks by preventing them from running online sites but paying them up to $57 million a year for this concession. It would have required organizations to pay a $12.5 million license fee and taxes of 10% of the amount of revenue collected. This bill raised high hopes but did not come up for a vote, and although Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer tried again by reintroducing the bill the following year, it again failed to pass.

The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel indeed had plans of running its own online poker room, hoping perhaps to bypass the slow-moving quagmire of the California Legislature. It opened a free-to-play poker site called in 2014, with intentions of eventually enabling playing for actual cash, and it also launched a real money internet bingo hall called Desert Rose Bingo that same year.

In 2016, the tribe lost a court case challenging the legality of these enterprises, but it appealed. The case was heard in March 2018, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its verdict. The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel lost and is thus now prevented from offering real money gambling over the internet.

Yes. Neither California State nor the Federal Government have created any laws that make online poker, or any form of online gambling, illegal to engage in for private citizens. There are laws which make running an online gambling business questionable in the United States, and people, as well as media outlets, often confuse and misinterpret these laws as applying to the regular Joe, but that is completely false.

Good news is yes, they are. Bad news is, no, you can not play on PokerStars from California.

PokerStars is a publicly traded company and subject to strict regulation. As such, it does not operate in any unregulated gray markets even if it is not technically illegal behavior.

You may remember Black Friday when PokerStars was shut down and fined heavily by the Department of Justice. What you probably don't know is that less than a year later, the US DOJ reversed their decision on the Wire Act of 1961 and stated that it only applies to sports betting! This is ironic since The Wire Act was the legal basis for the Black Friday domain seizures and fines in the first place!

More to the point, it would be legal for PokerStars to operate here, but they will not until there is strict regulation by California lawmakers. Even then, one of the big hurdles to regulation efforts is that the competition wants to keep PokerStars out of the CA markets with "bad actor" clauses. If they succeed, online poker will be regulated, but PokerStars will have to sit out for up to 5 years as a further Black Friday punishment!

If you enjoyed the famous PokerStars rewards program that rewarded professional poker grinders with up to 70% effective rakeback, then you will certainly enjoy ACR Poker, as ACR cloned the PokerStars rewards program and dubbed it the "Elite Benefits" VIP program.

Yes, Ignition Casino is legal in CA. Ignition Casino's parent network, Pai Wang Luo, is a licensed business operator in Hong Kong and relies on Hong Kong laws as well as World Trade Organization bylaws to regulate its business. Residents of this state may participate in these games freely and in safety without fear of breaking the law.

Yes, BetOnline is a legal California poker site. BetOnline's parent network, Chico, is a licensed and regulated business in the country of Costa Rica and relies on Costa Rican business law and World Trade Organization bylaws to regulate its business. Residents of CA may freely play at this website without fear of breaking the law.

Global Poker has a rather unique interpretation of sweepstakes law to bolster its case that it's legal under California and U.S. law. We're unsure about this line of reasoning. While all the ins and outs of this subject are too convoluted to get into here, we do cover it in our Global Poker review page.

At brick and mortar casinos and cardrooms, 21. At online casinos and poker rooms, 18.

The reason for the discrepancy is because different sets of laws are in place. Physical casinos and cardrooms such as Commerce Casino are governed by strict state regulations that do not allow anyone under the age of 21 to enter the casino's gaming areas. Online casinos and poker rooms, however, are not regulated by the state nor even addressed by laws in California, and thus they rely on International laws and World Trade Organization rules to define their operations.

As such, the legal Age of Majority is what is used to define the lower bound of entry into an online casino or poker room. The Age of Majority in California is eighteen and thus players are allowed to participate in the games as soon as they turn 18 years of age.

No, this is strictly illegal. All online businesses in this industry operate in offshore locations such as Costa Rica, Malta, the Isle of Man, Kahnawake, Curacao, Antigua and Barbuda, etc where their businesses are licensed and regulated by local governments instead of by the state of California or the US Federal Government. Please do not attempt to illegally operate a California poker site, you will likely end up in jail!

We recommend that you use Bitcoin for depositing to California poker sites since it is the fastest and most reliable method for both deposits and withdrawals. Traditional methods such as credit cards, bank wires, and cash transfers are also available. Ewallets such as Skrill, Neteller, and EcoPayz are no longer able to be used in states without concrete regulation, and that includes Cali unfortunately.

If you are unfamiliar with bitcoin, read this comprehensive guide detailing each and every step in utilizing bitcoin for online gambling.

California Lowball is a form of poker that's similar to 5 Card Draw, but players vie to make the lowest possible hand rather than the highest. This type of poker is also called A-5 Lowball because aces play low, and straights and flushes aren't considered. Therefore, A-2-3-4-5 is the best possible hand regardless of suits. It's played with a standard 52-card deck, but a single joker is added as a wild card.

After the blinds are posted, the player to the left of the big blind commences the action. After the first round of betting, players have the opportunity to exchange any number of cards for new ones. Then a second round of betting takes place after which there's a showdown, and the lowest hand wins. California Lowball was popular in CA cardrooms during the '70s, which is probably why it got its name.

San Francisco is a version of seven card stud. Actually, there are two separate games: High San Francisco and Low San Francisco. The rules for dealing each player's up and down cards as well as the betting sequences are the same as in normal 7 card stud.

In High San Francisco, the pot is split at showdown between the highest normal stud hand and the hand containing the highest heart. In Low San Francisco, it's the lowest heart that divides up the pot with the highest poker hand. Aces count only for high for this purpose.

You probably won't encounter San Francisco in any public card establishments, but you might find it in home games.

“Gardena Jackpots,” also called “Jacks to Open” or just “Jackpots,” refers to the set of rules that was commonly in use for Five Card Draw games in Gardena poker clubs during the 30s through 70s. The game was played with a normal deck but with a joker added as a “bug.” The bug was a kind of wild card, but it could only be used to complete flushes and straights; otherwise, it counted as an ace. There were no blinds because the players would ante instead.

The predraw action started with the player on the dealer's left, just like normal, but in order to make a bet, one had to have a pair of jacks or better. If nobody had JJ or better, then the hand ended without a winner, and a new hand began.

After the initial betting round was over, players exchanged as many cards as they wanted from their five-card hands for new ones. Whoever initiated the betting, or “opened,” might wish to break the hand that qualified for opening. In this case, he or she would save the discarded cards so as to be able to prove later on that the hand did meet the JJ or better opening requirement.

After all remaining participants drew their new cards, there followed a second round of betting and then the showdown. In order to win the pot, one had to have at least three of a kind. If nobody had a hand of that strength or greater, then the entire pot was carried over to the next hand.

No, there's nothing against the law about poker home games. Though California has a bustling casino scene, complete with the expected laws that create barriers to entry, there are certain exceptions to the strict anti-gambling statutes.

We can see these excluded activities in the California Penal Code, Section 337j. In (e)(2)(D) of this law, we discover that “Games played with cards in private homes or residences, in which no person makes money for operating the game, except as a player” are totally fine from a legal perspective. There aren't any caps placed on winnings, buy-ins, or bet sizes either, so you can engage in low- or high-stakes gaming, whatever you and your friends prefer.

We strive to maintain this information and update it frequently with our research. However, we are not immune to making mistakes or omitting information that you, dear reader, may find of use. If you have any further questions not addressed in this guide or have noted any discrepancies or inaccuracies, we urge you to contact us with your questions and concerns so that we may swiftly address them!