California Online Poker Sites August 2022

California online poker is alive and well, even though real-money online poker isn’t legal.

If you’re looking to play online poker in California, you can play at a promotional sweepstakes site, such as Global Poker. These sites use fake digital currency that players can then exchange for real cash prizes, making them fully legal for California online poker enthusiasts.

Since real-money online poker in California likely won’t be legalized soon, it’d be smart to learn more about promotional sweepstakes poker. Below, we’ll break down everything you need to know about these online poker sites in California.

Best Online Poker Site in California

Of all the available promotional sweepstakes poker sites, Global Poker is without question the best option. It provides a stable platform, a consistent user base, and the most popular game variations.

Plus, Global Poker has a welcome bonus that new players will appreciate: 20 Gold Coins upon account verification. The bonus is available for all new players and does not require a bonus code.

$20 Coin PackageOn Sign-up — T&C's Apply
Global Poker California Promo Code

4.9

Best Online Poker in CA

Pros

  • No other online poker option even comes close to as good
  • Redeem your winnings for real cash prizes
  • Wide selection of poker games to play

Cons

  • Customer service could improve
Legal in California
Payout Speed 1-3 Days
Bonus Offer $20
Banking Options

Quick Guide to Online Poker in California

How Does Online Poker in California Work?

In California and beyond, promotional sweepstakes poker sites like Global Poker operate by providing players with two digital currencies:

  • Gold Coins, which you can buy and serve as the primary game currency, do not have any real-world cash value.
  • Sweeps Coins, which are earned via rewards, mailing-in, or by purchasing Gold Coins, are the currency for sweepstakes games. They can be exchanged for cash prizes.

Games are divided into two types: Gold Coins games and Sweeps Coins games. Because neither of these digital currencies is real money, players aren’t technically gambling. The rules for each game depend on the variation and number of players.

How Do You Win Cash Prizes By Playing CA Online Poker?

As mentioned, players can use their Sweeps Coins to play online poker for real money prizes. Essentially, the Sweeps Coins take the place of actual cash, and any Sweep Coins winnings can be exchanged after the game ends.

However, most promotional sweepstakes poker sites require that players accumulate a minimum number of Sweeps Coins before redeeming them for cash. For Global Poker, that minimum is 50 Sweeps Coins.

Sweeps Coin redemption is a straightforward process performed through the poker site’s interface. After your identity has been verified, the money will typically be wired directly to your attached bank account.

How Do You Access Online Poker Sites in California?

Global Poker is really the only legitimate California online poker site. It does not have an app — just a desktop interface. But it’s also optimized for mobile browsers, so it feels exactly like playing on an app.

These promotional sweepstakes sites usually require a few bits of identifying information for you to sign up for an account. This will include your name, email address, and perhaps your Social Security number to verify your age. You only need to provide a form of ID and proof of address when you go to redeem your Sweeps Coins. This requirement further proves the safety and legitimacy of CA online poker sites such as Global Poker.

After creating an account, you’ll be able to access the poker site. Virtually all promotional sweepstakes poker sites provide free Gold Coins upon account creation, so you can start playing immediately.

How Do Purchases Work at California Online Poker Sites?

When you make an account for a California promotional sweepstakes poker site, you’ll be asked for one or more payment methods. For Global Poker, these accepted payment methods include:

  • Visa and MasterCard
  • Skrill e-wallet
  • Direct bank account

You can select any of these methods to purchase Gold Coins.

What Are the CA Online Poker Redemption Options?

When it comes time to redeem, the most common method by far is direct bank transfer. In most cases, the promotional sweepstakes poker site will ask for a valid form of government ID and ask you to connect a bank account to the site.

After verifying your identity, the promotional sweepstakes poker site will transfer your Sweeps Coin cash prize directly to your bank account over the course of a few business days.

What Is the Difference Between Sweepstakes Poker and Real-Money Online Poker Sites?

The primary difference between regular online poker sites and promotional sweepstakes sites is that the former allows players to gamble with real money while the latter only allows playing with digital currency. No real cash is ever on the table, so promotional sweepstakes sites do not violate anti-gambling legislation in California.

However, promotional sweepstakes poker sites still allow players to exchange their Sweeps Coins (that they receive for free as part of promotions, or via winnings) for real cash prizes. This is not the same as playing for real money, as neither Sweeps Coins nor Gold Coins have any real-world value.

Additionally, promotional sweepstakes poker sites may offer a wider variety of poker games or higher-stakes tournaments. While promotional sweepstakes poker sites also offer tournaments, the ultimate winnings may not be as high as their real-money online poker counterparts.

Still, both types of sites usually offer a few different varieties of poker. Many real-money online poker sites also include casino games as extra options.

Legal Status of Online Gambling in California

California still does not allow legal online gambling with the exception of CA daily fantasy sports and CA horse race betting. Even then, the only reason daily fantasy sports remains legal is that it technically isn’t considered gambling (as it involves a strong element of skill).

California considers as online gambling and therefore bans any activity that is:

  • A game of chance 
  • A game in which real money is wagered

Thus, online promotional sweepstakes casinos and poker sites are the only real online gaming options in California. Otherwise, players have to visit brick-and-mortar tribal casinos or regulated card rooms to participate in these activities.

Is It Safe to Play Online Poker in California?

Are Promotional Sweepstakes Sites Legal in California?

Absolutely. Promotional sweepstakes sites like Global Poker, Chumba Casino, and LuckyLand Slots operate according to a sweepstakes model, meaning that their business models are designed from the ground up to avoid playing with real-world money.

These sites are regulated by different authorities but all must be careful to avoid letting players put real money on the table. Otherwise, they would no longer be allowed to operate in California.

Is My Information Safe on California Online Poker Sites?

Yes. Promotional sweepstakes sites like Global Poker not only use high-tech security software to ensure the protection of the financial and identifying information of its players, but are also regulated by an independent company called Malta Gaming Authority. This organization oversees sweepstakes promotions and prizes and ensures that such websites don’t accidentally or intentionally give out the information of their players.

However, remember that no form of digital security is 100% safe. You have to be comfortable giving your information to promotional sweepstakes sites in order to enjoy their activities. Still, most highly rated promotional sweepstakes sites are known for their security and diligence.

What Types of Games Are Available at California Online Poker Sites?

Most promotional sweepstakes poker sites in California offer a few staple poker game types, including no-limit Texas hold ’em, limit hold ’em, and pot-limit Omaha. Below, we’ll explain each one.

No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em

This is arguably the most popular type of poker in the world. Beginning with two hole cards, players can bet or raise any amount they desire over the minimum raise, allowing for more exciting stakes and hands.

Limit Hold ‘Em

This variation allows for bets and raises equal to the big blind during the first two rounds of betting. Players can place bets or raises equal to twice the big blind during the second two rounds of betting.

Pot-Limit Omaha

This is another popular variation of poker. As opposed to Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha players get four hole cards each.

California Online Poker Tournaments

Global Poker offers poker tournaments for players who prefer real competition and stakes. Tournaments may be multi-table and take place over the weekend, usually with higher Sweeps Coin pots. Daily tournaments are usually “Sit-N-Gos”, which are relatively low-commitment tournaments that are ideal for beginners or casual players.

California Online Poker FAQs

Can I win real money at California online poker sites?

No. “Winning” real money would require it to be wagered in the first place, which is not a possibility on promotional sweepstakes poker sites — the only type of online poker sites legal in California. However, you can play with Sweeps Coins. If you win multiple coins after one or more poker games, you can exchange these for cash prizes.

How old do I have to be to play online poker in California?

You need to be 18 years old to use most promotional sweepstakes sites in California. However, this is completely at the discretion of each site. But Global Poker is really the only legit promotional sweepstakes poker site out there, and its age requirement is 18.

What is the best time to play online poker in California?

Generally speaking, you’ll have more luck finding players during evening hours or on the weekend when playing Global Poker. In California, the ideal window would be from 3-6 p.m. PT. This is when the East Coast and western Europe are also off work.

How do I redeem if I win in California online poker?

You can only play online poker in California via the promotional sweepstakes model, which Global Poker follows. You trade in your Sweeps Coins, once you hit the minimum, for cash prizes. The cash prize amount will be detailed on each promotional sweepstakes poker site.

Can you play casino games at online poker sites in California?

No. Global Poker, the only reputable promotional sweepstakes poker site in California, doesn’t include casino games. However, future promotional sweepstakes poker sites may include casino games as well. If you’re interested in playing online casino games, Chumba CasinoPulsz, and LuckyLand Slots are three excellent promotional sweepstakes casinos.

Is Global Poker available in California?

Yes. In fact, it’s available throughout most of the US and even internationally.

About the Author

Amber Hoffman

Amber is the Managing Editor of California Casinos. She writes for a variety of websites in diverse industries, including gaming and travel and is a fan of international football (not "soccer") and Gaelic sports.