California online poker is alive and well, even though real money can’t be used.
For those seeking legal online poker in California, there’s no better option — or, really, no other option — than Global Poker, a social casino poker site that is fully legal in California and 48 other US states. It offers legal social online poker for poker players across the country.
Scroll down to learn more about Global Poker, which is as close to real-money online poker in California as you can get. You’ll also learn more about the legality of California poker sites, top online poker games, the difference between social casino poker and real-money online poker, and much more.
Is Online Poker Legal in California?
If you’re talking about real-money online poker in California, then no, like sports betting in California, it is not currently legal. No form of online gambling with real money, other than horse betting and DFS, is legal in the state.
How to Play Online Poker in California
However, in California and beyond, social poker sites like Global Poker avoid those poker laws and operate legally by providing poker players with two digital coins to use:
- Gold Coins, which you can buy and serve as the primary game token, do not have any real-world value.
- Sweeps Coins, which are earned via rewards, mailing-in, or by purchasing Gold Coins, are the tokens for sweepstakes games. They can be redeemed for cash prizes and gift cards.
Games are divided into two types: Gold Coins games and Sweeps Coins games. Because neither of these digital coin varieties is real money, players aren’t technically gambling. The rules for each game depend on the variation and number of players.
Global Poker also allows 18-year-olds in its online poker rooms, so it’s an example of 18+ gambling in California.
Legal Online Poker Sites in California
Of all the available social casino poker sites, Global Poker is without question, the best poker site in California. It’s also the only legal, regulated option of the online poker sites in California. It provides poker players with a stable platform, a consistent user base, and the most popular game variations, including Texas hold’em and Omaha hold’em.
Essentially, it gives users of its online poker rooms all the same experiences of a real-money poker site.
Plus, using our bonus code FLUSH, Global Poker has a welcome bonus that new players will appreciate: 30 FREE Sweeps Coins and 150,000 Gold Coins for $10 — which is essentially the same as a purchase bonus in real-money gambling terms.
You can also get an extra purchase bonus of 40 FREE SC plus 200,000 GC for $20. That offer doesn’t require a code.
And the best part? You don’t have to put in any money to play, so Global Poker allows you to play free poker.
No other legal CA online poker option even comes close to as good for playing poker
Redeem your winnings for cash prizes and more — use code FLUSH
Wide selection of poker games to play
Slow payout times compared to real-money online poker room sites
Payout Speed 3-5 Days
Bonus Offer 30 FREE SC
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Real-Money California Online Poker
Again, there is no real-money online poker in California because real-money poker rooms are illegal in the state.
Which us brings us back to Global Poker, the only legitimate California online poker site.
It’s easy to sign up for Global Poker. Simply head to our Global Poker review, click on our exclusive bonus code link, and sign up for free. From there, you can immediately begin playing poker online in Global Poker’s online poker rooms.
Even though it’s not a real-money online poker site, as mentioned, players can use their Sweeps Coins to play online poker for winnings that can be redeemed for cash prizes (and gift cards to top retailers). Essentially, any SC winnings can be redeemed. However, most California social casinos require players to accumulate a minimum number of Sweeps Coins before redeeming them for cash or prizes.
For Global Poker, the minimum amount needed to redeem is 50 SC. Sweeps Coin redemption is a straightforward process performed through the poker site’s interface. After your identity has been verified, the requested prizes will typically be wired directly to your attached bank account.
Free Online Poker in California
You don’t have to spend any money to play Global Poker.
You can either play free poker, using Gold Coins. Or you can play using Sweeps Coins, hoping to eventually amass enough to redeem them for cash prizes or gift cards.
Global Poker offers a wide range of free poker tournaments online including SC tournaments. There are daily and weekly tournaments (Sunday Scrimmage, Golden Scrimmage, Gold Rush, Bonanza, Daily Hundo), as well as the Global Poker Championships (The Goat, The Eagle, Rattlesnake Open, Grizzly Games).
You can also play all the most popular poker game variations, including Texas hold’em and Omaha hold’em, as well as table casino-style games, such as Caribbean poker, blackjack, and casino hold’em. The game variety is just one reason it’s one of the top poker sites in the world.
The online poker room offers five different types of competition for poker players:
|Ring Games||The same as Cash Games, but not using real money.|
|Sit'n'Go||Tournaments that begin when a set number of players sign up. Can start any time, 24 hours a day.|
|Tournaments||Multi-table tournaments, often with high prize pools and varying buy-ins.|
|Jackpot Sit'n'Go||Three-player Texas hold'em tournaments where each player starts with the same chip stack and the prize is randomly determined before the start.|
|Surge||Similar to Fast-Fold poker. As soon as you fold, you're directed to a new table with a new hand.|
Sweepstakes Poker vs. Real-Money Online Poker
Social poker and real-money online poker offer mostly the same types of games, as well as poker room and poker playing experience. There’s just one difference:
The currency used.
Real-Money Online Poker
Players gamble with real money and win real money. Popular sites include WSOP.com and PokerStars. In real-money online poker, players wager real money. They can lose real money or win real money. It is a form of gambling, with legitimate, usable currency on the line. This form of online poker is illegal in California.
Social Online Poker
Players play with fake digital currency called Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins. Gold Coins are just for fun, but Sweeps Coins can be redeemed for cash prizes. Real-money online poker may offer players higher-stakes tournaments. Even though you can win plenty of SC in social poker tournaments, you can’t lose actual money. Legal in California.
California Poker Industry – Quick Facts
|Where is live poker legal?||Indian casinos, card rooms|
|How many poker rooms in California?||About 75-80|
|Largest poker room in California||Commerce Casino — 270 tables|
|Where can I play online poker in California?||Global Poker 🃏|
|Online poker bills currently being discussed?||❌|
Online Poker California Legalization Updates
When Will Online Poker Be Legal in California?
Not any time soon.
Legalization in California would require passage of a ballot measure in a statewide election. Initiatives can be put on the ballot either via legislative action or if interest groups gather enough signatures. There’s no indication of either option happening in the near future.
The state just emphatically rejected California sports betting in the 2022 election. From 2008-17, state lawmakers routinely introduced online poker bills, and there was a clear interest in legalizing it.
However, most online poker industry experts now believe online sports betting will likely need to become legal first in California before online casinos or poker.
Here’s a timeline for all the online poker legalization efforts in California:
- February 2008 — California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine introduces AB 2026, a bill that would begin the process of determining whether online poker was viable in California. It passes committee but stalls after getting amended by the Assembly and Senate.
- June 2010 — California Senator Roderick Wright introduced SB 1045, which would make California the first state to legalize online poker. The bill includes a 20% revenue tax. He eventually repeals the bill after facing intense opposition, namely from Native American groups.
- July 2011 — California Senator Lou Correa presents his amended bill, SB 40, to the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization. Backed by two tribal groups called the California Online Poker Alliance and the California Intertribal Intrastate Poker Consortium, SB 40 eventually stalls.
- 2012-13 — Wright and Correa combine to introduce three more California online poker bills, and all three go nowhere. The two California tribal online poker alliances also dissolve.
- 2014-17 — Three more online poker bills stall fizzle out in 2014 and 2015. A bill introduced by Assemblyman Adam Gray makes it out of committee. But it includes a “bad actor” clause that would have kept PokerStars, which partnered with some California tribes, out of the state for 10 years. This caused a rift among California tribes, and the bill eventually stalled. One more bill, AB 1677, was introduced and stalled, and PokerStars ended its relationship with CA tribes.
- 2018-20 — Sports betting takes center stage with the federal repeal of PASPA. No online poker bills get introduced in 2019 and 2020.
- 2021-today — No real movement of any kind regarding online poker. All tribal and legislative focus has been poured into sports betting, with two sports betting measures failing in the 2022 election.
Play Real-Money Online Poker in Nevada
As of February 2023, real money online poker in California is illegal, but it is legal in six states: Nevada, Michigan, Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.
Nevada was first to legalize in 2013, and New Jersey quickly followed suit. Michigan is the latest state to legalize real money online poker, having done so in January 2021. Online poker is technically legal in Connecticut and West Virginia, but no licensed poker sites are currently live in those two states, so residents can’t play.
The best legal option for California residents who want to play real money online poker is to cross the Nevada border.
There is one real money online poker site live in Nevada: WSOP.com. Run by the iconic World Series of Poker, WSOP Nevada has been around since 2013 and offers a variety of cash games and tournaments. You can even win a WSOP Bracelet, one of poker’s biggest honors, by playing WSOP Nevada online.
BetMGM Poker is also expected to eventually launch in Nevada.
Players 21 or older and within Nevada state lines can play WSOP Nevada. That literally means a Californian can park their car once they cross the border and start to play, if they really want to. You will not be able to play at WSOP.com in California, as the app and site use geolocation technology to make sure players aren’t playing illegally outside of Nevada.
How to Play Popular Poker Games
You’ll find the many of same types of popular games on Global Poker as you will on real-money sites or at California Indian casinos and card rooms. They include:
- No-limit Texas hold’em
- Pot-limit Omaha hold’em
- Fixed-limit hold’em
- Seven-card stud
No-Limit Texas Hold’Em
This is arguably the most popular type of poker game in the industry. 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.
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. Like the name suggests, limit hold’em restricts betting, while no-limit doesn’t.
Pot-Limit Omaha Hold’Em
This is another popular variation of poker. As opposed to Texas hold’em, Omaha poker players get four hole cards each. There is a maximum bet allowed, according to the Pot. It’s three times the previous bet, plus the sum of all the other bets placed.
In seven-card stud, players build their best five-card poker hand out of seven cards. Each player is dealt two cards face down to start, and then one card face up each time through a rotation. The first round of betting happens after the two down cards and one up.
Global Poker Variants
Crazy Pineapple — like Texas hold’em, but with three hole cards. Caribbean poker — like five-card stud poker, but played against the house instead of other players. Surge poker — a “fast-fold” version of poker where you can play more games per hour.
Live Poker in California
There are still ways to play real-money poker in California, even if it’s not online.
California Card Rooms
There used to be well over 100, but as of February 2023 there are 59 California card rooms up and running. (More have licenses but aren’t operating.) Card rooms are legal in the state because players play against each other, not the house. The card rooms make a profit by charging for entry.
Card rooms typically feature no-limit Texas hold ’em, fixed-limit hold ’em, pot-limit Omaha hold ’em, seven-card stud, and more games. Card rooms have cash games and frequent tournaments, including World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour events.
Some of the state’s most notable card rooms are:
|Card Room||Location||Number of Tables|
|Hawaiian Gardens Casino||Hawaiian Gardens||110|
|Bay 101 Casino||San Jose||49|
|Casino M8trix||San Jose||49|
|Hollywood Park Casino||Inglewood||75|
|Bicycle Hotel & Casino||Bell Gardens||130|
|Ocean's Eleven Casino||Oceanside||50|
Poker at Indian Casinos
As of February 2023, there are 66 Indian casinos in California, and many of them have poker rooms. You can reserve tables in these poker rooms ahead of time if you want to compete with your friends and family.
Here are some examples of casinos with large poker rooms:
|Casino||Location||Number of Poker Tables|
|Sycuan Casino Resort||El Cajon||15|
|Thunder Valley Casino Resort||Lincoln||50|
|Morongo Casino Resort & Spa||Cabazon||20|
|Chumash Casino Resort||Santa Ynez||12|
|Graton Resort & Casino||Rohnert Park||20|
|Red Hawk Casino||Placerville||7|
Deposits and Payouts for Online Poker
If real-money online poker is ever legalized in California, legal poker sites will likely use the same deposit and withdrawal options they do in states where they’re currently legal.
Those options include:
🏦 Online banking
💳 Credit/debit card
💸 Other e-wallets
✔️ VIP Preferred eCheck
💻 Wire transfer
For now, Global Poker is the only legal online poker room in California. Instead of deposits and withdrawals, the social poker site offers purchases and redemptions. The options for purchases and redemptions are:
🏦 Online banking
💳 Credit/debit card
💸 Skrill e-wallet
California Online Poker Regulation
If real-money online poker is ever legalized in California, the California Gambling Control Commission will likely be the regulatory agency overseeing it. The CGCC currently regulates Indian casinos and card rooms.
Global Betting & Gaming Consultants estimates legal California online poker would create $450 million in revenue for the state. With, say, a 20% tax rate, that would lead to $90 million in tax revenue for California.
For now, social poker is the only legal option in California. That faces regulatory oversight, too.
The Malta Gaming Authority oversees all social casinos and social poker sites.
In addition, Global Poker, the only social poker site in California, is owned by VGW Gaming, the same company behind reputable social casinos Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Slots. These sites, and all social casinos, operate using a promotional sweeps model. That means no players ever wager with real money, and that means Global Poker is a fully legal online poker option in California.
Offshore Online Poker Sites to Avoid
As tempting as it may be to play real-money online poker in California, we strongly advise against using offshore online poker sites.
Social poker sites use the same high-end digital security software that real-money poker sites use. They also face regulation and oversight from the Malta Gaming Authority. This organization oversees all promotions and prizes and ensures that such websites don’t accidentally or intentionally give out the information of their players.
Neither of those same things can be said about any offshore poker site. Although they are technically not legal or illegal, these online poker rooms are unregulated and often lack digital security to keep your personal and financial information secure.
These offshore poker sites include Ignition Casino, Bovada, BetOnline, EveryGame Poker, Americas Cardroom, Coin Poker, Black Chip Poker, and Juicy Stakes, among others.
Although no form of digital security is 100%, your information is significantly safer at a social poker site that’s regulated than at an offshore poker site that doesn’t face regulation.
History of Online Poker in California
To properly discuss the history of online poker in California, we have to go back to the origin of live poker in the state.
California’s gambling scene really blossomed during the Gold Rush, when hopeful miners flocked to the state in 1849 and the 1850s for a chance to strike it rich. And, when they weren’t mining for gold, these men often gambled. And, with the sheer volume of money being hauled up from the ground ever day, San Francisco — the heart of the gold rush — soon became the gambling mecca in the US.
Poker emerged as one of the state’s more popular gambling games.
However, regulations began to curtain what kinds of poker were legal. In the late 1800s, something called “stud-horse poker” was banned. And, in 1911, a court determined that ban also applied to stud poker, where players get dealt a mix of face-down and face-up cards.
As the 20th century progressed, local communities began building card rooms. In 1936, the Embassy Palace, was the first card room to open in Gardena, which for nearly 50 years was the heart of California poker.
In the 1980s, however, other cities built card rooms throughout California. And, in 1990s, an appellate court repealed the 1911 ruling on stud poker because, well, nobody really knew what “stud-horse poker” was anymore. Now, all variants of poker were legal in card rooms, and Indian casinos began sprouting up with poker rooms, too.
That status quo of live poker maintained until 2008, when Assemblyman Lloyd Levine introduced the first California online poker bill. It stalled. Another bill, this time from the Senate, stalled in 2009.
From 2010-17, at least one online poker bill was introduced in California each year. Each and every time, those bills would stall. In the latter attempts, lawmakers ran into issues with opposition from Native American groups, or even with Native American support broken into two opposing factions.
Then came 2018, when PASPA was repealed and sports betting was no longer illegal on the federal level.
Since then, no more online poker bills have been introduced, as all focus has gone toward sports betting. Two sports betting bills appeared on the 2022 ballot, but both failed miserably.
So far in 2023, there are no signs of any bills legalizing California online poker on the horizon.
Famous California Poker Players
With such a rich history of poker, California has plenty of famous poker players.
- Phil Hellmuth — Although he was born in Wisconsin, Hellmuth has lived in Palo Alto since 1992. He’s won 15 WSOP bracelets with nearly $23 million in total tournament winnings. He’s the only player with a WSOP Main Event title in Las Vegas (1989) and Europe (2012).
- Phil Ivey — Born in Riverside, Ivey developed his poker skills in Atlantic City in the 1990s. He won his first major poker title at age 21 in 1998 and his first WSOP bracelet at 23 in 2000. Today, he has a total of 10 WSOP bracelets with more than $26 million in career winnings.
- Chris “Jesus” Ferguson — Ferguson, born in Los Angeles, won his first WSOP Main Event in 2000. He shares the record for most cashes in a year (17 in 2017). In 2004, Ferguson c0-founded the now-closed Full Tilt Poker.
- Jerry Yang — Yang has lived in California since the 1970s. He won the WSOP Main Event in 2007, just two years after the Temecula resident began playing poker.
- Jamie Gold — Based in Malibu, Gold won the WSOP Main Event in 2006.
Online Poker California FAQs
Technically, yes, as long as you play Global Poker, a social casino California online poker site. At Global Poker, players play with digital coins that can later be redeemed for cash prizes or gift cards. There is currently no real-money online poker in California, so Global Poker is the only legal online poker room option.
Technically, no. Real-money online gambling of any sort is illegal in California, except for horse betting and daily fantasy sports. So, no, you cannot wager real money while playing California online poker. However, you can play Global Poker, a social casino that allows players to play and redeem cash prizes.
Not for the foreseeable future. Sports betting is seen as the first online gambling domino to fall in California, before online casinos and online poker. And sports betting in California won’t be legalized until 2025 at the earliest.
No new online poker bill has been introduced in California since 2017.
Not, but you can wind up with real money through winnings that are redeemable for cash prizes. You can’t “win” real money unless you bet with real money in the first place. That type of betting is not legal for online poker in California. However, the poker site Global Poker is 100% legal because, even though players can redeem Sweeps Coins for cash prizes, Sweeps Coins cant be purchased and have no real-world value. So players aren’t gambling with real money.
There are currently no legal real-money online poker options in California, even in Indian casinos on Indian reservations. However, these casinos do legally offer live poker, a number of poker varieties via table games, video poker, and electronic poker via electronic table games.
You need to be 18 years old to use most social casino sites in California. However, this is completely at the discretion of each site. But Global Poker is really the only legit social casino poker site out there, and its age requirement is 18.
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.
No. PokerStars, and all other real-money online poker sites, are now legal in California because real-money online poker is not legal in California.
No. WSOP.com, and all other real-money online poker sites, are now legal in California because real-money online poker is not legal in California.
In February 2017, a bill legalizing online poker, AB 1677, was introduced in the California Assembly. However, it eventually stalled. There have been no new CA online poker bills introduced since then.
Global Betting & Gaming Consultants estimates the California online poker market would generate $450 million in revenue. With a 20% tax rate, that would generate $90 million in tax revenue for California.