Online Poker in California – Is It Legal?

Despite the state’s recent efforts (and failure) to legalize sports betting in 2022, as of 2024, there has not been a lot of conversation about legalizing online gaming beyond sports betting. It could be a while before the poker landscape begins to change in the Golden State.

California doesn’t have any locally-regulated online poker options but there are a wide variety of international poker platforms that accept California players. If you’re a poker fan, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to cover the top online poker sites for players in California.

We have highlighted the best online poker sites California players can access, the networks and poker software they use, the fees and rakes charged, the liquidity on offer and the exciting deposit bonuses new users can get. Read on to discover the best California online gambling sites with internet poker.

Best Online Poker Sites in 2024 for California

The BMR team worked hard to identify the top five California online poker sites. They are legit online operators that provide poker in California to thousands of players, and you will receive a quick, reliable payout if you win money online. These are the top five online poker California real money sites on the market right now:

  1. Bovada – Busiest online poker room in America
  2. BetOnline – High-quality online poker site with a large sign-up offer
  3. Everygame – Excellent rakeback for poker players
  4. SportsBetting – Low rakes and very fast payouts
  5. Ignition – Excellent choice for freeroll tournaments

Legal Status of Online Poker in California

We are often asked: Is online poker legal in California? The answer is yes, but you will need to visit an offshore sportsbook such as Bovada, BetOnline or SportsBetting.ag. The Golden State does not have a locally regulated online poker industry. The only states with regulated online poker markets are Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

However, there are no gambling laws preventing you from using an online poker site based abroad. You just need to be vigilant and find reliable, trustworthy online poker sites that pay out when you request a withdrawal. Our experts have vetted all the different providers in the online poker scene and decided that Bovada and BetOnline are the best online poker sites in California.

California Online Poker Sites Reviewed

The best offshore poker sites for California have different strengths. For example, some excel in traffic and liquidity, while others have low rakes, great bonuses and lots of freerolls. All of these online poker platforms feature the most popular poker games. Our reviews of the leading California online poker sites below will help you find the right one for you:

1. Bovada: America’s Busiest Poker Room

Bovada Poker

Bovada hosts the busiest online poker room in America. It runs on the PaiWangLuo network along with sister site Bodog and Ignition Poker. That means you can play live poker tournaments and cash games against players from across the United States and around the world. The PaiWangLuo network is the sixth busiest internet poker network in the world, and the five that rank above it do not accept American players.

It means you will not find better traffic and liquidity at any other California online poker site. Bovada offers $2 million in guaranteed weekly prizes, and it has the country’s best MTT schedule. It provides a clean, effective and reliable gambling interface. You can play Texas Hold’em, draw poker, Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo, and there are lots of SNG tournaments, knockout tournaments, turbo tournaments and fast fold events, known as Zone Poker at Bovada. In addition, the Bovada Casino features a wide variety of the best online casino games and the sportsbook has a nice selection of sports betting markets available, providing poker players with an overall great online gambling experience.

If you sign up for a Bovada poker account today, you will get a 100% welcome bonus of up to $500. It releases the funds in $5 increments during your first 30 days as a customer. You need to earn 150 Rewards Points to redeem $5 in site credits. It gives you 15 points for every $1 rake on a cash game and every $1 spent on poker tournament fees. You can redeem those points for site credit on a long-term basis, and the redemption rates improve if you are a regular player. You will also be able to take advantage of one of Bovada’s promo codes to get additional benefits with the platform.

Pros:

  • Busiest online poker room for California players
  • A wide range of skill levels
  • Guaranteed $2 million monthly prize fund
  • Hosts a $1 million “Monthly Milly” poker tournament each month

Cons:

  • Higher rake than some rival gambling sites
  • Smaller sign-up bonus than BetOnline

2. BetOnline: Great Sign-Up Bonus for CA Poker Players

BetOnline Poker

BetOnline runs an excellent online poker room that accepts players from across California and the rest of the United States. It runs on the Chico Poker Network along with its sister site, SportsBetting.ag, and Tiger Gaming. It is normally the third-busiest poker network that accepts American players, behind only PaiWangLuo and Americas Cardroom.

Half of the players come from the United States and there is a diverse array of experience and skill levels on show at this global poker network. The poker tournament schedule includes the $1 Million Windfall, Nightly Monsters and Sunday Majors, and there will always be interesting progressive bounty events, SNGs, rebuy frenzy tournaments and Omaha tournaments. You can also enjoy one of the numerous options available in BetOnline’s comprehensive casino section which features numerous online slots, table games and live dealers.

New customers receive a 100% sign-up bonus of up to $1,000 when using BetOnline promo codes, which is released at a rate of $5 for every $50 rake you pay during a 30-day period. Additional promotions and features include bad beat jackpots, which have provided several six-figure payouts in recent years.

Pros:

  • Large sign-up bonus for CA poker players
  • Jackpot bad beat specials
  • Provides same-day crypto payouts
  • High-quality user experience for poker players

Cons:

  • Not as busy as the PaiWangLuo network
  • No VIP program

3. Everygame: Excellent Rakeback for Online Poker Players

Everygame Poker

Everygame offers the best rakeback rate of all the online poker sites in California. You will receive 36% of your rake directly back into your account, which is very impressive. It will also give new customers a generous 200% welcome bonus of up to $1,000. Everygame releases $5 for every 83,335 Frequent Player Points you accumulate. Players earn points based on the number of hands of cards they play. While Everygame could have stopped at having an excellent rakeback program and welcome bonus, they didn’t. You can take advantage of one of the many Everygame promo codes in order to get even more bonus funds and other benefits.

These points can also be exchanged for Everygame Gold Chips and used to claim recurring bonuses and promotions. Everygame Poker operates on the Horizon Poker Network, along with sites such as JuicyStakes.eu. It offers tournaments, SNG events, freerolls and ring games, allowing you to play Texas Hold’em and Omaha. There is also an excellent online casino at Everygame – which was formerly known as Intertops – with a variety of video poker games and other casino games.

Pros:

  • Market leading online poker rakeback
  • 200% welcome bonus
  • Comprehensive loyalty program
  • Trustworthy reputation

Cons:

  • Lower traffic rates than rivals such as Bovada
  • Software could do with an update

4. SportsBetting: High Betting Limits and Great Bonuses

Sportsbetting.ag Poker

SportsBetting.ag is one of the best online poker sites California players can access. It is a sister site to BetOnline, offering all the same bonuses, payment methods and betting options. The only difference is that BetOnline runs on newer and more impressive software, making it a slightly better option.

If you want to play online poker for real money in California, SportsBetting is an excellent choice. It provides a large bonus to new users, a loaded poker tournament schedule and cash games, very quick payouts and 24/7 customer service. SportsBetting is something of a misnomer, as it also hosts a strong online casino, racebook and esports section alongside its sportsbook and poker room. Despite the name, this is a full-featured gambling powerhouse.

Pros:

  • Generous poker sign-up bonus for players in California
  • Pays out very quickly
  • Excellent security record
  • Busy schedule of tournaments

Cons:

  • Charges credit card deposit fees
  • BetOnline’s website is more polished

California Poker Laws

Poker is permitted at brick-and-mortar venues in California. You can play at tribal casinos and card rooms in the Golden State. Tribal casinos and commercial cardrooms have been legal in California for many years. It does not have a legal online poker market, which is why offshore sites have flourished.

If the Golden State ever rolls out a locally regulated market for online poker, those sites could be hit with bad actor clauses, but for now, they offer a secure, convenient way to play poker cash games and tournaments in California.

California has not even attempted to introduce any online poker legislation, so it seems like the state is far-off from legalizing poker. Until then, offshore poker sites are a great option.

Video Poker

California does not have a local market for online casinos either. If you want to play video poker, you will need to use an offshore casino for online gaming. Bovada and BetOnline both have excellent online casino sections featuring a strong selection of video poker games along with other types of games. We can also recommend Bookmaker.eu and Heritage Sports for video poker. These games have a very high RTP when you apply the correct strategy.

Casual Poker

Casual poker games among friends are permitted in California if they are held in a low-key fashion; private poker clubs are not legal at all. You cannot earn money from hosting card games, so make sure you do not charge an entrance fee or organizer’s fee and do not impose a minimum food and beverage. If you adhere to those rules, you can host your friends for a poker night. If you want to sharpen your skills, sign up with Bovada, BetOnline, Everygame or SportsBetting.ag.

History of Online Poker in California

October 2019: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announces that the state will not appeal a federal court ruling that found California’s card clubs are not subject to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and can operate house-banked games.
August 2018: California lawmakers fail to advance Assembly Bill 2863, which would have authorized online poker in the state.
September 2016: California Governor Jerry Brown signs Assembly Bill 2863, which would have authorized online poker in the state, but the bill does not advance past the Assembly.
October 2011: The United Auburn Indian Community and the Mechoopda Indian Tribe sue the state of California over a law that allows card clubs to offer certain types of games.
September 2011: California Governor Jerry Brown signs Senate Bill 40, which allows card clubs to offer games with certain restrictions.
2008: California voters reject Proposition 6, which would have authorized the establishment of a state-run poker room and allowed the state to collect a 33% tax on gross gaming revenue.
2007: California lawmakers introduce Assembly Bill 2026, which would have authorized the establishment of a state-run poker room and allowed the state to collect a 33% tax on gross gaming revenue, but the bill fails to advance past the Assembly.

California Poker – Live and In-Person

You can play poker at some prominent cardrooms in California if you’d like to check out a land-based casino near you. All of the casinos in the Golden State are tribal casinos. Some racetracks may also have cardrooms.

  • The Commerce Casino in LA | The world’s largest card room hosts a huge variety of poker tables, covering everything from Texas Hold’em and Omaha to Badugi and 2-7 Triple Draw. It has also hosted World Poker Tour regional events.
  • Ocean’s Eleven Casino in Oceanside | This popular casino is named after the Hollywood movie. It is open 24/7 and it offers a regular selection of poker tournaments.
  • 500 Club Casino in Clovis | This venue has a large array of Texas Hold’em games, and you can also play Fortune Pai Gow and Omaha Hi-Lo.

How to Play Online Poker in California

Playing online poker games in California is quick and easy if you sign up for an account with a highly-rated site such as BetOnline or Bovada. It only takes a minute or two to register with them, and you can then enjoy online real-money poker on your computer or mobile phone at any time of day or night. These sites also feature other casino gaming options and offer sports betting in California.

Tips for Online Poker Real Money California

These are our top tips to help you play online poker in California successfully:

  • Stick to reputable online poker operators recommended by our experts, as we know they pay out on time and in full.
  • Consider adopting a tight-aggressive strategy, which is widely regarded as the best approach for modern poker players.
  • On that note, it pays to be selective with your starting hands. Do not play every single hand.
  • Work on cutting out frustration and anger at the poker tables, which creates tilt. If you spot tilt in an opponent, capitalize upon it in ruthless fashion.
  • Master the art of bluffing, and then use it selectively.
  • Gamble responsibly and always practice sensible bankroll management when participating in any form of gambling.

Conclusion: Online Poker in California

You will enjoy a secure online poker experience if you sign up with one of the top sites featured on this page. We recommend Bovada poker room as the best option for those seeking an online poker platform, as it provides better traffic and liquidity than its rivals, with a very busy schedule of tournaments and games, some great bonuses, same-day crypto deposits, excellent customer support and an impressive all-round user experience.

FAQs – Using Online Poker Sites in California

What poker sites can you play in California?

The only sites available in California are offshore poker sites. California does not currently have its own online poker industry.

Can you play PokerStars in CA?

No, California does not allow internet poker so major operators like PokerStars are unavailable. The only way you can access any forms of gambling online is by visiting an offshore gambling site.

Can I play online poker in California with a VPN?

It is understandable that you would want to protect your identity and your money online; however, offshore sites offer poker and casino games to players in the United States with no restrictions so you do not need to use a VPN.

Can you play poker at home in California?

Yes but because the state does not have its own online gaming industry, players in California rely on offshore poker sites that operate outside of the jurisdiction of the United States.

Can I play Bovada in California?

Yes, because California does not allow major operators to offer real-money poker online, many players in the state use international poker platforms like Bovada to play.

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