The state of Nevada has had a decades-long history with gambling, but when it comes to the online side of the business, it lags behind other states and countries. Thankfully, online poker fans have been given a chance to play their favorite games online legally for the last few years.
This guide to Nevada Online Poker will give you all the information on the history of legalization of online poker, the sites that are currently available to players in the state, and what types of games you are likely to find at the site you choose to play.
A brief history of legalized online poker in the state
As we mentioned, gambling and Nevada go hand in hand. Ever since the mob chose this sport in the desert to set up shop, the region has been home to some of the biggest gambling and entertainment spectacles. Included in this is the World Series Of Poker, which grew exponentially in the 200s when online poker sites, based offshore, started qualifying thousands of players for the main event. This reached a peak in 2006 when a record 8,621 people played in the $10,000 World Championship.
While online poker can be partially responsible for the growth in Nevada gaming, unfortunately, it was all being done against the law. In 2006, and again in 2011, the U.S. government took measures to shut the offshore industry down, and for the most part, they were successful. However, the government stopped short of saying online poker was illegal, which kept the door open for states to make up their own minds on the topic.
Nevada, along with New Jersey and Delaware, decided that they wanted to reap the benefits of a popular industry, so they all passed legislation that would make online poker legal within the borders of each state. For Nevada, this came in 2013, with the first site being launched late in that year.
Unfortunately, one major difference between the offshore sites and the regulated model was the ability to pool players, and Nevada felt the sting early on. The first site to go live, Ultimate Poker, had to cease operations as it couldn’t generate the required liquidity to keep the games going. Sensing that could be an ongoing issue, the three sites entered into an agreement that would see players from each state being pooled so that there were more players in each game. This, along with the increased interest in the WSOP, has kept the Nevada online poker industry alive.
Where you can play online poker in Nevada
With liquidity being an issue that albeit was helped by the compact between Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey, it is still a struggle to keep several sites operational in the state. As of January 2020, there are only two online poker sites that are open to players in Nevada:
- Real Gaming
Realistically, WSOP.com is the only site that offers a full suite of games attractive to all types of players. While there is interest from some of the bigger global online poker brands to open their doors in the state, the current regulation has a “bad actor” clause prohibiting those that took players from Nevada in the unregulated environment from receiving license approval. This may not last forever, but for the time being, those sites like PokerStars and 888 that have become the best-known brands in the world are shut out of Nevada online poker.
Types of online poker games available in Nevada
Despite there only being a couple of options for online poker players in Nevada, that doesn’t mean that the selection of games is small! Checking out the lobby of any site will show you the sheer volume of available games, which tend to fall into one of the following categories.
Cash games are the gold-standard of poker play. Before the advent of tournament play, players would saddle up to a cash game with whatever money they had in their pockets and settle in for a long session. These days, players can access cash games that start as low as pennies per hand all the way up to very large stakes. The key to a cash game is that you are not playing with a finite number of chips – if you bust, you can always reload your balance right there at the table.
Online World Series Of Poker Tournaments
If you are playing online poker from Nevada (or New Jersey, to be fair) during the World Series of Poker festival in the early summer, then you have the unique chance to win a coveted WSOP bracelet in a couple of online-only events. These events happen exclusively at WSOP.com, but they bring some of the world’s best to the online felts in an effort to take home the gold. Even if you do not live in Nevada, you may want to consider traveling to the state to try your luck at these events – who knows, you could end up taking home the hardware!
Single Table Tournaments
These tournaments, also known as Sit and Go tournaments, are designed to give players the feel of playing a tournament but without having to wait for a start time and not having to play for hours. These events are set up to start as soon as the table is full, and their popularity has grown so much that there are now events that feature more than one table. This is an excellent way to get your tournament fix in a much shorter timeframe.
Freerolls are a great way for players to both get used to a site and how the gameplay works, as well as adding real money to your balance without having to make a deposit! These events are usually set up on a daily or weekly basis, and while the quality of play isn’t all that great in them, if you are patient, you could find yourself making the money and starting to build your bankroll.
These are the most common tournaments you will find at an online poker site. These events, typically adhering to a daily or weekly schedule, allow you to play against hundreds, if not thousands, of players in a single event. These are the events that can turn a couple hundred dollars into a seven-figure payday for the winners. Check out your online poker site’s tournament schedule for tournaments that range in entry fee from as low as a dollar every day.
As we mentioned, some tournaments that you can find on online poker sites in Nevada have buy-ins that are higher than many players’ budgets. This is where the satellite tournament comes into play. A satellite event is one that awards seats into a larger tournament, allowing you to qualify for the bigger event for a much smaller amount of money. Perhaps the most well-known satellite event ever held was the one PokerStars had in 2003 for the World Series of Poker Main Event, which Chris Moneymaker entered, qualified, then won the World Championship. Today, many larger online events have satellites in them, expanding the fields considerably.
Payments to and from online poker sites in Nevada
One of the best parts about legalizing online poker in Nevada is the expansion of the payment methods that are available to players. If you are in Las Vegas, you can even walk into a Caesars property and make your deposit in cash at a casino cage! Other forms of payment that are popular with players include:
- Credit and Debit Cards – beware that not all banks currently accept online gambling transactions.
- Prepaid VISA Cards
Do offshore poker sites still exist?
After the bloodbath of Black Friday in 2011, almost all the poker sites available to American players were wiped out. However, a handful of smaller sites remained active, and for the time being, they continue to attract players from the U.S. It is getting tougher to find ways to make deposits at these sites, and as a couple of them have gone out of business over the last few years, we simply cannot recommend that you give them a try. There are legitimate options available to players in Nevada, so there is no need for the increased risk of sending your money to an unregulated site.
What if I qualify for the WSOP? What happens next?
Well, first off, you should celebrate the fact that you have won a satellite to the most prestigious poker tournament in the world! The site will contact you with the details of how to collect your prize. You are most likely going to receive some sort of stipend for travel and accommodation (the tournament details would have outlined the full prize package). Following that, it is likely that the site will buy you directly into the tournament, at which point you will meet a representative to collect your seat assignment. It is best to contact the site right away after you win the satellite to ensure you don’t miss out on your chance to be the World Champion!
Can I bet from my mobile device in Nevada?
Yes, mobile devices can be used for online poker in Nevada. The improvements in technology over the last few years mean that even from your phone, you can access all the great features that would find on the PC version of the games. This means you can now truly play online poker from anywhere in Nevada!
How can I be sure that players aren’t cheating online?
The sites have built many safeguards to ensure the integrity of their games. IP restrictions, chat monitoring, and collusion-detecting AI are all measures that an online poker site will take to make sure that when you sit down at a table, you aren’t being cheated by other players. It is critical to the success of an online poker site that players feel comfortable and trust where they are playing, so they all take this security very seriously.