Down in the Bible Belt, people are more conservative than in other parts of the United States. In Alabama, gambling is considered taboo, at least in some forms. Poker fans in the state have struggled to find ways to play the game for ages, so we thought we would help shed some light on the situation in that state. This page covers the issues Alabama poker players want to know about – the status of online poker, the options for playing real money poker, and some alternatives that players may want to try to help keep their skills sharp.
Online Poker in Alabama
In the early 2000s, online poker sites began to launch in the U.S. market. At that time, poker was still growing, and while the World Series of Poker was being broadcast on ESPN, it was more of an afterthought than anything. With the introduction of the hole-card camera and the 2003 World Series of Poker Champion qualifying on an online site, everything blew up. All of a sudden, poker players from Alabama and around the U.S. could join real money online poker games and tournaments that had thousands of players. This was great news for players in states like Alabama, where poker games were hard to come by.
It seemed that the Alabama government wasn’t going to do anything about these online poker sites, as they were based offshore, and there didn’t seem to be a way to control players heading to those sites. For years, the industry continued to see massive growth, until the federal government decided they had had enough. In 2006 the government introduced legislation that would make the banking transactions of online gambling sites illegal. That scared some companies out of the market, and the rest would be shut down by the government in April 2011. Since then, Alabama poker players looking for real money Hold’em or Omaha cash games and tournaments found themselves out of luck.
Land Based Poker in Alabama
The growth and popularity of online real money poker in Alabama, and its subsequent demise, only proved to highlight the lack of land-based poker in the state. With no casinos in Alabama, there is no natural location to host real money live poker games. There is no plan for this to change anytime soon, despite the discussions about legalizing sports betting in the state. If you are a real money poker player in the state looking for a game, and you are willing to travel a bit, you will find poker rooms across the state line in Florida as well as in Mississippi. Feel free to check out our pages for those states to find the locations of the card rooms closest to you.
Social Poker in Alabama
Social poker is a type of poker that became very popular with the introduction of Facebook back in the late 2000s. Poker is a game that requires player liquidity, and the sheer number of people signing up for Facebook and other social networks back in the day created a perfect environment for companies like Zynga to capitalize on the game’s popularity. Social poker plays by the same rules as any real money poker game – you will find loads of No-Limit Hold’em “cash” games and tournaments at a social poker site. Where it differs is that there is no real money to be won, even though players have the option of buying packages of chips for cash. This is a game built on aspiration and social recognition, which is, in general, why many players play poker in the first place. While it isn’t a perfect substitute for real money online poker, it is one form of the game that is open and available to Alabamans, so it’s worth giving it a try.
Subscription Poker in Alabama
Another model that part of the poker industry adopted to try to maintain the momentum that real money online poker left behind in 2011 is the subscription or sweepstakes model. Sweepstakes laws in many states allow for events like poker tournaments to be run as contests as long as no purchase is required. Subscription sites like Club WPT give players access to free tournaments for prizes by paying a monthly subscription fee, but these sites are not allowed in Alabama. A couple of sweepstakes poker sites, like Global Poker, are open for business in the state, and again while this isn’t real money poker, it still provides an arena to practice your game.
Mobile Poker in Alabama
The Mobile Poker industry has taken off over the years with the invention and improvements to mobile technology. These days, everyone seems to have a smartphone or tablet with them at all times, and for game providers, that means there is accessibility to users anywhere there is a mobile connection. Poker players can go to the app store of their device and find multiple poker apps available for download. These are mainly social poker or free play apps, but playing these apps on your phone can get you used to how the game looks on a smaller screen and will have you ready for the return of real money online poker whenever it comes back to Alabama.
Online Poker in Alabama FAQ
Why are people in some states still able to play real money online poker legally?
When the market crashed in 2011, a handful of states decided to take the initiative to write their own laws concerning online gambling. New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada all launched online poker regulations back in 2013. With the introduction of sports wagering bills in the last couple of years, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Michigan have followed suit. It is hoped that all the states will enact their own laws, but expect Alabama to be one of the last.
What about playing at an offshore site? I have heard they still exist?
You have heard correctly -even though the majority of online poker sites no longer accept American players, there are a handful of small operators that are accessible from Alabama. These sites managed to avoid being indicted in the 2011 crackdown on the industry, but they still come with some added risk for players. We think that if you are considering playing at any of these sites, you should do your research. You will quickly find that making deposits and trying to get withdrawals processed is a tedious task, and with no legal ramifications, there is nothing stopping a site from withholding your money. The risk is too much for us to recommend these sites to our readers.