Colorado has had a long-standing debate about online gambling within its borders, and this includes the legitimacy of online poker. These days, as the conversation nationally is less about poker and more about the regulation of sports betting, the tide may actually be turning in favor of the game. This page is all about poker in the great state of Colorado – where you can play, what you can play, and how you can become a better player.
Online Poker in Colorado
Let’s start by talking about online poker, mainly because it is still something that Colorado residents cannot play from their state (at least according to the government – more on that below). The 2000s were a heyday for online poker sites in the U.S., and Coloradans could register and play at many sites that offered millions of dollars of tournament prizes every day. But in 2006, the federal government passed a law that would make banking transactions for U.S. players illegal, and in 2011 the Department of Justice seized the domains of the biggest poker sites on the planet, forcing them all out of the country.
The operation of an online poker site continues to be illegal in the eyes of Colorado law, but to date, no operator has been indicted. With online sports betting coming to the state in 2020, it seems as though now is a good time to strike up a conversation about possibly adding poker to the regulations.
Land Based Poker in Colorado
Despite the ban on online poker in the state, Colorado still has options when it comes to playing the game. The first of these is to head to any of the available land-based poker rooms to grab a seat. While this is obviously more cumbersome than playing from the comfort of your own home, live poker is really critical when it comes to learning the psychology of the game and the players.
Whether you are looking to jump in a cash game or play in a tournament, the poker rooms in Colorado will have you covered. What the state lacks in numbers of rooms it more than makes up for in the number of games available. There are also an abundance of tournaments, including a couple of mid-stakes poker festivals that run through the area each year. Everything from low to high stakes games can be found at any of these locations:
Ameristar Casino Black Hawk (Black Hawk, CO)
Golden Gates Casino (Black Hawk, CO)
Isle Casino Black Hawk (Black Hawk, CO)
Midnight Rose Poker Room (Cripple Creek, CO)
Social Poker in Colorado
Many Colorado residents were left stunned when the bog poker sites shut down their American operations in 2011. While the majority of the focus has always been on the real money games, more than half the players who partook in online poker in the state did so for play money, not making a deposit. Those players were lucky enough to have a replacement enter the scene when social networks like Facebook launched. Social Poker companies like Zynga and others launched games right on the platform, giving thousands of Coloradans a new home for poker.
What makes social poker so interesting is that while the games are played for advancing levels and recognition instead of for cash prizes, players can buy chips for real money that allow them to skip the lower levels of play. This means that someone who wants to practice their game but wants to find good competition can buy right into those tables. This seems like a good investment for many players as these sites are bringing in billions of dollars in sales from these chip stacks.
Subscription Poker in Colorado
Back in the early 2000s, some very smart people figured out that poker tournaments could be considered sweepstakes in certain states if there was no direct entry fee, and they also found a business model under which this could work. With the introduction of Club WPT, players are now able to pay a monthly membership fee and gain access to tournaments with over $100,000 in prizes every month, including trips to live WPT events around the United States.
The good news for residents of California is that Colorado is one of the 36 states that has access to these subscription-based games. Furthermore, other sweepstakes sites like Global Poker have also launched and are accessible by poker players in the state. Check out our reviews of these sites to understand exactly how they work and how you can register and start playing!
Mobile Poker in Colorado
The legalization of online sports betting in Colorado will result in a flood of native gambling apps available for download to phones and tablets. This technology has been around for some time in other jurisdictions, as have online poker apps. Today, while you can’t play real money poker from your mobile device, you can download one of the many free play apps in your app store. Even though the games aren’t as challenging as real money play, you can still get used to what it is like to play from a smaller screen, and when real money poker comes back to Colorado, you’ll already have a feel for the gameplay.
Online Poker in Colorado FAQ
My friends tell me that there is still real money online poker that can be played in Colorado. Is that right?
Your friends aren’t wrong…but they are definitely risk-takers. The online poker crackdown known as Black Friday in 2011 shut down most of the big online poker sites, but a handful of smaller sites were spared, and they continue to find ways to accept American players. However, with payment processing becoming very costly for these sites, and not that much traffic, the margins have to be razor-thin, leaving many worried that these sites could go out of business, leaving players without their funds. We never recommend these sites as Coloradans have no recourse if something bad were to happen.
Can I play at an online poker site in a state where it is legal?
Yes, this is definitely allowed. There are currently six states with online poker regulations (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Nevada, West Virginia, and Michigan). If you are traveling to one of those states (WV and MI haven’t launched yet), you can download and play at any of the available sites. However, these sites are geo=-fenced, meaning when you leave the state borders, you will lose access to the games. Still, it is worth it if you are traveling and want to get in some poker action, or if you want to purposely travel to a state like Nevada where you can win a WSOP bracelet online during the month of June!