Georgia is a state that has long had a very conservative view on gambling as a whole. This has impacted the poker industry as well, and even though there was nothing stopping residents of the state from taking part in the online poker surge of the 2000s, today, the industry is left with limited options for players. This page will have a look at the state of poker in Georgia -what is actually available for play, how you can still improve your game despite the limited options, and the potential for regulation in the future.
Online Poker in Georgia
Real money online poker was a bastion of hope for gamblers in Georgia when it first came into the country in the early 2000s. With such a suffocating set of laws around gambling in the state, the fact that players could now access these offshore sites and play real money No-Limit Hold’em, Omaha, and other games against players from their state and around the world was worth rejoicing. There is no law saying that playing online poker is illegal, so no one feared any discipline.
What the Georgia poker players may not have anticipated was the federal crackdown on online poker as a result of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. This law prevented U.S. banks from processing online gambling transactions, sending many of the operators out of the U.S. Those online poker sites that stayed reaped the benefits for years until they themselves were indicted for breaking that law. By April 2011, real money online poker was all but wiped out, leaving players from Georgia and other states wondering if they would ever be able to play again.
Land Based Poker in Georgia
When Black Friday in 2011 shut down the American online poker scene, players in many states found solace in returning to the live poker rooms that are scattered across many states. While this meant traveling from homes to play, they could find rooms offering cash games in Hold’em, Omaha, and other games and tournaments that would replicate the rush of playing online, if only at a much slower pace.
Unfortunately, the crippling gaming laws in Georgia make operating a live poker room illegal, so there are no local options for residents of the state. The states around Georgia do offer live poker, though, with Florida leading the charge. If you are interested in playing some live poker and are willing to make the drive, we encourage you to check out our Florida Poker page for a full listing of the card rooms open in that state.
Social Poker in Georgia
Of course, when one door closes, another typically opens, and this was very true in the online poker world. When the sites that offered real money poker left the country in 2011, they took with them all the play money tables that had been very popular with players from Georgia and other states. Those players, though, would soon find a replacement for the excitement with the launch of social poker sites like Zynga Poker. These sites, built to run on social networks like Facebook, brought players from Georgia to tables filled with players from around the U.S. and all over the world. The model of social poker was built to reward those who played a lot of hours or those willing to pay to bypass the low-limit games. While there is no money to be won at any social poker tables, the gameplay at higher levels is still strong enough to prove to be a great breeding ground for those looking to improve their skills. If you haven’t tried them before, you may want to give them a shot – they are now all readily available as apps to download to your mobile devices for even more convenience.
Sweepstakes Poker in Georgia
Another safe haven for online poker players displaced by the events in 2011 is sweepstakes poker. As it turns out, poker tournaments for prizes can qualify for sweepstakes in many states across the U.S., giving operators a chance to invite players into the fold. The leader in the space, Club WPT, created a subscription-based model that would allow players unlimited access to poker tournaments after paying a monthly membership fee. This model is illegal in Georgia, so residents cannot play there, but they can play at sites that are more basic sweepstakes models like Global Poker. If you aren’t sure about these sites and how they work, we encourage you to check out the site reviews by our experts, who break down all the details you need to know about these companies.
Poker Training in Georgia
Not being able to access online poker for real money in Georgia shouldn’t stop you from trying to improve your game! There are so many great games that you probably haven’t even considered trying because No-Limit Hold’em is the game most commonly played. Our Poker Game Guides provide overviews of other styles of poker like Razz, Omaha, Short Deck, and Badugi, all of which are super fun to play once you get a hang of the rules. Playing all different types of poker will have your Hold’em game improved as well, as you will be learning different betting styles and gameplay. You can’t go wrong trying to improve your game – start with our Guides, and then move on to all the great video content that is available these days.
Online Poker in Georgia FAQ
Can’t I just play online with one of the sites I keep hearing about that take U.S. players?
Well, that depends on your appetite for risk. The fact is that some sites escaped being shut down in 2011, primarily due to their size. Those sites continue to take players from Georgia, but they are wrought with problems. Everything from payment processing to customer service can be an issue, and given that the sites are too small to offer anything of substance, most players have chosen to avoid them entirely. We also think that it is the right move for you to take.
A friend of mine is using a VPN to play from their house. Is this legal?
It isn’t illegal – how about that as an answer? Many people in the U.S. are using VPNs to access real money poker sites from other countries. However, even if you can access a site and manage to create an account, you still have to fund it somehow. And if you go even further and make some money and want to withdraw it, you will need to prove residence in whatever country you are playing “from.” Add in the fact that if the site catches you (and they are looking), your account could be closed, and your money forfeited. So….still want to give it a try?