Hawaii is a beautiful place, full of lush greenery, surrounded by the ocean, and a hotspot for travelers from the continental United States. However, the landscape of gamblers is bleak at best. The state has not adopted any of the traditional gambling laws from the rest of the U.S. and doesn’t appear to be planning to do so anytime soon.
What does that mean for people that love to play poker? Well, there are some outlets available to Hawaiian residents, and we will cover those as well as how best to learn the game on this page all about poker in Hawaii.
Online Poker in Hawaii
When the online poker boom hit the United States in the early 2000s, it breathed life into the poker industry in Hawaii. Being so far away from the continental states, Hawaiians were finally able to connect with the rest of the country by sitting at common poker tables and in tournaments that could see residents qualify for huge events like the World Series of Poker.
The sites that Hawaiians were playing on, however, were deemed to be operating illegally in the U.S., and in 2011, the government took steps to shut down the largest sites, essentially ending the run of online poker. To this day, while there are a few states that have added online poker legislation, most Americans, including those in Hawaii, can only dream of the days when they could play for millions of dollars online once again.
Land Based Poker in Hawaii
In most of the states in the U.S., when real money online poker disappeared in the early 2010s, players had the land-based poker rooms to fall back on. Yes, it meant having to leave the house and heading to a facility to play, but for fans of the game, it was the best available option.
Unfortunately for residents of Hawaii, this is not the case. The state has no casinos or legal poker rooms, which means the only option for playing land-based poker would be at a social level. This isn’t likely to change anytime soon – there is not much of a desire to add gambling to the landscape, with the state preferring to rely on tourism to raise tax dollars.
Social Poker in Hawaii
Ok, enough doom and gloom about poker in Hawaii! There is, in fact, some good news -when the social networks like Facebook emerged in the late 2000s, game developers realized there was an opportunity to use the platform to create massive multiplayer environments. This coincided very well with the demise of online poker, which had a huge play money component. Zynga was the first of the gaming companies to launch a social poker site, which gave players a chance to play in massive events to try to unlock new levels of the game and to make the top of their social leaderboard. Players also have the option of buying into the upper levels of the game, where the quality of play is much better. These chip purchases cost real money, so even though you can’t withdraw any winnings, it still simulates playing in a real money game if you are playing at a high enough level. It’s a great way to stay sharp, and with multiple options available, we think it is worth you giving a try.
Subscription/Sweepstakes Poker in Hawaii
Another available outlet for poker players in Hawaii is Sweepstakes Poker. Sweepstakes laws are different than gambling laws in most states, which allows companies like Global Poker to offer tournaments to players under those rules. Also, there are sites like Club WPT that offer you a membership for a fee which gives you access to all their daily and weekly tournaments. You can win some amazing prizes at these sites, so check out our reviews to see which site might be the best for you.
Learning Poker in Hawaii
The lack of real money poker in the state shouldn’t stop anyone who wants to learn from gaining knowledge about Hold’em or any other variant of the game. We have a whole section of this site dedicated to teaching you the basics of all the games, including new ones like Chinese Poker and Short Deck Poker. After you read up on the ruled, you can download loads of free play poker apps to your mobile device and start playing the games. The more hands you play, no matter the stakes, the better you will become as a player. Take advantage of the fact that there are thousands of poker videos on YouTube and so many books on the subject that even in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the next World Champion could be learning as we speak.
Online Poker in Hawaii FAQ
Are there any offshore poker sites left after the 2011 shutdown that I can play with?
Yes, there are a few small online poker sites that are accepting American players to this day. However, these sites are unregulated and are not based in the United States, which poses a significant risk to players. Being illegal in the eyes of the U.S. government means that moving money to and from these poker sites is getting harder every day. Further, the games are small, and the players are strong, so it isn’t much of a casual poker experience. We know it is a tempting thought to sign up and play with one of these sites, but in general, we do not recommend this to our readers.
Why is real money online poker legal in some states but not others?
Technically, all gaming regulation is dealt with at the state level. When the federal government stepped in and shut down all the poker sites due to violations of federal banking laws, it didn’t change the fact that if states wanted to pass legislation of their own, they could do so. A handful of states, starting with New Jersey, took the initiative to launch online poker sites in a regulated environment, but the rest of the country was slow to respond. Now, with legalized sports betting sucking up all the oxygen in the room, there is more of a chance of online poker becoming relevant again the next few years.