Indiana is primarily known as a sports-mad state, but the poker industry also has a good foothold in the region. The game is popular amongst players young and old, and both the casual player and the aspiring professional can find games to their liking in Indiana. With all the changes in the online gambling industry lately, we put this page together to keep Indiana residents up to date on what is happening with poker – the status of online poker, the places to find a great live game, and why you should be learning more games than No-Limit Hold’em.
Online Poker in Indiana
Online poker was a huge thing in the 2000s. When Chris MOneymake won the WSOP Main Event in 2003 wearing a Poker Stars hat, everyone sensed the industry was going to change forever. Well, it did, at least, for the next few years. Indiana online poker players could enter events with players from around the world trying to take down huge pots until the U.S. government decided it needed to step in. With all the sites being operated and owned outside the country and therefore, outside any legal jurisdiction, the government decided it would put some banking laws in place in 2006 to cripple the industry. The final blow for real money online poker in Indiana came in April 2011 when the top sites were all shut down.
Since then, online poker players have been left out in the cold, although there are some opportunities to hit the digital felt that we will cover on this page.
Land Based Poker in Indiana
Thankfully, there was a live poker scene in Indiana before the introduction of online real money poker, and the growth of the game before 2011 allowed the land-based industry to bloom. Today, Indiana is one of the top states in the country when it comes to the number of poker rooms available. These rooms not only spread No-Limit Hold’em cash games, but the dealers are all trained to be able to deal games like Omaha and Razz (don’t know how to play those? Check out our Poker Guides).
The Midwest state is home to many top poker tournaments as well. Major circuit events are held around the state during the year, giving local players to match their skills with some of the best from around the country. You can find poker rooms at the following locations in Indiana:
Ameristar Casino East Chicago (East Chicago, IN)
Belterra Casino & Hotel (Florence, IN)
Blue Chip Casino (Michigan City, IN)
Four Winds South Bend (South Bend, IN)
Hollywood Casino Indiana (Lawrenceburg, IN)
Horseshoe Casino Hammond (Hammond, IN)
Horseshoe Casino Southern Indiana (Elizabeth, IN)
Indiana Grand Casino (Shelbyville, IN)
Majestic Star Casino (Gary, IN)
Tropicana Evansville (Evansville, IN)
Social Poker in Indiana
Earlier on this page, we discussed the gaping hole in the online poker world when Indiana residents could no longer access their favorite sites in 2011. Since then, a couple of poker concepts have come to the forefront, led by the emergence of social poker. Relying on a player’s desire to have recognition amongst their peers versus winning real money, companies like Zynga built a model where players could play for free and make their way up a leaderboard, achieving access to more exclusive games as they went. However, they also built a way for players who just wanted to access the top games directly could do so by purchasing packages on free play chips. While this may seem counterintuitive, billions of dollars are spent each year on these chips, giving players a chance to play the best games with the toughest competition.
If you haven’t tried a social poker site, we think you would be well served to read some of our reviews and give one a try – at the very least, you will get in some good practice sessions.
Subscription/Sweepstakes Poker in Indiana
Another poker concept that came to light in the early 2010s was the sweepstakes model. Some sites, like Club WPT, allow players to enter a series of free tournaments every month by paying a membership fee – unfortunately, residents of Indiana are not included in that group. The good news is that sites like Global Poker are open for business, giving players a chance to win prizes without having to put up money.
Learning Poker in Indiana
With its ease of understanding and the fact that almost every poker tournament broadcast on television is based on this game, it is no surprise that the majority of the poker world plays No-Limit Hold’em and basically nothing else. However, some super fun poker games often have smaller fields in tournaments, and that are simply better from a strategic standpoint. We wrote some Poker Guides to help you learn the basics of games like Omaha, Razz, Stud, and others. Knowing more about the other games not only opens the door to you being able to sit down at these games, but it will also make your Hold’em game better by teaching you about how different strategies work better for different games.
Online Poker in Indiana FAQ
Online sports betting is now legal in Indiana – why isn’t online poker?
That’s a very good question. Ultimately, the legal issues that caused the closure of online poker sites on a federal level still exist today. However, states have been able to introduce their own online poker regulations, and a handful are already offering legal games. With the news about sports betting becoming legal across the states, it was going to be much easier to have the Indiana government pass a law only dealing with sports betting than adding in other online games. Now that the law is on the books, it would only take an amendment to add poker, casino, or any other real money online games that the state could consider.
I have a friend who says they can still play online for real money. How is that?
When the main poker sites in the U.S. were shut down in the spring of 2011, some very small sites managed to avoid prosecution. They are based outside the country in places like Panama and Costa Rica, they continue to thumb their noses at the U.S. government and take players from Indiana and other states. However, the sites do not have much traffic, and it is very difficult to get your money to and from the sites. We don’t like the added risk of playing with these sites…you should stick to places where you know your money will be safe (aside from your play, of course).