If you are a poker player in the United States, it hasn’t been a great run for the last few years. Since the closing of the major sites across the U.S. in 2011, there has been a prolonged introduction of regulations allowing online poker at the state level. The good news for residents of New Jersey is that the Garden State has made online poker legal and there are many great options available to players in that state. This page will cover everything you need to know about online poker in New Jersey.
History of legal Online Poker in New Jersey
Many people will know that it was New Jersey that spearheaded the fight and ultimate victory to have PASPA repealed and sports betting legalized in the U.S. What you may not know is that the state has been at the forefront of legalizing all forms of online gambling for the better part of the decade, including online poker. In the wake of falling numbers for the Atlantic City casinos, the Governor decided to take action, and the state passed legislation to allow both online casinos and poker sites to operate within the state borders. Online poker companies partnered with land-based license holders and in late 2013, the first legal online poker sites were up and running in New Jersey.
Online Poker Sites in New Jersey
At inception, there were 5 different poker networks available to players from New Jersey. However, it quickly became apparent that the market size was not large enough to maintain all of these networks, especially without significant expense. Companies like Betfair and Ultimate Poker went by the wayside as a result, and other companies decided to merge their liquidity to remain operational.
As the years went by, a couple more companies received licenses, and now we have the following online poker sites available in New Jersey:
The worldwide leader in online poker was a major force in the unregulated U.S. market, which is why it is the most shocking that they were granted a license in New Jersey after being shut down by the Department of Justice in 2011. Regardless, PokerStars NJ is live and running, and has all the features that make the company so popular around the world. Play in cash games and Sit and Go tourneys along with their lottery-style Spin and Go events. Poker Stars also hosts a couple of tournament series events during the year called Championships of Online Poker.
One of the most recognizable brands in all of poker, the World Series of Poker has its own online poker room that is available in multiple states. In New Jersey, players can access their favorite games and will find themselves at times playing to win seats to WSOP land-based events.
A huge brand in Europe known not only for poker but sports and casino as well, 888 is well known in the US market for being a player-friendly site. Players who join this network will find a website designed for more of a casual player, but that doesn’t mean the play is terrible. 888 players will be in the network alongside WSOP.com players.
Pala Poker comes to New Jersey from the Pala Interactive group from California. This tribal-owned site is one of the smaller in the New Jersey landscape but features an excellent software platform.
The Borgata casino and poker room are the most well-known of all the facilities in Atlantic City (poker fans will remember scenes from Borgata in the movie Rounders). The online poker room is part of a network that includes Party Poker and PlayMGM.
Even though Party Poker, once the worldwide leader in online poker before UIGEA hit in 2006, is on the same network as Borgata, it offers its own set of promotions and bonuses for you to take advantage of when you deposit. It also provides some exciting cash games and tournaments open only to their players.
Play MGM is the newest skin on the Borgata Poker Network and is smaller than the others. However, its connection to the MGM hotel group means it can offer some great offline promotions to its players.
Online Poker Tournaments in New Jersey
Despite the smaller pool of players, online poker sites in New Jersey do their best to create a series of regular tournaments with guarantees that attract players from all over the state. There are tournaments of all kinds, with entry fees starting as low as under one dollar. Each week most of the sites offer their premier tournament with the most substantial guarantees, typically on a Sunday afternoon. This event usually has qualifiers throughout the week that allow players to enter for less money.
There are also special series of tournaments hosted by the poker sites regularly. These series usually have a theme and offer a more enticing schedule over a shorter period of time to draw attention to the site.
Finally, there are tournaments run on the site which are land-based qualifying events. For example, some tournaments offer players a chance to win a seat into the prestigious World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. These tournaments are extremely popular with players.
Online poker cash games in New Jersey
While poker tournaments are where you will find the most bodies at an online poker site, the cash games are where real money can be made. The cash games at online poker sites in New Jersey can be jam-packed at lower stakes, with .50c/$1 and $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em tables being the most popular. You can find many tables running at these stakes all hours of the day at New Jersey sites.
Cash games come in all sizes online, starting all the way at the penny tables. These are great tables for learning the differences between tournaments and cash play without having to break the bank. While there aren’t many of these tables running anymore, there are some high-roller tables that can get all the way up to $100/$200 at a couple of the sites. You can also find online cash games in Limit Hold’em, Omaha and Stud on top of the more popular No Limi Hold’em.
Payment Options in New Jersey
One of the things that online poker players have struggled with over the years is getting money to and from the sites. With the U.S. banking industry not able to process transactions for many years after UIGEA in 2006, players had to resort to riskier forms of payments.
In a regulated environment in New Jersey, it is much easier to make deposits and withdrawals. While some banks still won’t accept the transactions (the banking laws are federal while the gaming laws are state-driven), many debit and credit cards are now able to be used, which makes depositing at he sites much easier for players.
Also, companies like PayPal have now been approved for use in the state, giving players an even easier way to move money to and from the sites. Finally, with most of the sites having a partnership with a land-based casino, you can always head to Atlantic City and fund your account with cash if that is the way you would rather proceed.
New Jersey Online Poker FAQ
Why are there so few legal sites?
Poker is a game that requires liquidity (pools of players) to be successful. In the days of unregulated poker in the United States, American players were able to be playing against players from across the world. Now, the pools are limited to players withing New Jersey (and the players from Delaware and Nevada thanks to an agreement between those states). There simply aren’t enough players in those jurisdictions to maintain more than the current number of sites, and even then, the prize pools are small compared to what players may have seen in the past.
Can I play against friends in other legal states?
If you are in New Jersey and you are playing on the WSOP or 888 networks, then you can take advantage of the agreement between the states of Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey creating combined liquidity. This allows you to play against players in those states, but that is the only agreement of its kind currently in the U.S.
Can I still use an offshore site?
After Black Friday in 2011, there are minimal options left for offshore-based online poker sites. However, that isn’t stopping these sites from marketing to American players. The brazen approach to marketing these sites is surprising considering the fate of the sites that were growing in the market in the 2000s, but for now, the Department of Justice seems to be reluctant to pursue them. We do not recommend playing at these sites, given the added risk of uncertainty that you will get paid.
Can I use Bitcoin for legal online poker sites?
Bitcoin is a very hot topic in the payments world, with its meteoric rise in value and its crazy swings over the last couple of years. The cryptocurrency has been popular in the online poker world because it bypasses the payment processing companies that charge a premium for gaming sites to have transactions processed. Regulated online poker sites in New Jersey do not yet offer Bitcoin as a payment method, likely due to the instability of the unregulated currency. However, don’t be shocked if one day, you will be able to use cryptocurrencies of all types for your deposits and withdrawals.
Why can’t I access my account when I am traveling outside New Jersey?
One of the stipulations of gambling that is regulated at a state level is that the gaming activities have to be limited to the borders of that state. With land-based poker, that isn’t an issue – the cardrooms are located in the casinos. In order to ensure that online poker sites comply with the rules, player accounts are ringfenced to the geographic borders of the state. Don’t worry – if you try to access your account from outside New Jersey, it won’t be closed, the access will only be blocked until you are back with the state lines.