Ohio is one of the states that has a high percentage of poker players amongst its population. The game is truly embedded there, with live poker and online games having grown to be huge in some regions. Of course, with the changes in legislation over the years, the poker industry as a whole has seen a lot of ups and downs. This page is meant to clear up some misconceptions about poker in Ohio – it provides details on where to play, what can be played, and whether or not we are going to see legal real money online poker anytime soon.
Online Poker in Ohio
Online poker, when it launched in the early 2000s in earnest across the U.S., opened the door to many new players entering the game. With no need to go to a land-based poker room to play, more players felt comfortable learning the game at small stakes real money tables, eventually gathering up the courage to play bigger games. The satellite tournament structure, with qualifying rounds, meant that anyone in Ohio could start with a small amount of cash and parlay that into a trip to a poker destination like the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. All of a sudden, regular people found themselves playing poker on television against the world’s best, all due to the real money poker found online.
The industry continued to grow throughout the decade until players in Ohio discovered that they would no longer be able to play at these sites. The federal government became concerned that these sites, operating from outside the U.S., were not controllable, so they put in some measures to try to dampen the growth. Ultimately, these new laws managed to get the industry shut down in April 2011, and since then, Ohio online poker players have been out of luck.
Land Based Poker in Ohio
The silver lining for online poker players who found themselves without sites to play in 2011 is that the number of new players who came from the online world was also now making their way to the live poker rooms in the state. These rooms, which are relatively centralized near the larger urban centers, provide players with the chance to play cash games and tournaments at various buy-in levels. Just across the border in Michigan, there are also some poker rooms that may be closer to many Ohio residents, so we encourage you to check out our Michigan page for those locations. For those looking to play in Ohio, here is a list of the available poker rooms:
Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH)
Hollywood Casino Columbus (Columbus, OH)
Hollywood Casino Toledo (Toledo, OH)
JACK Cleveland Casino (Cleveland, OH)
Mansfield Gemini Poker Club (Ontario, OH)
Ruggles Blue (West Chester, OH)
Shark Tank Poker Club (Columbus, OH)
The Ruggles Club (Beavercreek, OH)
Social Online Poker in Ohio
When the online poker sites pulled out of the American market in 2011, it left a hole not only for real money players but also from the millions of players who played socially on these sites. Over two-thirds of the players online in the 2000s were sitting at play money tables, so it was a welcome surprise when social poker sites like Zynga Poker hit the scene. These sites offer loads of tables of poker, all of which can be accessed for free. Now, there are no cash prizes to be won, only the recognition and adoration of your peers, but that hasn’t stopped millions of players across the country from sitting at the tables.
Social poker sites do offer players a chance to skip some of the tedious levels by buying packages of play money chips – this may sound counterintuitive, but the gameplay and skill levels at the top tiers are far better than that of the early stages. For practice, we think paying for the additional chips is a much smarter idea.
Subscription Poker in Ohio
When real money online poker was no longer an option for players in Ohio, they went looking for other options to stay on the digital felt. One business model that emerged was the subscription model. This model, perfected by Club WPT, gives players access to a full range of tournaments all for one monthly fee. These events offer great prizes to winners, so you aren’t paying for a membership for nothing! Check out our review of Club WPT to get a full understanding of how it works.
Mobile Poker in Ohio
In the 2010s, mobile technology has drastically improved. With that came the ability to play games, including poker, via apps on your smartphone or tablet. The poker world leads the way on this front, and while real money players are limited to apps available in regulated states, that should stop players from trying out one of the many free play mobile poker apps. These can be found easily enough in the app store of a player’s device. While the games aren’t perfect, they do give you an idea of the differences between playing on a PC or a mobile device, and we think that it is smart to get used to the way poker looks on these devices.
Online Poker in Ohio FAQ
Is it true that some real money online poker sites still exist in the U.S.?
Well, technically, these sites do not exist “in” the United States as they are all based offshore. However, there are indeed a handful of smaller online poker sites that accept players from Ohio. We aren’t going to give you the names of those sites as our team believes these sites come with too much risk associated with making it worth your time to play. While this means having to find alternate solutions for online poker, we think you will be much better off in the long run.
If online poker is about to be regulated in Michigan, what does that mean for Ohio?
Michigan passed comprehensive online gambling legislation late in 2019, and sites are likely to launch in 2020. This will make Michigan one of 6 states with regulated online poker on the books, and this can only mean good things for the rest of the country. For now, there is no talk of adding poker to the sports betting bill in Ohio, but when online poker launches for real money in Michigan, you can make your way across the border and give the games a try yourself!