Utah is a state known for its beauty, but not really for its gambling. As you will see on this page, poker doesn’t have a great foothold in the state. That isn’t to say that residents don’t like to play the game – the opposite is true. We are going to try to demystify poker in Utah -where you can play, what you can play, and how you can improve even though the options are limited.
Online Poker in Utah
When real money online poker was introduced in the United States in the early 2000s, it was clear that it was going to be very popular. This was especially true in states like Utah, which had been starved of places to play the game. Online poker cash games and tournaments were filled by players of all ages from the state, all vying to be the next World Champion or to make a big score at a cash game.
When these sites started to get really big, the U.S. government stepped in and put regulations in place that would make banking for these sites in the U.S. illegal. This measure sent half the large sites to the sidelines in 2006, while the remaining offshore-based operators were flushed out in April of 2011. Since then, players from Utah and other states have had no real money online poker options. While some states have recently decided to regulate online poker (and other games) at the state level, given the conservative stance on gambling in Utah, it is unlikely that it will be introducing legislation anytime soon.
Land Based Poker in Utah
Well before online poker existed, the game grew at the land-based level. There are hundreds of poker rooms scattered across the United States, but sadly there are none in Utah. Again, this is not shocking considering the government’s stance on gambling as a whole. However, with the influx of new poker fans that came from the online poker boom, more people than ever are looking for places to play in the state.
The silver lining for Utah residents is that they are close to states like Nevada and New Mexico, both of which offer live poker games. However, for some, this may mean a significant amount of travel that doesn’t make it an attractive proposition. We have pages dedicated to both states, so you can see for yourself where these rooms are and if it is worth making the trip to get some time on the felt.
Social Poker in Utah
With limited options for poker games in the state, one type of poker that is open for business is social poker. Grown from the rise of social networks like Facebook, social poker sites are designed to reward players with status as opposed to money. This may not appeal to all players, but the sheer volume of people playing at sites like Zynga Poker shows that the game is still wildly popular in all forms. There are even ways to bypass the early stages of the game and sit at the high-limit tables, but get this – it costs real money to do so, so bear that in mind when you sit down at any of these tables.
Subscription Poker in Utah
Another piece of good news for poker players in Utah, especially those willing to invest a little money, is that there are a couple of options available under sweepstakes law. Sites like Club WPY allow players to enter tournaments, giving away cash and prizes on a monthly basis all for one low monthly VIP subscription fee. Global Poker, on the other hand, takes advantage of the law by making their cash tournaments available for sweepstakes points, which players receive when they purchase virtual currency to be used at other tables.
Both options present a way for players to “pay” to enter cash games and tournaments where they can win points that have a cash value. This also means that play at these games will more closely resemble that of a real money game. Check out our reviews of these sites to see how you can get in on the action.
Learning Poker in Utah
Poker is a challenging game to master, and that is one of the things that makes it so much fun. The vast majority of poker players in Utah and around the world grew up on Texas Hold’em, but that game wasn’t even around until the 1970s. If you want to improve your overall poker game, you should take the time to learn about other games like Draw, Stud, and Omaha.
We can give you a headstart with our Poker Game Guides. Each of these guides brings you an overview of the game – hand rankings, gameplay and betting rounds, and the general rules. From there, you can find a free-play site or app that will allow you to sit at a table and get used to the play that you just learned about without having to spend any money. Before you know it, you will be wanting to hit the real money tables (which, of course, will mean traveling to find a game). Keep learning – poker is a game even the world’s best haven’t mastered yet.
Online Poker in Utah FAQ
If I travel to Nevada, where online poker is legal, can I play?
Absolutely! You can drive across the border and register for any legal online poker sites in the state. When you have an account, you can start to play real money cash games and tournaments, including playing for a WSOP bracelet via their site! The only thing to consider when playing in Nevada is that the sites are ringfenced to only work within the borders of the state, so when you head back home, you will not be able to access your account and balance.
My friends told me there are still real money sites out there. Can I play at those?
Your friends are not wrong, but they also may not be wise. There are a few random online poker sites that still exist taking U.S. players, but they are few and far between. Further, getting your money to and from these sites can be a challenge at best and a nightmare at worst. We suggest you stick to games regulated and licensed in the U.S. even though these sites may be tempting.