Poker is the kind of game that can be played by anyone, no matter your age or physical condition. This is what makes it so popular – anyone can at any time be randomly sat next to one of the best players on the planet – not many other sports allow you to compete with the world’s best. In Virginia, the growth of poker in the 2000s gave rise to many players who have gone on to be successful on the national level. This page is dedicated to all things poker in Virginia – what options there are in online, land-based and mobile poker, along with why you should consider learning a different game than Texas Hold’em.
Online Poker in Virginia
Given all the hype around online poker over the years, it is not surprising that the rise of the game in the early 2000s led to the emergence of a new poker playing community. These people never grew up in live card rooms – they saw poker on TV, decided they wanted to play, and found a site to play with. Within a couple of years from launch, some of these sites were seeing thousands of Virginians every day playing cash games and tournaments with aspirations of being the next World Champion.
With D.C. so close, it was probably Virginia that caught wind first that the government was up to something to try to curb the growth of these offshore-based poker sites. By the time the law passed in October 2006, making all U.S. banking transactions for online gambling sites illegal, the writing was on the wall. Half the sites left the U.S. market then, and the rest were kicked out in 2011. Since then, some states, including neighboring West Virginia, have passed online poker legislation, which is seeing the game return at the state level. There is no indication when it will return to Virginia.
Land Based Poker in Virginia
The news is also not so great for poker fans in Virginia when it comes to land-based play. There are no poker rooms in the state, which is a bummer, especially for those players now displaced by the lack of real money online games. The good news is that in nearby states, there are poker rooms that players can travel to if they like, but it is also understandable that this travel can be a detractor that would make the game less fun.
Social Poker in Virginia
Almost by fate, as the doors were closing on the real money offshore poker sites in Virginia, social poker sites were hitting the market. These sites, which originally started on Facebook but grew to be standalone in some cases, offer players the opportunity to play with millions of players around the country and the world in a very casual format. There is no money to be won, only the achievements from the site and the status that comes with being able to access more exclusive tables and games. These sites do offer players a chance to practice their skills without having to invest any money, so for those who were playing at play money tables or even small stakes cash games in the 2000s, this could be a nice product.
Sweepstakes Poker in Virginia
For those who are willing to invest a little bit of money for a chance to play for something more substantial than recognition, we suggest trying one of the sweepstakes poker sites out on the market today. Some, like Club WPT, offer you a monthly subscription fee, which gives you access to a series of events offering cash and prizes as the reward. Others, like Global Poker, have you buy virtual currency that can be used at some tables, but give you “sweepstakes points” to be used at other tables and tournaments. The sweepstakes laws allow those points to be cashed in if you end up a winner. While it isn’t exactly the same as real money poker, it is pretty close from a quality perspective.
Poker Training in Virginia
The majority of poker players in the United States (and around the world for that matter) are playing only one game – No-Limit Texas Hold’em. This is because the game is good for television, which gave it exposure to a huge potential audience. Also, the World Series of Poker Main Event is a NLH tournament, and this event is the most prestigious in all of poker.
However, as the game gets tougher, more and more players are turning to different variants of poker like Omaha and Razz to find an edge. If you haven’t played any of these games before, there is plenty of time to start learning and no better place than our Poker Game Guide section. There, you will find plenty of information on each of the games, giving you the basic knowledge needed to sit down at a table regardless of the stakes.
Online Poker in Virginia FAQ
Are there sites still accepting players from Virginia?
A small number of online poker sites, all based in the Caribbean and Latin America, are still accepting players from all over the United States despite the indictments that came down in April 2011. These sites have serious challenges moving money back and forth to players, which can mean long delays in getting paid if at all. For us, even though the idea of playing real money poker with these companies sounds tempting, the ongoing issues and the threat of having the site go out of business are too much to add to the risk from gambling itself. Stay away if you can – there are lots of better options.
Speaking of options – when is poker going to be legal in Virginia?
That is difficult to say, but there are several factors at play that lead us to believe it could be sooner than later. First, the state passed sports betting legislation in 2020, which is the first step to a more comprehensive online gambling bill that would include poker. Second, West Virginia is on the verge of launching its regulated online poker sites, which you will be able to play on if you are within the state borders. This will put even more pressure on the Virginia government to make a move to regulate so as not to lose too much tax revenue to its neighbor.