The world of online poker has changed dramatically since the early 2000s. The days of playing online poker in the US with ease are long gone, thanks to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006. This legislation made it illegal for financial institutions to process transactions related to online gambling, effectively pushing many online poker sites out of the US market. However, the question remains: do US professional poker players still play online from the US? In this article, we'll explore the current state of online poker in the US, as well as how some professional players have adapted to the new landscape.
Although many online poker sites have left the US market, a few offshore sites have stepped in to fill the void. These sites are based in countries where online poker is legal and regulated, allowing them to offer their services to US players. However, playing on offshore sites comes with its own set of risks. Since these sites are not subject to US regulations, there is little recourse for players if they encounter issues with their accounts or funds. Furthermore, the legality of playing on these sites can be murky, as some states have specific laws prohibiting online gambling, while others do not.
Despite these risks, some US professional poker players continue to play on offshore sites. They are willing to accept the potential consequences in order to maintain access to online poker games. However, for many players, the risks simply outweigh the benefits, leading them to seek out other options for playing online poker.
Fortunately for US professional poker players, there has been a slow but steady push for a return to regulated online poker in the US. Currently, online poker is legal and regulated in Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, with more states considering legislation to legalize the activity. In these states, players can enjoy online poker on sites that are licensed and regulated by the state's gaming commission.
For professional poker players living in these states, this is a significant development, as it allows them to play online poker without the risks associated with offshore sites. However, the player pool is limited, as players can only compete against others within their state's borders. This can lead to smaller tournaments and cash games, which may not be ideal for professional players looking for high-stakes action.
Another option that some US professional poker players have explored is relocating to a country where online poker is legal and widely available. By moving to a country like Canada, Mexico, or a European country, players can regain access to the international player pool and enjoy a wider variety of games and tournaments.
While this option may seem extreme, it has become a reality for some professional players who rely on online poker as their primary source of income. However, relocating comes with its own set of challenges, including adjusting to a new culture, dealing with visa and residency requirements, and potentially leaving family and friends behind. For these reasons, this option is not suitable for everyone.
In response to the limited availability of legal online poker options in the US, some players have turned to private online poker games and apps. These platforms allow players to set up their own poker games and invite friends and fellow players to join. While these games may not offer the same level of competition as traditional online poker sites, they do provide an opportunity for players to continue honing their skills and competing against others.
It's important to note that the legality of these private games and apps can be questionable, as they may not adhere to state or federal laws regarding online gambling. As a result, players should exercise caution when participating in these games.
While the current state of online poker in the US is far from ideal for professional players, there is reason to be optimistic about the future. As more states legalize and regulate online poker, the player pool will continue to grow, providing more opportunities for players to compete in larger tournaments and cash games. Additionally, the success of regulated online poker in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania may encourage other states to follow suit.
For now, US professional poker players must navigate the complex and often frustrating landscape of online poker in the US. Whether they choose to play on offshore sites, relocate to another country, or participate in private games, these players are determined to continue pursuing their passion for poker, despite the obstacles they face.