Most poker players don’t live in one of the four states where online poker is legal, but there are other options out there. While online poker for real money is only available in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, with Pennsylvania to be on board soon, social gaming does offer a fun alternative. Some even feature a chance to win real prizes and cash payouts. Grab your mobile device or laptop and get logged in – here’s a look at some options available.
While Black Friday may have ended your game on one of the biggest sites in poker, the PokerStars free play offers a chance to relive some of those 2000s poker boom years. The action may not be for real money, but PokerStars offers plenty of fun and a chance to work on your game.
Players can join leagues or start their own, and move to bigger tournaments on the poker trail – ending up in Las Vegas of course. There are also numerous player challenges. Along with poker, those players who become a little bored can also switch to several slot machine games.
Starting chips: 50,000 (with Facebook login).
How to get more: A daily spin earns a player more, and 1,200 chips are always free. More chips are available for purchase starting at $1.99.
Pros: The PokerStars app interface works well with easy finger swipe motions – betting, calling, raising, and checking is very easy. The music and sound effects also give off a kind of retro Las Vegas vibe. It’s overall a smooth game one would expect from PokerStars.
Cons: The addition of Omaha is nice, but the game can only be unlocked after reaching Level 10.
Playing for a gold bracelet at the Rio in Las Vegas may not be a reality for some of us. But with this social game offering from the World Series of Poker, every player has a chance at some poker glory. While the WSOP offers real-money poker in the state of Nevada, PlayWSOP offers a chance to work on your game in a fun virtual atmosphere. Players advance along the international poker circuit – beginning in Atlantic City and culminating in Las Vegas.
Starting chips: 500,000 and player get an extra 250,000 with Facebook login.
How to get more: Free daily Mega Bonus Spin. Purchase also available beginning at $2.99.
Pros: The game comes with all the music and sound effects that seem to define the game on ESPN. Gameplay is fairly easy and the dealer at the table is a nice touch. Cash games and tournaments are easy to jump into. The WSOP also offers Omaha for fans of other forms of poker. Sorry though, no Omaha Hi/Lo yet.
Cons: Simpler keystrokes would be a nice addition and just a bit more time for raising. Text showing names and chips is a little small also.
Zynga now has the largest poker site in the world with millions and millions of players online 24/7, 365. The partnership with the World Poker Tour makes for even more options – including tournaments and sit and gos. It may not be real money, but chip challenges keep players hungry for more.
Starting chips: $60,000
How to get more: Numerous options to earn more including purchase for as low as $0.99. Daily free slot spins also add to your total.
Pros: Easy interface and plenty of player options – leagues, cash games, tournaments, and more. The Hand Strength Meter offers a nice way for beginners to gauge their starting hand value.
Cons: If you’re a fan of Omaha or Seven Stud, this might not be the game for you. Only Texas Hold’em is available.
The World Poker Tour took the world by storm in 2002 and helped launch the poker boom with players dreaming of big money and poker fame. The tour and television show debuted the hole-card cam, helping to launch the sire of televised poker that continues today. This game attempts to recreate a WPT final table right down to the television set backdropping the players. PlayWPT allows players to play cash games, tournaments, and sit and go’s. Fittingly for the World Poker Tour, players can advance to events at locations around the globe from Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro.
Starting chips: 25,000 with bonuses for new players.
How to get more: Available for purchase for as low as $1.99 with regular free games to earn more as well. Complete missions to earn more also.
Pros: Gameplay is smooth and simple, and the avatars and graphics are nice. The game offers something truly unique – video replays of WPT events while playing hands – complete with commentary from longtime commentators Vince Van Patten and Mike Sexton. Play poker while watching some WPT, nice!
Cons: Again it’s only Texas Hold’em in this game. A few more avatars available for newbies would be nice.
One major positive for Global Poker is that it offers players all across the U.S. and Canada with real opportunities at cash and prizes. Through its unique sweepstakes model, players use virtual chips (Gold Coins), which they accumulate and play with but cannot redeem for real money. However, when purchasing Gold Coins, players receive bonus sweepstakes prizes called “$weeps Coins.” This virtual currency can then be used for $weeps Coins tournaments and ring games. $weeps Coins is considered to be “bonus sweepstakes prizes” and so Global Poker avoids being classified as gambling.
As a player wins, $weeps Coins can be cashed out as real prizes through WorldPay, which offers several withdrawal methods. Players who play enough gold coins can qualify for real money freerolls – the Daily Hundo and Daily Five Hundo.
Starting chips: 5,000 gold coins
How to get more chips: Purchase more for cash (as low as 5,000 for $1), earning $weeps Coins in the process, which can be used to earn more of the cash.
Games offered: Hold’em, Omaha, Crazy Pineapple.
Pros: The tables feature smooth gameplay and fun avatars. Games can be played easily within a web browser and don’t require a program download. Thousands of dollars are given away each week via the $weeps Coins. Players can cash out for real cash when they reach at least $50 in $weeps Coins. Those who play regularly have some $weeps Coins freeroll opportunities pretty regularly.
Cons: Action moves very quickly from player to player – don’t dawdle too much or your hand will be killed. That’s tough if you have a nice hand and considering tables can even be four-handed. Multitasking while playing isn’t really an option.
While these are some of the more popular free and social game offerings, other opportunities to play exist. That includes some nice poker apps not affiliated with major tours that still get nice reviews. Here’s a look at a few other options.
- Scatter Hold’em Poker – This unique game offers more than just poker. Scatter Holdem combines elements of a fantasy game as well. Players must “navigate mysterious worlds filled with magic skittish fairies, blazing elementals, and other fantasy creatures.” New characters and worlds are constantly added and updated. You can even throw fireballs at opponents.
- Red Dead Redemption II – Video game fans will be pleased to check out this game from RockStar Games. RD2 offers players a trip to the Old West in 1899. As an outlaw named Arthur Morgan, gamers ride horseback across the range, stage train robberies, shoot it out with lawmen, and travel through forests, deserts, and towns. The trailer notes that the game creates “a living world that’s not simply open, but deeper. And more interactive and detailed than ever combining action, storytelling, and gameplay in new ways.” And that Old West world includes poker. Players can challenge fellow outlaws to some Texas Hold’em and accumulate funds for use throughout the game. The poker scenes feature these tough outlaws in cowboy hats around an old wooden table. It a fun twist on a video game with poker playing a major part of the action.