NJ Online Poker

Though it does not get the same level of attention as sports betting and online casinos, NJ online poker is alive and well. No matter where you are in the Garden State, you can always find ways to participate in your favorite games on the felt. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find another location with more online poker opportunities than New Jersey.

There are four different online poker networks active in the state of New Jersey. These four networks combine to spread seven different site options for both residents and visitors inside state lines. Not all of them are created equal or bear the same level of opportunity, but you are not short on choices.

Best online poker sites in New Jersey

Rank
Poker Room
Bonus
Features
Play
1
$10 FREE
On Sign Up
$50 Free On Deposit
100% up to $1,000 On Deposit
Use Our Code: 10FREE
2
$50 FREE
In Tournament Tickets
Play 1 Hand, Get $50 Free -or-
100% Up to $600 On Deposit
To Claim: Click Play Now
3
$25 FREE
On Sign Up
$25 Free On Sign Up
Up To $1,000 Deposit Bonus
Borgata NJ Partner
Use Bonus Code: PLAYNJFREE
4
$20 FREE
On Sign Up
$20 Free On Sign Up
100% up to $1,500 Deposit Bonus Offer
To Claim: Click Play Now
5
$25 FREE
On Sign Up
$25 Free On Sign Up
Limited Time & Exclusive 100% Up To $1,000 Deposit Bonus
Borgata NJ Partner
Use Bonus Code: PLAYNJCASH
6
$20 Free
On Sign Up
$20 Free with No Deposit
100% Deposit Match up to $600
Use Bonus Code: PLAYNJ

What each NJ poker site does offer is the chance to play no-limit Texas hold’em. No matter the level of traffic, you can always find activity in the two-card game. Many sites also have opportunities to play pot-limit Omaha, if that’s more your speed. A few sites – particularly the market leader – have several more variants that you can play.

You can also find games in a variety of formats. Cash games, tournaments, sit-n-gos, jackpot sit-n-gos (spin and gos), and fast-fold games each maintain loyal followings in the Garden State. Depending on the site, you can even play for some of the most coveted prizes in all of poker. World Series of Poker bracelets, World Poker Tour events, and other prestigious live opportunities are all at your fingertips in New Jersey.

If you are new to New Jersey or just want to know what opportunities are out there, you’ve come to the right place. We have all the latest news and information about poker in the Garden State. Best of all, we have the best bonus opportunities that you can find for New Jersey online poker. Some of our offers are exclusive to our network of sites, meaning that you cannot find more generous deals elsewhere. If you want to maximize your time playing New Jersey online poker, bookmark this page and keep reading.

Is online poker legal in New Jersey?

Yes! Online poker is legal in New Jersey. In fact, online poker has been authorized by state law since 2013. The launch of online poker in the Garden State came as the result of then-Gov. Chris Christie’s signature on New Jersey Assembly Bill 2578 in February 2013.

Roughly nine months after the bill’s procession into law, online poker debuted concurrently with NJ online casino gambling in the state. At present, there are seven legal online poker sites in New Jersey.

New Jersey residents and visitors can also take advantage of the state’s membership in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement. The agreement allows sites from Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey to combine their player pools and increase the prize possibilities and action for all three states.

Top NJ poker sites for 2021

NJ online poker rooms use four different networks to host their games. So, New Jersey players will find some overlap between the sites from time to time, and obviously, there will be players from Nevada and Delaware in some rooms.

RankPoker SiteNo Deposit BonusDeposit BonusPlay Now
1.WSOP.com$10 Free100% up to $1,000Play Now
2.PokerStarsNone100% up to $600 or play 1 hand, get $50 free play Play Now
3.BetMGM Poker$25 Free100% to $1,000Play Now
4.888 Poker$20 Free100% up to $1,500Play Now
5.Party Poker$25 Free100% up to $1,000Play Now
6.Borgata Poker$20 Free100% up to $600Play Now

Here’s a rundown of all the different available sites:

  1. WSOP.com NJ: WSOP.com is the online version of the World Series of Poker, the most famous poker brand in the world. Players can compete in hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, and Omaha Hi-Lo games at a variety of stakes. In addition, every summer brings the opportunity to play in several WSOP bracelet events that are exclusively online.
  2. PokerStars NJ Poker: PokerStars is the largest and most active online poker site in the world. Its ability to offer action on such a wide variety of games and stakes has engraved its position in the poker pantheon. PokerStars distinguishes itself by not only offering standard games of hold’em and Omaha, but also by its game innovation, where it has worked to produce variants with names like FusionDeep Water and Swap Hold’em.
  3. Partypoker: partypoker is a flagship online poker brand from the early days of online poker. However, due to Black Friday, the version that you see now is a much more muted presentation than its previous incarnation. Nevertheless, players can find any number of opportunities to play no-limit hold’em (NLHE) and pot-limit Omaha here.
  4. 888 Poker NJ: 888 Poker is a fully integrated site that excels in its multi-table tournament offerings. Although players can only find options for hold’em and pot-limit Omaha, the wide selection of tournament opportunities keeps its players loyal.
  5. Pala Poker: Pala Poker is still a bit of a fledgling site, but it continues to do things the right way in order to build. The site offers numerous tournaments, and there is a terrific opportunity because many of them run with overlays on their guarantees. Pala also offers a rush poker-like game called FastPala, which is sure to get the blood pumping.
  6. Borgata Poker: Borgata Poker is the online arm of the Vegas-style casino property in Atlantic City. In a similar vein, Borgata Poker offers several games that are somewhat old school and difficult to find these days. Players can compete in throwbacks, like 7-card stud and limit hold’em, on a routine basis.
  7. BetMGM Poker: BetMGM Poker is one of the newer online poker sites in New Jersey. Like its network mate Borgata, the site offers the opportunity to play many games that were more popular in earlier days. So, BetMGM players can throw down on seven-card stud and limit hold’em games when they like, irrespective of the prerequisite opportunities for NLHE and Omaha.

Real money poker vs. play money

NJ online poker One of the nice things about living in New Jersey is the slate of options you have to play poker online. New Jersey online poker sites offer action to thousands of players at any given time. There is no question that you can play for and win real money in the Garden State. New Jersey is even home to its own group of professional players, who split their time between the live venues in Atlantic City and the virtual streets of online poker apps in the state.

What to expect on New Jersey online poker apps

If you’re interested in playing online, there are a few things that you need to know. Although online poker may seem identical to its live counterpart, there are some key differences that can have a profound impact on your experience.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that the speed of play is much faster online than it is live. So, where a typical live poker game could average 30 hands per hour, an online poker game is often double that rate or more. As a result, you will see more hands, experience greater variance, and find that everything (including bad beats) happens more often.

You will also find that players online are, in general, much more skilled than live players at the same stakes. So, a $1/$2 NLHE game online is going to require skills more akin to a $5/$10 NLHE game live. The players are sharp, and many of them use aids like heads-up displays and data trackers to improve their play. With every hand they play against you, they gather more information about the way that you play.

You will also have a more extensive selection with regard to both game types and game variants online. The full scope of modern poker is at your fingertips with most online poker apps in New Jersey. So, you will be able to move seamlessly between cash games, tournaments, sit and gos, and special events.

Additionally, it is not only possible but typical to play more than one game at a time. You might conceivably be running deep in a tournament at the same time that you’re bubbling out of another, for instance. The combinations are up to you, and some poker players are able to manage more than 10 games at a time.

Finally, there is a level of decorum live that may not be present in every online game you play. Because people are safe behind their monitors and keyboards, they may feel less inhibited about needling you for your play, bellyaching about their lack of luck, tapping the fish tank, or being a generally terrible person in the site’s chat function. You can always mute them, of course, and you probably should – but it can leave you with a sour taste in your mouth if you’re not ready for it.

Available stakes at NJ online poker rooms

The good news is that you don’t have to play for the hundreds or thousands of dollars that you find in live games. The lowest live no-limit Texas hold’em games that you can find are almost always $1/$2 games. A typical buy-in for a standard $1/$2 game is $200, and some games can play much higher than that. Swings of more than $1,000 are not unusual at these “low” stakes, and these magnitudes only increase as the game sizes become larger.

By contrast, online poker games in New Jersey are available for not much more than some pocket change. In fact, the highest concentrations of games are usually found where maximum buy-ins are $2, $5, or $10. Obviously, reckless play can still be quite costly at these stakes, and it’s (generally) much harder to get people to fold. However, you can set yourself up with a solid bankroll online for the same price as a standard buy-in to a live $1/$2 game.

At the other end of the spectrum, you can also find games that are quite large. Typical online offerings top out at blind levels around $25/$50 for both no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha. Those tables allow buy-ins between $2,000 and $5,000. It is possible to find options as high as $100/$200 blind levels, but due to those games demanding buy-ins in the tens of thousands, you’re probably not going to see activity on them often.

Game formats

As you may have gathered, there are plenty of cash game opportunities in New Jersey. You can find tables that offer 9-handed play (full ring), 6-handed play, and heads-up poker. There’s really no limitation on the number of seats at a table, however, except for the display on the screen. In general, you can find tables that max out at anywhere from 2 to 9 players.

Naturally, not everyone wants to play cash games. You could conceivably prefer to play tournaments due to the fact that you can limit your potential loss to your buy-in and you can take a shot at a big score. Even some top professional players adhere to this way of thinking.

Thankfully, every online poker site in NJ offers opportunities to play in tournaments. As is the case with cash games, you can find tournaments with buy-ins less than a dollar if you are on a budget. The lowest straight buy-in for a tournament we saw was a $0.10 affair, but it is not uncommon to find freerolls that cost nothing to enter, too. You may also be the recipient of tournament ticket vouchers for completing designated tasks onsite. However, you can also find tournaments with both buy-ins and prestige equal to the top live tournaments. It is possible to win millions of dollars and/or a WSOP bracelet from the comfort of your home in New Jersey.

Scheduled tournaments can be a chore for some, however, due to the time constraints involved with both waiting for the appropriate time and playing through the field of players. So, many players turn to sit-n-go tournaments online. These are tournaments that cap their fields and start as soon as every seat is filled. Because the number of players and buy-ins are predetermined, the payout structure and amounts are already known before play begins.

Sit-n-gos usually last much shorter periods of time than normal tournaments. However, they also have buy-ins in a tighter range than cash games or regular tourneys. In general, you can find sit-n-gos as low as $0.25, but the highest stakes are only $500, lower than the highest buy-ins for scheduled tournaments.

In recent years, online poker sites have introduced a variant of sit-n-gos that bears mention. Jackpot sit-n-gos, aka spin and gos, aka Blast poker, are hyper-turbo single table sit-n-gos that pit 3 or 4 players against one another in a winner-take-all contest. The twist, however, is that the prize for these tournaments is randomly determined as a multiple of the buy-in. Most of the time, the prize will be 2 – 3x the buy-in amount. However, on rare occasions, players will play for 1000x – 10000x the buy-in amount. These tournaments also move quite quickly, so they can be a fun way to take a shot at a big payday.

The last major game format that you will see online are so-called fast-fold games. These are regular cash games in terms of their mechanics. You can buy in for a set amount, add on anytime you like, and leave whenever you want. The only difference is that immediately after you finish a hand, you will be whisked to another hand at another table. For the most part, you only stay on each table for a few seconds – however long it takes you to fold. If you want to see the absolute maximum number of hands that you can, these sorts of games might be just the thing for you.

Game variants

The real money poker games available in New Jersey are No-Limit Texas Hold’em and pot-limit Omaha (PLO). Hold’em is the most popular game in the world, and the high-only version of Omaha ranks a close second.

However, depending on the site, the possibilities for other games are vast. Other games that you can find to play in New Jersey (theoretically) include:

  • Limit hold’em
  • Omaha High/Low
  • Stud & Stud High/Low
  • Razz
  • Five Card Draw
  • 2-7 Triple Draw
  • 5-Card Omaha
  • Mixed games (HORSE, 8-Game Mix, etc.)

Please note the word “theoretically” above, though. Although these games are potentially available, the reality is that most players stick to no-limit hold’em, there are a few PLO stalwarts, and most other games simply don’t run outside of occasional tournaments. So, don’t expect to find active versions of these games too often – your best bet is on weekends – but know that they are there.

You may also encounter custom variants on a few sites. The most likely site to find a brand new game is PokerStars, which routinely releases different variants with fanciful names like Fusion, Showtime, and Tempest. Most of these games are regular games with slight twists. They are usually only available for a limited time, but they can be a fun way to “cleanse the palate” if you are feeling burned out on hold’em.

How to deposit and cashout at an NJ online poker site

Of course, none of this play is possible without putting money online. Neither you as a player nor the New Jersey sites themselves can exist for long without an infusion of funds on your part.

So, the sites make it as easy as possible to deposit into your online account. 

Most places offer several options for moving money around. Those options include:

  • Credit or debit card
  • Electronic check/ACH
  • Online banking/wire transfers
  • Electronic wallets (PayPal/Skrill)
  • Prepaid cards
  • PayNearMe (via 7-Eleven)
  • Cash at the home casino cage

Make sure that you read the terms and conditions for any deposit method you plan to use. Don’t forget to check the rules at your financial institution before you proceed, as there can be some costly details in the fine print.

However, if you’re still not able to deposit, make sure to reach out to customer support at your site of choice. They absolutely will want to find a way to make it work.

Deposit bonus, reload bonus, and no deposit bonuses in New Jersey

Because you have so many options a mere button press away, legal New Jersey poker sites feel as though they are in a precarious competitive situation. As a result, each one maintains bonuses and perks both to entice and retain customers on-site.

It is perfectly acceptable to play on a site because of their no deposit poker bonus offer. We have all the best opportunities listed here and, in some cases, it is impossible to find them elsewhere.

Bonuses usually come in the form of cash or cash-equivalent reward to your account. You may receive free dollars in your account, get a matching portion of a deposit, or receive a refund on losses.

It is also possible to play for positions on a leaderboard, where top finishers receive payouts. Some poker websites also hold random drawings for cash prizes, travel vouchers, merchandise or other perks, and you earn entries to the drawings through your play on-site.

How to play free poker at NJ poker sites

If playing online poker for real money is a bit daunting, that’s alright. Most sites have play-money features that run concurrently with their real-money option. Many free-money sites have all the same features as their real cousins. You can play cash games, tournaments, and other types of poker games with play chips.

Occasionally, a site might host freerolls, where winning a play money tournament can lead to real dollars or a real money tournament buy-in.

These events are worth playing, of course, but understand that these promotions are a way to transition you over to real money play. So, if you’re still not sure about doing that, you might want to proceed with caution.

With regard to gameplay, the only thing to bear in mind is that players on the play-money side do not play with the same attitude as real money poker players. You will see rash decisions, overbets, and a decided lack of folding from players there since there’s no real consequence for losing play money.

Still, if you want to get started and warm-up, the free version of sites can be a good way to get your feet wet. You can get a sense of the software on the client, the mechanics, and how play generally proceeds.

If you are new to poker, these kinds of warm-ups can be vital to putting you in the right mindset for playing real money poker.

What are the biggest poker sites in NJ?

One question that may be on New Jersey poker players’ minds is how many people are online right now in New Jersey. They want to know which sites are the biggest poker sites in NJ. After all, a site that only has a few people playing is not the best opportunity to make some additions to one’s bankroll.

At any given time, there are hundreds of players who play on one of New Jersey’s four poker networks. Those networks host multiple poker rooms in NJ, but sites that share each other’s network share their traffic, too.

Below is a list of all four networks. Each site that feeds into the network is listed underneath the network name.

  • WSOP Network
    • WSOP.com NJ
    • 888 US
  • PokerStars
  • Partypoker Network
    • Partypoker
    • Borgata Poker
    • BetMGM Poker
  • Pala Poker

Now, to be clear, Pala Poker is not drawing much traffic at all right now. Most of New Jersey’s players confine their play to the other three networks.

Of the remaining three, WSOP is the biggest poker site in New Jersey. On average, 500 active players frequent the site. 

PokerStars, though the worldwide leader for online poker, averages roughly 280 players at a time. Party and its sites usually host about 130 at a time.

Cash games are the most popular place for people to play, and as a result, more than half of the traffic at most sites is dedicated to those types of games. Quite simply, it is possible to jump directly into a cash game whenever you want, so there’s no waiting and no patience required.

However, big spikes in traffic are often the result of tournament events. So, if you keep an eye on the featured tournaments, you might be able to time when increased activity will occur.

Mobile poker apps vs. poker site downloads

nj poker apps real money

Most poker operators maintain options for both mobile poker apps and downloadable clients for laptop users. 

Given how dominant mobile devices are in American culture, the appearance of laptop-friendly alternatives may seem a bit surprising.

However, as it turns out, there are advantages and disadvantages to both types of formats.

Playing real money poker on a mobile app

In order to download a mobile poker app, you obviously need to have a mobile device. Assuming that you have one, use one of the links above to access one of the top New Jersey online poker rooms.

Look for the button that corresponds with the type of operating system you have. iPhone/iPad players should be able to download as usual, while Android users will need to download the file directly and set their phones to allow downloads from “unknown sources.”

Once you have the app installed, press the button to access it. You will need to sign up for an account before you do anything else. 

Make sure that you check this site for any bonus codes or promotions that will award you free cash or prizes for registering.

From there, you will need to make a deposit into your new account. Look for a button that says “Cashier” or something similar to get started. Once you fund your account, you’re ready to play poker.

Benefits of mobile poker apps

There are several great things about playing on an NJ poker app. 

First of all, the app that you’re using is designed specifically to run on your type of mobile device. All of the gameplay should be framed without any difficulty or shifting around.

Furthermore, an app can sometimes provide a richer experience than a downloaded poker client.  You may receive access to special features, animations and avatars that cannot be duplicated on a laptop.

Finally, mobile apps are far more accessible in terms of gameplay and support options. It is rare that you will experience any lags in service, and customer service reps are a button press away, in most cases.

Drawbacks of mobile poker apps

The NJ poker apps do come with drawbacks, however. Most of these are related to the mechanics of using a mobile device.

For one thing, it can be challenging to manage multiple tables at once with a mobile device. The navigation cannot compete with the ease of using a mouse or trackpad to click on a new tab. As a result, you may find yourself timing out of more hands than you’d like.

Poker apps in New Jersey can also be a visual challenge for those with poor eyesight. Even with glasses, it can be difficult to determine what suits the cards are and whether it’s a six or an eight.

How to download a poker site

Of course, not everyone wants to use a mobile device for their online poker games. Thankfully, several NJ online poker sites maintain a downloadable client for laptop and desktop users.

To get started, visit the site through our link above. Once you’re there, look for the large buttons that say “Download Now;” you can’t miss them. As you click on the button, a .exe file should begin to download to your computer. Make sure to confirm if your computer asks for approval on the download.

The file that you downloaded is the installer for the game client. Click on it, and accept the installation option that you want. 

The installation should only take a few minutes. After that, you’ll have the poker site as a program on your computer, just like any other program.

As is the case for mobile apps, you will need to register for a new account on the site. Look for a button at the top right that says “Sign Up” or “Register” to get going. Make sure to look back at this page for any bonus codes you might need.

You’ll also need to make a deposit. Once you’ve funded your new account, it’s time to play.

Benefits of downloading a poker site

One of the most obvious benefits of playing on the downloadable version of a New Jersey poker site is the sheer size of the screen. You can see every detail clearly, and there’s no issue with navigating where you want to go.

Furthermore, it’s easier to set aside a space to play and concentrate on a laptop or desktop. These devices need space to operate, and there’s necessarily a sphere around the zone where you set up to work.

Finally, it is easier to multitask on a laptop or desktop, and that goes beyond the client itself. 

You will have a much better time playing multiple tables because of the screen space and mechanics of navigating on an actual computer.

Drawbacks of downloading a poker site

Of course, with a client, you can run into some compatibility issues. Since the software is designed to fit laptops of every stripe, every feature may not run correctly on your computer.

Clients can sometimes be less of a priority for the sites to keep current. So, there could be some obsolescence or outdated features that are still on some sites.

Finally, an internet outage is far more devastating for those using laptops or, especially, desktops. With a mobile device, it’s much easier to move to a better area for service.

NJ poker tournaments

There are hundreds of thousands of dollars available to win through New Jersey online poker tournaments each week. 

The four networks offer events for most of the hours of the day. Many of those events bear guarantees that would make for a nice evening for most players.

Like live poker rooms, online poker rooms in New Jersey also maintain seasonal events and tournament series as a means of attracting more traffic and attention. Millions of dollars are available through these annual events. Here are some of the more notable events on the online poker calendar:

  • WSOP bracelet events
    • 14 events scheduled for 2021
    • Each event guarantees a gold bracelet, just like the live events.
    • Buy-ins range from $400 to $10,000
  • PokerStars NJSCOOP/NJCOOP
    • New Jersey Spring Championship of Online Poker and New Jersey Championship of Online Poker
    • Roughly 50 events in each series.
    • Buy-ins range from $5 to $1,000; guarantees range from $1,500 to $100,000.
    • NJCOOP tends to have higher buy-ins and guarantees.
  • WSOP Online Championships
    • Seasonal events that occur in spring and fall
    • Buy-ins range from $10 to $1,000, and all tournaments come with guarantees.
    • Instead of bracelets, champions win rings or belts.

Now, of course, these online poker tournaments are not the only ones available online. Most sites have other events and opportunities throughout the year.

New Jersey poker laws

As far as the legality of poker in New Jersey goes, things are pretty straightforward. Live poker is covered by one law, online poker by another, and home poker is available as a viable defense against prosecution. So, in brief, here are the governing laws regarding playing poker in the Garden State:

  • New Jersey Casino Control Act – This law is the founding document for gambling in the State of New Jersey. It created both the provision for Atlantic City to build casinos and the commission to regulate gambling in the state. One of the games allowed in the law was poker, so every hand of poker available in “America’s Playground” is possible from this bit of legislation.
  • Assembly Bill 2578 (2013) – New Jersey lawmakers built upon the existing infrastructure created by the Casino Control Act in order to bring online poker (and casinos) to the Garden State. Under this statute, companies may offer any game that has been played live at Atlantic City casinos. The only catch is that online poker companies are required, by law, to ally themselves with land-based casinos in Atlantic City in order to operate.
  • Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) – This compact is a partnership agreement between states to allow them to combine their player pools. Sites in signatory states can share liquidity with one another and expand the overall size of their customer base dramatically. New Jersey is one of the three states that have signed onto MSIGA so far. However, the only site that has taken advantage so far is WSOP.com, which has operations or partner operations in all three locations.
  • New Jersey Code 2C:37-2 – Ironically, the ability to play home poker games in New Jersey rests inside the state’s statutes against gambling. This section of the New Jersey Code, which deals with the offenses categorized as “promoting gambling,” contains the following language: It is a defense to a prosecution under subsection a. that the person participated only as a player. It shall be the burden of the defendant to prove by clear and convincing evidence his status as such player. In other words, as long as you don’t take a rake, you can host all the poker you want.

The legal gambling age for online poker is 21. Anyone inside the state can play, and it is not required that a player be a resident of New Jersey in order to take part. However, it is not possible to access a New Jersey online poker room from outside the state lines.

New Jersey poker rooms

New Jersey is home to five live poker rooms. All five are in Atlantic City casino properties; there aren’t any standalone venues.

All but one of them are relatively large rooms, based upon their table size. Only Golden Nugget has fewer than 10 tables available for play. The largest room is, by far, at Borgata.

Poker RoomAddress# of TablesGames Played
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, NJ85NLHE, PLO, Stud
Golden Nugget Atlantic City1 Castle way, Huron Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 9NLHE
Harrah's Atlantic City777 Harrah's Blvd, Atlantic City, NJ40NLHE, Limit Hold'em
Tropicana Atlantic City2831 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ18NLHE
WSOP Poker Room at Bally's1900 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ42NLHE, PLO

New Jersey poker timeline

New Jersey online poker has had a fairly easy legislative ride, at least compared to the journey in other states. Rather than being the product of years of legal wrangling, online poker legislation has truly only had a few relevant moments in the state’s legislative history.

1977: The Casino Control Act

The first significant development for poker was the most earthshaking, at least in terms of the public’s relationship with gambling in the US. Overtly public gambling, largely reserved for Nevada, became legal in the coastal community of Atlantic City.

Of course, the main headline about the passage of the Casino Control Act was the authorization of ubiquitous gambling devices, such as slot machines and table games. However, the newly constructed casinos were also allowed to offer poker.

Poker became a mainstay of casino gambling in New Jersey at that point. However, it existed as a quiet afterthought for most gamblers for many years.

2003: The poker boom

Poker remained in gambling’s background for many decades after finding its legality in 1977. 

However, thanks to poker player Chris Moneymaker’s historic $2.5 million win at the World Series of Poker in 2003, poker quickly rose to the forefront of the American imagination.

The new shine on the card game led to multiple television shows, movies, and most importantly, casino expansions. Many casinos sought to capture the fervor of the poker boom by opening rooms of their own.

Online poker also rose to incredible heights due to the exploding player pool. 

Sites like PokerStars, Ultimate Bet, and Full Tilt began taking in millions in revenue each week.

It took three years for the wave of growth to crest. However, online poker remained a fixture as a gambler’s endeavor for the next five years.

2011: Black Friday

Then, everything fell apart. 

The US Department of Justice issued indictments for violations of law against three of the largest poker sites in the world – Ultimate Bet, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker. The lawsuits, in addition to shutting down targets, had a profound chilling effect on other poker site operators.

As a result, most sites that were active in the US closed their doors and moved overseas. Players were largely left without a place to play. The presentation of indictments became known as Black Friday.

2013: A2578

Two years later, the New Jersey Assembly threw its citizens a bone. After all, eliminating the ability to play does not eliminate the desire to play.

Online poker became completely legal in the state in 2013 due to New Jersey Assembly Bill 2578 and has been there ever since. The federal government, despite wringing its hands about the matter, mostly has no say in the progress of online poker within state lines.

Each land-based casino is allowed to host an online poker operator on its license. 

Four of the original New Jersey online poker sites remain active, two have gone out of business, and three more have joined since the initial debut.

2017: The Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement

The final event that shaped the New Jersey online poker market into its present form is the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement or MSIGA. New Jersey is, unsurprisingly, not the only state in the union to have online poker.

In fact, at the time that it legalized online poker in 2013, both Nevada and Delaware already had online poker up and running. However, the Silver State and the First State had their respective problems.

The truth of the matter is that neither Nevada nor Delaware was large enough in population to have long-term player pool success. So, in 2014, the two states entered into the MSIGA.

New Jersey has had similar problems with pool size. Even though it received a shot in the arm from PokerStars’ debut in 2016, there was still too much floundering for numbers going on.

The MSIGA helped end that problem. In 2017, Gov. Chris Christie signed the agreement to allow New Jersey to join and share its player pool.

So, New Jersey poker players are now competing with players from Nevada and Delaware on a regular basis.

2020

2020 represented a major comeback for online poker in New Jersey. In spite of signing MSIGA and sharing liquidity, the industry had been limping along for a few years. Monthly revenues routinely averaged around $1.8 million per month, a skimpy amount considering that there are four networks and seven sites active in the state.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been both tragic and stressful, it did have the effect of forcing people to work and play more from their own homes. Thus, even though there were no more sports to bet, gamblers in the Garden State turned their attention to online casinos and, obviously, poker.

The result was an incredible rise in the fortunes of online poker sites in New Jersey. Monthly poker site revenues, which hadn’t breached $2 million since 2017, skyrocketed to more than $3.6 million in March 2020. The next month, sites reported revenues in excess of $5.1 million. Although the revenues have since trailed off, they have remained around $2.5 million for several months now. In other words, poker is now 39% bigger than it was in 2019.

What does the future hold for New Jersey online poker?

There is great cause for hope with New Jersey online poker. For one thing, the market seems to have been one of the inadvertent beneficiaries of the COVID-19 pandemic and has expanded its base. Revenue numbers are significantly higher than in previous years, and the hope is that things will continue strongly in that regard.

New Jersey poker also gained a reason to get excited in December. Michigan, fresh from its legalization of online poker, introduced and passed Senate Bill 0991, which would lay the foundation for the Great Lake State to join MSIGA. Michigan is one of the most populous states in the country, and the inclusion of its player pool with sites in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware can only be a good thing for poker. The law set the bill to take effect 90 days from its signature, but time will tell how the state will implement it.

There is also the lesser hope that Pennsylvania will attempt to join MSIGA, too. The more states that can join, the better that the industry will be. More players means more money, more buy-ins, and more opportunities to hit the felt for New Jersey residents and guests.

New Jersey Poker FAQ

What deposit options are available?

It’s in the best interest of online poker sites to make deposits as painless as possible. So, most operators will accept deposit requests from major credit cards, debit cards, electronic checks, electronic wallets like PayPal or Skrill, prepaid cards, PayNearMe, and cash at their land-based casino partners.

What is the minimum deposit?

Generally speaking, most sites set a minimum deposit limit at $10. However, this minimum could be different based upon the deposit method that you choose. There could also be some different requirements if you are attempting to redeem a bonus with your deposit.

Can I play online poker with PayPal?

Usually, but it depends. Not all NJ poker sites accept PayPal. Most poker sites will accept deposits and process withdrawals to electronic wallets. The most commonly accepted brands of e-wallet are PayPal and Skrill, but you will have to proceed on a case-by-case basis with your chosen site. 

What game variations are available?

Every site that you play will offer No-Limit Texas Hold’em. There’s no question about that.

Most of them will also offer options for pot-limit Omaha. The four-card game is incredibly popular as both an alternative and palate cleanser from hold’em.

For other game variants, things are less certain. Most sites are going to stick to their bread and butter with the two games mentioned above. However, PokerStars famously offers a wide selection of games, including some of its own design.

Are NJ poker sites secure and reliable?

Completely. New Jersey has allowed legal online poker since 2013, and the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement has had plenty of time to work out the bugs in the system. Every online poker site in the state is owned and operated by a major gaming company, and state regulators are just a phone call away.

Who can I play poker with in NJ?

Obviously, the main group of players who can play in New Jersey is other players in New Jersey. However, thanks to New Jersey’s entrance into the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), you can also play with folks in Delaware and Nevada.

Can I play poker with friends in Pennsylvania?

No. At this time, despite having online poker in PA, Pennsylvania has not elected to join MSIGA yet, so it cannot combine its player pools with other states like New Jersey.

However, industry observers expect Pennsylvania to make the move in the near future. So, take heart; you are likely to gain the ability to play with Pennsylvanians relatively soon.

Do I have to download the poker client?

In general, if you are going to use a laptop to play, you are going to have to download the poker software to your computer. However, the requirement varies from site to site, and some of them may support a no download poker room.

Which NJ poker sites have the most players?

At this point, WSOP.com NJ and PokerStars NJ usually have the most players. You can find hundreds of competitors on these sites at any one time.

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