Wisconsin is a poker hotbed in the United States. Despite having limited numbers of land-based card rooms, there is a great poker culture in the state, much of which is driven at the grassroots level. These games have produced some of the best poker players in the world, and some of the most recognizable faces in the poker industry.
This page walks you through everything related to poker in the Badger State. We’ll look at where you can play live and online, and why so many poker variants exist in the market today.
Land-based poker laws in Wisconsin
Poker enjoys a very liberal set of laws in Wisconsin. There are several card rooms open in the casinos in the state, but beyond that, playing real money tournaments in bars and restaurants around the state is also permitted, even if not written in law. It’s these types of games that taught people like Phil Hellmuth the game before he went on to worldwide fame and the record for most World Series of Poker bracelets.
Whether you are a tournament player or like to play smaller cash games, you will find something in the land-based poker space in Wisconsin.
Card rooms where you can play land-based poker in Wisconsin:
Bad River Lodge and Casino
Lake of the Torches Casino (Nothern Highland)
Oneida Casino (Green Bay)
Potawatomi Casino (Milwaukee)
Seven Winds Casino
Online poker laws in Wisconsin
While land-based poker enjoys the liberal views of the state, the same cannot be said for online poker. In the early days of the online industry, thousands of Wisconsin residents could be found playing on all the different sites (Hellmuth was a founding sponsored pro of one of the sites). This meant that players could qualify to win the prestigious WSOP Main Event Hellmuth won in 1989 by playing in satellites from the comfort of their own homes. Several poker professionals made their money playing online, and this meant a large expansion of the game as a whole in Wisconsin.
The U.S. federal government enacted laws to make it much more difficult for Americans to access these offshore-based online poker sites in 2006, which changed the landscape. By 2011, all the sites players had come to know and love was gone, leaving a huge hole to be filled. Below you will see some sites that have tried to give players a place to play, but the state has not moved to pass any legislation like some of the other states have in the last decade.
Where you can play online poker for real money in Wisconsin?
No legal online poker sites are available for real money cash games and tournaments in Wisconsin at this time.
Alternative Poker Solutions in Wisconsin
While the overall number of real money online poker players in Wisconsin was bound to drop dramatically in light of the sites leaving the market, there are still many that want to feel the rush of pushing their chips into the pot and scooping up a big win. There are still some opportunities to do so, as we have outlined here.
When real money online poker was no longer available in Wisconsin and around the U.S., some folks determined that poker could qualify under sweepstakes laws. As long as someone can receive a tournament entry without making a purchase, there is nothing different between these tournaments and other contests you might play at a fast-food restaurant.
As a result, a couple of types of sweepstakes poker sites emerged. The first is subscription poker -players pay a monthly fee for “VIP access” to a site that includes entries to a series of poker tournaments. The most popular of these sites is ClubWPT, sponsored by the World Poker Tour (coincidentally where Phil Hellmuth works these days)
The other type of sweepstakes poker site doesn’t require a static monthly fee but allows players to make purchases of some sort and receive as reward an allotment of sweepstakes currency. This currency can be taken to poker tables and gambled against other players. The winnings a player makes at these cash games and tournaments can be redeemed for real money, which makes sites like Global Poker about as close to playing for real money online poker players in Wisconsin are going to see for a while.
Another very popular type of poker being played today is social poker. These sites are built on the players’ desire to see their names in lights far more than winning any money. Zynga is the leader in the space, with millions of registered players around the world. If you remember the days of online poker in the mid-2000s, then this is the type of poker site that best reflects those times (just without all the cash).
Wisconsin Poker Frequently Asked Questions
When will online poker be legal in Wisconsin?
It isn’t very likely that 2020 will see any bills introduced to add regulated online poker to Wisconsin. However, there have been loads of conversations in other states about passing sports betting legislation, and this has re-opened the discussion of legalizing online poker at the same time. Expect that when neighbors like Michigan introduce their real money online poker regulations, Wisconsin will not be very far behind.
Can I play at some of these offshore poker sites my buddies tell me about?
The short answer is yes; there are some sites that still take real money players from Wisconsin. However, as you dig a little deeper into these sites, you will find the added risk of sending your money to an anonymous group based in Latin America. With all the great poker options available to players in Wisconsin today, it’s better to take a pass at playing with these shady operations.
What’s the best way to learn new poker games without real money online poker sites?
Well, it all starts with knowing the basics of the game. While most players have been introduced to poker via Texas Hold’em, it is far and away the most common game played. However, if you check out our Guide to Playing Poker section, you will see outlines of all the other fun variants of the game. You can then take those basics, throw in some instructional video from YouTube, and hit up a free play poker site to give the games a shot. You would be surprised how much better poker is when you are not just playing the same systematic hands as most people in Hold’em.