Texas is a huge proponent of poker in general – the game has roots back to the 1800s in the state. The landscape may have changed over the decades, but the love of the game has stayed strong. This is a guide to everything you need to know about poker in Texas.
Land-based poker laws in Texas
Texas has legal poker rooms, but not in the same way as you find in other states. There are no land-based casinos in Texas, so poker is limited to “clubs” that offer cash games and tournaments. There aren’t that many poker rooms considering the size of the state, and as you can see from the list below, there are some clusters in different parts of the state.
Poker Rooms in Texas
101 Poker Club (Katy, TX)
52 Social (Houston, TX)
Abby J Card House (San Antonio, TX)
Austin Poker Palace (Austin, TX)
Champions Social (Houston, TX)
Freerolls Poker Club – Katy (Katy, TX)
Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino (Eagle Pass, TX)
KoJack’s Poker Club (Midland, TX)
Lions Poker Palace (Houston, TX)
Mint Poker (Houston, TX)
Prime Social Poker Club (Houston, TX)
Prime Time Social (Corpus Christi, TX)
Rounders Card Club (San Antonio, TX)
Rounders Poker Room (Spring, TX)
SA Card House (San Antonio, TX)
Shuffle 512 (Austin, TX)
SoHo Poker Club (Houston, TX)
Texas Card House North Houston (Spring, TX)
Texas Card House Rio Grande Valley (Edinburg, TX)
The House Club Poker Room & Lounge (Edinburg, TX)
Online Poker Laws in Texas
As it is in many states in the U.S., there are no online poker laws in Texas. That meant that when online poker sites like Poker Stars entered the U.S. back in the early 2000s, Texans were more than welcome to register for accounts, make deposits and start playing for real money.
Texas residents were playing millions of hands of Hold’em and other games every day on these sites, and it seemed as though new players were joining the poker community every single hour. However, the U.S. government decided these unregulated operators needed to be controlled, so in 2006 it passed a law that would make banking transactions for gambling sites in the U.S. illegal. By 2011, all the real money poker sites were gone.
Recently, some states have passed their own regulations for real money online poker, but Texas has yet to do so.
Where you can play online poker for real money in Texas?
Currently, there are no legal real money online poker sites available for Texans to play.
Alternative Poker Solutions in Texas
Even though the initial wave of online poker sites have left the U.S. market, the horse was already out of the barn and players in Texas, and other states wanted to find places to play. Here are some alternatives to traditional real money online poker.
There are a handful of sites that offer you a chance to play poker tournaments as part of a subscription fee. Club WPT is the leader in this space (you can check out our review of the site for more details). Players at this site are able to play free games, but if you pay their monthly VIP fee, then you gain access to a series of events that offer cash and prizes, including a twice-monthly tournament that sends the winner to a live World Poker Tour Main Event!
Sweepstakes Poker sites are also a twist on the real money poker concept. These sites take advantage of sweepstakes laws to offer players “entries” to special games. Global Poker, for example, offers sweepstakes coins to players who make a purchase of their virtual currency product. These coins can be taken to tables where others also have them, and the winners can exchange their coins for cash. It’s not perfect, but it is a way to legally play for real money, which is rare in the Texas marker.
If you are more of a casual poker player and you aren’t interested in the hoops you need to jump through to play sweepstake poker, then social poker may be the answer for you. These sites, tied to social networks, offer tons of great poker excitement but with a twist – you are trying to make your way through achievements and levels versus trying to win loads of cash. These games cost nothing to play, but there is a way to skip levels by making actual purchases within the game. Again, it is a twist on traditional poker, but that hasn’t stopped millions of people from trying it out.
Free Play Poker
Finally, if you are just looking to mess around and play some hands, or perhaps you are looking to try out some new strategies you have learned, then you can check out one of the many free play poker sites and apps available today. This is a totally legal way to play the game and appeals to those who are not interested in playing for real money at this time. Check out all the great free play mobile poker apps as well.
Texas Poker Frequently Asked Questions
When will online poker be legal?
Each state has its own agenda and timeline. Given the speed at which online poker legislation is moving across the country, it is unlikely we would see anything in Texas before 2021.
What about offshore poker sites – do they still exist?
Yes, even though the majority of companies left the market in 2011, a few decided to stick it out even though the odds were stacked against them. These sites are not recommended by us, but there is nothing stopping you from playing with them.
Do I have to be a resident of a state to play at its legal online poker sites?
No, you don’t need to live there, but you do need to physically be inside the state borders to take advantage of the sites. They are geofenced to stop players from accessing the games from outside state borders in order to comply with the regulations.
What’s the best way to learn new poker games without real money online poker sites?
These days there are so many ways to gather knowledge about different poker games, but we want you to start with the basics, so we came up with a series of instructional pages to get you started. Check out our pages on Short Deck Poker, Chinese Poker, Omaha, Stud, Razz, and more!