Legal land-based poker has quite a history tied to Florida. Unfortunately, the online poker situation in the Sunshine State is very different.
While dozens of brick-and-mortar poker rooms are scattered throughout the state, real-money online poker is not regulated or legal in Florida. That said, free-to-play online sweepstakes poker sites, such as Global Poker, are changing the way Floridians play online.
This overview will take you through the current status of poker in Florida, including how residents and visitors can still find legal options online.
Florida has always been seen as a state willing to legalize online poker. Several states — such as Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — already regulate online poker sites of their own, and more states could follow.
Florida enjoys a ready-made base of poker players through the state’s many land-based casinos. The Sunshine State currently houses more than two dozen poker rooms, some of which are major stops on the global poker stage.
You would think, then, that Florida should be itching to introduce legalized online poker. However, there are still no concrete bills that would see poker legalized for online play.
Fortunately for Florida poker enthusiasts, there is an online poker option.
There are no legal real-money poker sites operating in Florida. However, you can still win cash playing via online sweepstakes poker.
Operators in this space utilize a sweepstakes model using virtual currency instead of cash. This allows these sites to operate legally in most US states, including Florida.
Global Poker is among the most popular online sweepstakes poker sites.
Global Poker uses two virtual currencies known as Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins. Players can buy Gold Coins to play during “cash” games and tournaments for a shot at winning even more Gold Coins.
While Gold Coins have no actual cash value, Sweeps Coins do.
After buying Gold Coins, players as a bonus receive Sweeps Coins, which can be accumulated in various ways and redeemed for real money. Players can also use Sweeps Coins to enter games and tournaments and potentially win more Sweeps Coins.
Signing up at Global Poker is simple, but players need to be prepared to submit several pieces of information:
Once active, players at Global Poker can find action for no-limit hold’em, fixed-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha across formats such as cash games, sit-n-go’s and multi-table tournaments.
Tournaments can run big at Global Poker. As the site accepts players from nearly every state in the country, player pools can grow quite large, thus creating similarly large prize pools.
Naturally, Texas Hold’em is available at all good poker rooms, but it’s not the only variant you can find in the Sunshine State or at legal online poker sites.
Texas Hold’em is the most popular form of online poker. You play the game with two hole cards that are dealt face-down. Your goal is to make the best five-card poker hand using either of your cards and five community cards in the middle of the table.
Texas Hold’em is typically played No-Limit. In a No-Limit Hold’em game, there is no maximum limit on the amount you can raise.
In Pot-Limit games, you can only raise to the amount of the current pot size. Finally, Limit – or Fixed Limit – games feature different bets for the pre-flop and post-flop betting rounds.
In Omaha, you are dealt four cards instead of two. You need to make the best five-card poker hand out of two of your cards and any three community cards. You must use two of your hole cards.
Stud comes in two forms online: 5-Card Stud and 7-Card Stud. Each player receives one or two cards face-down and an up-card. Rounds of betting follow, after which everyone receives another card.
The final card is dealt face-down to every player. The winning stud hand is judged on a standard poker hand ranking.
In cash games, also known as “ring games,” the limits never go up. You can leave any time you want.
For example, in a $5/10 Hold’em game, the blinds are set at $5 and $10, and they never change. There is also a minimum and maximum amount with which you can sit at the table.
Some tournaments feature a guaranteed prize pool that is shared among the top finishers.
Most live poker in the state is confined to large Florida casinos. The Seminole Tribe runs six casinos in the Sunshine State, all offering poker cash games and tournaments. The tribe enjoys a near-monopoly on land-based poker in Florida.
In 2010, Florida relaxed its gambling laws to allow new “no-maximum” rules on live poker. Since then, high rollers have flocked to the state to enjoy some of the most liberal poker rules in the US.
A few of the most noteworthy land-based poker facilities in the Sunshine State include:
As indicated above, one of the top poker circuits makes sure to pass through Florida when it can.
The World Poker Tour, which has a series of poker tournaments around the world since 2002, has brought the WPT Tournament of Champions to the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood on two occasions.
The top tier of WPT, the Main Tour, has also made a few pit stops in the Sunshine State.
In fact, in April 2021, at the end of Season XVIII of the Main Tour, Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood set WPT attendance records and featured a nearly $8 million prize pool that was almost four times the advertised guarantee.