Florida Online Poker
Florida is one of the most popular poker markets in the country. Unfortunately, the Sunshine State’s poker industry is limited to the brick-and-mortar felt.
There is no regulated online poker in the state. During negotiations of the 2021 Florida gaming compact, it was reported that there were sections that could legalize online poker in it. But those provisions were removed to ensure a smooth passage in the legislature.
On the other hand, live poker is booming. The Seminole Tribe owns six casinos in the state and three of them have poker rooms. Two of those, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood and Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, are some of the most popular in the country. In fact, the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood holds several of the largest fields in World Poker Tour history.
There is no indication that online poker is coming to Florida anytime soon. However, Floridians can still play online and social and sweepstakes poker rooms. The most popular of these sites is Global Poker.
Numerous pari-mutuel facilities and racetracks also have poker rooms. In total, there are nearly 30 live poker rooms in the state. Here’s a breakdown of all things poker in Florida.
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Is online poker legal in Florida?
No, it is illegal to play online poker for real money in Florida. The state prohibits online poker, just as it prohibits other forms of online gambling for real money.
Florida Statute 848.08 defines illegal gambling as follows: “Whoever plays or engages in any game at cards, keno, roulette, faro or other game of chance, at any place, by any device whatever, for money or other thing of value, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.” That reference to “any device whatever” is commonly understood to encompass online gambling, thereby including real money online poker among the prohibited activities.
Delaware, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Michigan all have legal online poker rooms on which those located in those states can play. Both West Virginia and Connecticut have legalized online poker as well though have yet to launch any sites. Florida’s population is much greater than all of those states, and with more than two dozen live poker rooms and several retail casinos with poker it is clear Florida would be an attractive market in which online poker could potentially thrive.
The idea to legalize online poker in Florida has come up before, including recently. In 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida agreed to a new tribal-state compact authorizing the tribe to offer expanded forms of gambling. Among the new compact’s provisions was an item suggesting the tribe could later introduce online versions of casino games, which would include online poker. However that item was removed before the Florida legislature approved the new compact. Later in the year a federal judge ruled the new compact violated federal law and vacated it, and now that ruling is being appealed.
In any case, the debate over the new compact demonstrated Florida lawmakers’ general reticence to legalize any form of online gambling, including online poker.
Online social and sweepstakes poker in Florida
The lack of legal real money online poker in Florida doesn’t mean there aren’t other options available. Floridians can legally play their favorite card game on social and sweepstakes online poker sites. These sites use virtual currencies rather than real money, although in some cases do offer opportunities for players to redeem prizes for cash.
Currently, the most popular social and sweepstakes site for online poker is Global Poker. Like other similar sites, Global Poker invites players to use virtual currencies to play their games, affording players the chance to redeem their winnings for cash prizes.
Global Poker game selection
Creating a Global Poker account is a simple process and also free. As soon as the site verifies your account, you can start playing either “cash” or ring games, sit-n-go’s and multi-table tournaments using the site’s virtual currencies.
No-limit Texas hold’em is the popular variant on Global Poker, much as it is in Florida card rooms and everywhere else. You’ll also find pot-limit Omaha and Omaha hi-lo among the game choices available there. The site also features an unusual poker variant called Crazy Pineapple. In crazy pineapple, each player is dealt three cards and then discards one after the flop. The remainder of the hand is played exactly as no-limit hold’em. However, even though the games are offered, crazy pineapple games rarely run.
Global Poker hosts some especially large multi-table tournaments. Since the site is available in nearly every US state as well as most of Canada, the field sizes can be quite large which in turn can create some sizable prize pools.
There are a number of daily and weekly tournaments on Global Poker. Some of the most popular are the Daily Hundo, the Bonanza, the Sunday Scrimmage, the Golden Scrimmage and the Gold Rush. You’ll also discover many regular tournament series like the Eagle Cup, the Grizzly Games, the Rattlesnake Open and The Goat. The site additionally hosts seasonal series such as the Spring Carnival and Summer Ring Dash.
Different types of poker games to play in Florida
Texas Hold’em, in particular the no-limit variety, is the by far the most popular form of poker today. Indeed, many think of no-limit hold’em as the only way to play poker, even though there are many other poker variants as well, including others you can find in Florida poker rooms. Here is a quick rundown of the most popular types of poker games you’ll find in Florida.
Everyone knows Texas Hold’em, even non-poker players. It’s by far the most popular poker variant, and it’s also the featured game at the World Series of Poker Main Event and on other televised poker shows. 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 a combination of your hole cards and the five community cards in the middle of the table. There are four rounds of betting, designated as follows:
- Preflop: After being dealt your two hole cards, an initial round of betting follows.
- Flop: Three community cards are dealt in the middle of the table followed by another round of betting. All players share the community cards.
- Turn: A fourth community card is dealt in the middle of the table, followed by another betting round.
- River: A fifth and final community card is dealt on the table and the remaining players engage in one last round of betting before the showdown.
As noted, Texas Hold’em is most frequently played using a no-limit betting structure. In a no-limit hold’em game, there is no maximum limit on the amount you can bet or raise. You are only limited by the amount you had to begin the hand. In pot-limit hold’em games, you can only raise to the amount of the current pot size. Finally, limit games – sometimes referred to as fixed-limit poker – feature predetermined betting amounts for each betting round. Players are only allowed to bet and raise fixed amounts on each street, unlike in no-limit where players have the option to bet whatever amount they desire.
Omaha is similar to Hold’em, however you are dealt four hole cards instead of two. You need to make the best five-card poker hand out of two of your cards and three of the community cards. You must use exactly two of your hole cards to form your hand. This is a key difference from Hold’em in which you can either use both of your hole cards or just one to form your hand, or you can even “play the board” and only use the five community cards. In Omaha, you can only use two hole cards and three community cards to form your hand.
In terms of the order of play and the betting, the game is just like hold’em. There is a round of betting before the flop, after the flop, after the turn and after the river.
Pot-limit Omaha is the most popular version of the game, although Omaha hi-lo with fixed-limit betting is also a favorite among some. You’ll likely find pot-limit Omaha in some Florida card rooms, and perhaps Omaha hi-lo as part of some mixed games. As noted above, both of these Omaha games are available on Global Poker as well.
If you watched any old poker movies, you might think five-card stud is a popular game. In fact, that game has essentially died out. If you encounter a stud game these days, it will likely be seven-card stud.
Seven-card stud is typically played in a fixed-limit format. Each player receives two cards face down and one face up. This is referred to as “third street,” and after the players ante a round of betting kicks things off. More rounds of betting follow as the fourth, fifth and sixth street cards are each dealt face up. Finally the river card, or “seventh street,” is dealt face down, followed by one last round of betting.
Like hold’em, a winning seven-card stud hand is based on standard poker hand rankings using the best five-card poker hand from your seven cards. While seven-card stud games can be found occasionally in brick-and-mortar poker rooms in Florida, Global Poker does not spread stud games online.
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 no-limit 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.
Tournaments and sit-n-go’s
You’ll find various poker tournament formats in Florida. Multi-table tournaments are especially popular in the state’s live poker rooms. Meanwhile on Global Poker you’ll find all of the following tournament formats available:
- Freeroll: A freeroll is a tournament that is completely free to enter. Freerolls feature a small amount of prize money that is shared among the highest finishers. Some online poker sites reserve freerolls for new sign-ups, although larger ones will run daily or weekly freerolls.
- Sit-n-go’s: A sit-n-go is a tournament that begins once every seat has been filled. Most SNGs are single-table tournaments with a maximum of nine or ten players. However, you can sometimes find larger, multi-table sit-n-go’s online as well.
- Multi-table tournaments (MTTs): Multi-table tournaments are played with dozens or hundreds of players. Essentially, the number of players who can play an MTT is unlimited, although brick-and-mortar rooms are obviously constrained by the number of tables and available staff. Online MTTs, though, don’t face that limitation. Sometimes MTTs will have guaranteed prize pools which means no matter how many players sign up, the prize pool will be at least the stated guarantee.
- Satellites: Satellites are small tournaments through which you can qualify for tournaments with larger buy-ins. Satellites are great if your bankroll is tiny. They give you a shot at entering a tournament you might not have been able to afford. You’ll find plenty of satellites at Global Poker. You’ll also find them at Florida poker rooms, especially during the days leading up to a big tournament or tournament series.
Brick-and-mortar poker rooms in Florida
As noted, poker players have tons of options in Florida. The Seminole Tribe operates six casinos in the state, three of which feature thriving poker rooms.
Florida also features a number of pari-mutuel facilities that have poker rooms as well. Many of these locations are known as racinos and in the past a number of them featured greyhound racing at tracks adjoining the properties. Florida voted to disallow dog racing in 2018, however, and by the end of 2020 all greyhound tracks closed. But the poker rooms continue, with a couple still featuring horse racing. Many of the properties also offer off-track betting on simulcast races, too.
Florida first legalized poker at pari-mutuel facilities in 1996, although restrictions on the games effectively tempered poker’s popularity. Initially, the rooms could not host poker tournaments and cash games had to observe a $10 limitation on the pot size in a given hand. There was also a $100 maximum buy-in for these cash games. While such limits weren’t necessarily too restrictive for small-stakes fixed-limit games, they became much more problematic once no-limit hold’em began to become popular during the early-to-mid 2000s.
In 2010, Florida changed the law and removed limits on card games at the pari-mutuel facilities. Tournaments were also allowed, and soon Florida began to challenge Nevada, California and New Jersey as one of the most attractive states in the country for poker players.
There are currently around 900 poker tables at the many poker rooms in Florida. That’s actually more tables than in either Nevada (around 600) or New Jersey (around 225). In fact, only California with its almost 100 poker rooms has more poker tables than Florida.
Live poker at Florida casinos
- Seminole Coconut Creek (Pompano Beach) — 23 tables
- Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood (Ft. Lauderdale) — 45 tables
- Seminole Hard Rock Tampa (Tampa) — 46 tables
There used to be small, six-table poker rooms at both Seminole Casino Brighton and Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee, however each has closed. Florida has one other Native American tribe, the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, that operates the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming Center, a Class II gaming facility in Miami. That location also had a small poker room in the past, though it is currently closed as well.
Live poker at Florida pari-mutuel facilities
Meanwhile there are currently two dozen pari-mutuel facilities where Florida poker players can readily find a game. These are located all over the state and many feature especially large poker rooms. Here’s a rundown of what’s available:
- bestbet Jacksonville (Jacksonville) — 70 tables
- bestbet Orange Park (Orange Park) — 38 tables
- Big Easy Casino (Hallandale) — 30 tables
- Bonita Springs Poker Room (Bonita Springs) — 37 tables
- Calder Casino (Miami Gardens) — 29 tables
- Casino Fort Pierce (Ft. Pierce) — 25 tables
- Casino Miami Jai-Alai (Miami) — 12 tables
- Club 52 Melbourne Greyhound Park (Melbourne) — 40 tables
- Creek Entertainment Gretna (Gretna) — 26 tables
- Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club (Daytona Beach) — 55 tables
- Derby Lane Poker Room (St. Petersburg) — 51 tables
- Ebro Poker Room (Ebro) — 25 tables
- Hialeah Park Casino (Hialeah) — 33 tables
- Harrah’s Pompano Beach (Pompano Beach) — 38 tables
- Magic City Casino (Miami) — 19 tables
- Ocala Gainesville Poker (Reddick) — 28 tables
- One-Eyed Jacks (Sarasota) — 30 tables
- Orange City Racing & Card Club (Orange City) — 33 tables
- Oxford Downs Poker Room (Summerfield) — 24 tables
- Palm Beach Kennel Club (West Palm Beach) — 64 tables
- Pensacola Greyhound Track (Pensacola) — 25 tables
- Silks @ Tampa Bay Downs (Tampa) — 26 tables
- TGT Poker & Racebook (Tampa) — 10 tables
- The Casino @ Dania Beach (Dania) — 21 tables
Major poker tournament series in Florida (World Poker Tour, World Series of Poker)
Over recent years Florida has become a regular stop for several major poker tournament series, including both the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker Circuit.
Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood has been a regular location for World Poker Tour events, with the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open and WPT Rock ’N’ Roll Poker Open having become regular highlights of the tour’s season. In fact, in 2021 the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Main Event (a $3,500 tournament) drew nearly 2,500 entries and had a nearly $8 million prize pool (four times the guarantee). For more than a year, it was the largest event in WPT history, but the 2022 WPT Championship at the Wynn Las Vegas took that title last December.
The 2023 Lucky Hearts Poker Open just wrapped up at the end of January. For the first time in a few years, the main event wasn’t a WPT-branded event. But that didn’t stop people from playing. Over the course of the two-week, 43-event schedule, the series combined for 16,320 entries. Based on turnout, it was the most popular LHPO in the history of the series.
The property used to host WSOP Circuit series in the past. It also regularly runs its own Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (SHRPO) which has become one of the largest tournament series in the US each year.
However, it’s unlikely the WSOP Circuit will come back to a Seminole property in the near future. The WSOP brand is owned by Caesars entertainment. When Caesars completed its merger with Eldorado Resorts, it acquired Isle Casino Pompano Park. The property began hosting WSOP Circuit events and was rebranded to Harrah’s Pompano Beach late last year. The first WSOP Circuit series at Harrah’s Pompano beach is scheduled to run from Feb. 2 – 13.
Seminole Hard Rock Tampa has similarly been the site of major series such as the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, WPT DeepStacks Tampa, WSOP Circuit Seminole Hard Rock Tampa as well as its own Tampa Poker Classic.
Meanwhile up north bestbet Jacksonville has also frequently hosted World Poker Tour events with both the WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble and WPT DeepStacks Jacksonville series having attracted large fields.
Other Florida card rooms have hosted WSOP Circuit stops as well including Seminole Coconut Creek, Isle Casino Pompano Park and the Palm Beach Kennel Club.
The next major tournament series in Florida just kicked off with the Lucky Hearts Poker Open at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood. The schedule culminates with a $3,500 WPT main event.