Given the history of the state, online poker in Colorado sounds like something that should exist. After all, the Buckhorn Exchange, which dates back to 1893 and is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Denver, was a very popular place for poker. Cowboys from the region, looking for a poker game, would come to the Exchange to play cards and drink whiskey.
Today, the whiskey is still there and is ever-present in Denver with many local distilleries, but the poker has moved to the casinos located in the small mountain towns of Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek. But sadly, despite Colorado’s push for more liberal gambling laws, that’s as far as poker goes. As of right now, there is no legal online poker in Colorado.
However, many gambling advocates believe that it is only a matter of time before the law is changed. That being the case, lets look at where we are right now and where we might be heading in the future.
Colorado has had legal casino gambling since 1991, and over the years, has expanded that with more allowed games and much larger betting minimums. In 2019 the state added sports betting to its legal offerings when voters approved a measure that authorized both retail and online sportsbooks. Unfortunately, online poker in Colorado is yet to receive the same treatment.
Several of the land-based casinos in Coloraro do have poker rooms, and some of those rooms are quite large. But other than a brief and unsuccessful attempt by the legislature to write an online poker bill in 2012, there has been very little talk about poker in the short-term.
It seems inevitable that online casinos will come to Colorado one day. It's the trend across the country, and Colorado has always been at the forefront of similar trends. When that happens, it will also make sense for online poker to be included in the legislation. Exactly when that will be, however, is anybody's best guess.
As with both casino and sports betting, the age of consent will almost certainly be 21 years old. You must be at least 21 to play at Colorado retail poker rooms, and it will therefore be the same for online poker.
When playing real-money games online, all customers will have to be within Colorado state lines. This will be confirmed by checking a computer's IP address or the geolocation data provided by mobile devices.
Just as with other forms of gambling in the state, all customers will have to report winnings to the IRS.
When sports betting was legalized, a 10% tax on revenue was levied on all sports betting operators. Online poker operators are sure to face a similar tax that will also be used to fund voter-friendly state projects.
You can read more about gambling taxes here
As we have said, no real-money online poker sites are currently allowed to operate in Colorado. That's because the state has yet to legalize poker beyond the many land-based casinos in the state. However, at some point we expect that to change. When it does, we also expect online poker operators to move into Colorado with the same speed and enthusiasm that they brough to online sports betting.
It's hard to say exactly which sites will offer online poker in Colorado, but the following are the most likely candiates:
Not only is PokerStars the biggest online poker provider anywhere in the world, but it already has a presence in Colorado through its affiliation with the FOX Bet Sportsbook. The Stars Group is the parent company of PokerStars, which works in partnership with FOX Bet in several states across the country.
Not only is PokerStars a candidate to roll out an online casino when that time comes, but it will also be at the front of the line when it comes to offering online poker in Colorado.
PartyPoker is another online poker room that already has a foot in the door in Colorado, thanks to its affiliation with BetMGM. That's the online sportsbook operating in the state under the license held by Midnight Rose Casino in Cripple Creek, which also has a retail poker room.
PartyPoker also has a tech agreement with GVC Holdings. That company is already operating in the state, and has been aggressive in entering new online poker markets elsewhere. When new legislation is passed in Colorado, PartyPoker will be ready.
The waters are a little murkier for WSOP.com when it comes to an online poker in Colorado. They appear to be interested in opening in all markets, so this state shouldn't be any different.
That said, their parent company, Caesars Entertainment, actually has casinos in those other states. The retail casino market, by comparison, in Colorado is not dominated by the big corporate casinos, and Caesars does not have a property there.
Sweepstakes poker sites like Global Poker are technically not real-money poker sites, so they can legally operate in 49 states, including Colorado.
At first sight, Global Poker appears to be like any regular online poker room. There are cash games, tournaments, and sit and go's, with players competing against each other from across the country. So why is this legal?
Well, even though you can win money on Global Poker, you don't play games with real money. Instead, players use virtual gold coins. Those gold coins have no value, but when they are purchased, the player also gets sweeps coins. And those sweeps coins can be withdrawn for cash.
Because they want to remain legal, there are also several free options to play.
The game of poker that is played online is exactly the same as the game played at poker rooms as far as the rules are concerned. A full house will still beat a straight, and 2-7 off-suit will still be fairly poor hole cards. However there are some differences in how the game is played that are worth being aware of.
The biggest difference, which you will notice right away, is just how much faster the online game unfolds.
In a land-based game, players talk to each other. You spend time studying your opponents. You play with your chips whilst thinking long and hard about your next move. All of that takes time.
When you're playing online, on the other hand, there is no hanging around. Conversation is minimal, you can't see your oponents and everyone has to make their move within a certain period of time.
When dealing with the change in the pace of play, there are potential pitfalls.
Going from online to land-based poker, you may become quite bored. And the more bored you are, the less your focus becomes, and the less you are likely to win.
The solution to this is to focus more deliberately on the players, the tells, the cards, the chips, and all of the other information you have available.
In contrast, if you are going from land-based to online poker, the faster pace of the game can be a real shock to the system. Keeping track of how each player bets becomes harder, and you need to make your moves that much faster.
The best approach here is spend some time playing practice online poker games so that you get used to the faster pace before risking any real money.
You'll enjoy much more variety online than you ever will in a land-based poker room. Not only will you have a bigger choice of games, but blinds and tournament buy-ins will also have a wider range. At an online site, it is much easier to find a game to your liking, and also at a level that suits your budget.
The nearest live poker room may be hours away. The nearest online poker room is on your couch. You have easy access to the bathroom, your refrigerator, and pizza delivery.
You can also play online poker at any time of day and in any comfortable state of dress that you choose. There is excitement when sitting at a table across from your opponents. But the convenience of online poker is undeniable.
Unless you are used to playing at a high-stakes table at a casino, the poker online is more competitive than the games at a live poker room. This is because the players online have access to strategy guides and odds tables and a variety of other tools that can help them make the most informed decision. Plus, there are no tells online.
When sitting at a live table, players only have their memory to guide their decision making. Also, in land-based poker rooms you will find players who only play occasionally. Online players tend to play far more frequently, and that often makes them better at the game.
It's hard to say exactly what poker games will be available when online poker rooms come to Colorado. But based on what is popular online in other markets, and what seems to be popular at retail poker rooms across the state, we can make some educated guesses.
The world's most popular poker game, in which players use two hole cards and five community cards to make the best five-card hand. If you play poker, you play Texas Hold'em.
In this version of Hold'em, all bets and raises must happen in increments between the spreads of two amounts, such as $2 to $5. The variations of this game are particularly popular in Colorado because of its $100 cap on casino wagers.
Also extremely popular with regular poker players, Omaha gives the player four of their own cards (instead of just two) to make the best hand. Only two of the four can be used when creating that hand.
In Five-Card Omaha, also called Big O, you have five hole cards, but can still only use two of them to make your best hand. Again, because of Colorado betting caps, this is usually played with a spread limit.
Five-Card Omaha High-Low is played exactly like five-card Omaha, but with a split pot between the high and low hands.
Casino betting in Colorado has a maximum cap of $100. But when the state legalized sports betting, it removed all regulatory limits. The sportsbooks themselves imposed limits, but the state didn't require it. It's possible that when online casinos and poker rooms are legalized, the limits on that type of betting will also be removed.
In markets with legal online poker, there is a huge demand for online poker tournaments. PlayPoker, PokerStars, and WSOP offer a wide variety of tournaments, including state and regional championships, seasonally-based tournaments, and day-of-the-week tournaments.
When it comes to the types of tournaments that you are likely to find when online poker rooms are legal, both Sit and Go Tournaments and Spin and Go Tournaments are leading contenders.
Sit and Go is a tournament that begins as soon as enough players sit and pay their buy-in. Spin and Go tournaments that feature a smaller table of players - as low as three - and a spin for prizes and jackpots.
Like online casinos and sportsbooks, poker sites will need to attract your business away from competitors. Even though no one is offering online poker right now, when the law changes you can expect to be offered the following types of bonuses:
It's not uncommon for online poker sites to give players a bonus of between $20 and $50 just for signing up. It's often in the form of a free play or entrance into a tournament, so it's not straight cash that can be withdrawn. Still, it's good money, and it's worth looking for when choosing an online poker room.
As well as the smaller amount of bonus money that you can get for registering for a new account, players should also look for more genreous deposit bonuses.
These are typically awarded for the very first deposit that a player makes, so be sure to know the terms and possible amounts before you add money to your account. You never want to leave money on the table - especially when it is free and coming from the operator.
Deposit bonuses will be for higher amounts, but will always require a playthrough. That means you must play the bonus sum a certain number of times before you can withdraw it.
Many of the potential operators of online poker rooms have loyalty programs. PokerStars, as an example, has its Stars Rewards program, with awards points for every dollar spent, and those points can be redeemed for a variety of prize chests.
In Colorado, at the state's largest poker room at the Ameristar Casino, poker players qualify for comps based on both the amount of money they play and the time they spend playing. For every hour of play, customers earn 20 points, and points can later be redeemed for tournament entries and other bonuses. Four hours of play earns customers the hotel's poker room rate.
Expect something similar when poker goes online in Colorado.
Middle of the week discounted tournament buy-ins will be something to look for. It's a way for the online operator to open up certain tournaments to players who are otherwise limited by smaller bankrolls.
Along with the new customer deposit bonuses, which are common, there will probably be less common reload bonuses for existing customers. That is more free money that you don't want to miss out on.
When online poker comes to Colorado, you'll need to sign up for account before you can play. This is very straightforward, but you will be required to provide the following personal information:
This information will be used to help the online poker room verify your identity. If there are any issues in completing that verification, you may be required to submit a recent utility bill that shows your name and address.
At the end of registration for your new account, you will pick a username and password and then be asked to follow through on a couple of security steps. Once that is all finished, you will be ready to make your first deposit.
Online poker sites across the country are only as good as the ease in which they process deposits and withdrawals. Fortunately, they have lots of experience giving their customers a large number of safe and secure options.
Colorado poker sites are likely to offer the following deposit options:
The above list is speculation, but it's based on what is currently available for online sportsbooks in Colorado. PayNearMe terminals can be found in area 7-Eleven stores, and do accept cash. And not all online poker providers will have prepaid cards.
An important note on credit card payments: Many companies treat payments to casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms as if they were a cash advance. That means you might get tagged for an extra charge when using your credit card. Be sure to check with your credit card provider before making deposits so that you aren't surprised by any extra fees.
It's also worth noting that while PayPal and Neteller are available in Colorado, not all operators are likely to accept them both.
For the easiest methods of withdrawal, try to make your deposits using an electronic transfer of funds. Not only is this method the most secure, but it can also be reversed when you are ready to make a withdrawal. If you can't use an electronic deposit or withdrawal, these will be your options to take out money.
Obviously, any use of a personal check will come with several days of delay for both processing and mailing. Also, depending on the affiliation of potential online poker rooms to retail casinos, you may be able to withdraw funds from your account at the casino cage.
Poker is legal in Colorado at land-based casinos.
Unfortunately, online poker in Colorado is currently illegal. However, many people expect this situation to change in the future, so watch this space!
Because the future of online poker in Colorado remains unclear, it may be tempting for poker players in the state to venture into the world of offshore or unregulated poker sites. We strongly recommend that you resist this urge.
Unregulated sites will not guarantee that they can maintain the security of your identity or banking information. Nor can they guarantee that the money you play, and the money you win, will actually be the money you can withdraw.
Some offshore poker rooms have been around for a while, but most of the sites you’ll encounter are constantly opening and closing and changing names. It’s simply not worth the risk to play at these online poker sites.
If you love poker and must play poker, there are retail poker rooms in Black Hawk (just outside Denver), Cripple Creek (in the mountains near Colorado Springs), and at the tribal casinos in the southwest part of the state. Play at those. They are regulated by the state and well-run by their casino operators.
Colorado is a bigger state than both Delaware and West Virginia (two small states with legalized online poker), so it’s possible that when lawmakers write new poker legislation for the state that it will be a fenced-in market. That means that customers in the state will only be able to play other customers in the state.
Delaware, for example, doesn’t have the population to support multiple poker options and rooms 24 hours a day, so it created an interstate pact with other states, allowing customers to play across state lines. What Colorado ultimately chooses to do will be decided by the expected market, as well as legalization efforts in neighboring states.
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