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How to Play Online Poker in Washington State

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Washington state is one of the most difficult states to play poker in, namely online poker. I would know because I live here. It’s actually a class C felony to play poker online (for real money) and if you end up getting caught, you could be fined up to $10,000 and/or have to serve up to 5 years in prison.

This is a big consequence for playing a card game.

If you are simply looking for a Washington-State friendly poker site, head over to www.LockPoker.com. Lock accepts all Washington players, and allows you to practice online poker with play money (without breaking the law).

So, because of the current laws, many of you might be wondering where or how to play poker in Washington State. I have listed some of my ideas below.

** Please keep in mind that I’m not qualified to give legal advice. I am also not encouraging illegal activity. It is your responsibility to know what the laws are and how they affect you. All the information below is to be used for entertainment purposes only and at your own risk. **

Home Games

As far as I know, home games are legal to host and/or participate in. If not, I guess I could be in some trouble.

Kidding aside, home games may not be the same as playing poker online, but at least you can get your fix. Home games are generally much softer too for the buy-in paid. If you can find enough home games to play in on a regular basis, you can make a nice little side income.

If you can’t find any home games, then start one of your own. You’d be surprised at how big the response is when you advertise for wanting to start a regular home game. There are many players out there looking to play that will attend nightly, weekly or monthly games – some will even offer to host every once in a while. You turn this idea up a notch and create a league where you play to earn points and at the end of the season, the players with the most points play a special “Tournament of Champions” game for special prizes or cash. The options are endless.

Play Poker in Casinos

One of the reasons that people feel that online poker is banned in Washington State is so that local casinos continue to bring in traffic and make money. So, you could develop the mindset, “if you can’t beat them, join them” and play in your local casino’s daily tournaments and cash games.

Similar to home games, you’ll find the casino’s games are extremely soft and easy to beat. Additionally, you’ll often times have the added bonus of the various comps that casinos offer for spending money in their casino including free shows, drinks or meals. The comps will slightly offset your other expenses like travel or small losses from playing.

Play Online Anyway

You can still play online poker in Washington State despite it being a felony to do so. The laws are not currently being enforced. And even if they were, it’d be difficult for enforcers to track down each individual online poker player. Aside from PokerStars and Full Tilt, who recently banned all players from Washington state, you can still play on every other poker site that caters to online players including Absolute Poker, Cake, and Ultimate Bet Poker.

If even with all of this being said you’re still concerned about playing online in WA State, there are things you can do that can decrease your chances of being caught. Here are a few of those ideas, each having their own degree of difficulty, consequence, and practicality.

  • Set up a VPN. Without being too technical, a VPN or virtual private network will give you access to the internet and/or programs via the companies’ (who you sign up for a VPN account through) own network. What this does is give you another IP to access these programs through essentially disguising your own. So in the event that the poker sites start to track and/or ban players based on IP addresses, you shouldn’t have a problem. Setting up and using a VPN network is rather easy and cheap to do – basic plans start for about $5 a month. I have no experience using them, but proxy servers are similar to VPNs and will do the same thing.
  • Set up a new poker account. You could set up a new poker account with all of your information stating that you live in a different state. Keep in mind that if you go this route you will likely need to:
  1. Prove to the poker sites that you live where you claim you do using a bank statement or utility bill. You might not have to prove anything when you first open the account, but you will when you start to transfer, deposit and withdraw money. A state ID will also be required.
  2. Set up a VPN or proxy server. You don’t have to do this, but you should if you’re going to the hassle of getting a state ID and fake/temporary utility bills. Think about it this way; it makes no sense to say you live in another state when it can be proved easily that you’re still playing from within WA state.
  3. Open a new PO box and/or bank account. You’ll need to have your checks delivered to your “new address.” So, either you’ll need someone to pick it up for you or find a way to have the checks re-directed to you. If you use the echeck option, you’ll need to set up a bank account using your new information in the new city/state that you live in.
  4. Keep quiet about your account. Setting up a new account is against every poker sites’ terms and conditions. You might even be outed for having a new account by anyone who finds out in fear that you might be cheating.
  • Keep your old account and update your information. Similar to setting up a new account, you can just update your current account with information stating that you live somewhere else. You’ll have to deal with all of the same issues like proving that you live somewhere else and have a place to send payments too.

Final Thoughts on How to Play Poker in WA State

Again, I should make it very clear that I do not suggest that you do anything illegal. But I did want to make clear what your options were, despite the consequences. In the end, it’ll just be up to you to determine how bad you want to play poker, how you want to play, and to what extent you’re willing to go to in order to make it happen.

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Written by Matt Geer

3 Responses to “How to Play Online Poker in Washington State”

  1. [...] other states that have also shown interest in the matter. On the flip-side we have a situation like Washington State where they have banned online poker entirely, and the legislation was upheld by the [...]

  2. [...] his home in Washington or moving out of the state to continue his poker career as a result of the Washington State online poker [...]

  3. New to WA says:

    FYI: Absolute and Ultimate Bet no longer allow you to access their services from Washington. I’m not sure about Cake since they only offer PC software and I’m running a Mac.

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