Canadian poker fans have access to the biggest global online brands. This gives you the chance to play in the biggest tournaments and cash games against players from around the world. Those huge player pools mean more choice of games, poker bonuses, and tournament events. With card rooms in almost every province and home games allowed, there are also options for enjoying live poker in Canada.
This page has everything you know to get the best from poker in Canada. You will find information about the laws governing gambling below. After that, the options for real money and play money games are covered. If you love poker in the live setting, you will find a list of card rooms in your province towards the end of this page.
The national criminal code in Canada does not explicitly make playing online poker illegal. The laws – which predate the internet – make operating an unlicensed betting or gambling house the offense. There are also sanctions for knowingly participating in a game in an unlicensed gambling house.
When you play online, you are in your own home – and not in a gambling house, licensed or otherwise. This means that Canadian players are welcomed at the biggest and best international online poker sites. They are licensed in reputable jurisdictions including Malta, Gibraltar, and the Isle of Man.
There is no government licensing body in Canada for poker sites. The native province of Kahnawake, located within Canada, does license offshore gambling sites which welcome players from the U.S. British Columbia, Quebec, and Manitoba have their online gambling sites. These provinces have no laws that make choosing international sites illegal for players.
Jurisdiction over live gambling, including poker rooms, is at the province level. As you will see from the section below, there is a big difference between the casinos offering live poker between the provinces. Home games are allowed nationwide, as long as no rake or fees are charged. Charity poker tournaments are also allowed, licensing for them is under the jurisdiction of each province.
Poker first went online in the early 2000s and has been legal in Canada for the entire period. The dominant poker sites have changed over the years. There are now more choices in terms of game formats, tournament structures, and the poker variants offered than ever before.
Apps are available from all the leading poker rooms, complimenting their downloadable software clients. With tools, training sites, and strategy widely available, the standard of play online is high. Balancing this you will find bonuses, promotions, and loyalty rewards to keep your bankroll topped up.
Biggest real money poker rooms in Canada:
Real money poker comes in many formats. The main division of tournaments, sit and goes and cash games quickly expand once you add in the poker games, table sizes, betting formats, and rules. Fast-fold poker can also be played at all the big poker sites. This cuts out the time you used to spend waiting for other players to complete hands.
Most online poker is played in No-Limit Texas Hold’em format, here are your key options:
Adding in multiple poker games gives Canadians an even bigger choice. Along with the popular No-Limit Hold ‘em, you can play with fixed betting limits and pot-limit betting. Other games include Pot Limit Omaha Omaha Hi-Lo, Stud Poker, Draw Poker, and mixed-game formats.
Major Canadian banks are not poker friendly. They often decline debit and credit card poker deposits. There is no legal basis for doing this. Fortunately, there are options to move your money online. They include payment gateways that work with bank transfers, electronic wallets, and more.
Here are the key options for depositing at the major poker sites in Canada:
You can expect KYC checks (know your customer) from the legitimate poker brands. These protect players and the poker eco-system from money laundering and fraud, which keeps the games available to all.
With all the biggest poker brands welcoming players from Canada – there is always a range of bonus deals to pick from. They include no deposit bonuses, where you get to play without risking your own money. The biggest bonuses require a deposit. Keep in mind that the ongoing rewards will be an important factor in choosing a site to call home.
Here are the main poker bonus formats available in Canada:
Bonuses can look similar if you only compare the headline numbers. When you check the terms and conditions. Here are the significant things to look out for:
Most poker bonuses will be voided if you make a withdrawal before you complete them. Where sites also offer casino games and sports betting, you might get to clear your bonus that way.
There are three ways to access poker sites. Apps and downloads are the most popular formats, with instant-play (in your browser window) available too.
Apps have been developed for Android Smartphones and iPhones, as well as tablets and iPads. The best way to install the latest app is to visit the poker site (following our links for the best bonus deal) using your mobile device. You will be offered an app download, which will install in just a couple of minutes.
Alongside the mainstream site, Global Poker has attracted a significant player base in recent years. This site uses a ‘Sweepstakes’ gambling model, which they use to allow players from the U.S. and Canada to play their games.
From the perspective of the players, the games look and feel the same as any other poker room. There are cash games and tournaments to enjoy. Behind the scenes, things work differently. Instead of depositing cash to play with, you buy play-money chips. Global Poker then gives you Sweeps Coins, which you use to enter the poker games. Those games are treated as sweepstakes contests (in name, they are the same randomly shuffled games of skill as at other poker sites). If you win, you can redeem your Sweeps Coins for cash and withdraw it.
The games at Global Poker are considered soft, with a large recreational player pool. What you will not find at this site is the variations, promotions, and choice of tables that the major international poker sites offer.
New players at Global Poker can get a $20 Gold Coin bonus package.
There are live poker rooms in casinos around Canada. They range from the huge venues in Ontario to small card clubs with just a handful of tables in rural locations. Below is an overview of what to expect from each province. Some provinces set the minimum gambling age to 18, others to 19.
You will find big brand poker tournament events in Canada. They include the World Poker Tour (WPT) and the WSOP Circuit events – which are part of the World Series of Poker brand. With all the major online poker sites available in Canada, there is plenty of choice for big online tournament events too. They include the WCOOP (PokerStars), Super XL Series (888), and PowerFest Events (Party Poker). Regular tournaments include the Sunday Million.
Poker sites each have their list of deposit options. Many of the most popular cards and bank transfer systems used in Canada are shared between them. Visa, MasterCard, Amex, and Discover cards are allowed – though they are frequently blocked by Canadian banks. Interac and InstaDebit are the go-to options for many players. You can also use PaySafeCard and e-wallet solutions.
No. PayPal does not allow Canadians to deposit at poker sites. There has been no explanation, though the restrictive laws in the U.S. and concerns about cross-border deposits are likely to be responsible. There are alternative poker site deposit options that can get your money safely and securely onboard.
New online poker variations are appearing all the time. They include new tournament formats, speedy ‘lottery’ style games, and fast-fold poker. These variations are built on top of the 4 main categories – cash games, tournaments, sit and goes, and fast-fold poker. They include knockout tournaments, mixed game cash tables, and lottery poker games that can make you a millionaire.
Poker games cross over into each variation. Most real money online poker is played in Texas Hold’em format. You can also enjoy Pot Limit Omaha, O8, PLO8, Stud, Stud Hi-Lo, Draw variants, and even Badugi online.
Yes, the big international poker brands are completely safe. The deal is tested regularly via audits of their RNG (random number) generator software. Billions of hands have been logged by tracking services, auditors, and on individual player databases. There is zero evidence of an unfair deal. Many of these brands are listed on the London Stock exchange – giving you extra peace of mind that their balance sheets are in good order.
Yes. There are dedicated sites run by the governments of BC, Manitoba, and Quebec. Canadian national laws mean that no province can prevent players from enjoying real money games if the site is not located in their territory – this makes online poker available to everyone.
Yes, you can use the ‘Home Games’ option at PokerStars. This allows you to set up a private tournament and cash games for your friends or colleagues.
No, there are other options including smartphone apps and instant-play (browser) poker clients. If you take poker seriously and want to play multiple tables at the same time, then the download clients are the best way to access the sites.
PokerStars is significantly bigger than the other poker rooms. There are 10x as many players (based cash game players) than the other poker rooms. PartyPoker and 888 are similar in size, with more than 1,000 cash game players at peaks, with a large multiple of these enjoying tournaments. Bet365 is a smaller site by comparison.