New Jersey legalized online poker in 2013 as one of the first states to issue licenses to real money poker sites. Under state law, customers must be 21 or older and located within state lines to play online poker in New Jersey.
The New Jersey online poker market consists of seven operators, making the Garden State the country’s most developed poker market. Some of NJ online poker’s most prominent names include BetMGM Poker, PokerStars, 888, and WSOP.
Players can play online from any desktop or through mobile poker apps for iOS and Android devices. First-time mobile poker players may be surprised to find just how effective New Jersey’s major poker operators are at delivering the full poker experience to the palms of their hands.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) regulates online poker in the Garden State. Among its duties are reviewing licensing requests, monitoring licensees for compliance with state regulations, and ensuring players receive fair treatment.
Best New Jersey Poker Sites
Among the states that have legalized online poker to date, New Jersey is home to the most options for players. Seven poker sites are open for business today:
- 888 Poker
- PokerStars NJ
- Partypoker NJ
- Borgata Poker
- Pala Poker
Five of New Jersey’s seven poker sites operate on networks with one or more other operators. Networked poker sites operate independently but share player pools and tables to boost traffic, game availability, and tournament prize pools for everyone.
PokerStars operates as the state’s only major standalone poker site. PokerStars is one of the biggest operators in the world, and it has no problems attracting traffic despite operating on its own. PokerStars has operations in other states as well, but it does not share traffic across borders at this time.
Pala Poker is affiliated with the Borgata but operates independently from Borgata Poker.
Each of the remainders operates on one of the following networks:
- Partypoker Network: Party Poker, BetMGM, and Borgata Poker
- All-American Poker Network: WSOP.com, 888 Poker (also shares players with their sister sites in Nevada and Delaware)
How to Play Online Poker in New Jersey
Getting started with NJ online poker is a simple process.
First, choose the licensed poker site of your choice (see above) and visit its website from any desktop computer or mobile device to sign up for an account. State law requires online poker operators to collect certain information from all players to verify every customer’s age and identity:
- Phone number
- E-mail address
- Last four digits of your SSN
From there, you’ll be directed to either download the desktop client or mobile app for your poker site. Each poker site manages the process differently, but they all walk customers through it step by step and will have you ready to play in mere minutes.
Some poker sites also offer a web client option that allows customers to play online through their browsers with no download necessary.
Deposits are also relatively simple in today’s regulated poker environment. Most poker sites offer a variety of the following standardized deposit methods:
- Credit and debit cards (most major brands accepted)
- E-wallets such as PayPal and Skrill
- Electronic bank transfers
- PayNearMe, a cash option available at retailers such as pharmacies and 7-Eleven
- Play+, a reloadable prepaid debit card that players can use for deposits, withdrawals, and as a debit card to make purchases anywhere Discover is accepted
Withdrawals can be processed through the same methods as above. In some cases, players can process withdrawals back to the same credit or debit card used to deposit, but policies vary by poker site. In any case, electronic bank transfers serve as a convenient option in almost every circumstance. Players may also request a paper check by mail if they wish.
Shared Player Pools in New Jersey
New Jersey is a member of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), which permits poker sites active in two or more states to combine player pools across state lines.
Currently, WSOP/888 is the only operator also active in Nevada and Delaware, and therefore the biggest beneficiary of MSIGA. As additional operators such as BetMGM Poker gear up in other states, look for them to begin sharing players across state lines as well.
Shared player pools drive more traffic to poker networks by bringing together players from around the country where online poker is legal. In turn, players at poker sites in every member state benefit from the increased traffic with more action, more games, and bigger tournaments.
However, tournament series such as the annual Online World Series of Poker are only available in New Jersey and Nevada. Delaware does not participate in large tournament series at this time due to the setup of its online poker industry.
The latest WSOP festival lasted a month and saw players from both New Jersey and Nevada have the opportunity to compete for a full slate of Bracelet Events. It was capped by the $10,000 Main Event, which had 705 entries from a single-flight tournament. The tournament featured a hybrid format that paused play once the final table of nine was reached to play down to a winner live at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.
Will More States Join?
Several states are shaping up as good candidates to join New Jersey and the MSIGA to potentially increase player pools across the board. Michigan and Pennsylvania, in particular, would be substantial additions to the interstate poker network due to both being populous states with legal online poker.
Michigan’s prospects are especially strong due to lawmakers there passing legislation authorizing the MGCB to enter player sharing agreements with other states. With a population of nearly 10 million, Michigan would significantly add to the total MSIGA player pool.
Pennsylvania has been reluctant to consider interstate poker pools due to questions concerning the federal Wire Act, but a 2021 US Court of Appeals decision may have laid that issue to rest. Pennsylvania’s population of nearly 13 million would be another big win for interstate poker.
There’s also the chance that Michigan and Pennsylvania simply join forces together, at which point the hope once more would be for those two states to join the MSIGA together.
Entain (rebranded from GVC Holdings in December 2020), the parent company of the Partypoker US Network, was also approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission in May 2019 for an interactive gaming license. However, the company has not yet launched in Nevada.
A Nevada launch for the Partypoker US Network would increase field sizes, prize pools, and overall game options for New Jersey players.
The Benefits of Playing at Legal NJ Poker Sites
New Jersey is home to a healthy, competitive, and well-regulated online poker scene. With so many licensed poker sites to choose from, players have little incentive to play with unregulated offshore providers.
Most importantly, all NJ poker sites must undergo a thorough business evaluation conducted by the NJDGE to receive licenses. State regulators ensure random number generators provide truly random results for in-game instances such as deck shuffles and which community cards will be drawn next from the top of the deck.
The NJDGE also conducts tests and inspections to ensure players’ funds are safe, private information is protected, and the games are fair. Additionally, poker sites must adhere to strict regulations regarding the speed and security of deposits and withdrawals.
A more immediate advantage to players is the plethora of deposit bonuses and online poker promotions on offer. The NJ poker industry is competitive, and competition breeds promotions. Poker promotions change regularly, but players can visit the website of any licensed poker site to see the latest offers.
Lower barriers to entry and less rake are also significant benefits of online poker compared to its live-casino counterpart. Players can play cash games for pennies or tournaments for as little as $1 online; in casinos, the smallest cash games spread are often $1/$2 or $1/$3, with players buying in for $100-$500. That’s enough to potentially serve as an entire bankroll online.
The rake for online tournaments is usually around 10% of the buy-in. In casinos, daily tournaments often will cost at least $40-$60 (and upwards of several hundred dollars) with rake that can be 20-25% of the cost to enter.