Can you imagine the pain that Party Poker owners and shareholders have felt since 2006?
Party Poker, largely on the backs of US players from 2001-2006, dominated the early years of the online poker market.
That all came crashing down in 2006 with the loss of billions of dollars in total value, $100 million in fines, and an exit from the US market.
Here’s the kicker:
They watched their competitor PokerStars ignore the ill-advised precedent they tried to set, pay even more in fines, yet still emerge as the dominant force that Party Poker once was.
- How exactly did Party Poker go from powerhouse to mid-sized poker site clawing for market share scraps?
- Is there any hope for US players to play here?
- What does the future hold?
- What are the US alternatives?
That’s what I’d like to answer for you in this feature.
- 1 The bottom-line on Party Poker for US players
- 1.1 Are USA residents able to play at Party Poker?
- 1.2 Background of Party Poker for Americans
- 1.3 Can US players residents fake their location?
- 1.4 The Future Possibility of Party Poker in the US Market
- 1.5 Other options besides Party Poker for US Players
Are USA residents able to play at Party Poker?
Here’s the bottom line:
USA residents cannot currently engage in real-money play at Party Poker. Following the highly questionable last-minute attachment by Congress of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) to the unrelated SAFE Port Act on September 29, 2006 Party Poker voluntarily removed all US access to real-money tables.
This decision was largely made due to PartyGaming, the parent company of Party Poker, being listed as a public company on the London Stock Exchange.
Despite the fact that the UIGEA is largely a financial restrictions bill public companies simply can’t risk the perception of any legal wrongdoing to its shareholders lest they risk massive share price plunges.
Consider that every publicly traded company, such as those that own 888 Poker, stopped accepting US players while every poker room that continued to accept US players was privately owned. While Party Poker for US players may not currently exist the poker room has refocused its energies since 2006 in securing the European online poker market.
Despite the substantial loss of at least half of its real-money player base Party Poker has quietly regained strength in the years since to become the third-largest poker network in the world.
UNAVAILABLE TO US PLAYERS: This poker room is not currently servicing US players. Please see visit my updated US poker sites page for alternatives.
TL;DR - Party Poker for US Players
- Americans haven’t been allowed at Party Poker since 2006
- Formerly the largest online poker room in the world
- Paid over $100 million in fines to the US to clear their legal status
- Returned to the US in a small way in 2013, offering real-money games to New Jersey
- Will only offer US real-money games to regulated states
Background of Party Poker for Americans
It might seem hard to believe today, but:
Prior to September 29, 2006 Party Poker was, by far, the largest poker room in the world both in terms of public awareness and player numbers. Launched in 2001 as the real-money poker extension of the greater PartyGaming network, Party Poker for US players quickly became a leader in what was at that time an extremely limited market.
Poker, specifically Texas Hold’em, quickly found its way into the public’s consciousness in early 2003 due to the televised World Poker Tour (WPT) and the ability to view the hole cards of players as hands unfolded. Party Poker shrewdly began sponsoring WPT host Mike Sexton, who would become the recognizable face of the brand.
Chris Moneymaker’s remarkable win at the 2003 WSOP Main Event after winning his seat online sparked a 3-year explosion of interest in online poker. Party Poker, powered largely by US players, quickly became the single most recognizable poker brand online.
Thanks to a massive advertising campaign that featured professional player sponsorships, a WPT stop at its namesake cruise ship, and a heavy rotation of TV commercials for both poker and non-poker programming Party Poker was flying high in the early 2000s.
PartyGaming went public in 2005 on the London Stock Exchange and quickly reached its maximum total value of over $12 billion. At its peak in 2006 Party Poker featured a simultaneous real-money player count of nearly 20,000, which was a record at the time. It is estimated that US players comprised 50-60% of the total volume at Party.
Can US players residents fake their location?
Even though Party Poker for US players hasn’t been available for several years the shrinking US market combined with the high player counts and strong promotions at non-US poker rooms may tempt US residents to try to bypass geography-based restrictions.
Trying to mislead Party Poker or any other non-US poker room into allowing US real-money play simply isn’t worth the hassle for numerous reasons. Firstly, you’ll face the hurdle of creating international contact information and constantly falsifying your IP address in order to access the real-money tables.
Even if masking your US location proves to be a minor inconvenience the greater issues will come with trying to withdraw your winnings. If you somehow manage to register for real-money games at Party Poker as a US player you will (hopefully) need to receive your winnings.
How will you collect your check to a non-existent international address? How will you receive a wire transfer when you don’t have an international bank account? How will you withdraw to a supported e-wallet when none of them accept US residents?
Unless you have a non-US address, bank account, and IP address trying to use Party Poker as a US player is a wasted effort. Fortunately, there are still several strong choices remaining for US players, which are detailed below.
The Future Possibility of Party Poker in the US Market
With Party Poker closing to US players quickly and decisively in 2006 it’s easy to assume that PartyGaming has moved on from the US market. However, the course of action they’ve taken since then makes it easy to speculate that regaining their dominant position in a regulated US online poker market has always been the main goal.
In early 2009 Party Poker and PartyGaming directly negotiated with the US Department of Justice and agreed to pay over $100 million in “fines” in exchange for non-prosecution. PartyGaming was required to admit that it had wrongly processed transactions for US customers prior to 2006 and, as a result of its massive payment, was able to pay for clear legal status with the US government.
While possible the odds are slim that Party Poker would voluntarily part with so much money due to the minute chance of prosecution without an ulterior profit motive.
Due to the economic crisis that has significantly decreased tax revenues in the US the government has been looking for possible ways to acquire it from other sources. One issue that has received strong support and numerous proposals is regulating and, thus, taxing online gaming.
With so much potential to earn on an untapped market and massive support from special interests it seems inevitable that the US will offer licensed online poker within the next few years.
Party Poker and PartyGaming for US players have strategically set themselves up for a regulated market by clearing their legal status and paving the way for either a software partnership with one of the big Vegas casinos or a full license to offer games again in the US.
It’s possible that Party Poker for US players will once again reopen in some form but, currently, there are no imminent plans to do so outside of regulated states like New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.
Other options besides Party Poker for US Players
While BetOnline doesn’t excel in massive tournaments their cash games have to be some of the most beatable in the US market.
New BetOnline players also receive a 200% bonus and $135 in free bets on any new deposit.
Largely due to its young demographic and sports players Bovada poker players simply seem to be looser and more aggressive than average.
The credit card deposit processing rates are also excellent thanks to their extensive gaming history with essentially any credit or debit card able to be processed.
Another big positive for our Bovada players is one of the only instant bonuses left in online poker. It may be a 50% sports bet but it’s instant free money that can eventually add to your real-money balance.
Other positives include personalized customer service, an extra 100% play-through bonus, and incredible 5-7 day check delivery times.