Online Poker in Texas: Top TX Poker Sites
Lawmakers in the Lone Star State have not regulated online poker in Texas at present. Texas poker players who want a real money card game therefore must play at offshore online cardrooms. Their only alternative is to play at local land-based poker clubs which officials might or might not view as legal, or drive out-of-state to play poker at nearby casinos in Oklahoma and Louisiana.
Because many Texas online poker players wonder if their gaming activities are legal, we've answered all of their questions below. In fact, we give an overview of all of Texas' gambling laws, then focus on Texans' options for real money poker gaming. Read our online poker Texas guide below for everything you need to know when gambling on cards in Texas.
Overview of Texas Gambling Laws
A state as large and populous as Texas is bound to have complicated gambling laws. The state allows lottery betting, charitable bingo, and pari-mutuel wagering at racetracks. It grudgingly allows a couple of land-based tribal casinos. Most other forms of gambling are banned, though online gambling exists in a legal gray area. Here's a quick review of Texas gambling laws.
Poker Online Tips: How to Choose a Texas Online Poker Site
If you're new to online poker, you might have trouble choosing the best Texas online cardroom. We've provided a handy checklist of suggestions that help you narrow down the choice. Keep in mind the following online poker tips when it's time to create a player account and make a deposit.
Texas Online Gambling Laws: Will Texas Regulate Internet Poker Sites & Casinos?
In 2013, State Senator Leticia Van de Putte and Representative John Kuempel introduced legalized online poker bills to the Texas Senate and Texas House. None of the online poker legislation made it past the committee stage. Since then, no one has introduced a bill to regulate and license Texas online poker sites and casinos.
That was at a time when New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware were in the midst of legalizing online gambling. At the time, Van du Putte and Kuempel were testing the waters on a new idea -- an idea that was shut down promptly. For the foreseeable future, Texas online gambling laws look as if they'll remain the same. Therefore, Texans must play at offshore online poker sites.
Current Updates on Texas Gambling Laws
The Texas Constitution bans land-based casino gambling in the state, which means the legislature would need to pass a casino bill by a two-thirds majority. While 33 other US states have passed land-based sports betting laws, Texas isn't likely to legalize sportsbook operations.
Texas Gambling Facts
The following gambling facts might not seem like they're related to Texas. In fact, they're directly related to the gamblers of Texas' two biggest metropolitan areas: Dallas and Houston. While Texas bans most casino gambling, it shows that Texans love to gamble as much as any gaming demographic in the world.
Texas Land-Based Gambling Venues
Texas Gambling History: A Timeline of Texas Gambling
Famous Texas Poker Players
Since poker's most famous game is known as Texas Hold'em, it's no surprise that Texas has some of the world's most successful and famous poker players. Legendary players like Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim, and Johnny Moss are Texas natives, while the Horseshoe Casino's original owner, Benny Binion, also hailed from Texas originally.
Brunson, Slim, and Moss played poker in Texas in the 1950s but moved to Las Vegas by the 1960s because high-roller Texas poker games at the time were controlled by organized crime. At the time, more traditional games like Five-Card Draw and Seven-Card Stud were more popular variants of poker. When they moved to Las Vegas, that generation of Texas card players brought with them Texas Hold'em.
Texans Dominated the World Series of Poker Main Event
When Benny Binion launched the World Series of Poker in 1970, he chose Texas Hold'em as the event's official poker game. The early years of the WSOP were dominated by Texas players. For instance, Johnny Moss was voted the WSOP Main Event's Sportsbook in its inaugural year (1970), then won the event outright in 1971 and 1974. Amarillo Slim won the WSOP Main Event in 1972, fellow Texan Sailor Roberts won in 1975, and Doyle Brunson won it back-to-back in 1976 and 1977.
Thus, modern poker traces its origins back to Texas. Once ESPN began to television the World Series of Poker Main Event in the 1990s and early 2000s, Texas Hold'em became a global phenomenon. Nowadays, Texas Hold'em is the standard main event poker game for every major poker tournament in the world. This is due to famous poker players like Johnny Moss and Doyle Brunson, along with fellow Poker Hall of Famer Benny Binion.
Other famous Texas poker players exist, of course. T.J. Cloutier is the all-time money Sportsbook among Texas card players with $10 million+ in career winnings. Cloutier was born in California, though he resides in the Dallas suburb of Richardson, Texas. Benjamin Tollerin ($9.5 million in all-time winnings) was born in Fort Worth, though he now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. David Williams ($8.9 million) was born in Dallas and lives in Fort Worth. Keith Tiltson ($7 million) resides in Austin, while William "Bill" Perkins ($5.4 million) lives in Houston.
Texas Online Poker FAQ
Are there any Texas-licensed internet poker sites?
No, there are not. Texans can play at offshore online poker sites for real money, but no licensed online cardrooms exist. Sweepstakes poker sites exist, too, which are considered to be legal online poker sites at the moment.
Are online cardrooms legal to play in Texas?
Texans can bet at offshore online cardrooms without being fined or prosecuted. While the Lone Star State bans Texas-based online cardrooms, it cannot prosecute offshore online poker site operators. Furthermore, Texas doesn't prosecute individuals who play online poker for real money.
The main concern Texas poker players have is safety and fairness, because they play at offshore sites. Trustworthy and reputable poker sites exist, so read online cardroom reviews before depositing your hard-earned cash in a site.
Are there any Mac-compatible poker sites?
Absolutely. Most poker sites don't require a download, so you'll be able to play using Mac and Linux devices. Mac players should look for online poker rooms where the desktop games open in the web browser because this circumvents compatibility issues. Typically, these sites advertise that they are an "Instant" poker site instead of a desktop or downloadable site.
Are there any licensed live cardrooms in Texas?
Yes, there are. Texas poker clubs operate in the Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston metropolitan areas. A poker club cannot charge a rake, though the clubs often have inventive other ways to charge players.
Depending on how inventive these charges are, legality is determined at the city level of government, usually by local law enforcement agencies. If the county sheriff or local police department deems a live poker club to be illegal, it might be raided and everyone involved might get fined.
Is it possible for me to run my own online gambling business in Texas?
Absolutely no -- not if you charge a rake or otherwise make a profit from the game. Running a real money online poker game in Texas will get you prosecuted and you'll go to jail for it.
While individual Texas residents don't face fines or prosecution for playing real money online poker, Texas law bans people from running Internet-based gambling businesses where you host the server in Texas. The most you can do is build a site that offers free online poker.
What is a Dallas Straddle?
Dallas Straddle is a 9-handed $5/$5 game of Pot-Limit Omaha was has a $25 mandatory "Dallas" button straddle. For the $25 bet, the person with the button receives an absolute guarantee of the last action preflop. The button only acts once, after all other players have closed their actions (bets, raises, calls).
What is Ultimate Texas Hold'em?
Ultimate Texas Hold'em is a table game based on the rules of Texas Hold'em. Instead of playing against other players, you play against the dealer's hand. While you won't find the game in Texas online poker rooms, you will find it in Texas online casinos.
Are there mobile-friendly online poker sites for Texans?
Every one of the Texas online poker sites we recommend also is compatible with mobile devices. Whether you use an Android smartphone or tablet, an iPhone, or an iPad, you'll be able to play mobile poker on the go. In many cases, the games open in the mobile web browser, making the process quicker and easier.
Can you play online poker for real money in Texas?
Yes, you can. That being said, you can't play regulated online poker for real money in Texas. You'll either play at  sweepstakes poker sites or  offshore online poker rooms. We recommend that players wait until Texas licenses poker sites.
How far is Texas from having legal online poker?
Texas is a long way from having licensed and regulated online poker. While Texans love poker and drive to Oklahoma and Louisiana every weekend to enjoy cards, the Texas state legislature is unlikely to legalize online poker anytime soon. The state only has one Native American casino on its land, while a string of attorney generals have fought for over a decade to stop the two other tribes from Sportsbook gaming venues.
Texas online gambling receives a dim view from the state's leaders. For instance, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared in a 2016 opinion that fantasy sports was illegal. Not daily fantasy sports, but fantasy sports of any kind. Since Paxton likely will win a third term as Texas AG this fall, don't expect legal online poker in the coming years.