There are five or six states in the US that genuinely cater to poker players, and New Jersey, together with Nevada, is arguably one of the best. Whether you’re looking for in-person games or want to play online, New Jersey offers the ideal competitive environment, ample opportunities, and a strongly pro-gambling legal framework.
Especially with the rise of online poker and the emergence of televised events such as the WSOP, the game’s popularity has grown exponentially, and New Jersey allows every poker enthusiast to play the game exactly how they want to. Here’s a quick breakdown of the five factors that make New Jersey such an ideal haven for poker players.
1. An Abundance of Land-Based Infrastructure
If you’re among the many players who love the face-to-face thrill of live poker, few places in the US offer as many opportunities as Atlantic City. Casinos have been legal in the East Coast resort city for about half a century, while poker itself was legalized 30 years ago, in 1993.
The Trump Taj Mahal was the first Atlantic City casino to become a centerstage for poker players in ’93 when it opened 50 tables. Its first significant competition appeared five years later when the Tropicana opened 40 tables of its own. Then, another five years later, the Borgata opened 34 more tables in 2003 (later upgraded to 85) and became the market leader in NJ. Even though the Taj Mahal closed down in 2016 and the Tropicana reduced its poker table capacity, a true poker boom followed in the coming years. Nowadays, poker is played daily across all of the nine major land-based casinos in Atlantic City.
If you’re only interested in online poker, this all can seem irrelevant at first, but the exact opposite is true—the existence of such an extensive land-based casino infrastructure has done wonders for online gambling in New Jersey, as each of the nine major casinos in Atlantic City has its own online partners. All nine offer virtual poker options and have helped lobby the state legislature to make the gambling laws as convenient for players as possible.
2. The Poker Laws in New Jersey
New Jersey’s poker laws are so permissive that even social home games are typically legitimate, as long as you’re not actively and knowingly promoting games that you’re going to take a cut out of. Aside from such cases, playing in New Jersey’s many land-based casinos is incredibly accessible, whether you’re looking for Hold ‘em, Omaha, Stud, or other variants. Limits typically start from $2/$4, but $1/$2 is not uncommon.
As for the online side of things, the New Jersey legislature has yet to define or outlaw online gambling in any meaningful way. There have been attempts, however, and the federal government is actively looking for ways to limit banks from participating in gambling transactions. Nevertheless, the current online poker scene in New Jersey is as safe and accessible as possible. The only thing to note here is to look more carefully into things if you plan on starting an online poker room yourself.
3. Huge Variety of Online Poker Options
In addition to the online options offered by the nine major NJ land-based casinos, countless other gambling websites have become available in the state in recent years. This has helped turn New Jersey into a proverbial buffet for players, as the state’s online scene offers every type of virtual poker experience people could want.
Together with the adequate legal framework, there is an abundance of online options secured by a licensed gaming provider, such as BetMGM. Other famously great options include 888, with its many beginner-friendly options, Instant Play format (more on that below), and enticing upfront bonuses.
WSOP.com is also a great option in New Jersey, especially for the more experienced and competitive players. WSOP operates through the Caesars license and uses the same software as 888. However, this site typically has higher stakes and a multi-state online gaming compact. All this means WSOP attracts many of the best players not only from New Jersey but also from other states, such as Nevada and Delaware.
4. Instant Play
888 and many other online casinos in NJ have Instant Play. This feature is a massive draw for many players, as it allows them to play online directly from their browsers without downloading any software. This can initially sound almost trivial, as the internet is full of browser games. However, it is a big deal when it comes to online poker, as players are often hesitant to download gambling software on their phones and computers.
5. The Right Environment
All of the above points have resulted in a massive player base in the state of New Jersey, both online and in the brick-and-mortar casinos. However, this isn’t just a consequence of all the factors that make NJ great for poker—it is an additional factor in and of itself. In many other states and countries, it’s often difficult to find enough players on your level, whether casual or professional. However, the poker scene in New Jersey is incredibly lively, diverse, and fun to play in. Whether you’re looking for new competitions to participate in or just a table with a few unfamiliar faces at it, NJ has got you covered.
Suffice it to say that you are missing out if you’re not partaking in the New Jersey poker scene. Whether online or in person, poker in the East Coast state is going through a golden age of sorts, and we can only hope it lasts for many more decades.