If you’re under 21 years old, there aren’t too many poker venues where you can play for real money. Some card rooms and non-house-banked poker venues in the US will accept 18+ players, but most do not, and even places that offer some options for under 21 players don’t make it a universal rule. For example, if you play at a California card room, one venue might require you to be at least 18, while another has an age minimum of 21.
However, our Under 21 Online Poker Guide for 2022 deals you in on the straight facts so you know where you can play legal poker for real money at 18 and up. Naturally, the solution for most players is to join an offshore poker site, as these poker rooms offer more online gambling options to US players under 21 than most domestic card rooms could ever dream of.
So don’t flush your money down the drain at some shady underground poker den because you can’t find a legit place to play. Instead, pull up a chair online and flush your way to more money than ever!
Are Under 21 Online Poker Rooms Legal?
Yes, but not at any domestic venues. Though some US gambling states have brick-and-mortar options for under 21 players, if you’re between 18-20 and want to play real money poker online, offshore is the only legal route. Fortunately, it’s also the best, most convenient one! Because the US has no federal laws that criminalize 18 and up players from playing poker with offshore betting sites, you are free to do so.
However, there are a couple of caveats to consider. First, if your state has mandated a legal poker age of 21, you should stick to that even though offshore sites will accept you at just 18. Second, if you live in WA or CT, both of these states have made all online gambling a crime, including poker.
We have never heard of anyone in the above circumstances getting fined or arrested for signing up and playing poker online under 21 years of age, but you are advised to proceed only at your own risk.
Types Of Games At Offshore Poker Rooms
There are three prominent game types at offshore poker rooms. These include the following:
Texas Hold ‘Em (aka Hold ‘Em or simply holdem) is the most popular poker game in the world. In this variant, you are dealt two cards (“hole cards”), and there are five community cards. From any combination of these, your goal is to make the best possible five-card hand.
Omaha is similar to Hold ‘Em, but there are differences that make it better for under 21 players and other beginners, as there are more opportunities to build a strong hand. In Omaha, players are dealt four hole cards and must use exactly two of them – along with three cards from the five community cards – to build the best hand.
Omaha Hi/Lo (or simply Hi/Lo) is the same as Omaha, except that the lowest hand splits the pot with the highest hand. This is the number-one game for new poker players aged 18 and up, as it offers the best opportunities to not only make strong hands, but to actually win outright (since there are two winners for every game).
Offshore Poker Room Options
At most offshore poker rooms, there are three main types of gameplay options – or table types – you can choose from. These are each engaging and fun, and your preferred style of play will help you settle on which varieties you enjoy most. Each site offers all the following, 24/7/365:
Cash tables are single games of poker you can play online for real money. Just pull up a virtual chair, ante up, and play! These are the fastest poker games available online, and they’re great for under 21 players because many tables have extremely low pot limits, so the risk is very low. Additionally, cash tables let you play multiple hands of poker at multiple tables at the same time, which is something you could never do in a brick-and-mortar poker room. Note: We do not recommend multitabling for novice players.
Sit ‘N’ Go tournaments are like typical poker tournaments, but with much smaller fields of players, often between 10 and 50 or so. This means that you can complete an entire tournament, winning several tables on your way to the championship, in just 30-60 minutes. If you’re under 21 and have played enough cash tables that you’re ready for more, these convenient Sit ‘N’ Go games are that next step.
Traditional poker tournaments are where the real money is. Here, hundreds or thousands of players buy into the tournaments, and you must win your table before advancing to the next one. As the field is whittled down and winners move on to table after table, the stakes get higher. At the final table, the jackpot can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and prize money is paid out to the top finishers. These tourneys can take days to complete, but new ones start every day, so always check your site’s poker schedule so you don’t miss out.
Top Deposit Methods For Under 21 Players
For the best banking method, we recommend Bitcoin deposits. It offers enhanced anonymity and data security, is popular among the younger generations of players, comes with no added fees, transfers almost instantly, has the highest deposit limits, and more. Other cryptocurrencies offer the same conveniences as Bitcoin, but we still prefer the crypto that started it all. We’re hipsters like that.
Most offshore poker rooms accept a number of gambling deposit and payout options for 21 and under, which is usually an assortment from the following list:
- Altcoins (Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, etc.)
- Credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover)
- International gift cards (Visa)
- Bank wires
- Money orders
- Person-to-person (Western Union, MoneyGram, etc.)
- Cashier’s checks
Fastest Payouts For Players Under 21
Hands down, the best way to claim your payouts is via Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin and altcoins allow you to get same-day payouts, which no other banking method can offer. Further, there are no added processing fees, and the withdrawal minimums are lower than any other method.
Other payout methods include:
- Bank wires
- Money orders
- Courier checks
- Person-to-person (Western Union, MoneyGram, etc.)
All of these come with added fees that are sometimes substantial, and each takes between 3-5 days to clear. That said, they’re all reliable, guaranteed poker payout methods, and you can feel confident using any of them.
Online Poker Bonuses
Online poker bonuses do not work the same way as bonuses offered by under 21 online casinos. Depending on the site you join, you can claim a poker bonus of anywhere between $500 to several thousand dollars. These don’t come with rollover or playthrough requirements, which makes them particularly attractive.
Instead, poker bonuses at offshore sites are disbursed to your account in increments of $5-10, based on how many comp points you accrue by playing poker with the service. The more you play, the more comp points you earn, and the faster you get your free cash credited to your bankroll.
If you play poker frequently, we recommend all under 21 players to go ahead and accept the poker bonuses offered to them (at least for smaller deposits).
Mobile Poker Apps For Under 21 Players
If you’re looking for a real money poker app, you won’t find one through your device’s built-in marketplace. Believe it or not, the best poker app is not actually one you can download from the App Store or Google Play. This is because the iPhone poker apps and Android poker apps that you can get in these storefronts don’t actually let you play for real money.
What you really want to do is use 18+ mobile gambling apps from the top poker sites on the Internet. When you play Bovada mobile poker or Ignition mobile poker, you’re doing so right through your device’s web browser – All you need is an Internet connection, and you can ride that river card all the way to the bank!
How To Play Online Poker
Want to know how to play online poker – and how to win online poker? Well, the rules of the game are the same as they are in any brick-and-mortar poker room or card room. However, the poker strategies involved differ a bit, primarily because online, you have many more helpful options at your disposal while you’re sitting at the “table.”
With a poker calculator running in another browser window, for example, you don’t have to rely on memorizing how to calculate poker odds. This is a big help for under 21 players just getting started with cash tables and tournament poker, and it makes knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em that much easier.
What Is The Best Hand In Poker?
If you’re under 21 and just learning the game, you’re obviously interested in what beats what in poker. For you, we’ve assembled the following list to provide the basics.
Naturally, the “best hand” depends on the game you’re playing, but in general, the higher hand always wins (except in Omaha Hi/Lo, where the high hand and low hand split the pot).
- Royal Flush – A, K, Q, J, 10 (same suit)
- Straight Flush – Five cards in a row (same suit)
- Four of a Kind – Four cards of the same number/rank
- Full House – Three of a kind + one pair
- Flush – Five cards of the same suit (any order)
- Straight – Five cards in numerical order (any suit)
- Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same number/rank
- Two Pairs – Two pairs (any suit)
- One Pair – Two cards of the same number/rank
- High Card – Highest card wins
In all of the above, the higher the pairings or flushes, the better. For example, a four of a kind with all 7s will lose to a four of a kind with all 9s. Similarly, a straight flush of a lower sequence will lose to straight flush of a higher sequence. In most cases, if two or more players have the same types of hands, then the high card wins.
In the case of a straight flush or royal flush, it is possible – but extremely unlikely – that two players will both have the same sequences but in different suits. To determine the winner, you must consult the house rules. Almost universally, both players would be declared winners and the pot would be split.
Under 21 Online Poker FAQs
No. Online poker uses audited, fair iGaming certified RNG (random number generation) software that ensures you the same odds on the draw that you’d get in any physical poker room. The only disclaimer here is that you have to use a reputable online poker room like those listed here.
We can’t vouch for other sites, and there are a lot of scams out there, but if you sign up with any of the providers we recommend, all you have to worry about is the river card (and not whether you’re going up it without a paddle).
No. The WSOP qualifiers are limited to domestic venues in NJ and NV for the most part, and no offshore poker room has satellite or play-in tournaments for the event. Of course, if you win enough money playing offshore, you can take that, buy in to a real WSOP event in AC or Vegas, and win yourself one of those fancy gold bracelets!
Usually not. None of our recommended sites use suit scoring as tie-breakers in the poker room, and the convention has gone mostly the way of the dodo. However, in times of yore, poker suits were ranked this way, from highest to lowest:
This is why the Ace of Spades is most often considered the most valuable card in the deck. Lemmy even said so himself.
The highest possible hand in poker is a royal flush (A, K, Q, J, 10). If you’re playing a rare variant where suits matter, then a royal flush in spades would be the sole unbeatable hand.
In Texas Hold ‘Em, the lowest hand possible is a six high (aka a 6-4, which is 6, 4, 3, 2, 1).
In Omaha Hi/Lo, however, it depends on the house rules. The lowest hand (which is a winner in Hi/Lo, remember) is either a 6-4 as outlined above, or a “bicycle,” which is a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
As you can see, a bicycle is a straight, which means that in Texas Hold ‘Em, it’s a nice hand that isn’t remotely the lowest possible. Always read the house rules!
Online poker is domestically legal in DE, NJ, NV, and PA. However, all these states require players to be 21+. When you fold offshore options in the mix, Internet poker is available to under 21 players from all states except WA, CT, and NJ.
In New Jersey, the game isn’t actually illegal, but no offshore books currently do business with NJ residents pending various legislative clarifications.
If you’re wondering how to win money at online poker, you’ve just got to put in the time and work on your strategy. But when it comes to using online poker to make a living, that’s a very big jump. While it is possible, you should work up to this. In other words, don’t quit your day job!
Under 21 players would be prudent to find a venue where they can practice their craft. However, there is no really outstanding poker training site out there.
As a result, we recommend joining one of the books listed here and simply playing as many games as you can for the lowest stakes possible. This doesn’t cost much, and it’s a great way to learn the ins and outs of world’s most popular card game.
Free poker is available at some of our recommended online poker sites, but not in the poker rooms themselves. To play poker free over the Internet, you can check out the “video poker” selections at our top-rated under 21 poker rooms. These are great for allowing new players aged 18 and up to learn the ropes before hitting the digital felts for real money.
Nevertheless, you won’t get the advantage of learning to play against real human competitors, which is why we recommend the strategy in the previous FAQ.
No. You can play video poker games at the sites listed here, but these are in the casino section and are considered casino games. These are not cash poker games or tournament poker contests.
You can play these for real money, but you can also play free video poker games as stated above, which is useful for 18+ new players who want to refine their poker strategies before playing against real competition in the poker room.
RNG video poker titles are played solely against AI computer opponents, and the game types are more varied than you’ll find in proper poker rooms. Most players prefer the tournament and cash table poker experiences to video poker.
We didn’t hear that. Probably because our shirts were covering our ears. It’s getting hot in here.