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Poker in Armenia

Introduction

Population: 2,958,000

Capital: Yerevan

Currency: Armenian Dram (AMD)

Time Zone: UTC+4

Casinos with Poker

  • Golden Palace Hotel Resort and Spa
  • Senator Casino Golden Palace
  • Casino Shangri La

Armenia, a small Caucasian nation right on the edge between Europe and Asia, has a legal and regulated gambling market.

In fact, games of chance are very popular in the country. That is despite the fact that it’s one of the most religious nations in Euro-Asia. According to their 2011 census, 97% of the population is Christian. While the Bible never explicitly forbids gambling, traditional churches tend to advocate against it.

Armenia was part of the Soviet Union for most of the 20th Century. They were incorporated in 1922 and became independent in 1990. In those long decades, all forms of gambling were banned. The Communist ideology frowns on games of chance and views them as “an idle bourgeois pastime”.

However, since the new republic, the gambling industry has been legal and flourishing. The government takes in tens of millions of dollars through licencing fees, taxes, and the state lottery.

In recent years, however, there has been some backlash in religious Armenia against casinos and – especially – bookmakers. A 2020 law dictates that all land based bookies have to be at least 150 meters away from “heavily populated areas, as well as educational or cultural institutions, governmental offices or hospitals”. They also must facilitate a foyer that acts as a barrier between the public space and the gambling hall. That is also where the ID’s of the people entering must be checked.

Despite the backlash, gambling is still popular in Armenia. However, poker is nowhere near the games’ popularity list. Pokerdiscover.com only lists 3 poker rooms operating in the whole country.

Interesting to note, however, that two different venues in Armenia have been home to the Russian Poker Tour four times in the last three years. This suggests there is significant traffic coming from Russia to the Armenian casinos.

Famous Armenian Poker Players

Harut Arutyunyan tops the Armenian all time money list on Hendon currently. He has $1.460 million in live tournament winnings.

His biggest cash so far is from August 2014. He took down the $3,700 Main Event at the WPT Legends of Poker for $560,969. He has an impressively decorated live tournament resume: he has a total of 1 WPT title and 4 WSOP Circuit rings.

As for online poker, a player who plays under the screen name “gugom” on PokerStars from an Armenian location has cashed for $390,000 in MTT’s during his career.

 

– Playing Live Poker in Armenia –

   Live Poker Legislation in Armenia

Licencing and regulation are under the purview of the Licensing Committee, part of the Ministry of Finance, in Armenia. The committee was created by a law passed in 2001.

New laws pertaining to gambling have been added to the Code of Armenian Republic (in 2003) and the existing ones have been amended (in 2016) since 2001. We wrote in our intro about the latest restrictions. Generally speaking, the momentum seems to be going against games of chance in Armenia – aside from the restrictions listed, new ones are rumored to be planned by the government. Some even sparked protests by the industry workers.

  Live Poker Venues in Armenia

The 5-star luxury Golden Palace Hotel Resort and Spa is located in the town of Tsaghkadzor. Aside from hosting the 2015 FIDE World Team Chess Championship, they were also home to the Russian Poker Tour 3 times between 2017 and 2018. At RPT Armenia, the schedule featured events with buy-ins ranging from $110 up to $770.

They also have a year-round poker room inside the casino on their premises. In it, you can play No Limit Hold’em cash games on $1/$2, $2/$5, $5/$5, $5/$10, $10/$25, $25/$25, and $25/$50 stakes; as well as Pot Limit Omaha on $1/$2, $2/$5, $5/$5, $5/$10, $10/$25, $25/$25 and $25/$50 stakes. Also, you can play at a NLHE/PLO mixed game cash table on $1/$2 or $5/$5 stakes.

The Senator Casino Golden Palace is also located in Tsaghkadzor. While their website claims that they do offer Texas Hold’em among their games, from the description, it’s clear that they mean “Ultimate Texas Hold’em”, a version of the game which you play against the house. Despite that, they hosted a “proper” poker tournament festival in July 2017, the PokerDom Russian Poker Open.

In the capital city of Yerevan, you can find some action at Casino Shangri La. Unlike the casinos in Tsaghkadzor, they use the Armenian Dram as the standard currency.

In their cash room, they run NLHE, PLO and PLO Hi-Lo games. The stakes for all of these game types are the following: AMD480/960 ($1/$2), AMD960/2,400 ($2/$5), AMD2,400/2,400, AMD2,400/4,800 ($5/$10), AMD4,800/12,000 ($10/$25).

As for tournaments, they run four a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. They’re all “tournament by Texas” according to their website, presumably meaning No Limit Texas Hold’em. The buy-ins are either AMD5,000 ($10.50) or AMD10,000 ($21) – however, since there are unlimited rebuys and possible add-ons until the first break, the prize pools can often be bloated.

– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Armenia –

Golden Palace Hotel Resort and Spa

Casino Senator Golden Palace

Casino Shangri La

– Play Online Poker in Armenia –

While, as we wrote above, there have been some recent attempts to curtail land based gambling in Armenia, fortunately, that hasn’t spilled over to online gambling yet. Playing online poker is completely safe and legal in the country.

They even have a major international internet gambling company based in Yerevan, TotoGaming. As of 2019, they offer online poker as well on totogaming.am. In May 2020, they partnered up with GGPoker to offer an Armenian GG skin.

As for other major foreign poker sites, all of them are accessible without a hustle for Armenian players. Be it PokerStars, partypoker, or 888, none of them restrict players from the region.

– News from Armenia –

Summary
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Poker in Israel: All You Need to Know
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Learn everything about playing Live and Online Poker in Israel: history and legal environment + tips on the Best Websites and Poker Rooms / Casinos.
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