Currency: Euro (EUR)
Germany has given the world a generation of elite poker players who compete in the biggest buy-in tournaments around the world. That might make one believe that the country provides fertile legal ground for poker – like, for example, Malta. Unfortunately his is not the case.
With the exception of one state, online poker is not legal. You can find brick-and-mortar casinos across the country – however, not that many. The World Casino Directory puts the number to around 80, which is not a great rate for a country of over 80 million people. The website also mentions that most maintain a strict dress code for entrance.
Please note, however, that one of the biggest gambling centers of Europe, Rozvadov in the Czech Republic is located only a few miles from the German border. This – and the easy border crossing thanks to both countries being in the Schengen Area – allows German players easy access to the Kings Resort Casino which is a key element in the German poker culture. So much so that partypoker LIVE MILLIONS Germany and WPT Germany was actually held in Rozvadov.
Famous German Poker Players
Germany has two poker world champions with Pius Heinz, who won the WSOP Main Event in 2011 for $8.715 million, and the Iranian-German Hossein Ensan, who claimed the title in 2019 for $10 million.
Fedor Holz dominated the live tournament for years. Out of his many successful years at the poker table, 2016 stands out. He won 3 high roller events at the Aria, an EPT Super High Roller, and the $111K Big One for One Drop at the WSOP for $4.982 million. Overall, he cashed for over $32.5 million in live tournaments during his career which makes him ranked 6th on Hendon’s all time money list, and number one among German players. Under the screen name “CrownUpGuy”, Holz was also successful at playing MTT’s and cash games on PokerStars.
Christoph Vogelsang won the $300K Aria Super High Roller Bowl in 2017. The same year, Steffen Sontheimer took home the Purple Jacket at the inaugural Poker Masters high roller series.
The $300K Aria Super High Roller Bowl was won by a German player in 2016 also – it was Rainer Kempe. Kempe has over $20 million in live tournament earnings.
Other German players who frequent the biggest poker tournaments in the world are Dominik Nitsche, Stefan Schillhabel and Ole Schemion.
– Playing Live Poker in Germany –
Live Poker Legislation in Germany
Each of Germany’s 16 states has the right to set up their own licencing and regulating framework for land-based gambling, including poker. As of now, only state-owned casinos can host games of chance legally. However, you can find legal poker tables in all 16 federal states.
Live Poker Venues in Germany
Casino Schenefeld, located in Schleswig-Holstein, just outside of the city (and state) borders of Hamburg, hosts daily tournaments and cash games. They buy-ins are usually relatively low, ranging from €35 to €150. They did host the “Butter bei die Tische” (“Butter with the Tables” – a word play from the Northern term “Butter bei die Fische”, which means “Butter with the Fish”) series in May 2019, with a €550 Main Event and a €330 PLO event. The PokerStars events “EUREKA” also took place at this location.
As for cash games, they only have No Limit Hold’em tables, usually at €2.5/€5 stakes. On “Cash Game Wednesdays”, however, they offer lower stakes for the casual players as well – €2/€2 with €100 minimum starting stacks.
In the capital city, Berlin, the Spielbank has 3 different venues. One on Potsdamer Platz, one at the Television Tower, and one on Altstädter Ring. The cash game selection is almost the same in all three locations – it’s NLHE and PLO tables. The NLHE stakes range from €2/€2 to €10/€20, while PLO games are between €2/€2 and €20/€40. The only exception is in Ellipse Spandau (on Altstädter Ring) where you can find lower stakes, €1/€1 Hold’em cash tables.
Spielbank Casinos have one tournament on their schedule per day. The smallest is a €34 event, while the largest is a €165 event.
In Casino Saarbrücken, you can find €2/€4 and €5/€10 NLHE cash games. They only have a few tournaments in a week, with €80 and €110 buy-ins.
The other towns where you can find some live poker action at the local casino – among others – are Duisburg, Hohensyburg, Neunkirchen, Kiel and Bad Homburg.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Germany –
Spielbank Hamburg - Casino Esplanade
Spielbank Berlin - Potsdamer Platz
Spielbank Berlin - Fernsehturm
Online Poker Legislation in Germany
As we mentioned at the beginning, there is only one state – Schleswig-Holstein – that explicitly allows for online poker. In the rest of the country, online poker is technically illegal but is not prosecuted in practice.
There is no mechanism set up for German companies to obtain licences to host online real-money card games. In fact, the Interstate Treaty on Gambling prohibits that. However, foreign companies are not hindered in any way to let German players play on their sites. That is why you can run into German players at the virtual tables of the biggest online poker rooms.
2020 might be the year that the treaty is going to be reviewed and updated.
Casino Schenefeld can be found in a shopping mall with many shopping and dining options. The whole building is flooded by natural light and so is the casino floor itself.
Spielbank Berlin – Potsdamer Platz
Spielbank Berlin has three locations with poker in Germany’s capital. The main one is the one at Potsdamer Platz.