Poker in Arizona

Introduction

Population: 7,279,000

Capital: Phoenix

Currency: United States Dollar ($)

Time Zone: UTC-8

State Name Abbreviation: AZ

Casinos with Poker

  • Talking Stick Casino & Resort
  • Desert Diamond Casino West Valley
  • Desert Diamond Casino Tucson
  • Gila River Casino – Vee Quiva
  • Gila River Casino – Lone Butte

 

 

Arizona, a large desert-covered state in the Southwestern part of the United States, has a number of land casinos operating legally within its bounds. However, they’re all on Native American tribal land.

While state law only allows horse and dog racing, as well as a state lottery as legal games of chance; thanks to the 1988 federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, these gambling houses can stay in business.

They first launched in the early 1990’s with slot machines only, which caused some controversy at the time. However, as time’s gone by, the local government gave green light to more and more forms of gambling on Indian land by signing new compacts with the tribes. In 2002, the Arizona electorate gave its official approval by voting in favor of a proposition about Indian gaming in their state.

Today, 33 casinos are in operation, according to Worldcasinodirectory.com’s numbers. Pokeratlas.com claims 9 of them have poker rooms.

Recently, The Copper State made a big progressive step forward in gambling legislation. Alas, it wasn’t about online poker – rather, online sports betting. In April 2021, the state legislature passed a bill legalizing sports wagers and fantasy sports over the internet. The proposed launch date for the first sports betting sites is September 2021, the start of the new NFL season.

Famous Arizonan Poker Players

Jacob Balsinger is from Tempe, AZ. He has $5.042 million in live tournament earnings.

Most of that sum comes from his deep run in the 2012 WSOP Main Event, when Gregory Merson won. Balsinger finished 3rd out of 6,598 players for $3.799 million. Evidently, that is his biggest single live tournament score to date.

Garrett Adelstein from Tucson, AZ is one of the best live cash game players in the US. Most people know him from the live streamed mid to high stakes cash games by Live at the Bike. He also appeared on PokerGO’s revived version of Poker After Dark; as well as on the hit CBS reality show Survivor.

 

– Playing Live Poker in Arizona –

   Live Poker Legislation in Arizona

According to Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-3302, “all gambling is illegal in Arizona unless a statute excludes it as legal”. Currently, the only games of chances lucky enough to enjoy such exclusion are dog and horse races, the state lottery, and casinos on Native American land. Gambling is defined as “to require risking something of value for an opportunity to win a benefit, which is awarded by chance” in the penal code.

Social gambling is also exempt from the prohibition, so home games are okay to host for poker players.

Licencing and regulation of both tribal and non-tribal gambling establishments are under the purview of the Arizona Department of Gaming, founded in 1995.

  Live Poker Venues in Arizona

At the Arena Poker Room inside the Talking Stick Resort & Casino in Scottsdale, AZ, you can play cash games in a vast array of game types. However, they don’t have No Limit Hold’em tables – Texas Hold’em is only played with spread and fixed betting limits in this card room.

They have Limit Hold’em cash tables on $3/$6, $4/$8, $8/$16, and $20/$40 stakes; Spread Limit Hold’em tables on $3/$300 and $5/$600 stakes; Spread Limit Omaha on $5/$2,500 stakes; and a mixed game table with $20/$40 blinds. According to their website, they also host Stud cash games on undisclosed stakes.

As for tournaments, they put on 1 or 2 tourneys every day. Unlike their cash games, most of their tournaments are No Limit Hold’em, with buy-ins ranging from $125 up to $240. In February 2020, they hosted the Winter Classic poker festival.

The Desert Diamond Casino West Valley in Glendale, AZ also has a cash game room – however, with a much more narrow game selection. At their 12 tables running 24/7 in their poker room, they only offer $3/$6 and $4/$8 Limit Hold’em cash games. However, they do have a $500 high hand bonus awarded every half an hour.

The Desert Diamond Casino chain also has venues in Tucson, AZ with a poker room and in Sahuarita, AZ without a poker room.

The Gila River Casino – Vee Quiva in Laveen, AZ has been the home to the Ante Up Poker Tour in recent years. It’s a series with buy-ins ranging from $100 up to $400. At the Gila River Casino – Lone Butte in Chandler, AZ you can play Limit and Spread Limit Hold’em; as well as Limit Omaha and Limit 5-Card Omaha cash games.

– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Arizona –

Talking Stick Resort & Casino

Desert Diamond Casino West Valley

Desert Diamond Casino Tucson

Gila River Casino - Vee Quiva

Gila River Casino - Lone Butte

  Online Poker in Arizona

In Arizona, just like in most other states, online poker is illegal by default as AZ does not have specific legislation legalizing it.

However, thanks to the 2021 sports betting act which gave green light to online bookies and fantasy sports sites, poker players in the state have a reasonable basis for hoping for the better for online poker as well.

In the meantime, they can only play on real money poker apps that use the sweepstakes model, such as PokerBROS; or unregulated offshore sites, such as ACR.