Capital: Little Rock
Currency: United States Dollar ($)
Time Zone: UTC-6
State Name Abbreviation: AR
Casinos with Poker
- Saracen Casino Resort
The Southern state of Arkansas, nicknamed “The Land of Opportunity”, thankfully does have legal land based gambling. However, since it was legalized only recently, they only have 4 state licenced casinos, which is not a great ratio for a population of over 3 million people.
Even this scarce selection is something given that in 1874, the state’s constitution included a ban on lotteries. It seems that intent was to stop all gambling, but luckily the wording was specific enough for other games of chance to be able to be played. Among them, horse race betting quickly became the most popular one. The most prominent race track in the 1890’s was Sportsman’s Park in Hot Springs, AR.
At these tracks, they did more than just betting on animal racing. Dice and card games were also running simultaneously.
The state constitutional ban on lotteries was repealed by an amendment in 2006. As for casino gaming, it finally became legal in the state in 2018.
Alas, they’ve yet to become the land of opportunity for poker players. According to Pokeratlas.com, only one poker operates in the entire state of Arkansas. It’s the Saracen Casino Resort in the fittingly named town of Pine Bluff, AR. Thankfully, neighboring Oklahoma has loads of great card rooms with plenty of poker action.
Famous Arkansan Poker Players
Currently, Daniel Lowery from Peter Pender, AR tops the Arkansas all time money list on Hendon with $2.043 million in live cashes.
He has won an outstanding 9 WSOP Circuit rings. He’s just 5 victories shy of the record holder Maurice Hawkins with 14 rings. Lowery’s biggest live cash is also from a WSOP Circuit title. In November 2017, he took down the $1,675 NLHE Main Event at WSOPC Choctaw in Durant, OK. He pocketed no less than $258,784.
Second on the Arkansas money list is MIchael Lech from Alma, AR. He has $1.416 million in live tournament earnings. In July 2016, he came in 2nd in the $888 No Limit Hold’em Crazy Eights 8-Handed event at the World Series of Poker for $401,888. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date.
Legendary gambler Amarillo Slim was actually born in Johnson, AR. However, since he got his pseudonym from the Texas town he grew up in, Amarillo, most people associate him with the Lone Star State. He is a 4-time WSOP gold bracelet winner. He won the WSOP Main Event in 1972. Between 1979 and 1991, he ran the tournament series Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker, which was second in prestige, only behind the World Series.
– Playing Live Poker in Arkansas –
Live Poker Legislation in Arkansas
During the 2018 midterm elections, 54% of the Arkansan voters voted in favor of Issue 4. It was a ballot initiative to authorize 4 casinos to operate within the state. This allowed the first commercial gambling houses in the state.
Title 5, Subtitle 6, Chapter 66 covers gambling offences in the Arkansas Code. According to its latest version available online from 2018, playing poker is technically still illegal! Betting on a hand of poker (and other card games, such as brag or twenty-one) is punishable by a fine of between $10 and $25. However, this law has since likely been amended to allow for legal gambling in licenced casinos.
Speaking of licences, licencing and regulation are under the purview of the Casino Gaming Section of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.
Live Poker Venues in Arkansas
The Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, AR, was the first casino purposely built as a gambling house after the 2018 legalization. Their poker room offers a number of cash games. You can play No Limit Hold’em on $1/$3, $2/$5, and $5/$10 stakes; Pot Limit Omaha on $2/$5 stakes; as well as 5-Card Pot Limit Omaha (also known as “the Big O”) on $2/$5 stakes.
As a promotion, they also run two NLHE freeroll tournaments a month with $600 prize pools. The first 27 players to sign up can play in the freeroll tourney.
At the biggest casino in Arkansas, the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, AR, you can’t play classic poker games like Texas Hold’em or Omaha. Instead, you can only play versions of the game which you play against the house, such as Ultimate Texas Hold’em or Three Card Poker. This casino stands where the historic 19th Century race track, the Sportsman’s Park was.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Arkansas –
Saracen Casino Resort
Online Poker in Arkansas
Arkansas is in the same boat as most other states when it comes to online gambling. Their penal code doesn’t specifically mention internet gambling anywhere, which makes it illegal by default.
This is due to federal laws such as the 1961 Wire Act or the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. These pieces of legislation were the ones that led to the catastrophic Black Friday events in the US in 2011.
Arkansans can play some online poker on real money poker apps that use the sweepstakes model such as Global Poker or PokerBROS; or try their luck on an unregulated offshore site like Americas Cardroom.