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 this is not the case.
Online gambling, including poker, only became legal in every state in July 2021. However, the terms of obtaining an online gambling licence in Germany have received a considerable amount of criticism from the online poker community – more on that later.
The World Casino Directory puts the number of land casinos in the country 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, WPT Germany, and the German Poker Days were actually held in Rozvadov.
Famous German Poker Players
Germany has three poker world champions with Pius Heinz, who won the WSOP Main Event in 2011 for $8.715 million; the Iranian-German Hossein Ensan, who claimed the title in 2019 for $10 million; and Koray Aldemir who won it in 2021 for $8 million.
Fedor Holz dominated the live tournament scene 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 $32.725 million in live tournaments during his career which makes him ranked 10th 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 $21 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 rooms 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 Spielbank 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
In July 2021, the Interstate Treaty on Gambling (GlüSTV) was passed and accepted by all German states. From that point on, online gambling operators have to apply for licences from the Joint Gambling Authority (Gemeinsame Glücksspielbehörde der Länder), based in the state of Saxony-Anhalt.
While this development made online poker legal in all 16 states (prior to that, it was legal in only 1), it received quite a backlash from online poker players. The main reason for it was the exceptionally high, 5.3% rollover tax for poker games it imposed.
This made Unibet remove poker cash games from their selection completely, while PokerStars was forced to increase the rake in their cash games to an unbeatable 25%. Spin&Go games with buy-ins over €50 were also banned.
Still, all major online poker sites, including the aforementioned PokerStars and Unibet, as well as Natural8-GGNetwork and partypoker, are now available completely legally to German players anywhere in the country.
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.