Poker in Nebraska


Population: 1,934,000

Capital: Lincoln

Currency: United States Dollar ($)

Time Zone: UTC-6

State Name Abbreviation: NE

Casinos with Poker

  • Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs

Nebraska, a large but scarcely populated Midwestern state, has a city whose name sounds very familiar to every poker fan. It’s Omaha, the largest city in Nebraska with over 400,000 residents. Evidently, it shares its name with the second most popular poker game, Pot Limit Omaha.

However, despite what the name suggests, its origin is unknown – so is its clear relation to the Nebraskan city. This is very much unlike the other poker game with a US location in its name, Texas Hold’em, which has an official birthplace (Robstown, TX) recognized by the Texas State Legislature.

All we know about Omaha, however, is that it was first played in Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget Casino. It was introduced to the manager of the Nugget card room at the time, Bill Walter Boyd, by a Californian poker player named Robert Turner. Therefore, it was originally referred to as “Nugget Hold’em”. “Omaha” was actually referring to another game. It was a slight variation of the classic Texas Hold’em: the only difference was that the players had to use both of their hole cards at showdown.

It’s only presumed that the original Omaha poker game got its title because of its place of origin – however, that is in no way documented, it’s only a theory.

As the Golden Nuggets’ 4-card Hold’em game got more popular, they renamed it “Omaha” in order to make clear to the players that they have to use 2 out of their 4 hole cards at showdown in every hand.

While Nebraska’s connection to this particular card game is a mystery, they still have a rich gambling history, even disregarding PLO.

In fact, in the mid-20th Century, Omaha reportedly had more illicit gambling per capita than any other city in the US. The underground gambling market was controlled by the Italian mob.

In the meantime, Nebraska kept amending their State Constitution to add more and more games of chance to their list of exceptions to the state’s gambling prohibition. The first was horse race betting in 1934, then came bingo in 1958, then lotteries in 1967; and finally, in simulcasting of horse races became legal as well in 1988.

As you can tell, poker is nowhere mentioned on that list. Yes, technically, the most popular card game is illegal in Nebraska. Thanks to the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, however, Native American tribes can choose to run and regulate casinos on their settlements. Thus a handful of Indian casinos do operate in the state. Unfortunately, however, they only offer slot machines and bingo, none of them have poker tables.

Also, some river casinos with Iowa licences can cross the state border and offer games to the betting men and women of the “Cornhusker State”.

Famous Nebraskan Poker Players

Bob Slezak from Omaha, NE has $1.265 million in live tournament earnings, according to his Hendon page. He has won 1 WSOP gold bracelet: in 2001, he took down the $2,600 Omaha Hi-Lo 8-or-Better event for $173,625. His biggest cash is from the 2007 WSOP Main Event. He finished 15th in a field of 6,358 players and won no less than $429,114.

Slezak doesn’t actually top Hendon’s Nebraska all time money list – Daniel Sindelar is the player who does with $2.2 million in cashes. However, he was born in Columbus, OH but he’s listed as a Nebraskan because of his residence.

Scot Buller is from the state capital, Lincoln, NE. He has $1.257 million in live tournament earnings. In March 2006, he came in 3rd in the $10,500 Limit Hold’em event at the Million V – interestingly enough, held on a cruise ship sailing on international waters – for $500,000. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date.


– Playing Live Poker in Nebraska –

   Live Poker Legislation in Nebraska

We’ve mentioned the list of exempt forms of gambling in our intro: horse race betting, bingo, and lottery. Licencing and regulation of those games are under the control of the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission.

Otherwise, sadly, gambling is illegal in the state. Nebraska Revised Statute 28-1101 deals with gambling statutes in the state’s penal code. They do have a game of skill classification – however, unfortunately, poker isn’t qualified for that.

  Live Poker Venues in Nebraska

Sadly, the live poker situation is abysmal in the state of Nebraska.

Out of the handful of Native American casinos, such as the Ohiya Casino & Resort in Niobrara, NE or the Native Star Casino in Winnebago, NE, none of them have poker rooms. All they offer are slot machines and bingo.

The Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs is a river casino on the Mississippi river, that commutes between Council Bluffs, IA and Omaha, NE. They can offer gambling under an Iowa licence.

Onboard, you can find a number of table games – mostly versions of poker which you play against the house, not other players, such as “Cajun Stud”, or “Flop Poker”.

They also list on their website in their game selection “Head’s Up Hold’em”. It’s promising, it’d be great if you could play head-up cash NLHE against players on this river boat. However, since there is no additional information about the game on their site, and also because of the unusual spelling, it’s better if you contact them to clarify exactly what game they mean by that.


– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Nebraska –

Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs

  Online Poker in Nebraska

Nebraska, just like the majority of states in the Union, does not have a legal and regulated online poker market.

There isn’t anything specific about internet gambling in the penal code. However, as the poker community learnt the hard lesson on Black Friday in 2011, the default is illegal due to federal laws like the 1961 Wire Act and the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

So, Nebraskan can choose to play on unregulated offshore sites, such as ACR; or sweepstakes-style poker apps such PokerBros and Global Poker.