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Poker in New York

Introduction

Population: 19,450,000

Capital: Albany

Currency: United States Dollar ($)

State Name Abbreviation: NY

Time Zone: UTC-5

Casinos with Poker

  • Turning Stone Resort & Casino
  • Resort World Catskills
  • Tioga Downs Casino Resort
  • NYC Poker

 

New York City, evidently located in the state of New York, is one of the biggest commercial centers in the United States – and even the world.

In a vibrant environment like that, the gambling industry must be booming, right? Sadly, the answer to that is: not particularly. Section 225 of the New York State Penal Law, among others, prohibits owning gambling apparatus or keeping gambling records – in short, it makes running a gambling business illegal.

Additional legislation later legalized and regulated the state lottery and horse race betting. Unfortunately, poker – along with other popular games of chance – has been left out. Most casinos operating within New York State are allowed to do so because of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed in 1988. That federal law allows Native American tribes to decide whether or not they allow casinos to run on their reservations.

A 2013 amendment allowed for 7 non-tribal casinos to gain licences in the state. Out of those 7, 4 have opened already.

New York City is the setting for one of the most famous pieces of poker fiction. The 1998 movie Rounders tells the story of a poker prodigy Mike McDermott, played by Matt Damon, fighting his way through the underground NYC card room scene. This film was directed by John Dahl, but the idea was conceived by the pair of screenwriters, David Levien and Brian Koppelman. While it never became a blockbuster success, it is cherished by many in the poker community.

 

Famous New Yorker Poker Players

New York has given the world some of the most successful poker players in the history of the game.

Stu Ungar is a truly legendary figure in poker. As a child, he used to play gin rummy for the mob. In 1980, he won the biggest title in poker, the WSOP Main Event, even though it was only the second No Limit Hold’em tournament he’d ever played in. In 1981, he defended his title. In 1997, after a long battle with his drug addiction, he came back and won the Main for the third time. On top of all that, he won the Main Event at Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker, the second biggest poker tournament series in the 1970’s and 1980’s, three times as well.

Bryn Kenney from Long Beach, NY is the biggest live tournament winner of all time. He’s cashed for $56.4 million in his career. He also holds the record for the most money ever won in a poker tournament. While he finished second in the biggest buy-in poker tournament in poker history, the £1,050,000 Triton Million in London, he actually got more money than the winner Aaron Zang thanks to the heads-up deal he made. Kenney won a whopping £16.891 million, $20.563 million in US dollars that day in August 2019.

Shaun Deeb grew up in Schenectady, NY close to the casino which is now known as Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady. He naturally developed a liking for card games and gambling at an early age. He went on to become a 4-time WSOP gold bracelet winner. Also, he won the WSOP Player of the Year award in 2018. Overall, Deeb has $7.714 million in live tournament winnings.

8-time WSOP gold bracelet winner and 1988 WSOP Main Event runner-up finisher Erik Seidel was also born in New York.

 

– Playing Live Poker in New York –

   Live Poker Legislation in New York

We’ve covered most of this topic in our intro: Article 225 of the state’s Penal Code covers gambling offenses, which make games of chance illegal. Lottery, horse race betting. and casinos on Native American reservations later became an exception, then 7 non-tribal casinos as well thanks to a 2013 amendment to the law.

Here’s a few additions to that. The New York State Gaming Commission oversees all legal forms of gambling in the state. Also, so-called “social gambling” is accepted – while reading some parts of the gambling laws may suggest otherwise, you can’t get in legal trouble in New York if you choose to host a private game with your friends.

 

  Live Poker Venues in New York

Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, NY has one of the biggest poker rooms in New York State with 32 tables. They run two types of daily tournaments: an $85 buy-in NLHE event every Sunday through Thursday, and a $125 NLHE event every Friday and Saturday. Occasionally, they put on tournament series as well. The most prominent one they have hosted repeatedly is the Empire State Hold’em Championships, which last time had buy-ins ranging from $75 up to $570.

As for cash games, they offer Limit Hold’em, No Limit Hold’em, Limit Omaha, and Limit Omaha Hi-Lo tables. The lowest stakes table is $1/$1 NLHE, while the highest stakes table is $25/$50 for NLHE, and $100/$200 Limit Hold’em overall.

In Upstate New York, you can also find some action in the newly opened Resort World Catskills in Monticello, or Tioga Downs Casino Resort in the town of Nichols.

If you’re in New York City, you can’t go to a casino on Indian territory – however, you can still find operating card rooms that offer poker there. They’re taking advantage of the state’s “social gambling” exceptions.

Clubs like NYC Poker on 7th Avenue in Manhattan make you contact the hosts through a phone number before you can get into their games. They can’t collect rake legally, so they have to find another way to make a profit. It’s not clear from their website, but it’s likely either entrance fees or mandatory minimum food/drink purchases. Once you’re in NYC Poker, you can play $1/$3 and $5/$5 No Limit Hold’em, or $2/$5 and $5/5 Pot Limit Omaha cash games.

– Casinos and Poker Rooms in New York –

Turning Stone Resort Casino

Resort World Catskills

Tioga Downs Casino Resort

NYC Poker

  Online Poker in New York

Some forms of online gambling are in fact legal in New York State. Sadly, they do not include poker. You can bet on horse and greyhound races online. You can also play online fantasy sports, which New York law classifies as gambling.

In 2017, a bill was proposed in the New York State Assembly that would have legalized online poker. However, unfortunately, it never made it into the law books. Thus New York remains among the majority of states in the Union with no legal and regulated online poker market.


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