Poker in Romania


Capital: Bucharest

Population: 19,640,000

Currency: Romanian Leu (RON)

Timezone: UTC+2

Casinos with Poker

  • Mamaia Beach
  • Caleia Beach
  • JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel
  • Poker Room Bucharest

Gambling and poker have been popular with the Romanian people for decades. However, their government hasn’t always been the best at aiding the development of a free and well regulated gambling market in the country.

During the Soviet rule, from 1945-1989, gambling was outlawed. In the 1990’s, with the birth of the new Romanian Republic, land-based gambling had a much smoother transition into legality than online gambling.

The establishment of a functioning licencing and regulatory body has been delayed until well into the second decade of the new millennium. In the process, the ruling Romanian government did a number of things that made the foreign gambling operators feel less than welcome – more on that later.

Some high-profile tournament series has been hosted by the country. This may be thanks to the fact that so-called “poker festivals” make up their own category when it comes to licencing for land casino games. These series include the Romanian Poker Series and the Unibet Poker Open Bucharest.

Famous Romanian Poker Players

As of the writing of the article, Alexandru Papazian sits on top of the Romanian all time money list on Hendon with $3.217 million in career earnings. His biggest score is winning a €25,000 EPT event in Monte Carlo for $1,381,499. He also has a WSOP gold bracelet from 2017. He won the $888 Crazy Eights event for – appropriately – $888.888.

Within $40,000 of him is Mihai Manole on the Hendon list for Romanians. He has $3.179 million in live tournament earnings to date. His biggest claim to fame is a deep run in the 2019 WSOP Main Event. Eventually, he got eliminated in 18th place which earned him $400,000.

Dany Parlafes turned some heads among poker fans in 2015. He was heads-up for the title in the €5,000 European Poker Tour Deauville Main Event against the Bulgarian Ognyan Dimov. He rivered the second nut straight yet he folded to his opponent ⅔-pot sized bet – correctly, as Dimov was holding T8 for the nut straight.

Many praised the Parlafes’ read. However, Doug Polk made a video in which he’s criticizing the decision., Parlafes ended up losing the heads-up battle and taking 2nd place for $381,991 in that tournament.

6-time WSOP bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu often talks about his Romanian ancestry – however, he was born in Canada and is a Canadian citizen.

– Playing Live Poker in Romania –

   Live Poker Legislation in Romania

Licences for land casinos are issued by the National Gambling Office. Foreign companies are also allowed to apply, and many of them have received approval.

In Romania, the legal landscape for land-based gambling is optimal. Legal casinos have been operating in the country since 1991. 

  Live Poker Venues in Romania

Because – as we wrote in our intro – poker tourney series require a different kind of license, some events can be held in quite unusual places.

For example, the August 2019 stop of the Romanian Poker Series is held at the Mamaia and Caleia beaches in the town of Constanța.

There’s only 5 events and a satellite on the schedule so far. The satellite buy-in is €115, and there’s a €115 Super Bounty event too. The biggest event is a €600 tournament.

The 2018 Unibet Poker Open Bucharest was held at the JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel. That Marriott hotel actually has a casino within it operating year-round.

Poker Room Bucharest in the capital city offers Hold’em and Omaha cash tables to their patrons. The NLHE tables run on RON1/2 ($0.24/0.48) RON2.5/5 ($0.6/$1.2) and RON5/10 ($1.2/$2.4) stakes; while the PLO tables are available on RON5/5 ($1.2/$1.2) and RON5/10 stakes.

– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Romania –

Mamaia Beach

Caleia Beach

JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel

Poker Room Bucharest

  Online Poker Legislation in Romania

Online gambling licences are provided by the same body as land casino licences – the National Gambling Office.

However, there are a lot more controversial issues when it comes to internet gambling.

For example, in 2015 the Romanian government required applicants for permissions to pay a 20% tax on the revenue they brought in in the country since 2009. Before 2015, online gambling technically wasn’t legal in Romania – however, the ban wasn’t enforced. When the legal regulatory framework was finally put in place, the government taxed the income the companies made in the grey market, much to their chagrin.

In 2019, the Romanian government introduced a new 2% tax on the turnover of online gambling companies. However, the tax rate on Gross Gaming Revenue is still a relatively low 16%.

Many major online poker rooms are present in the country. The biggest ones are PokerStars, 888, Unibet and partypoker. However, please note that while one of these four, partypoker, can be accessed from the country, it does not appear on the list of companies holding licence on the Gambling Office’s official website.