Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)
For many, Switzerland is mainly associated with offshore bank accounts thanks to the country’s famously safe and proper banking system and low tax rates. Therefore one might think that gambling companies from around the world would be fleeing to the Alpine country. However, unfortunately, the reality of the situation is somewhat disappointing.
Historically, gambling was outlawed in Switzerland for most of the 20th Century. The prohibition started in 1921 and lasted until 1993. Games of chance then were allowed with stakes limited by law. In the 2000’s even stakes limitations were repealed.
According to gambling.com, one fifth of the Swiss population are “frequent gamblers”. Horse racing, lottery and sports betting (especially betting on soccer) are the most popular games of chance.
The Swiss betting men did receive some bad news in early 2010, however. The Supreme Court of their nation ruled that in poker tournaments, luck plays a greater factor in determining the outcome than skill. Thus they put a ban to private poker tournaments.
Before the prohibition, bars, restaurants and hotels often held tourneys of their own for their poker loving patrons. With the new ruling only licenced casinos can do that legally.
In late 2018, more mad news came. New legislation barred foreign companies from offering online gambling services in the country, leaving them with just a few Switzerland-based online casinos to choose from.
Famous Swiss Poker Players
Linus “LLinusLLove” Loeliger is one of the world’s best online cash game players. He’s won over $1.5 million on cash games on PokerStars after playing almost 150,000 hands, according to an online cash game results tracking site. The website stopped recorded his results in April 2018 – however, LLinusLLove didn’t stop. He’s still out there grinding at the highest stakes cash tables on the internet.
Even popular poker YouTuber Joe Ingram took notice of the crazy hands he and Belgian poker pro Otb_ReDBarron were playing for huge amounts of money, and made multiple videos about them.
Loeliger also tops the Swiss all time money list on Hendon with $1.865 million. His biggest live tournament cash is from July 2019, when he won a £25K 6-handed turbo event for £690,000 at the Triton High Roller Series in London.
Second on the Swiss Hendon list is Claudio “Swissy” Rinaldi with $1.706 million in live tournament earnings. He made his biggest live tournament cash in September 2008, when he came in 2nd in an €8,000 Partouche Poker Tour event for €511,100.
– Playing Live Poker in Switzerland –
Live Poker Legislation in Switzerland
The Swiss law distinguishes between lottery and sports betting, and other casino games. Poker falls into the latter category and thus is governed by the Swiss Federal Gaming Board. They are the ones giving out licences and in charge of regulation.
Live Poker Venues in Switzerland
According to the European Casino Association (ECA), a total of 21 casinos are operating in Switzerland.
In Casino Zürich, you’ll find four cash tables with 10 seats each. You can play NLHE on CHF5/5 ($6.16/$6.16), CHF5/10 ($6.16/$12.32) and CHF10/25 ($12.32/$25.66) stakes; or PLO on CHF5/5 stakes.
When it comes to tournaments, however, this venue offers none.
Casino Zürich is operated by the company Swiss Casinos. They have venues in 3 other towns: Pfäffikon, St.Gallen and Schaffhausen. They all have similar cash game selections and no tournament schedules.
In Grand Casino Baden in the city of Baden near the German border, however, there are a number of events on their tourney calendar. Their biggest event is on Fridays, with a CHF198 ($203.60) buy-in. The smallest stake tournament you can play there is CHF99 ($101.80).
Casino Baden also runs cash tables every night. They’re all on CHF5/5 stakes, either No Limit Hold’em or Pot Limit Omaha.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Switzerland –
Grand Casino Baden
Online Poker Legislation in Switzerland
As one can gauge from our intro, the state of online poker is less than optimal in the country of Switzerland.
A law that was passed in December 2018 and came into effect in 2019 banned all foreign operators from providing online gambling services to Swiss residents. As a result, all major online poker rooms, like PokerStars, left the Swiss market.
The poker players in Switzerland were left with blocked URL’s for their favorite sites, starting June 2019.
Some Swiss land casinos launched their own online casinos, such as Grand Casino Baden’s jackpot.ch. However, they do not offer online poker as of now – it’s only a promise that it’ll be added to the game selection soon…
Swiss Casino Zürich
The poker room has four 10-handed tables and is open Mondays to Fridays from 8pm, Saturdays from 7pm and Sundays from 6pm.