Illinois Online Poker – Compare the Best Real Money Poker Sites in IL

Illinois is one of the biggest states for poker, with many professionals calling the Prairie State home. Locally, the poker clubs and riverboat casinos have ensured that poker is a staple of Illinois. When it comes to Illinois online poker however, it is officially an unregulated state. This means that players are not able to access sites that are based in the United States, but they can access offshore online poker sites.

In this article, we’re going to be looking at everything you need to know about online poker in Illinois. We’ll review the sites that you can legally access within the state, check out bonuses that you can claim, and expand further on both current and future online poker laws within Illinois.

List of the Best Illinois Online Poker Sites

The list below includes the best Illinois online poker sites. All these sites are located offshore, which means that they are accessible to Illinois residents.

  1. BetOnline – The flagship online poker site in Illinois.
  2. Bovada – One of the best poker platforms for Illinois players.
  3. SportsBetting – Huge range of freeroll tournaments in IL.
  4. Ignition – Some of the weakest online poker games in Illinois.
  5. Everygame – Wide range of poker promotions for Illinois residents.

Reviews of the Best Illinois Online Poker Sites

We’ve reviewed each of the top five Illinois online poker rooms to allow you to pick the best one. One of the things we want to note with each is that these sites are all offshore based, meaning that IL poker players are legally able to access them.

1) BetOnline – No.1 Illinois Poker Site

BetOnline Poker Bonus Banner

BetOnline is our top pick as the best Illinois poker site. Located on the Chico Poker Network, the site gets over 5,000 players at peak times and has some of the best cash games that we’ve tested. Cash games start from as little as $0.05/$0.10, and include Texas Hold’em and Omaha.

The software is highly intuitive and allows for anonymous tables, with access to HUDs. Tournament highlights are the Sunday “Majors”, that include guaranteed prize pools of between $150,000 to $200,000, with satellites starting from just $9. You can learn more from our complete BetOnline Poker review, which includes bonus details.

Pros:

  • $1,000 dedicated poker welcome bonus
  • Ability to download a poker client and play online
  • Soft competition at most cash game tables
  • Big network, which means traffic is solid
  • Great table design with customization options

Cons:

  • Mid-higher stakes will see a lot of regular players
  • No games outside of Hold’em and Omaha
  • Lack of high stakes action beyond $15/$30

2) Bovada – Best Online Poker Software for Illinois Players

Bovada Poker Games

Bovada has the best-looking poker software for Illinois players, with a clean, modern design. Each table is fully customizable as well, meaning you can change colors, themes, and sounds, to tailor it to your needs. Tables are blocked from using HUDs and are fully anonymous. You only get to select the game type and the stakes when taking a seat.

Hosted on the PaiWangLuo Network (originally created by Bovada), traffic is great and the games are generally quite soft. Cash games start from $0.02/$0.05 and work up to $10/$20. Tournament highlights include the Monthly Milly series, with $1 million guaranteed. Banking options with Bovada are excellent, with no fees and incredibly fast processing times (crypto payments are highly recommended). The Bovada Poker review has more information on this topic and many other.

Pros:

  • Best network in terms of online poker traffic
  • Monthly Milly series is the biggest of its kind in IL
  • Great table design and completely anonymous
  • Brilliant mobile poker app on iOS and Android
  • Useful features, like multi-tabling and rabbit cam

Cons:

  • Not a huge range of poker bonuses
  • Mobile lobby looks very basic

3) SportsBetting.ag – Huge Range of Freerolls for Illinois Poker Players

SportsBetting.ag Online Poker Tournaments

SportsBetting.ag is on the Chico Network and has a much-improved software for this year’s rendition. Games are generally very soft and there isn’t a huge range of regular players either. As for the volume of games, IL players can easily find active tables at peak hours and during the weekend. Competition is also softer during these periods since many bettors join from the other sections.

There is native Mac and Windows software for downloads, and games start from $0.05/$0.10. They are one of few that offer special poker variations, like Boost Poker with fast folding and Windfall Sit & Go with random jackpots. The site includes tons of freerolls and have a wide range of banking options with short processing times.

Pros:

  • One of the biggest poker networks in the US
  • 100% welcome bonus and special games
  • Native Mac and Windows download software
  • Huge range of freerolls and larger tournaments
  • Low processing times for crypto banking

Cons:

  • Allows HUDs for experienced players
  • Software looks a little dated

4) Ignition Poker – Some of the Best IL Online Poker Games in the Business

Ignition Online Poker Promotions

Ignition Poker is on the PaiWangLuo Network, which is one of the busiest in the US. It gets around 2,000 cash game players and more than 5,000 players in total at peak times. Games are generally soft, and the inclusion of anonymous tables definitely helps this. Players are not allowed to use HUDs but tracking software can be linked. The good news is that these can only track the history from the current table.

Zone Poker for cash games represents a standout feature in our Ignition Poker review and the ability to play as low as $0.02/$0.05 is great for new players. However, these fast-fold poker games are capped at $0.50/$1. No-limit Texas Hold’em has some of the biggest games in the industry, with stakes up to $10/$20 that still get decent action. A mobile app, as well as download versions for online poker, are all accessible for Illinois poker players.

Pros:

  • Great looking mobile poker app
  • Anonymous play and random seating
  • First class customer support service
  • Huge range of tournaments online
  • Very soft cash games at low stakes

Cons:

  • Some freerolls are Bitcoin exclusive
  • Doesn’t accept many altcoins

5) Everygame – Wide Range of Poker Promotions for Illinois Online Poker Players

Everygame Poker Online Homepage

Everygame is located on the Horizon Poker Network. Admittedly, this is not the biggest, but the standard of play is very low, which offsets the low traffic. Cash games start from just $0.01/$0.02, making it the best Illinois poker room for micro stakes. Most tables are for no-limit Texas Hold’em, with only a few covering Omaha.

You get a huge range of banking options to choose from, with deposits starting from just $5. Most payment methods are free and withdrawing money will be processed within 48 hours for most methods. The table design is a little dated, but the lack of graphics means that usability is incredibly high both playing online and on mobile.

Pros:

  • Lots of promotions to choose from
  • Rakeback accessible for most players
  • Very soft competition on the tables
  • Big guaranteed prize pools for tournaments

Cons:

  • Traffic is much lower than on other networks
  • Poker lobby requires some getting used to

Comparing Online Poker Sites in Illinois

Poker Room Poker Bonus Freerolls Cash Game Stakes Qualifiers Live Poker
BetOnline 100% up to $1,000 $0.05/$0.10 – $15/$30
Bovada 100% up to $500 $0.02/$0.05 – $10/$20
SportsBetting.ag 100% up to $1,000 $0.05/$0.10 – $15/$30
Ignition 100% up to $1,000 $0.02/$0.05 – $10/$20
Everygame 200% up to $1,000 $0.01/$0.02 – $10/$20

Is Online Poker Legal in Illinois?

Illinois is an unregulated state. This means that they currently can’t access online poker sites based on federal law, but there is no state law that prohibits players from directly playing on online poker sites that will accept Illinois residents.

This means that it is possible to access poker sites that are based offshore. All of the online poker rooms that we’ve mentioned on this page are offshore and therefore mean that it’s not illegal for residents of Illinois to play freely on these sites.

Illinois Poker Laws

Online poker and land-based poker laws work differently in Illinois. Online you need to access offshore sites, but if you’re physically in the state, it’s legal to play poker at any of the licensed card rooms and casinos.

In fact, Illinois has a thriving poker community, with most card rooms located within Chicago. Here you can access a range of cash games and tournaments if you’re aged 21 or older.

Can I Play at an Offshore Poker Room in Illinois?

The problem that arises from current legislation about online poker in Illinois is the lack of clarity. You cannot play in online poker rooms that are hosted in the United States, but you can access sites that are located offshore.

These offshore sites are set up to allow players from the United States. They do not need to conform to United States gambling laws as there is no tie to them and they are able to legally accept players from whatever countries they choose.

However, some sites will restrict people based on location. To overcome this, they will run geolocation checks, which use things like IP addresses to check where players are signing up from. If this is in the state of Illinois or anywhere in the US for that matter, you will be able to access offshore poker rooms in Illinois.

Legal Poker Sites vs Offshore Poker Sites

There are several differences between how legal poker sites and offshore poker sites work. We’ve outlined this to help you understand how the processes differ.

How can I tell the Difference between a Legal and Offshore Poker Site?

Legal poker sites will have the seal of approval from the state and they will likely be relatively brash in promoting this somewhere on the poker room. This will come from the Illinois Gaming Board, whose role it is to permit licenses and then oversee that the terms of the agreement in the license is always adhered to.

Offshore poker sites are going to have licenses that are produced by countries or jurisdictions that are outside of the US. Popular ones include Curacao, Costa Rica, and Kahnawake. Each of these licenses will also have terms of service attached that again, all those holding a license must maintain.

Online Poker Safety & Fairness – Who Regulates Legal Online Poker Sites in Illinois?

It’s the Illinois Gaming Board’s job to issue licenses and then regulate how Illinois online poker is run. They work under the Riverboat Gambling Act of 1990, for the most part. There have been more recent additions to this, including a notion to try and legalize gambling in 2019.

The board is made up at any given time of five members, who are appointed by the Governor and then confirmed by the state. They control riverboats and casino gambling, which includes poker.

One of the areas that they work on is the ability to collaborate with other gaming boards and the US federal departments for gambling to help problem gambling and to keep players safe. Cross databases of players are often used to prevent problem gamblers from accessing the sites, usually flagging accounts that have either been convicted of fraud or those that might be at risk.

Offshore Poker Sites in Illinois – Are Offshore Poker Sites Safe for Illinois Players?

Offshore poker sites in Illinois are safe to access, for the most part. All the poker rooms that we’ve tested and included on this page are safe to use and highly recommended.

However, you need to be wary about offshore sites that either doesn’t have a license, or make offers that seem too good to be true. You can cross-reference licenses on that license’s website if you’re not sure. Any brands that are promoting a license but aren’t listed, should be avoided.

In terms of penalties for residents of Illinois playing at offshore poker rooms, to date, there have been no convictions made at all. Theoretically, there is a risk, but the state law is so vague that it would be almost impossible to prosecute.

Will Illinois be Ring-Fenced or Shared Player Pool?

Ring-fenced player pools are where the opponents that you play against are all from the same state. For example, if you’re from Illinois, then you only play against Illinois residents. If Illinois will legalize online poker, it is very likely that it will have a ring-fenced player pool, at least at the start. After that, it may choose to join a poker compact with a few other states that share player pools for more traffic at the tables. Let’s look at if this is a good thing or not.

Perks of Ring-Fencing Player Pools

The main perk of a ring-fenced playing pool is that should anything go wrong, both you and the opponent will adhere to the same state laws. Given that state laws will differ in the US, it could get messy if one player is playing to a different set of rules than their opponent.

Drawbacks of Ring-Fencing Player Pools

The major drawback comes in terms of the volume of players to play against. If you’re just playing against the same players from a single state, then you’re going to be severely limited. This will be even more of an issue for states where poker is not all that popular, or for small states, like Rhode Island or Delaware.

Timeline: History of Online Poker in Illinois

We’re going to look at the history of online poker in Illinois. In this section, we will highlight major events and generally all you need to know about how we’ve got to where we are with the current Illinois online poker legislation.

  • February 1990 – The Riverboat Gambling Act is passed. Illinois was only the second state to pass this bill and was seen as a trailblazer in the gambling sector as a result.
  • September 1991 – First casino is made in the form of the Alton Belle.
  • June 1999 – Riverboat law adjusted to allow boats to moor.
  • July 2009 – The Video Gaming Act is introduced to allow up to five video gaming terminals at any single location.
  • August 2010 – Harrah’s acquire the Player’s Island Riverboat Casino and launches WSOP, amongst others, poker rooms within the establishment.

How to Play Online Poker in Illinois

We’re going to show you how to play online poker in Illinois. For this example, we’ve included the best Illinois online poker room in BetOnline to walk you through the sign up process as well as how to claim the welcome bonus.

Step 1 – Open a New Account

Once you land on the BetOnline homepage, you will need to click on the “Join” button. Here, you will be prompted with account information that you need to fill in. The process should take just a couple of minutes to complete.

BetOnline Sign Up

Step 2 – Log in and Deposit

When you’ve set your account up, you need to log in and head to the cashier to make your deposit. Here you can enter the promo code “INSIDERS” to claim a bonus worth up to $1,000.

betonline poker cashier

Step 3 – Head to the Poker Room

After the payment has been processed, you then need to head to the poker room. BetOnline allows you to access the poker room via your browser, a poker app or a download option for Mac and Windows. The same games are accessible on each of these.

BetOnline Poker Lobby Online

Step 4 – Choose a Game and Start Playing

You can now pick a game and start playing. When you choose the table you will be asked how much you want to sit down with. It’s always best to wait for the big blind when playing cash games as you don’t want to pay more than you need to.

betonline poker table

Making Deposits & Withdrawals at Illinois Poker Sites

Illinois online poker rooms will have a wide range of payment options that you can choose from. Use the guide below to see how they differ and how they work, before picking the best one for you.

Crypto at Poker Sites

Crypto is quickly growing to be the payment method of choice with a lot of poker rooms. In fact, they’re so keen for users to choose crypto that most come with dedicated bonuses, reduced fees, and faster processing times.

Some of the more popular Bitcoin poker sites also accept other crypto methods, such as Litecoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash. Most will allow you to link your crypto wallet to your account to move money quickly and safely.

eWallets at Poker Sites

eWallets are extensions of bank accounts and allow for an electronic transfer into the poker site. These are some of the quicker processing methods and include the likes of Skrill, Neteller, and PayPal.

Traditional Payment Methods

Traditional methods include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, checks and bank wire. You’re going to be able to use most of these at the best poker rooms. They are generally good for deposits but can come with fees and slow processing when withdrawing.

Online Poker Bonuses Available for Illinois Players

Poker bonuses are one of the key areas that poker rooms target to entice players from Illinois to use their brand. Bonuses can range both in terms of how much money you can claim and what you need to do to fully clear a bonus.

These offers are generally split into new player offers and existing player offers. Not all payment methods are eligible to claim the bonus, so you will need to make sure that your deposit method is linked to that offer. The “best” offers aren’t always the biggest, as these often come with tough wagering requirements. Low turnover and long clearing timeframes are what you need to look out for.

Match Deposit Bonuses

The match deposit bonus is where the poker room will match the amount that you deposit with a bonus. For example, if the bonus is a 100% match up to $1,000 and you deposit $1,000, then they will give you an additional $1,000 as bonus money.

All these offers will come with clearing terms attached. With poker, it’s usually based on how much rake you pay as to how much bonus you clear. An example would be $50 in rake for $5 of bonus released as cash.

No Deposit Bonuses

A no deposit bonus is where the poker room will give Illinois online poker players a bonus without requesting a deposit of any kind. Like a traditional bonus, players will have to wager the bonus before they can withdraw this as cash. These offers are not as common, but offer incredible value.

Freeroll Tickets

Most poker rooms offer new players tickets for freerolls. This means you can play a tournament without having to pay an entrance fee. You’re usually able to keep any winnings from these events as cash, without triggering any clearing terms, again adding huge value to these types of offers.

Playing on Illinois Poker Apps & Mobile Sites

Most Illinois online poker rooms will have some sort of poker app or mobile site. You can access the best mobile poker apps from any smartphone, and you get access to the same range of games and tournaments as you would find from the online platform.

Mobile Poker Apps – Advantages & Disadvantages

Illinois mobile poker apps have their pros and cons. We’ve highlighted what you can expect and how they work below.

Pros:

  • Ability to play games on the go from anywhere
  • Some poker rooms have mobile-specific offers
  • Illinois mobile poker rooms are more accessible
  • Designs are usually more modern on mobile
  • Increase in the number of recreational players

Cons:

  • Multiple tables are not as easy to use
  • Mobile app and site can be buggy sometimes
  • More memory needed on the phone for the app

How to Download Poker Apps or Software

Here, we’ve created a quick guide on how to use the BetOnline mobile poker site:

  • Open the BetOnline site via your mobile browser.
  • Head to the poker section of the site using the menu at the bottom.
  • Select the download button and then choose either iOS or Android.
  • Click on the “Save” button in the top right corner and then click add to home screen.
  • The app will be pinned to your home screen and you can access it at any time.

Tips for Playing Online Poker for Real Money in Illinois

We’ve included some tips for playing Illinois online poker rooms. These are general issues that we see people have on a day-to-day basis when it comes to access and games.

  • Don’t Use a VPN – If you’re in Illinois, you don’t need to use a VPN to try and make the poker room think you’re somewhere else. This throttles the speed of the site and you’ll likely get banned if you get caught in a location that is prohibited.
  • Take the Welcome Bonus – All of the Illinois online poker rooms have a welcome bonus of some sort. Make sure you claim it as most are very easy to clear when playing poker online.
  • Set Your Bankroll – Have a bankroll and stick to it. When choosing which stakes to play, you should have at least 30 buy-ins for that level.
  • Play Tight on Anonymous Tables – If the Illinois online poker room has anonymous tables, play a tight conservative manner as players won’t be able to get any long-lasting reads. If you feel someone is getting the better of you, just leave that table.
  • Don’t be Afraid of Mixed Games – Most “good” online poker players play Texas Hold’em. Learn mixed games such as Omaha, Stud, and Razz to target weaker players to make more money.

Playing Online Poker vs Poker Live in Illinois

Online and live poker are two very different beasts. Games may have the same rules, but there are lots of areas where they differ.

New players are almost always going to find it easier to start online and get better a lot quicker. One of the main reasons is simply the volume of hands that you play. Online, you might play 75 hands per hour, whereas live poker gets around 25. This is three times the number of game scenarios that you can learn from and improve.

Poker promotions are almost exclusive to online poker. Very few live cardrooms offer anything other than complimentary drinks, whereas online you can get thousands of dollars of bonus cash.

Finally, online allows you to track hands and then from that learn how they played out. You can use HUDs with some sites and data trackers to work out where you’re losing money and then plug those leaks to become a more profitable player.

Live Poker in Illinois – Casinos with Poker Rooms

Most live poker rooms in Illinois are part of larger-based casinos. Below we’ve included our top 5 Illinois casinos with poker rooms attached.

Grand Victoria Casino Poker Room in Illinois

Grand Victoria Casino

  • Address: 250 South Grove Ave, Elgin, IL 60120
  • Opening hours: 8:30am – 6:00am

The Grand Victoria Casino is in Elgin, IL and comes with 12 poker tables. It’s best known for its high roller Texas Hold’em games that run throughout the week, but also holds a lot of cash games around the $1/$2 mark. Games are generally very friendly and include a lot of returning players.

Harrah’s Joliet

  • Address: 151 N Joliet St, Joliet, IL 60432
  • Opening hours: 9:00am – 6:00am

Harrah’s is in Joliet and is arguably the most well-known of the live poker rooms in the state. There are 8 tables that run from 9 am through to 6 pm. Cash games are almost exclusively $1/$2 to start with, but often include antes and can run very deep. Games are reportedly very soft with a lot of recreational players trying their luck.

Hollywood Casino Aurora

  • Address: 1 New York Street Bridge, Aurora, IL 60506
  • Opening hours: 9:30am – 6:00am

With 15 poker tables to choose from Hollywood Casino in Aurora is the biggest poker room in Illinois. Opening times are from 9:30 am to 6 am. The main cash game for no limit is $1/2, bit limit games can run as high as $10/$20. They are one of few rooms in the state that offer Omaha 8s or better as an alternative to Hold’em.

Hollywood Casino Joliet

  • Address: 777 Hollywood Blvd, Joliet, IL 60436
  • Opening hours: 10:00am – 6:00am

The poker room at Hollywood Casino in Joliet, Illinois is fairly small, with only five tables. It also doesn’t host any tournaments. The good news is that players can enjoy $1/$2 cash games for no-limit Texas Hold’em. There are plenty of regulars here, but the games are generally easier on the weekends.

Bally’s Quad Cities Casino

  • Address: 777 Bally Blvd, Rock Island, IL 61201
  • Opening hours: 11:00am – 5:00am

Formerly known as Jumer’s Casino, Bally’s Quad Cities Casino keeps the same poker room in Illinois. Despite only having six poker tables, the cardroom frequently holds tournaments for no-limit Texas Hold’em. Buy-ins range from just $40 to around $100. Outside of the tournament schedule, players can enjoy cash games, which even include Omaha 8s or Better.

Famous Illinois Poker Players

Illinois has several famous poker players that have made significant sums of money playing online and live. We’ve listed the best Illinois online poker players below:

  • Connor Drinan – With career earnings that amass over $12 million, Drinan is the highest-earning poker player in Illinois. In fact, he has almost double that of his closest competitor. His 3rd place finish at the 2015 Poker Central Super Higher Roller Even bagged him $3.25 million, with his biggest title win coming at the 2020 World Series of Online Poker with another $1.4 million.
  • Barry Greenstein – One of the biggest names in poker over the last 30 years, Greenstein has no fewer than three World Series of Poker bracelets and millions of dollars worth of tournament winnings. He’s written several poker books and is widely regarded as a poker legend.
  • Mohsin Charania – Charania shot to fame in 2014 when he was one of just three players to ever win the illustrious Triple Crown of Poker (Winner of an EPT, WPT Main Event, and WSOP bracelet). He’s won an impressive $6.5 million in tournament winnings and currently resides in Illinois.

And the Best Poker Site in Illinois is…

BetOnline. The renowned online gambling brand stands out with a superb poker site that players in Illinois can access with ease. It has a range of bonuses and promotions that can help new players win more and enjoy the game without any worries.

Not only does BetOnline have a vast range of poker games to choose from, but their inclusion on the Chico Poker Network means that you get access to some of the best online games in the industry. Couple that with fantastic design, mobile access, low rake, huge range of cash games, and millions of dollars worth of tournament prize pools, and you get the best poker site in Illinois.

FAQs

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Jonathan

Jonathan has been working within the iGaming sector since 2007. After graduating with a BA Hons in Marketing from Northumbria University, he's been able to set up his own online content business, working with some of the biggest brands in the iGaming sector. Outside of work he enjoys any type of sports, especially cricket, golf, football and darts.