poker kentucky poker

Gambling laws are considerably more conservative in Kentucky than in neighboring states, such as Indiana, Ohia, and Illinois. However, that doesn’t mean that Kentucky residents can’t play online poker through offshore casinos.

In this article, we tell you everything that you need to know about Kentucky poker, including how to play, where to play, whether or not it’s legal and where to find the best sign-up bonuses for new players.

Best Kentucky Poker Sites

The Latest Kentucky Poker News

Kentucky poker has recently made headlines with the introduction of legislative Bills that would amend the Bluegrass State’s Constitution to authorize and regulate the card game:

  • April 2022: Despite high hopes, (HB) House Bill 606 failed to move forward in the Senate and died.
  • March 2022: Kentucky HB606 to expand gambling, including online poker, passed in the House and made its way to the floor of the Senate.
  • October 2021: A decade-long court battle between Kentucky State and online operator PokerStars resulted in a $300 million settlement.

List of the Best Kentucky Poker Sites

The struggles of finding the best site for real money poker in Kentucky are now a thing of the past. We’ve researched and listed them for you, considering factors such as the atmosphere, tournaments, prizes, and frequency.

  1. BetOnline – The flagship online poker site in Kentucky
  2. Bovada – A deep pool of poker players
  3. SportsBetting.ag – Fast cashouts and lower rakes
  4. Ignition – Lots of “How To Play” guides and strategy videos
  5. Everygame – A whopping 36% daily rakeback and loyalty levels

Reviews of the Best Kentucky Poker Sites

Next, our reviews talk you through the five best offshore sites for online poker in Kentucky, where you’ll discover what it takes to be a top poker site.

1.  BetOnline – The Flagship Online Poker Site in Kentucky

BetOnline Casino Poker in KY

Established in 1991, Curaçao eGaming licensed BetOnline tops our list with its intuitive and sleekly designed website (instant-play and an app for desktops and smartphones). BetOnline has expertly refined the user experience with poker bonuses using BetOnline bonus codes, promotions, and a choice of (limit/no limit/pot limit) Hold’em, 6+ Hold’em, Omaha, and Omaha H/L.

Part of the Chico Poker Network (CPN), its deep pool of players will find a great gaming environment. Kentuckians compete in dozens of cash games, missions, and tournaments (including freerolls) like multi-table, Sit N Go, and Windfall ($3K-$1M prizes). The cherry on the cake is the Championship Poker Series, with $1+ million prizes. Stakes start at a low $0.05/$0.10, climbing to $15/$30 for more adventurous players.

Pros:

  •  30+ year track record
  •  Curaçao eGaming license
  •  Regular and new player bonuses and promotions
  •  Extensive player traffic (typically 1,000+)
  •  Dozens of cash games and tournaments
  •  Daily qualifiers

Cons:

  • Casino fees on USD deposits & withdrawals
  • No anonymous tables

2.  Bovada – A Deep Pool Of Poker Players

Bovada Poker Tournaments

Bovada is a Curaçao eGaming licensed crypto casino founded in 2011, offering an exceptional experience in real money poker in Kentucky. Spun out from Bodog Poker, the deep pool of poker players on Bovada’s proprietary PaiWangLuo Network all but guarantees round-the-clock excitement. Poker variants include Hold’em, Omaha, and Omaha H/L, with buy-ins of ($0-$50+).

With Bovada bonus codes, players can find bonuses/promotions, cash games, tournaments (high roller, Sit-and-Go, knockout), and special features (quick seat, anonymous poker, a chat function, and plenty more). Although crypto deposits and withdrawals have no casino handling charges, Bovada applies a handling charge to credit card deposits and withdrawals using couriered checks.

Pros:

  • Licensed and regulated in Curaçao
  • A large pool of poker players
  • A variety of special features and tournaments
  • No casino fees on crypto deposits
  • Anonymous tables available
  • Monthly $1 million prize pool tournament

Cons:

  • Freerolls are rare
  • Not the broadest selection of bonuses

3.  SportsBetting.ag – Fast Cashouts and Lower Rakes

Sportsbetting.ag poker homepage

SportsBetting.ag is another well-established brand (1991), offering poker rooms with a deep pool of players on the Chico Poker Network (CPN). The professional-looking mobile and desktop optimized platform is available as an instant play version. However, you can also find a downloadable poker client app version for Mac, Windows, Android, or IOS. Although we could not verify the license status of SportsBetting.ag, the consensus online appears to be that they hold a Panama license.

The Kentucky poker casino offers several promotions from match deposits and tournaments. These include $1 Million Sit & Go and the Bad Beat Jackpot with a progressive jackpot. Poker players will find the operator has fast cash-outs and lower rakes than others.

Pros:

  • Long track record
  • Freeroll opportunities
  • Fast cashouts
  • Rakes at the lower end
  • Multiple cryptocurrency deposit methods accepted
  • $1m+ tournaments

Cons:

  • Unclear license status

4.  Ignition – Lots Of “How To Play” Guides And Strategy Videos

Tournaments at Ignition

2016-established Ignition Casino is a particularly interesting Curaçao-licensed operator for players new to poker. The reason is that Kentucky-based players can find many “How to Play” guides and videos that cover poker tips and strategies for beginners and advanced players. The Ignition Casino platform site is part of the Bodog poker network, operated by PaiWangLuo, which has a deep player pool.

Ignition Casino offers cash games and tournaments for cash/non-cash prizes, including big-money poker tournaments ($1m+) and a progressive jackpot knockout tournament. Besides promotions using Ignition promo codes, players can collect ‘Ignition Miles’ for each dollar spent on buy-ins, counting towards bonuses and tournament tickets. Players can benefit from freerolls, anonymous tables, and pot limit/no limit/fixed limit variants, including Hold’em, Omaha, and Omaha Hi-Lo.

Pros:

  • Curaçao licensed 
  • Weekly/Monthly tournaments, including $1m+ prizes
  • Video strategy guides, tips, and ‘How to Play’ resources
  • Freerolls available
  • Anonymous tables offered

Cons:

  • Higher than average player complaints
  • No telephone support

5.  Everygame – Daily Rakeback of up to 36%

Everygame Casino Poker

Everygame casino is a sleek and sophisticated Kentucky poker casino available on an instant play browser or using downloadable poker client software. Part of the Horizon Poker Network, It was established in 1996 and rebranded from Intertops in 2021. It is unclear whether the site has an operating license.

Undoubtedly, the most distinguishing feature is up to 36% in daily rakeback on popular variants like Omaha and Texas Hold’em. However, you can also find anonymous tables, freerolls, and frequent poker points (FPPs) used to level up and reward players. The casino is home to limit/no limit/pot limit poker tournaments with prize pools. However, it’s not known for the $1 million and up tournament variety. You can use Everygame promo codes to claim bonuses.

Pros:

  • Attractively designed environment
  • Instant play browsers/downloadable client app
  • Up to 36% Rakeback
  • Freeroll tournaments
  • Anonymous tables available

 Cons:

  • Unclear whether the casino is licensed
  • Unlikely to find $1m+ prize pool tournaments

Frequently Asked Questions about Poker in Kentucky

Is online poker legal in Kentucky?

Can I legally play poker online in Kentucky?

What is the most legit online poker site for Kentucky?

What is the best online poker site for beginners in Kentucky?

Comparing Poker Sites in Kentucky

We’ve compiled a summary table of the best Kentucky casinos, allowing Kentuckians to quickly and easily compare respective poker welcome bonuses. It also displays the number of casino poker games and the availability of free roles, qualifiers, and live poker.

Poker Room Bonus Freerolls Casino Poker Qualifiers Live Poker
BetOnline 100% match (up to $1,000) with bonus code: NEWBOL 15+  ✅
Bovada 100% match (up to $500) with bonus code: PWB500 5+  ✅
SportsBetting.ag 100% match (up to $1,000) with bonus code: NEWSB 5+  ✅
Ignition 100% match (up to $1,000) with a credit card OR 150% match (up to $1,500) with a crypto deposit 5+  ✅
Everygame 200% match (up to $1,000) with bonus code: 1000EGP 5+  ✅

Is Online Poker Legal in Kentucky?

Kentucky is a conservative gambling state where most forms remain prohibited by its Constitution. Currently, pari-mutuel wagering, a state lottery, and charity gaming are the only legal forms of gambling. To date, all House & Senate Bills attempting to amend the State Constitution to liberalize gambling have proven unsuccessful.

Online/land-based, including Kentucky casinos (tribal and commercial), poker, fantasy sports contests, and sports betting, remain prohibited. Although there are no licensed poker rooms in Kentucky, social card rooms at social clubs are tolerated, provided no rake.

To get around the prohibition, Kentuckians visit offshore online poker operators, a gray area in state law, allowing real money poker in Kentucky. The minimum gambling age in the State is 18 for all forms of gambling.

Kentucky Poker Laws

Kentucky is one of the strictest States when it comes to gambling. Playing real money poker online or at land-based locations is prohibited. All attempts to legalize online poker through the House and Senate have failed thus far. The latest attempt was House Bill 606 and Senate Bill 213, which didn’t survive Kentucky’s legislative session. Therefore, you won’t find any licensed poker rooms within state lines.

However, Kentucky tolerates social poker clubs, where players can meet in person, provided the House doesn’t take money from the pot (rake). In summary:

  • Land-based and online poker rooms within Kentucky are prohibited
  • Social in-person poker rooms are permitted, provided no rake

Can I Play at an Offshore Poker Room from Kentucky 

Kentucky poker is neither authorized nor regulated within state lines, making playing for money illegal, except for in-person social clubs. However, offshore poker rooms are a legal gray area since their location is outside state lines, which is not expressly forbidden.

Our recommended poker rooms are offshore, providing online poker in Kentucky that’s safe and trustworthy. Ensure that you are within state lines when signing up and logging in since operators use geolocation to determine player location.

Some players try to deceive the casino using VPNs and providing false personal information, like addresses and phone numbers. We strongly advise against doing this because your deception will eventually be uncovered. The result will be the confiscation of winnings and the closure of your account.

Legal Poker Sites vs. Offshore Poker Sites

Poker offered by operators within Kentucky, except socially, is illegal. The law encompasses video poker, online & live dealer poker, and poker rooms. That leaves players with little option but to take advantage of the legal loophole and visit offshore poker sites. However, distinguishing legal (licensed) sites from potentially shady (unlicensed) sites is essential.

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

Since Kentucky has not legalized poker, no state agency is charged with licensing or regulating poker gaming. Generally, the more reputable offshore online poker sites hold a Curaçao eGaming license. An offshore poker site licensed here must display its logo in its website footer, containing a link to a certificate verifying the authenticity.

Some operators hold licenses in other jurisdictions like Panama or other South American countries. These sites require more caution since the regulators are known for being less strict with their supervisory duties. Never take the word of the casino, which claims to be licensed but fails to back it up with proof.

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

Unlike charitable gaming regulated by the Department of Charitable Gaming (DCG) or pari-mutuels regulated by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, there’s no state poker regulator.

Therefore, exercising caution with your time and money when playing at an offshore site is critical because you may have no recourse if something goes wrong. Keep track of the time you spend playing and set limits where possible. Also, track the amount you deposit, wager, and lose. Never be afraid to lock in a profit or walk away if you’re going through a rough patch. All reputable sites will allow you to take breaks or self-exclude if things get out of hand.

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

The best way of knowing that you’re playing at a trustworthy casino is to do your due diligence and stick to licensed operators. Fortunately, we’ve listed the best Kentucky poker sites for you. So what does it take to be a safe and fair poker site? First, it must be licensed and regulated in a jurisdiction like Curaçao.

Furthermore, games using a random number generator (RNG) must be tested and certified fair by an independent third party. Players can be proactive and ensure their safety by taking additional steps to protect themselves, like only using secure payment methods. Ensure the poker site uses SSL encryption, and it doesn’t hurt to activate two-factor authentication (2FA) when offered. Don’t forget to set a budget, including financial and time limits.

We could not find any evidence of a penalty for players who visit offshore Kentucky poker sites. Instead, the State has chosen to go after illegal operators. For example, in 2015, PokerStars was ordered to pay damages of $300 million by a Franklin Circuit Court. The Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the ruling, raising the penalty to $1.3 billion.

Will Kentucky be Ring-Fenced or Shared Player Pool?

A ring fence or player pool is a group of players isolated from outside players. The general purpose of a Kentucky ring fence is to comply with state/federal laws, regulatory requirements, and to protect players. Ring-fencing need not only be for a particular state as it can also be multijurisdictional, like NV, NJ, DE, and MI.

Perks of Ring-Fencing Player Pools

There are some arguable advantages for players who are ring-fenced. For example, they receive increased protection since the rules and regulations governing their play are intended for them. Also, due to fractured state laws concerning online gambling, players might otherwise be unable to participate without a ring fence. 

Some ring fences, including interstate poker networks, result in a bigger pool of players, which can drive larger tournaments & prizes and more opportunities to play. Finally, a ring-fenced player pool allows the operator to offer more targeted bonuses and promotions.

Drawbacks of Ring-Fencing Player Pools

The most significant drawback of a poker ring fence is that it can, conversely, limit the pool of available players. This can lead to fewer cash games & tournaments and smaller prizes.

How to Play Online Poker in Kentucky

Playing at an offshore poker site at a top casino like BetOnline only requires a few quick steps, taking about 10 minutes. This process starts with a registration process and ends with participating in exciting card games.

Step 1: Register a New Player Account

BetOnline Poker Registration Step 1

Begin by clicking on the green button labeled ‘JOIN’ in the sticky menu at BetOnline.ag, which jumpstarts a single-screen registration process. Enter your first & last name, email address, password, ZIP Code, contact number, and date of birth. After you’re ready, click on the red ‘Create Account’ button at the bottom. You’ll receive an email containing a choice of welcome offers and an assigned BetOnline username.

Step 2: Make a Deposit

BetOnline Poker Registration Step 2

After the first step, The site will redirect you to the deposit section and present a choice of payment options based on your preferred currency: USD, BTC, or altcoin. Input the deposit amount, and remember to enter a promo code to claim your welcome offer. Complete the provider security verification procedure to complete the step.

Step 3: Download, Install & Sign In to the Client App

BetOnline Poker Registration Step 3

Visit the poker lobby by clicking on the link located in the sticky header. You can play using an instant play browser by clicking ‘PLAY ONLINE.’ However, you can also select the ‘Download & Play’ button to install the BetOnline poker app, depending on the platform: Windows, Mac, Android, or IOS, to start the download.

After installing the client app file ‘bol_setup.exe,’ click on the red install button to launch the installation. Once finished, log in to the client app and select a poker screen name. You’re now ready to explore cash games, tournaments, and more!

Making Deposits & Withdrawals at Kentucky Poker Sites

It’s hard to miss the green ‘DEPOSIT’ button in BetOnline’s sticky header. Since BetOnline is a crypto operator, the best way to deposit or withdraw money for faster transactions, lower fees, and better bonuses is using Bitcoins or one of 15+ altcoins. However, it’s still ok to deposit good old Greenbacks using alternative payment methods like a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express) or eCheck.

Crypto at Poker Sites

Crypto poker sites are very popular with Kentuckians since they offer more payment options and advantages over USD deposits. Although often referred to as Bitcoin casinos, the best ones accept various crypto payment methods. For example, BetOnline accepts 15+ altcoins: BCH, XRP, ETH, LTC, MATIC, APE, AVAX, BNB, ADA, LINK, DOGE, SHIB, SOL, XLM, and USDT. 

eWallets at Poker Sites

Electronic wallets (eWallets) like PayPal receive, send and store US dollars. They eliminate providing financial details online, which reduces the risk of fraud. Casino deposits and withdrawals using an eWallet are fast, secure, safe, and have lower fees than credit cards. They are more discrete since transactions don’t appear on bank or credit card statements.

Also, since you cannot transfer more money than is in your eWallet, they can effectively control your spending.

Traditional Payment Methods

Traditionally, debit and credit cards have been the most widely used way of depositing to a Kentucky poker site. Almost all Kentucky poker sites accept some or all credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover, which makes them very handy. Furthermore, debit and credit cards are fast, safe, and secure.

However, these cards have drawbacks, such as potential transaction fees and less discretion as transactions appear on statements. Making a credit card withdrawal from a player account is generally not possible. Also, consider that the irresponsible use of credit cards can result in debt.

Poker Site Bonuses available for Kentucky Players

Kentuckians are fortunate to qualify for plenty of bonuses that greatly enhance the user experience. Match bonuses, no deposit bonuses, and free roll tickets are three examples. There are others, like a rakeback where the House returns a rake percentage and sometimes comes with a bonus.

Match Deposit Bonuses

A match deposit bonus is when an operator matches a player’s real money deposit up to a maximum amount in bonus money. For example, a player that makes a $100 deposit and claims a match bonus of 150% up to $500 will receive $150 (150/100 x $100) in bonus money.

Bonus money is subject to bonus T&Cs and wagering requirements usually expressed as a multiple such as 50x (the bonus or bonus money + deposit). In our example, A 50x wagering requirement on the bonus means that the player must turn over the $150 in bonus money with cumulative wagers totaling $7,500 ($150 x 50) before they can withdraw it. As a general rule, the lower the wagering requirement on the bonus money, the better.

No Deposit Bonuses

A no deposit bonus is a promotion where the operator provides a player with free spins or bonus money without the need to make an initial deposit. It comes with bonus T&Cs and a wagering requirement, similar to a match deposit bonus.

Two common terms apply to no deposit bonuses. First, after satisfying the bonus wagering requirement, the maximum amount a player may withdraw is always $100 or less. Also, to withdraw winnings, a player must make a deposit first.

Free Roll Tickets

Free roll tickets are a way of getting into a poker tournament without paying an entry fee (buy-in). Players can still win prizes for cash or points while getting a feel for the environment. It’s typically popular with new players to the site who are often inexperienced.

To participate, visit the poker lobby of a poker site like BetOnline, select tournaments, and choose ‘freeroll’ for a list of upcoming events.

Playing on Kentucky Poker Apps & Mobile Sites

Poker players today are mobile, so they want a poker room that goes anywhere they do. While all offshore Kentucky poker rooms are available over an internet instant play browser, not all are compatible over a downloadable mobile client app. The latter can produce a smoother and more reliable experience. Mobile poker apps come with pros and cons:

Mobile Poker Apps – Advantages & Disadvantages 

Pros:

  • More widely accessible than over instant play browsers
  • Downloaded games can be faster and more stable

Cons:

  • Requires storage space which may be in short supply
  • A client app is only accessible from a device where it’s installed.

How to Download Poker Apps or Software

Downloading a poker client app follows a similar process, regardless of which site you’re on. For example, downloading the poker app from BetOnline follows the following steps.

  • Find the location of the ‘download’ button to install the mobile casino app on your device, ensuring it corresponds to your operating system (Android/iOS).
  • You may need to specify the operating system. The download can take a few minutes, depending on your Internet speed.
  • Click on the file when done and proceed to install it. It may be necessary to change your security settings to allow the installation from the provider.
  • Select a username, and you’re ready to go.

Tips for Playing Online Poker for Real Money in Kentucky

  • Tip 1: Be sure to understand the rules of the variant you’re playing, as it differs. Remember, practice makes perfect, so if you are a beginner, start basic with video poker to learn the winning hands and how they rank. You can quickly progress to online and live poker variants before migrating to poker rooms with potentially professional players.
  • Tip 2: Manage the size of your bankroll according to whether you’re a casual, amateur, or professional player. Your bankroll size will depend on your skill level, the table limits, and the buy-in. Never go outside of your bankroll.
  • Tip 3: ‘Limping in’ when you have a good hand doesn’t always work and can do more harm than good. Your best bet is to play it cool and keep raising consistently before the flop.
  • Tip 4: Each player level comes with increased tendencies. Therefore, trying to identify your opponent’s level may improve your chances.
  • Tip 5: Being unpredictable by adapting your game cam makes it difficult for other players to read you and predict your next move.

Playing Online Poker vs Poker Live in Kentucky

There are several benefits to playing poker online rather than in person. The most obvious is convenience and flexibility since you never have to leave home, and players are available around the clock.

Since the competition among online sites is fiercer, players can usually find better bonuses and deals than brick-and-mortar locations. This competition has also resulted in plenty of exciting poker tournaments and cash games on the most popular variants, like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Omaha Hi-Lo.

Another consideration is that online poker players can often use display tools to keep track of hands. Discreetly using a poker cheat sheet is something you can’t really get away with at a land-based poker room. Furthermore, the pacing is a little slower online, leaving you more time to think.

Finally, poker rakes tend to be much higher at land-based rooms since they’ll be looking to cover higher costs.

Live Poker in Kentucky – Casinos With Poker Rooms

In 2008, The Kentucky Casino Amendment, which would have established 12 commercial casinos, failed to pass. This event represented a significant blow to Kentucky as governor Gov. Beshear estimated $829 million just in license fees. Later that same year, the government seized 141 illegal Internet gambling sites. 

Unfortunately, Kentucky remains without land-based casinos, including poker rooms, outside of social rooms.

Famous Kentucky Poker Players

You might think that Kentucky’s strict gambling laws would make the likelihood of famous poker players originating from the Greengrass State extremely unlikely. Remarkably, Kentucky punches above its weight.

  • Kurt Jewell: From Frankfurt, Kentucky, this poker player is Kentucky’s all-time live earnings winner, having won $1.7 million as of September 4, 2022. This sum excludes recurring daily, weekly and monthly events. His single biggest live cash prize was nearly $243,000. He currently ranks 712th in the United States and 1,288th globally.
  • Lottie Deno: Born to a wealthy family of racehorse breeders, she was a renowned poker player during the mid-19th century. She was the daughter of a notorious gambler who trained her in the art of poker. Her claim to fame was as a house gambler at the University Club. Moving to Texas, she became known as the “Angel of San Antonio,” amassing a small fortune in all lot gambling before moving to New Mexico.

The Best Poker Site in Kentucky

Kentucky lawmakers have resisted attempts to expand gaming within state lines to include games like poker for the better part of a decade. Still, it seems only a matter of time before poker in Kentucky becomes a reality. Until then, players in the Bluegrass State can legally visit offshore online casinos to play real money poker in Kentucky. 

It’s not one factor that makes the mobile online casino BetOnline the best for online poker in Kentucky. The website design creates the right atmosphere, and navigation over its mobile client app is silky smooth. BetOnline has an extensive network of players who’ll find popular poker variants, numerous tournaments (including $1+ million), freerolls, daily qualifiers, and more. Don’t just take our word for it!

G. Vella

I'm a Canadian freelance writer with a BSc in Applied Accounting, living in Southern Europe. I may be spotted cycling or swimming when I'm not busy writing iGaming content (the past 6+ years) or consuming copious amounts of coffee.