Canada is often seen as a gateway country when it comes to online poker. If you live in North America, Canada is probably your best bet, even though some operators still consider it a grey area. Yet, this has not stopped the likes of 888poker, GGPoker, partypoker, and naturally PokerStars to cater fully to online poker in Canada, so much that if you wish to play for real money, you have a fantastic opportunity to do just that.
Since the event known as Black Friday in 2011 pulled the plug on most of online poker in the United States, Canada has become a haven for many players crossing the border to settle down in a more permanent capacity, to enjoy and play poker online.
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The country has quite a bit of home-grown talent with players such as Daniel Negreanu, Gavin Smith, Jaime Staples, and not least the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event winner Jonathan Duhamel part of Canada’s poker legacy.
If you wish to play online poker for real money there hardly seems to be a better place than Canada in the world to do so. Canucks have one of the most vibrant poker markets in the world, combined with great bonuses, plenty of tournaments, and cash games going around the clock.
What Defines the Best Canadian Poker Sites?
The Internet is teeming with hundreds of online poker sites, and thankfully, Canada enjoys a good bit of access to the most prominent brands out there. Narrowing down the choice could be a bit of a faff at first, but when you know what and where to look for, it often becomes easier.
There are several things that matter when you want to play poker online and picking a cardroom. We stick with a number of time-tested practices to help you always arrive at the right decision. These criteria are transparent, easily verifiable by players, and ultimately helpful to anyone who is looking to enjoy online poker in Canada.
1. Sufficient Poker Traffic
Canada has no issue with hosting and running various events owing to its well-developed poker ecosystem. Thousands of players play on the available poker networks, providing Canucks with enviable access to some of the most competitive and rewarding online poker markets in the world.
Finding a seat is never an issue when touring any of the available poker sites in Canada, as cash games run around the clock and you will always find enough players to play against. Traffic is excellent, peaking around 12,000 concurrent players during the busiest hours and ranging from 2,189 to 5,906 for some smaller brands.
Overall, traffic is one of the strongest aspects of the poker industry in Canada and a very welcome fact for the domestic poker community and the aliens who choose to call Canada home so that they can play real money poker online.
2. Wide Array of Games
Online poker sites in Canada have plenty of games to offer and players should have no trouble finding all their favorite games. In fact, you can pick from all popular versions of the game, including but not limited to Texas Hold’em, Omaha Poker, Stud, Three Card Poker, and even Pai Gow Poker.
Canadian poker rooms are busy and they run an array of excellent buy-in limits, suited for players who are only stretching their legs in the world of online poker, and others who seek to high-roll.
Most games are available at CA$1/CA$2 but you can expect plenty of flexibility when it comes to budget, buy-ins, and levels. There are plenty of CA$0.20/CA$0.40 games for those who prefer to progress methodically or just multi-table, but you can expect games to run up to CA$100 and beyond.
3. Very Easy to Cash out Your Winnings
Canada’s online poker ecosystem is polished to squeaky perfection. Thanks to the rather favorable view of the activity, most popular payment methods work well on poker sites in Canada. To make sure this is always the case, we only review online poker sites where banking is facilitated by trusted and established providers.
We believe it’s great to play poker online at a site that will make sure your winnings are taken care of promptly and without any unnecessary hassle. You may use bank cards, e-wallets, direct bank transfers, mobile payment solutions, pre-paid cards, and even cryptocurrencies.
4. Poker Bonuses and Tournaments
Most players find it quite natural to expect a bonus when they play online poker for real money. The best industry brands never miss the opportunity to grant incoming players a worthwhile experience in the form of a great promotion.
The Canadian-facing online poker sites we have tested and recommended have bonuses that are on-point. They allow you to release your funds at a measured pace and earn real money from your efforts, releasing bonus money as well as winning from your regular poker sessions.
Recreational players will find the bonuses a good way to start, while veteran players may opt-out of them completely. Online poker in Canada operates to the same rules as pretty much anywhere else, and there will be a mix of inexperienced players known as ‘the fish,’ and more skilled.
Thankfully, you can play online poker for real money and still find evenly-matched games. If you tend to be more cut-throat, Canadians have lots of tournaments to pick from. You don’t necessarily have to pay the buy-in. Instead, there are plenty of satellite events that run to accommodate more competitive-minded players as well as give small-timers a chance to shine.
5. Excellent Poker Software
To make the most of a great experience, we have made sure that the online poker sites you end up picking come with excellent, top-notch poker software. Each Canadian poker site is unique and it creates a solution that works great from a variety of platforms, including mobile and desktop.
The software is light to the touch and allows you to quickly join a lobby, start a Sit & Go or participate in a tournament. There are some small things you will notice as you go through different poker rooms.
Some may prove more streamlined and therefore allow you to have a smoother experience, albeit this will usually be a combination of the available cash games, events, and table limits you join. Anyway, the best way to play online poker for real money in Canada is to stick with the card rooms that offer the best software.
6. Safety and Security
Having made it so far, you are already familiar with some of the best online poker brands in Canada. Yet, it never hurts reading a little further in what each poker site has to offer, and especially when it comes to the overall safety and reliability of the cardroom.
We make sure to run extensive checks and see how a site handles player safety. Some tell-tale marks of a great poker website include the necessary secure socket layer (SSL) encryption. Every poker brand we recommend will have a responsible gambling policy and many will be licensed by a regulatory body that has established high standards for consumer protection, affordability, and fairness.
7. Have Customer Support’s Ear
Good customer care makes life much easier, and Canuck poker players may have a question or two to fire the support team’s way. Good customer support is usually there around the clock via email, live chat, or/and phone.
It helps to know that a card room that specifically targets players in Canada has a team on standby to service Canadian players, and this is precisely what we look for. A good customer care team representative must be helpful, knowledgeable, and not be afraid to go the extra mile with you.
Can You Play Online Poker Legally In Canada?
Online poker in Canada resembles that in the United States, but with a minor caveat. The federal government is not really interested in clamping down on Canadian-friendly poker sites, and if anything, the government is happy to allow provinces to sort out regulations between themselves.
Each province has sovereignty, but the consensus by lawyers is that Canadian law doesn’t specify anything against online poker in the country. The fact that you have so many successful poker players hailing from Canada goes to show that the country really has no bone to pick with the industry.
To put it plainly, poker is legal in Canada. Not only that, but you can play online poker for real money from any province. Geolocation doesn’t apply to Canadian poker sites, although all will make sure that you are of the legal gambling age, and most will ask you to comply with AML and KYC checks, as per their license.
There has not been much advocacy for the legalization or criminalization for that matter of online poker in Canada. Presently, the country’s provinces operated by the established ‘grey area’ agreement, and online poker is perfectly fine to play.
What Is the Legal Online Poker Age?
You shouldn’t have trouble registering and playing poker from any province in Canada, but you must be of the legal age to gamble. Poker may not be ‘a game of chance as such’, but it still falls under the legal age for gambling, and that varies depending on the province you reside in Canada. Here is a list of all provinces and the associated gambling age at the time of this writing:
- Alberta – 18
- British Columbia – 19
- Manitoba – 18
- New Brunswick – 19
- Newfoundland and Labrador – 19
- Nova Scotia – 19
- Ontario – 19
- Prince Edward Island – 19
- Quebec – 18
- Saskatchewan – 19
How Are Online Poker Sites in Canada Licensed and Regulated?
Canada does not regulate poker sites. In fact, there is nothing in the law that even mentions poker. To be thorough though, there is a possibility that poker may be considered illegal, but even if the government was ever to move in such direction, it would target online poker sites, and not players.
With this said, Canada doesn’t really have a poker site that is regulated in the country. The Kahnawake Gambling Commission does offer licenses, but the most popular Canadian-facing online poker websites today are regulated elsewhere. Popular regulatory authorities include:
Even though these regulators aren’t located in Canada, should the government decide to raise an issue with a licensee they regulate, a website can easily be forced out of the country. Thankfully, for the online poker community, Canada is much more laidback than its Southern neighbor when it comes to poker.
Payment Methods for Canadian Poker Players
The ability to quickly pick a payment method and deposit is usually welcome by the majority of players who want to focus on their game and not have qualms over cashing out funds. Therefore, we put a lot of weight by finding a poker site where deposits and withdrawals are available via a number of familiar and trusted payment methods, including but not limited to:
- Bank cards: Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Discover
- E-wallets: PayPal, Neteller, Skrill
- Wire transfers
Cryptocurrencies are another possibility to carry out and settle transactions between sites. Some offshore brands will insist on the use of such currencies to guarantee the most serviceable deposits and withdrawals.
Famous Poker Players from Canada
Canada’s relaxed approach towards the institution of online poker has had its success. Not only are US residents choosing to settle down in the country to be able to play poker but are there also quite a few Canadians who top the poker world’s pecking order. Canada has over eight players who have passed the mental threshold of $10 million in live earnings, and they are still in the game.
Some of the most notable names today include Daniel Negreanu, Timothy Adams, Sam Greenwood, Jonathan Duhamel, Daniel Divoress, and others. Negreanu is currently third on the all-time money list from live poker winnings with over $42 million won at the time of writing.
He’s one of two Canadians to currently crack the Top 20 All-Time Live Poker Earnings List as compiled by Hendon Mob, a database website.
Do You Pay Tax on Your Poker Winnings?
When you play poker online in Canada the issue of taxation will crop up, especially if you manage to earn a name for yourself. Thankfully, much like the gambling legislation in the country, poker taxation isn’t too much hassle to figure out.
Online poker for real money is taxable, but there are quite a few caveats to take into consideration. The country doesn’t apply any tax special laws as long as local and income taxes are met by gambling firms.
However, if you are a player, there are two ways to look at it. One is if you are a recreational player, in which case you don’t owe the government anything. The other status is that of a professional poker player, which is quite different to achieve even by the lax Canadian standards.
The law says that you ought to earn a steady income that is the result of a steady pursuit, which by poker definition can be rather difficult. Unless you are a WSOP winner or are currently pretty high on the all-time money list, you do not need to trouble yourself with online poker tax laws in Canada.
Should your winnings continue to accelerate over the course of months of play, consulting with a local tax specialist is never a bad idea.
Online poker for real money can be a lot of fun, but often players are faced with the question of where to play. Thankfully, online poker in Canada is quite popular, and we have the best poker sites available and reviewed.
You will be able to find an online card room friendly to Canadians that satisfies all levels, from rookies to advance and professionals who are playing poker for a living. While poker is a game of skill, you still need to approach it with a bit of caution.
Yes. All recommended and well-populated online poker sites for real money in Canada are trustworthy, reliable, and safe.
Yes. You can play online poker legally in Canada without any restrictions under current laws.
No. You don’t pay tax on poker winnings in Canada unless you are a professional player. Only very few poker players are recognized as such by the government.
Yes and no. You will have to verify this with the poker site you have chosen but possibly with the jurisdiction you currently reside in.