All NJ online poker sites endorsed here are legal and licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
- 1 NJ Online Poker Sites
- 2 NJ online poker bonuses explained
- 3 NJ online poker FAQs: Legality and Eligibility
- 4 New Jersey online poker FAQs: Site specifics
- 4.1 What kind of games do NJ poker sites offer?
- 4.2 What is the traffic like in New Jersey?
- 4.3 Do sites offer major tournaments and events?
- 4.4 What kind of loyalty programs are there?
- 4.5 How many networks are there in NJ again?
- 4.6 Has NJ poker traffic changed much since launch?
- 5 NJ poker site FAQs: Looking ahead
- 6 List of NJ Poker Site Reviews
- 7 The path toward legal online poker in New Jersey
While within the physical boundaries of New Jersey, eligible players can enjoy real-money play at one of seven poker sites approved by the NJDGE to host operations. All but three of these sites were part of the first wave of regulated sites, having launched in November 2013.
Since, the industry has changed wildly, with underperforming sites shuttering their doors, and new powerhouses emerging.
As of May 1st, 2018, some New Jersey poker sites are sharing liquidity with sites in Nevada and Delaware. As of this time, the WSOP/888 Network is the only NJ network that features players in multiple states, but many expect the PartyPoker/Borgata/playMGM network to launch a Nevada site in the future.
On this page, which is updated frequently, we detail everything you need to know about the market, including where to play, and why regulated sites are a better bet than offshore poker rooms.
NJ Online Poker Sites
The New Jersey online poker market is relatively small, due to the fact that only those inside the state can play. But don’t take that to mean that there is no online action to be found – quite the opposite!
You can find more information about New Jersey’s four poker networks (seven total sites) and their licenses by visiting the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Authorized Sites page.
For those looking to spring into action right now, here is a quick snapshot of the market:
- PokerStars NJ: Launched in March 2016, after a torturous two-year road toward regulation, PokerStars NJ has emerged as NJ’s leading site — both in revenue and in traffic. However, this may soon change now that other sites have the ability to join their player pools with sites in Nevada and Delaware.
- Borgata Poker: Borgata Poker has been around since November 2013, and is the most popular site on its network. It shares network liquidity with Party Poker and playMGM. Collectively the network hovers between second and third place in popularity.
- Party Poker: Network partner of Borgata Poker and playMGM, utilizes GVC powered platform.
- playMGM: Latest entry into the market and network partner of Borgata and Party Poker. MGM is the owner of Borgata’s land-based operation in Atlantic City.
- WSOP NJ: Shares partial liquidity with 888 Poker across most tournaments, sit & go’s, and lower stakes cash games. Powered by 888’s Dragonfish platform.
- 888 Poker NJ: Sister site to WSOP NJ. Together, the duo comprise one of the more heavily trafficked networks in NJ, where players can also compete against players on WSOP Nevada and all Delaware online poker sites.
- Pala Poker: Newer NJ brand, powered by Pala Interactive. It launched in June 2017, and came out of beta in December 2017. Not much traffic to speak of just yet.
See our reviews (linked above) for more in-depth information on each site.
NJ online poker bonuses explained
When you sign up to play poker online, you’ll get something which usually isn’t offered in live casinos – bonus money! Not all New Jerseyans are aware that online poker is now legal in the state, so NJ’s gaming operators offer bonuses to entice customers to come try out their site. Cashing in on these bonuses is an excellent way to start building your poker bankroll.
There are two types of bonuses new registrants can enjoy: no-deposit bonuses and deposit bonuses.
As the name implies, no-deposit bonuses are offers that players can receive before making a qualifying first time deposit. Simply successfully complete the registration process and the money is theres.
Generally no-deposit bonuses take the form of a cash bonus, tournament/sng entry tickets, or a combination of both. Players must give the site a certain amount of action before they’ll be eligible to cash out their bonus.
All of our preferred online poker partners offer an extremely generous 100% match bonus on first deposits, up to a certain maximum, which varies depending on the site. For instance, if a site offers a 100% match bonus up to $1,000 and you deposit that amount, your account will be updated to include your $1,000 deposit, plus $1,000 in bonus cash.
There is a catch, however, in that you’ll have to contribute a certain amount to the rake to fully release the bonus into your account. Generally speaking, a player will have to generate 2x – 5x the amount of the bonus in rake within a specified time period to clear it.
That being said, sites will often unlock bonuses incrementally, enabling even casual players to easily unlock segments of their bonus.
Sites may or may not require a promo code for deposit bonus eligibility. Check out our NJ online poker review pages for more info.
And remember, the offers listed on those pages may be better than the public offer listed on the poker site itself.
There is a third type of bonus, available to players who have already exhausted their first-time deposit bonus.
Reload bonus offers can come at any time and are frequently used to reward loyal players or to bring back inactive ones to the site. To be credited the bonus, you’ll usually need to enter a bonus code supplied by the site when making your deposit. Reload bonuses are also usually subject to a rake contribution requirement.
NJ online poker FAQs: Legality and Eligibility
Are NJ poker sites legal?
In 2011, after the DOJ effectively barred most offshore online poker sites from operating in the US, it issued a surprise opinion which paved the way for New Jersey to legalize the industry.
The ruling involved the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, an antiquated piece of legislation originally created to combat the Mafia, but which was later used as the rationale to ban online gambling. The DOJ stated that the Wire Act should only pertain to sports betting, not to online poker or casino games, thus paving the way for US states to legalize iGaming intrastate.
In 2013, New Jersey took them up on the offer, and passed an online gambling bill which Gov. Chris Christie signed into law in February of that year. The legislation makes it 100% legal for gambling software companies to partner with brick-and-mortar Atlantic City casinos to offer online gambling to those inside the Garden State.
Who is eligible to play on online poker sites in NJ?
Online gambling is legal in New Jersey, but only for those 21 years of age and up and those who are physically inside the state. You do not need to be an NJ resident to play, you just need to be within the state’s borders.
Furthermore, you don’t need to be physically located in New Jersey to create an account or deposit, but you won’t be able to play for real money until you are.
Poker sites use special geolocation software to verify your location and ensure that you are not attempting to gamble from outside NJ’s borders.
Is it safe to play online poker in New Jersey?
All of NJ’s online gambling operators are subject to intense scrutiny from the state Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), the same body which regulates Atlantic City’s land-based casinos.
Each of New Jersey’s poker sites undergo continuous and rigorous audits, in which every aspect of the business is tested for compliance.
Offshore sites are not subject to the same level of critical oversight, which means:
- Players are not guaranteed that there funds are safe. Offshore poker sites are notorious for not having the funds to pay out all players (i.e. Full Tilt, Lock Poker). Contrarily, at NJ online poker sites, player funds must be held in segregated accounts, separate from operating accounts.
- Player identities and banking information are not safeguarded. And while NJ sites require more personal information than the typical offshore site, like player Social Security numbers, the information is required by law to be held securely.
- Games can be crooked. This occurs more at online casinos, where the house has incentive to stack the odds more in its favor, but can happen on poker sites as well. New Jersey games are thoroughly vetted for fairness, and are overseen by the state’s gaming regulatory body.
A note about cheating
Unlike casino games, where players gamble against the house, online poker rooms allow patrons to play against other customers. While it’s exceedingly rare and ill-advised, players have been known to try and collude with each other in order to gain an advantage against their competitors. The DGE has prepared for this possibility and requires that all gaming sites have a security team on hand to monitor for fraudulent activity that could damage other players or the company itself.
It’s also important to point out that the poker site itself does not have a stake in the winner of any given pot. The card room takes a small percentage of each pot as payment for providing the games (known as the rake), and has no reason to influence the outcome of a hand.
New Jersey online poker FAQs: Site specifics
What kind of games do NJ poker sites offer?
While there is no dearth of game formats and stakes available on NJ online poker sites, some are more popular than others. The main formats available are:
- Cash games: 6-Max No Limit Hold’em games dominate this format, with the most common stakes running the gamut between $0.05/$0.10 and $1/$2. Smaller and larger stakes are available, as are Pot Limit Omaha and other games, but players will find they don’t always run regularly.
- Multi-table tournaments: The “other” bread and butter of the industry, each site features a variety of nightly and weekend guaranteed tournaments. Buy-ins typically range from a few bucks up to $500 for the majors, with prize pools up to $10k on weeknights and $45k on weekends. During special tournament events, Main Events can guarantee as much as $200k.
- Sit & Go: Thanks to the proliferation of the Lottery Sit & Go format, traffic for traditional Sit & Go’s is on the low side. A few 6-handed and heads-up games run at the lower ($5 – $30) stakes but they’re not all that common outside of prime time hours.
- Lottery Sit & Go: Popular format that pits 3-4 players against each other in a speedy Sit & Go setting. Winner receives the lion’s share or all of the prize pool, which is determined before the match via random number generator. Both PokerStars (Spin & Go) and WSOP NJ / 888 (Blast) Poker NJ feature this format.
Worth noting is that the NJ online poker market is not yet big enough to regularly sustain fast-fold games. Players might see them pop up now and again, especially during cash game promotions, but if fast-fold is their thing, they’re generally going to be pretty disappointed.
What is the traffic like in New Jersey?
The most critical factor in determining an online poker site’s success is, of course, how many players it can regularly attract to the tables. In poker, players battle against each other, not the house, and if there are no other opponents to play with, the games simply don’t run. On the other hand, when large groups of players logon, more will follow, creating what’s called “critical mass,” which helps foster a sustainable poker ecosystem.
New Jersey has a population of 9 million, but most of its poker sites are hampered by the fact that only players within the state can play. While not crippling, the terms of the law virtually guarantee that player pools will remain low if they continue to be split between several different poker sites.
Traffic is now beginning to grow again, as 888 and WSOP have begun sharing their online poker tables with players in Delaware and Nevada. The change went into effect May 1st, 2018.
Here is a look at the seven-day traffic averages of each of the three poker networks, as provided by PokerScout (last updated 6/1/2018):
- WSOP NJ/888 Poker NJ: 280 real money players
- PokerStars: 70 real money players
- Party Poker/Borgata/playMGM: 45 real money players
Pala Poker is now out of beta with limited traffic and appears to average around 10 real money players during the hours in which the poker room is operating. Unlike the other NJ online poker rooms, which are open 24/7, Pala Poker only offers its games between the hours of 5 p.m. and 12 a.m. daily.
Do sites offer major tournaments and events?
Establishing a major poker tournament series or event is a great way for online poker sites to build traffic and create a community atmosphere. The companies behind New Jersey’s online poker sites are highly experienced in this regard and regularly put together poker festivals for their respective brands outside of the US. Here are some of the major poker tournaments which have been offered so far in the Garden State.
Party Poker/Borgata Poker/playMGM
- Garden State Super Series: This two week tournament series kicked off in 2014 and guaranteed $1 million in prizes. The inaugural series ran into trouble when technical issues forced the site to cancel several tournaments, however. Subsequent editions of the series were more successful, but traffic at the GSSS V suffered due to increased competition from the likes of PokerStars, forcing the company to bear the burden of several big overlays. The 2017 GSSS Fall Edition was the latest installment of this series, guaranteeing $375,000 in prizes. The series ran again in March of 2018 with $365,000 in guarantees across 17 tournaments.
- New Jersey Spring Championship of Online Poker (NJSCOOP): NJSCOOP debuted in May 2016 and guaranteed $1 million in tournament prizes. The 2017 NJSCOOP ran from May 6-22 and paid out nearly $1.5 million in prizes. The 2018 NJSCOOP ran from April 14th-30th, guaranteeing $1.3 million across 40 events.
- New Jersey Championship of Online Poker (NJCOOP): The inaugural NJCOOP kicked off in October 2016 and featured 43 tournaments with $1.2 million in guaranteed prize money. The series culminated with a $500 buy-in No Limit Hold‘em Main Event with a $200,000 guarantee. The 2nd Annual NJCOOP took place September 30th – October 16th, 2017. The series featured 46 tournaments and more than $1.2 million in guarantees, ultimately paying out just under $1.5 million in prizes.
- PokerStars NJ Winter Series: While not as celebrated as the “COOP” series, the Winter Series ran successfully in 2018 for the second straight year. The 2018 version featured 12 events and $325k in guarantees. In the end, the series paid out about $400k in prizes.
- PokerStars Festival: The PokerStars Festival was created in partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel and was the first live event the company had ever held in New Jersey. The experience was part of PokerStars Live, a live poker event tour hosted at premier locations around the world.
- PokerStars MEGASTACK: PokerStars’ latest innovation came to Atlantic City October 6th-8th, 2017. It featured a $220 buy in, $100,000 Guaranteed and a deep structure reminiscent of many bigger buy-in events.
- PokerStars Turbo Series: PokerStars NJ’s version of TCOOP, the popular turbo series run by PokerStars in many countries around the world. The 2018 series ran from February 24th to March 1st, guaranteeing $271,000 across 28 tournaments. Several of the events ended up having overlays.
Despite stellar organization and presentation, both live PokerStars NJ events failed to generate much interest. This is largely because Resorts Casino AC does not feature a regular poker room. Coupled with a subdued marketing effort, most casino goers were simply unaware that the events were going on.
WSOP NJ / 888 Poker NJ
- WSOP Online Championships: Running June 1st – July 1st, 2018, this multi-state series features more than $3 million in guarantees, making it the largest ever on a US regulated poker site. The series features six tournaments with $100,000 guaranteed and 124 total tournaments over the course of 31 days.
- Online Bracelet Events: Four online bracelet events took place in 2018, open to players on WSOP Nevada and WSOP New Jersey. It was the first time players located in New Jersey could compete online for a WSOP bracelet, and their participation helped elevate the size of the events compared to the previous year.
- Fall Poker Festival: WSOP’s Fall Poker Festival got its start in 2014, offering over $60,000 in guaranteed cash across eight events. The series, which pales in comparison to the bigger events thrown by PokerStars and Party Poker, was back for its third year in 2016, offering $65,000 in guaranteed prizes plus a Champion’s Ring for the winner of the Main Event.
- NJ Poker Classic: The WSOP NJ/888 Poker NJ network upped the ante considerably in fall 2017, by rolling out the NJ Poker Classic. This significant series boasted $500,000 in tournament guarantees across 38 events, and could be a signal of things to come when the network shares liquidity with 888-branded sites in other states. The second iteration of the series, NJ Poker Classic II, ran in February of 2018 and was a rousing success with over $1.1 million paid out.
What kind of loyalty programs are there?
Most NJ online poker sites offer loyalty programs made up of levels, which players can progress through by earning points for their real money play. After receiving a certain amount of points, players are bumped up into higher tiers and become eligible for increasingly attractive rewards.
For example: 888’s VIP club, called 888poker Rewards, features six levels, which award players by paying back a certain percentage of their rake contribution for the month. Players begin at Blue level, earning 5% cash back, and progress until they reach Platinum, which pays out 35% rakeback.
At present rakeback ranges are as follows:
- PokerStars NJ: 9% – 28%
- WSOP NJ: 0% – 35%
- 888 Poker NJ: 5% – 35%
- Party Poker: 6.7% – 30.7%
- Borgata Poker: 1% – 15%
- playMGM: 2% – 11.4%
Some sites also give players the option of exchanging points for tournament buy-ins or for merchandise from their VIP store.
How many networks are there in NJ again?
At the moment, there are four poker networks and seven sites operating in New Jersey, splitting the total market into small segments.
Two poker sites, those run by Ultimate Poker and Betfair, have already shut down due to low player turnout; more could follow before the market adjusts itself by consolidating the state player pool into one or two sites.
Has NJ poker traffic changed much since launch?
At the outset, Party Poker/Borgata Poker jumped out to a wide lead over its competitors, but WSOP/888 slowly made up ground. By 2015, the two sites were virtually neck and neck in their fight for market dominance.
In March 2016, PokerStars launched in New Jersey, throwing a wrench into the old dynamics. While PokerStars is the market leader as of Fall 2017, both of the other two main networks have mostly kept pace.
Pala Poker and playMGM both launched in 2017, yet again changing market dynamics. The former created a fourth independent NJ poker site, while the addition of the playMGM brand bolstered the existing GVC Network.
Interstate liquidity sharing, which began in May of 2018, has catapulted WSOP/888 into a substantial lead, due to their de facto monopoly in both Nevada and Delaware.
NJ poker site FAQs: Looking ahead
Can NJ poker players compete with people in other states?
The days of low liquidity and limited prime time hours have come to an end, as NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s office announced an agreement in October of 2017 to share NJ online poker tables with players in Nevada and Delaware.
Starting May 1st, 2018, New Jersey online poker players were able to compete with players in two other states: Nevada and Delaware. This interstate agreement will inevitably lead to increased overall US online poker liquidity.
Players in Nevada and Delaware currently have just one significant option for online poker, and that’s 888-branded sites, meaning the 888/WSOP network has become New Jersey’s largest poker site after the merge. The current average cash game traffic is about 4 times that of PokerStars, the second biggest NJ site, but we presume eventually the figure will be even higher thanks to renewed interest.
PokerStars is forbidden from participating in Nevada’s legal online poker market, based on a bad actor clause in Nevada law. It’s currently unknown whether or not the GVC Network (Party/playMGM/Borgata) will have a Nevada presence in the future.
Additionally, Pennsylvania recently legalized online gambling and is largely expected to allow online poker players there to join the same player pool with the other three states. All four New Jersey poker networks are likely to participate in Pennsylvania as well.
What about international player pooling?
It’s not out of the question. Recently, outgoing NJ Senator and online gambling champion Raymond Lesniak introduced legislation that would “allow location of Internet gaming equipment outside of Atlantic City under certain circumstances.”
This would effectively pave the way for NJ to share liquidity with international markets, allowing the state to become the “Mecca of iGaming” that Lesniak has envisioned for years.
The bill has the support of the NJ DGE, but no action from either legislative branch has been taken yet.
List of NJ Poker Site Reviews
Below is a full list of every licensed online poker operator in New Jersey, along with our numerical review and link to full review. Beware of ads for poker sites that are not listed on this page – they are not authorized to be operating in the state, and your money may not be safe with them!
|Poker Site||Network||Licensee||NJOG Rating|
|Pala Poker||Pala Poker||Borgata||9.0|
|Borgata Online Poker||Bwin.Party||Borgata||8.3|
|888 Poker NJ||AAPN||Caesars||7.8|
The path toward legal online poker in New Jersey
In the early aughts, before US authorities began working to dismantle unregulated online poker operators, Americans had their choice of playing at a wide variety of online card rooms.
But the free-for-all wouldn’t last.
In 2006, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), legislation which was used successfully to block the biggest poker sites from offering their services in the country. Publicly traded companies, such as PartyGaming immediately pulled out, leaving privately owned entities to take charge.
From 2006 – 2011, PokerStars and Full Tilt became the dominant forces in US online poker. But their reign would come to an end in April 2011, when the Department of Justice (DOJ) unsealed an indictment against them and Absolute Poker. Operations on these sites quickly ceased.
In December 2011, a sprig of hope for online poker players would emerge, as the DOJ offered an opinion that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting. This effectively paved the way for individual states to regulate and legalize online gambling.
Just over one year later, in February 2013, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law which legalized both online poker and online gambling in the Garden State.
The first sites flipped over the open sign in November 2013, and today, NJ poker players can once again play the game that they love online, this time at fully licensed and regulated sites.