Poker in Illinois
In the realm of gambling law, Illinois, the sixth most populous state in the United States, has made significant progress as of late. This is encouraging to see coming from a major nation and might be good for poker in Illinois.
New Illinois gambling legislation was signed into law in June of 2019. The Sports Wagering Act followed shortly thereafter. These pieces of legislation expanded access to casino table games, slot machines, and video gaming terminals for residents of Illinois, as well as legalized sports betting (at both brick-and-mortar and online sports books).
Neither of these new laws, unfortunately, authorized online poker. While not perfect, it’s a start, and there are currently three casinos in the state that have poker rooms open and licensed by the government.
In a state with a population of over 12 million, three legal poker rooms may not seem like much, but they are an improvement over what the locals have had to work with for the vast majority of the state’s existence. During the 1930s, Chicago, Illinois was notorious as the “home turf” of notorious mob boss Al Capone. While his bootleg alcohol business brought him to prominence, his illegal gambling operations in the city were where he really made his fortune.
In 1931, when Al Capone was on trial for tax evasion, his lawyers opted for the dubious defense strategy of arguing that the mob boss’ income had been significantly reduced due to gambling losses. In any case, their claim would have been irrelevant for purposes of determining taxable income, even if it were true.
During the 1920s, horse race betting became Illinois’ first officially sanctioned form of gambling. Gambling in casinos was legalized by the local government in 1990, albeit in an unusual fashion: only on riverboats. Steamboats cruising the Mississippi River in the early 19th century were a hotspot for games of poker.
The Casino Queen is a riverboat establishment that is still functional in the state of Illinois; unfortunately, they do not support poker.
- 12,670,000 people live here.
- To wit: Springfield, Illinois
- Money in U.S. dollars ($)
- IL is an abbreviation for Illinois.
- Location: UTC+6
Where You Can Play Poker in Illinois Casinos:
- Jumer’s Casino & Hotel
- Grand Victoria Casino
- Hollywood Casino Aura
The World’s Most Notable Poker Players From Illinois
Chicago is the place of Barry Greenstein‘s birth. So far, he has won three gold bracelets at the World Series of Poker and has been featured frequently on the NBC poker show Poker After Dark and the GSN show High Stakes Poker.
Joe Ingram, who hails from Chicago and is thus often called “Chicago Joey” by his devoted fanbase, is a popular figure in the virtual poker world. His Poker Life podcast, in which he talks to prominent people in the poker industry, has amassed over 130,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel. His forte as a poker player was playing PLO cash games for large stakes online.
Connor Drinan of Arlington Heights, Illinois, has amassed $11.250 million in live tournament earnings, making him the state’s all-time money leader on Hendon. Drinan won his first gold bracelet in the $10K NLHE Super Million$ event in 2020, the year that all WSOP events were forced to be played online due to a pandemic caused by the coronavirus. He took home $1,423,000 for his victory. In addition, he triumphed in the $100,000 side bet he had placed against Daniel Negreanu to see who would end the summer with the most bracelets.
Evanston, Illinois native John Cynn won the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event. He beat out 7,874 other competitors to win poker’s most prestigious title and a first-place payout of $8.8 million.
Live Poker in Illinois: A First-Person Account
Regulatory Framework for Live Poker in Illinois
The Illinois Gambling Act, which we introduced in the first place, is the current gambling law in the United States.
The Illinois Gaming Board is responsible for licensing and regulation. The governor appoints five people to this body, and they must be confirmed by the state senate.
The Charitable Gaming Acts and Regulations are a provision of Illinois gambling law that is sometimes exploited by poker organizers who do not have a valid state casino license (230 ILCS30). A poker tournament (or other game of chance) can be held legally if its organizers team up with a nonprofit and donate a portion of the proceeds to the organization.
However, in October of 2020, we witnessed the shortcomings of a poker tournament based on this loophole.
There were multiple days of a $1,100 NLHE tournament hosted by Dan Bekavac’s Midway Poker Tour in support of 4 KIDS. However, mayhem ensued when the eliminated ITM finishers tried to withdraw their winnings. It turned out that the maximum bonus that could be paid out on top of the buy-in under this law was only $500. Silver coins were awarded to the winners of pots over $1,600, but the precious metal buyer who had been promised to be present was nowhere to be found.
The participants, many of whom were unaware of the unusual circumstances when they signed up for the tournament, quickly learned that they couldn’t recoup the face value of their silver prizes. Because of this, the Midway Poker Tour became one of the worst-attended poker tournaments in history.
Casinos and Card Rooms with Live Poker in Illinois
Three is the total number of casinos in Illinois that offer poker rooms, as we mentioned earlier.
Elgin’s Grand Victoria Casino has a card room with many different cash games to choose from. The stakes at the No Limit Hold’em tables range from $1/$2 to $5/$10, with the former two being the most common.
The blinds at their single Pot Limit Omaha table are $1/$2, and, strangely, the “bring-in” is $5. The player with the least effective open card on the first street of a Stud game is the one who must “bring in” the pot. Because open door cards are not used in Omaha games, it is ambiguous what the casino implies when it refers to “bring-in” in this context.
Limit Omaha Hi/Lo is the primary focus of this group. Maximum bets of $30/$60 are allowed at that table. There is no maximum buy-in for this table, which is a major difference from the rest.
Weekly on Wednesday afternoons at the Hollywood Casino Aurora is a $160 no-limit hold’em tournament. Additionally, they place a greater emphasis on cash games. Hendon claims that their last tournament series was in 2002.. but this does mean that they have cash tables with fairly high limits. For example, they have $1/$2 and up NLHE tables with regular action all the way to $10/$20.
Jumer’s Casino & Hotel in Rock Island is the third Illinois casino to feature poker.
Gambling Halls and Poker Clubs in the Prairie State
Illinois Legalizes Online Poker
As was mentioned up top, online sports betting is now legitimate in the state of Illinois. DraftKings, Fanduel, and PointSharp are just some of the licensed and regulated sites where they can make those wagers.
Nonetheless, things are not so simple for online poker players.
In Illinois, it is against the law to reach any one of the significant poker sites. Online poker licenses are not available through the state’s Gaming Board. A resident of the country can only play online poker for real money at “sweepstakes online poker sites” like Global Poker.
At these sites, you can use real money to buy virtual currency, which you can then use to compete in games and win real-world rewards.