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Top Online Poker Sites for California

You’ll find no shortage of live poker cash games and tournaments in California. But these games are expensive between their multi-hundred dollar buy-ins and their flat-fee rake structure.

Why not make the switch to online poker? The buy-ins and rake are reasonable. There are more games and variants to choose from. And you can claim a deposit bonus, which no live cardroom offers.

All you need is an account with one of the best California poker sites online.

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We strongly recommend you join one of the real money poker sites we endorse. We explain why, what we look for, and more in the next section.

Then, we’ll show you why you should consider switching to playing online poker in CA, including how it can save and make you more money compared to playing live.

If that sounds good to you, then let’s get started.

Finding the Best Poker Sites for CA

If you want to play real money poker online in California, your first step is to find a safe and reputable poker site to join. This isn’t a step you want to take alone. Here is why.

Poker is unique from most other gambling games in that you’re not playing against the house but other players like yourself. The site you join needs to have adequate traffic, otherwise, you won’t find a game to play.

This information is available online if you know where to look. And when it’s not, there are usually a few tells you can pick up in the online poker room’s lobby.

If you don’t know how to find this information, or how to interpret the clues, you might as well choose a poker site blindfolded. There’s really no difference if you insist on finding your own CA poker site to join.

On top of that, there’s other criteria you should consider, such as the poker room’s games, variants, stakes, rake, promotions, and more. It’s a lot to uncover.

That’s why we suggest you rely on us. We have decades of online poker experience. And we’ve researched and tested almost every online poker site in existence, so we know exactly which ones Californians should join.

Here’s what we look for in the best online poker sites for California.

  • The poker site’s license and the commission that issued it
  • The banking options you can use
  • The withdrawal limits i.e. how much of your winnings can you withdraw each month?
  • Can you claim a deposit bonus or participate in a VIP program, guaranteed tournaments, etc.?
  • Are they trustworthy? What do other poker players think of them?

This covers the basics and tells us whether the poker room is safe, secure, trustworthy, and reliable enough to join.

But we’re not done yet.

We also need to make sure they’re a GREAT poker site, especially for poker players in California. Here’s what else we look at.

  • What features does the room have? Do they have hand history players, four-color decks, odds calculators, quick play, etc.?
  • Can you use a HUD?
  • What kinds of tournaments can you play? Can you play guaranteed tournament? Satellites? Knockouts? Turbos? 6-max?
  • What real money poker games and variants can you play?
  • Do they allow multi-tabling? How many tables can you play at once?
  • Is their rake reasonable?

We compare every site we review, take the top choices, and order them from best to worst. The result is a list of the top poker sites or, in this case, the best California poker sites.

Top Online Poker Sites for California

We’re thorough in our research and testing, as you can see for yourself if you read our poker room reviews.

The goal is to save you all that time, money, and energy, then help you find a California-friendly online poker room as quickly as possible.

We think we achieved that. But you’ll only know for sure once you choose a CA poker site to join, create your account, and get some real money hands and tourneys under your belt.

Rake at California Poker Sites

One unique thing about playing live poker in California is how you pay rake. The rake is the money the poker room collects as their fee for hosting the game.

Most poker rooms charge you a percentage of the pot and cap how much they can rake. For example, a poker room might take 10% of every pot up to $10.

The percentage and cap will vary based on the poker room, the stakes you play, and the number of players in the pot.

Many cardrooms do not rake the pot if no one sees a flop. This is known as a “no flop, no drop” policy.

California flips all this on its head. Here’s how.

By law, California cardrooms cannot rake a percentage of the pot, so they charge a flat rate and/or charge an hourly fee instead.

For example, you might pay $10 every hour to play. Or you might as much as $7 (at $5/$10) plus whatever the room takes for their promotions, such as a bad beat jackpot. They also rake the pot even if no one sees a flop.

Now, let’s compare this to online poker.

One of the California online poker sites we like charges 5.5% rake for their highest limit games and even less for their micro stakes.

If you play $5/$10, like our live example above, you’ll pay $0.01 for every $0.18 in the pot (5.5%). You’ll pay $1 to $5 max per hand depending on the number of players in the pot. That’s 70% less on the high side, just for playing online.

That’s not all the money you’ll save either. Here are the other ways you’ll save by choosing to play real money poker online instead of live.

  • Not having to travel
  • Not wasting time waiting for a game or seat to open
  • Not playing at rooms without a no flop, no drop policy
  • Choosing whether to play bad beat jackpot games

You’ll save money, but you can also make more money playing poker online because you can play more than one table at a time and you can participate in promotions like deposit bonuses and VIP programs.

The bottom line, you’ll increase your hourly rate and take-home pay. And all you have to do is choose to play games at the top CA poker websites instead of live.

This doesn’t just apply to cash games either. It applies to tournaments, too.

California Poker Tournaments

California is also known for their poker tournaments. They host some of the largest and most popular poker tournaments in the world.

  • WSOP circuit events
  • WTP tournaments such as the WPT Deep Stacks Championship
  • Battle of the Bay
  • California State Poker Championship
  • Memorial Day Tournament Series
  • Bay 101 Summer Open
  • Commerce Hold’em Series
  • A. Poker Open
  • Gold Rush Poker Series

These are great live tournaments to play in. They can add a nice boost to your total live earnings column, especially since they routinely pay six and seven-figure prizes to the winner.

There’s also a little prestige and notoriety in doing well in these tournaments, which some poker players care about.

But do they offset the downsides?

  • Buy-ins range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
  • The rake is expensive. You should expect the cardroom to collect $15 to $20 for every $100 you pay to play.
  • The bigger tournaments can take days to complete.

Now, these will apply to live tournaments. But you also have the fact that you can spend hours playing, bust the tournament, and walk away with nothing.

This will apply to online tournaments too, but they have advantages that California poker tournament players do not have.

Why CA Poker Tournament Players Should Play Online

If you want to play real money poker tournaments in California, we recommend you play online. Here are a few reasons why, relative to the points made in the last section.

  • The largest tournament buy-ins online are between $215 to $600 (with a few rare exceptions).
  • The prize pools still reach six and seven figures because online poker sites aren’t confined to California or a specific square footage. They can allow a larger number of players to play, which increases the prize pool without increasing the buy-in.
  • You pay less rake. You’ll usually pay $9 to $10 for every $100 you pay to play.
  • Most tournaments are done in a (long) day.

Now, we mentioned that you can play a tournament for hours only to bust and walk away with nothing. That’s possible in any tournament, online or live. But here’s why online poker tournaments are better.

Online poker rooms can run more tournaments since they’re not limited on space. This means you can play more tournaments. And most CA poker sites let you play more than one tournament at a time.

Since you can put in more volume (play more tournaments), you can get through your variance (losses) faster. This enables you to cash out and win more often. You don’t have to go weeks, months, or years without a score. You’ll cash out far more often than that.

There are many other benefits to playing poker tournaments online instead of live, too.

  • You can earn VIP perks.
  • You’ll have a larger variety of tournament games, variations, and stakes to choose from.
  • You can satellite into larger poker tournaments for much less than you can online.
  • You can buy into many tournaments for less than $20. Many of these have three- or four-figure prize pools/payouts.

While there’s more money, prestige, and notoriety to gain playing in California’s live poker tournaments, it also costs a lot of time and money to play these tourneys.

Online poker tournaments are a middle ground. You can still play in tournaments with large prize pools. But you won’t spend as much to play them. And you have the added benefit of multi-tabling, which will enable you to play, cash in, and win more tournaments than you ever could offline.

CA Online Poker FAQ

Can you join more than one CA poker site?

Yes. We highly recommend it. The traffic at each poker site fluctuates, both in terms of overall traffic and traffic to the specific game you want to play.

You’ll have better odds of finding a profitable game or tournament the more poker site accounts you have.

What promotions do California poker sites offer?

The most common is the deposit bonus. Make a deposit and the poker room will match a percentage of it up to so many dollars.

For example, if the poker room you join is offering a 100% match bonus up to $500, then they’ll give you $1 for every $1 you deposit. You can get as much as $500 free.

Poker rooms also offer VIP programs, rebates, tournament tickets, guaranteed tournaments, VIP exclusive freerolls, and more.

How big are the guaranteed poker tournaments?

It depends on the poker room.

A typical guaranteed tourney during a Sunday schedule is $100,000. That said, we’ve seen guarantees as high as $1 million.

How do I find the best online poker sites in CA?

You should take a two-pronged approach.

One, figure out what you want in a poker site — the games, variants, stakes, promotions, etc. Then, read the reviews for every site we recommend and choose the site that offers the closest to what you’re looking for.

Can I play on my smartphone?

Yes. Most poker sites offer mobile poker.

Some poker sites offer a native app. Others have a browser-based setup where you’ll play poker in your mobile web browser.

Which is better for CA poker players, online or live?

There are tons of variables to consider, too many to cover here. If we had to give a sweeping statement, it’d be the one below.

If you play medium stakes or higher, chances are you’re better off playing live. You can find games like $5/$10 or $10/$20 online, but you’ll probably find more consistent action offline. And depending on where you live in California, it might even make more sense to drive to Reno or Las Vegas.

For micro and small stakes players, as well as tournament players, we think there’s a lot of value in playing at online poker sites for all the reasons mentioned above.

Play Real Money Poker Online in California

Poker is popular in CA. You’ll find loads of live cash game action and poker tournaments. Many of these poker tournaments pay life-altering sums to the players who win them.

But live poker in California is far more expensive, less profitable, and less convenient compared to playing online.

There’s no reason you can’t play both formats, both live and online. But if we had to choose, we’d choose to play real money poker online.

If you see where we’re coming from and want to make the leap to playing poker online, then join one of the best California poker sites and create your account now.

Cash games and tournaments are running all day every day. Are you going to be part of the action?

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