Canada is a nation that has a long and rich history with gaming, particularly when it comes to poker. Some of the biggest names in the discipline were born in Canada, the likes of Mike McDonald, Kristen Bicknell and Jaime Staples all cut their teeth playing in local games before launching into careers on the world’s stage.
In recent years, the iGaming industry has undergone further expansion, opening up online poker, casino and sports betting to gamers in even more countries and territories. With digital poker now surging in popularity in newly minted North American states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, what’s the deal for online poker players north of the border?
Well, gamers in Canada can currently access a variety of online poker real money experiences, including digital tournaments, legislated gaming platforms and offshore websites. In this article, we’ll cover the key options that are available to Canadian players.
The Local Digital Poker Market
2022 brought about a major change in the local digital poker market in Ontario, setting a template that other provinces may emulate in the near future. This year, Ontario lawmakers set up its own regulation for online poker in the province, creating a fenced-in market that meant gamers in the region could play against each other.
Mimicking the legislation proving to be popular in those US states that have legalised online poker, lawmakers in the province have invited several renowned global operators to enter the market, the first of which officially launched their poker platform in April. Not long after, remote local casino gaming and sports betting action also became available in the local market, providing players with even more options.
Elsewhere throughout Canada, there still aren’t any specific regulations that are directly applied to the practice of remote gaming. This effectively means that gamers from any of the country’s 10 provinces (including Ontario) can choose to game at offshore sites with no repercussions.
Platforms that are considered offshore are run by operators who aren’t based in the country in question – in this case, Canada. Instead, they are based in and licensed by other jurisdictions and are allowed to operate globally in unregulated markets.
Due to the size of the offshore market, players can run afoul of unsavoury sites so it’s important to only game with reputable operators. Luckily, some of the world’s most reputable gaming brands that are licensed by stringent authorities such as the Malta Gaming Authority or the UKGC operate in the Canadian offshore market.
When it comes to depositing and withdrawing winnings in offshore gaming platforms, Canadian gamers would be well advised to use digital wallets for such transactions. Not all platforms are compatible with Canadian debit or credit cards, so eWallets including Instadebit and Skrill have instead become a popular choice – particularly when it comes to transferring funds to and from Canadian bank accounts.
Online Poker Variants in Canada
As with remote poker in other parts of the world, playing poker online in Canada can be very advantageous to gamers thanks to the array of variants that are available to play. A brick and mortar casino typically only offers a limited selection of poker variants, games and tournaments, the majority of which are played under Texas Hold’em rules. Online platforms, however, are stacked with different options, including more rare variants and several levels of tournaments or cash games.
The type of poker games that you can expect to find at either a locally-regulate poker site or an offshore gaming platform include the following:
- Five or Seven-Card Stud
- No-Limit Hold’em
- Pai Gow Poker
- Omaha Hi-Lo and Omaha Pot Limit
Games can be played in fixed limit, live dealer or video poker formats at the majority of platforms, while some have branched out into more explosive gaming formats such as sit n go poker or fast-fold poker.
Gamers in Canada can also choose between playing traditional cash games, which feature blinds that remain constant for consecutive hands along with re buy-in options, or poker tournaments (including play money tournaments) where the stakes can be higher and the action more challenging.