In 2003, an ordinary accountant named Chris Moneymaker played for a seat at the Main Event of the World Series of Poker, entering a satellite tournament online on a site called PokerStars. His buy-in was just $86. After winning that seat, he went on to win the WSOP Main Event in a legendary televised game, raking in an astounding $2.5 million.
Could you be the next Chris Moneymaker if you play poker online? Maybe, but first you might have to deal with some barriers—namely whether you can gamble online in the country where you are located.
Nothing is more frustrating than trying to join an online casino only to get the message, “Sorry, country blocked” when you try to register (or even just view the site). Thankfully, there is a simple, fast and easy solution, and that is to download a VPN.
VPN stands for “virtual private network.” When you use a VPN, your online traffic is funneled through a remote server in a foreign country of your choice. That means that instead of seeing your real IP address and location, online poker sites see whatever IP address and location you want them to see. So if you are in a country that is blocked, you can simply access the site through a country which is not blocked.
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Why Should You Use a VPN for Poker?
According to a recent survey from the Gambling Commission in the UK, about half of all adults gamble. While that statistic is specific to Britons, it can be assumed that it is roughly representative of worldwide interest in poker and other casino games.
Nonetheless, backwards attitudes toward gambling abound, and there are still quite a few countries with outright bans on online gambling. Still others technically allow it—but throw up enough roadblocks that you still might find a lot of poker sites block your country.
Here are a few countries where playing poker online is completely illegal:
- Russia: Online gambling, including poker, has been banned in Russia since 2006.
- United Arab Emirates (UAE): Gambling here is totally forbidden, and you can even end up serving jail time for it.
- India: In the state of Maharashtra, online gambling is illegal—but in other states of India, it is not. The central government has not made its position clear on the issue.
Here are some countries which allow gambling online, but only on sites which have a local license:
- Poland: In 2016, the Polish Gambling Act was amended so that only websites which have a license from the Polish government will be able to offer gambling to citizens.
- France: Online poker is permitted in France, so long as it is on a site which has a license from the French government.
Then there are countries like the United States where online gambling laws are simply confusing. No federal law prohibits online poker or other online casino games in the USA, but there are some state restrictions, and there is the complicated matter of the Wire Act. The Wire Act used to be interpreted in such a way as to forbid online poker bets, but as of 2011, the Department of Justice changed its stance.
Needless to say, there are quite a few reasons you might need a VPN to bet on poker online:
- You live in a country where online poker is forbidden, and you want to play anyway (note: if your country prosecutes online poker, a VPN may not save you from paying penalties or serving jail time!).
- You are in the USA or another country where online gambling is highly regulated, and you want to play at a poker site which does not have a license to operate in your country or blocks your country for other regulatory reasons.
- You are traveling and will be in a country where your favorite poker site is blocked.
Take note you might still hit some additional snags even with a VPN. If you need to verify your identity at some point to play or withdraw winnings, you could run into some issues if the site realizes you are located in a blocked country. So make sure you have a plan at the ready.
Features to Look for in a VPN for Poker
What is important to look for in a VPN for online poker?
1. A stable, reliable connection.
Whether you are looking for a VPN to play PokerStars or any other poker site, arguably the most vital feature you need is a connection you can depend on. If the VPN hangs or lags during play (or disconnects entirely), you could end up losing your hand, or even the entire game. Speed and reliability are of the utmost importance if you want to protect your bankroll.
2. Diverse servers.
The more countries there are available to choose from, the more options you will have in terms of poker sites. Countries which are allowed on some sites are blocked on others, so you might need to try different servers on different sites.
3. Ironclad encryption and no logging.
Finally, if you are playing from a country where gambling online is banned, it is absolutely essential that you choose a VPN which is going to do everything in its power to protect your privacy. That means strong encryption algorithms and a strict no-logging policy. If the VPN accepts bitcoin as a payment method, that is another plus, since that allows you to pay for the service completely anonymously.
Remember, if your country prosecutes online gamblers, you are playing poker online at your own risk, even with a VPN.
Can You Use a Free VPN for Poker?
Looking for the best free VPN for poker? You may want to skip it. The best VPN for PokerStars and other online poker sites is always going to be a paid service. Why? Free VPNS do not have the financial resources needed to offer you the bandwidth, reliability, and privacy you need to play and protect your anonymity. It’s as simple as that.
Conclusion: With the Best VPN for Online Poker, You Could Be the Next Big Winner
Thanks to the fast growth of the online gambling industry, any ordinary person can now play in a satellite tournament for WSOP or other big poker tourneys for a chance to win millions. If PokerStars and other poker sites are blocked in your country or you are traveling abroad, a VPN is your best friend. With it, you can disguise your IP address and fool poker sites into thinking you are from a country they allow. Good luck becoming the next big winner!