Poker players in Georgia don’t have many options when it comes to legal poker, either live or online. Poker is among the many forms of gambling that are against the law in the state.
That said, there are legal poker clubs located around the state where players can get a game with other poker enthusiasts, and even have a chance to win some money while doing so. These clubs aren’t like traditional poker rooms, but they do operate within Georgia law.
These poker clubs in Georgia come in a couple of different varieties. There are bar poker clubs that feature regular live poker games at bars and restaurants across the state. There are also a small number of charity poker clubs that provide another way for Georgians to play live poker.
Here’s a quick look at the limited live poker options in Georgia, as well as information about where else Georgians might go in order to play.
Are poker clubs legal in Georgia?
Georgia has no commercial casinos. With no federally recognized tribes based in the state, there are no tribal casinos, either. Nor will you find any traditional poker rooms in Georgia as you might in California, Nevada and other states. Incidentally, online poker also isn’t an option in Georgia the way it is in Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and a few other states.
Georgia Code 16.12.20 and its many subsections spell out the many forms of gambling that the state prohibits. It is illegal to take or receive bets on games such as poker as defined by law. Doing so turns an establishment into a “gambling place” and thus subjects those running the games to potential penalties, including imprisonment and hefty fines.
Even home poker games are technically not legal in Georgia, although it is unlikely the authorities will be animated by a gathering of friends playing cards for low stakes. That said, even home game players should be aware of the law and the potential risks associated with playing live poker.
“Poker busts” do happen in Georgia, especially if the games get too large. For example, in 2019 the owner of a popular bar in McDonough near Atlanta was arrested on commercial gambling charges for hosting real money poker games. The bar also had unlicensed coin operated amusement machines, further increasing the owner’s legal difficulties.
However, there are poker clubs in Georgia that operate within the law. These aren’t like the real money poker rooms you can play in elsewhere, but they do nonetheless make it possible for Georgia poker players to legally play poker with one another in a live setting.
‘Bar poker’ leagues in Georgia
You might have heard of “bar poker” or “tavern poker” before. Bar poker clubs and leagues have been around for a while, becoming especially popular during the “poker boom” of the 2000s when the rise of online poker and increase in televised poker shows encouraged many across the US to take up the game for the first time.
Some of these poker clubs or leagues are sponsored by individual establishments, while others were created by companies that marketed bar poker leagues and helped set up tournaments and other events at many different locations.
Generally speaking, bar poker games are free to play, although it is customary for players to tip dealers and staff. Sometimes there might be a charge for food and beverage that you must pay before you can participate in the poker games. However the games take place, players do not use cash during gameplay such as in a traditional “cash game.” Nor do they pay money to enter tournaments.
The games might feature prizes from a source other than the players themselves. They also sometimes have no prizes but instead, players win leaderboard points or other rewards for playing. In any event, all of these features help distinguish the game from straightforward, cash-for-play poker and thus keep them from violating local gambling laws prohibiting such games.
Bar poker can be especially fun for new poker players since it provides a chance to learn the game with little or no significant risk.
Atlanta Poker Club
The most prominent bar poker provider in Georgia is the Atlanta Poker Club. The club hosts poker tournaments at more than a dozen restaurants and bars around Atlanta. Many locations host events several times a week, with some like Gino’s Blind Tiger and Sportsline Bar & Grill having tournaments every day.
The Atlanta Poker Club advertises its games as “100% free to play.” However, players will need to purchase food and drink at the host venues. The tournaments generally work in a way that rewards players who do spend money with extra tournament chips with which to play. The club also limits the amount players can spend to get chips in this way to $25 per event. Tipping dealers and staff is also customary.
Prizes can include club gear like caps, hoodies, card protectors, poker chips, silver championship coins, championship bracelets, trophies and “venue cash” (i.e., gift cards to use at the hosting venue). Some special events award seats at World Poker Tour or World Series of Poker events. Players also win points that enable them to compete on monthly leaderboards that also reward top finishers with prizes.
Some of the events have cash prizes as well, although the prize pools are sometimes donated or derived in ways other than directly charging players entry fees. You’ll find some that bill themselves as “freeroll” tournaments, meaning they are technically free to play, although, as noted above, players generally do spend money while at the venue and/or tip those staging the event.
As the Atlanta Poker Club website points out, the events also reward players with “prestige and bragging rights” as well as “friendships, relationships and memories.” In other words, while there is always something tangible to play for, the games are also largely about social interaction and community building.
There are other bar poker leagues and venues that feature similar poker games. Sports bars in particular are a favorite location. A quick Google search will help you find which establishments list poker among their offerings alongside pool, karaoke, sports on television, and food and drink.
Georgia charity poker clubs
Charity poker clubs are another variety of live poker in Georgia. There are relatively few of them in the state, especially when compared to the bar poker clubs and leagues. But they do exist and so are worth mentioning in our survey of live poker options in Georgia.
Charity poker clubs essentially operate according to the same laws and regulations that permit other forms of charitable gaming in Georgia, like bingo and raffles. Such clubs charge door fees and/or daily membership fees. There is no table rake as you find at traditional poker rooms, although players do tip the dealers.
In Georgia, charitable gaming is licensed and regulated not on the state level but by local jurisdictions. Thus charity poker clubs must receive authorization from their county in order to operate. As it happens, both of the clubs below are in Gwinnett County, and thus both have a license from the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.
Little Kings and Queens
For several years, Little Kings and Queens in Buford (about 45 minutes northeast of Atlanta) was the only charity poker club operating in the state. Operated by a nonprofit organization since 2015, the club hosts poker tournaments and events in order to raise funds for a variety of charities.
The 15-table poker room’s charity partners include the Atlanta Food Bank and the North Gwinnett Co-Op as well as a number of local and national organizations focusing on cancer research and treatment like Lucky for Lungs and All in for a Cure.
Little Kings and Queens hosts nightly poker tournaments from Tuesday through Sunday each week. There are also regular cash games where players can play both Texas Hold’em and different Omaha variants. There are also tournament series from time to time as well as other special events.
The room additionally sponsors food drives and other programs as another way to raise funds.
Poker Bar & Grill
Another charity poker room opened in late 2021. The Poker Bar & Grill is located in Duluth, which like Buford is a short drive northeast from downtown Atlanta (about 35 minutes). It is also a nonprofit that donates all profits to charities, in this case focusing on organizations supporting children’s needs.
The location features a 12-table poker room. At last check, the Poker Bar & Grill only hosted no-limit tournaments and no cash games. It remains to be seen how the club fares and whether it can establish itself in Duluth as well as Little Kings and Queens have in nearby Buford.
What states near Georgia have legal live poker?
Georgians seeking traditional live poker rooms may consider taking a trip to a nearby state to do so. Never mind looking west or east. Alabama has a handful of tribal casinos and a racino, but none have poker rooms, and South Carolina has no legal live poker, either. However, there are options to the north and south.
Just over the Georgia border are multiple popular live poker rooms in both the Florida Panhandle and over in the east in Jacksonville:
- Bestbet Jacksonville (Jacksonville) — 70 tables
- Bestbet Orange Park (Jacksonville) — 38 tables
- Creek Entertainment Gretna (Tallahassee) — 26 tables
- Pensacola Greyhound Track (Pensacola) — 25 tables
- Ebro Poker Room (Pensacola) — 25 tables
All five of these locations feature frequent tournaments and cash games. The Bestbet Jacksonville location in particular often hosts large tournament series, including many World Poker Tour and WPTDeepStacks events.
Poker players can also travel a bit farther to visit the many rooms in the middle and lower half of Florida, if they wish. Several of these are quite large, such as the Derby Lane Poker Room in St. Petersburg (51 tables) and the room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa (46 tables).
Georgians can also travel north to play poker at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in western North Carolina.
Even though it’s the only legal live poker room in the state, the Harrah’s Cherokee room is a good one with 32 tables and regular cash game and tournament action. The casino also frequently hosts World Series of Poker Circuit series and in the past has been the site of the WSOP-C National Championship.
Many Georgia players frequently make the trip to NC for these events, as do those from other nearby states.
FAQ about Georgia poker clubs
Bar poker clubs and leagues unsurprisingly have a minimum age requirement of 21, matching that of the alcohol-serving establishments hosting their games. Both of the charity poker clubs listed above also require players to be at least 21 years old.
No, the bar poker clubs and charity poker clubs do not charge rake as traditional live poker rooms do. There may be a fee to participate in the games, but there is no rake taken from the pot as that would effectively cause the games to violate Georgia law.
For the most part, you’ll primarily find no-limit hold’em in bar poker games or charity poker clubs. Also, very often there will only be tournaments or sit and go’s and no “cash game” poker available. Sometimes certain Atlanta Poker Club venues have pot-limit Omaha tournaments, and the Little Kings and Queens charity poker room does feature Omaha variants in its cash games. However, don’t expect to find Georgia poker clubs spreading seven-card stud or other mixed games such as you might find at traditional poker rooms in other states.
Technically speaking, no. As is the case in many states across the US, Georgia has so-called “meetup” groups to help poker players find one another for games. These groups often connect on message boards, via Facebook or by other means, usually online. Georgia does not legally permit home poker games, including the games resulting from these meetup groups. From a legal standpoint, then, these meetup games do not fall into the category of authorized live poker like the bar poker and charity poker games we described above.
Not any time soon, but it could happen eventually. While there is no strong push at present to authorize legal Georgia poker rooms or casinos, some are certainly in favor of doing so. Presently lawmakers and other interested parties are more focused on trying to legalize sports betting in Georgia, although other forms of gambling expansion, including allowing a limited number of retail casinos, have come up for discussion. Should Georgia ever legalize casino gambling, if the properties did open poker rooms they would likely be very popular given the paucity of live poker options otherwise available.