Texas Hold’em may not have originated in Canada but it’s actually easier to play the game online in the Great White North these days than it is in other parts of the world - including Texas. Online poker players in Canada can access the best poker sites in the world and their international player pools. Canadians can also play on some exclusive Canadian-only sites and get exclusive offers that aren’t available to other players.
The other thing about Canada, as you’re likely well aware, is that the winters can be pretty cold and long. That’s the perfect environment to play online poker! See our list of the best Canadian poker sites ranked and reviewed below. Click "Play Now" to get started with a new account and bonus!
Best Online Poker Sites Canada
Picking the best poker sites you can play on while in Canada depends on what you want from your online poker playing experience. Do you want top software, interesting poker variations and mixed games and a massive lineup of poker tournaments and tournament series? You should probably take a look at PokerStars first and see if it works for you. Want some soft cash games, a growing lineup of weekend tournaments and tournament series and great opportunities to win live poker packages? You should probably give 888poker or partypoker a try.
Want the weakest competition of them all? Tiger Gaming Poker is definitely an option. Want the safety and security of a government-operated poker site, even if it means less traffic and smaller prize pools? That's there for you too. And that's the essence of online poker in Canada. Players are spoiled for choice with an infinite number of games, stakes and variations to choose from on a variety of great and reputable online poker sites. And did we mention the tax-free winnings?
Whatever you decide, before you start playing make sure you know the basics and have a solid grip and understanding of How to Play Poker and basic poker strategy. This cheat sheet with poker hand rankings can help you figure out which hand wins in a poker game if you're literally just beginning at the game.
Playing Online Poker in Canada
As mentioned Canada is one of the few places that offers both government-run online poker sites in addition to private poker sites. It’s a fairly unique system in the online poker world and it’s helped create a burgeoning industry for both province-run sites and offshore operators. The customer is the real winner as they get more poker options than almost any other country. It’s what brought hundreds of professional poker players to Canada after Black Friday narrowed the U.S. online poker market significantly.
In turn those poker pros helped stimulate the poker environment in cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. It was win-win for everyone and Canada remains one of the premier places in the world to be an online poker player. The spin-off of the strong online poker industry in Canada is a booming live poker scene across the country, too. The Playground Poker Club in Montreal might lead the way in major poker events but live casino in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto are always overflowing with poker players.
What Happens to Online Poker Winnings Under Canadian Tax Law?
The short answer here? Nothing. Poker winnings for casual players are entirely tax-free. Canadian tax law is rather unusual when it comes to online poker because most gambling in the country is government-run and 100% tax free. Now, there are a number of online poker sites that aren’t run by the government but most casual poker players still benefit from that tax-free approach to gambling.
It’s somewhat of a different story for professional poker players, however. The Canadian Revenue Agency views poker winnings as subject to tax if they are “income from a business.” This interpretation is rather vague but the general idea is that if you make 100% of your income from online poker and are a consistent winner then you should be paying taxes. The vast majority of poker players are not in that category and
therefore their winnings are tax free. If you’re consistently making money from online poker, there’s a good chance you’ll want to speak to an accountant.
Best Poker Bonuses for Canadian Poker Players
Poker sites around the world offer enticing sign-up bonuses to recruit new costumers. Generally these sign-up bonuses take the form of what’s called a ‘deposit match’ bonus where the poker site will match a percentage of the amount initially deposited. In other words if you put $50 on a poker site with a 100% deposit match then you’ll receive an additional $50 (provided you play enough real-money hands or some other qualifier). Sometimes online poker sites will also offer instant deposit bonuses where you’ll instantly receive $5 or some other amount just for making your first deposit. Most new players receive at the very least a few ticket to freerolls or small tournaments.
Canadian poker players certainly get access to those bonuses and sometimes they’ll even receive special promos that are just for Canadians. For instance you might get to play a freeroll where hockey game tickets are up for grabs or something specifically Canadian. Make sure that you shop around a bit when looking for the best possible sign-up bonus. Sites like PokerListings are able to cut exclusive deals with operators that enable extra perks on top of the sign-up bonus. Read more about the best online poker bonuses here:
Can I Qualify Online for Live Poker Tournaments in Canada?
All online poker sites offer satellites for various online poker tournaments around the world. That gives you a chance to play a potentially enormous live event for a fraction of the price. If you’re looking to qualify for local poker tournaments in Canada you’re likely going to want to check out the government-run sites as they’ll give you plenty of options.
If you’re looking to play in live tournaments abroad you might be better off with one of the off-shore operators. In fact there are some fantastic international poker tournaments that take place in tropical settings like the Bahamas that make for a perfect winter getaway. There are a large number of Canadians who have escaped a bitter winter for a few weeks of fun and sun thanks to playing particularly well in a big online qualifier.
How Do Online Poker Withdrawals Work in Canada?
Fortunately withdrawing money from poker sites in Canada is relatively easy because you can do it directly through most banks. While US-based poker players had to deal with banks rejecting their transfers for years the process is easy in Canada as most banks will easily take a wire transfer. You can also go directly through VISA, MasterCard as well as payment processors like eCheck, Paypal, Skrill and Neteller.It’s just one more thing that’s easier for Canadian poker players.
Online Poker Canada FAQs
Are Canadian Online Poker Sites Safe?Online poker is a drastically different market than it was in the early 2000s and the vast majority of online poker sites these days are 100% safe. That said it’s worth doing a little bit of research and sticking to toplists or best poker site lists from sites like PokerListings.
In Canada there’s limited regulation when it comes to private, offshore online poker sites (which, for the most part, is a good thing) so it’s worth paying attention to the sites where you are signing up.
Sites like PokerListings not only give you an in-depth perspective on what a particular online poker site might offer its Canadian players but we've also vetted the level of trust and security you can count on to ensure your online poker bankroll is always safe and secure.
Playing on the government-operated sites in BC and Quebec (which share a player pool, by the way) is of course the best way to ensure you're playing on a fair and secure site but the major offshore poker sites that allow Canadian players - namely PokerStars, 888poker and partypoker - are also as safe and secure as you can get.
We recommend against registering accounts at less visible online poker sites in Canada as you can't guarantee your funds are safe and the games are fair.
Is Real-Money Online Poker Legal in Canada?You betcha. When it comes to the legality of online poker it just so happens that Canada is one of the best places in the world to play online poker for real money.
There are a wealth of online poker sites to choose from (both government-run like PlayNow in BC and those licensed elsewhere in the world like PokerStars and 888poker), relaxed federal law regarding online gambling and strong, reliable internet connections.
If playing online poker is how you make a living, that's why a lot of Canadian cities made it on to our list of the best places to move if you want to start a career in online poker.
How Many Poker Sites Accept Canadian Players?Thanks to looser online gambling laws almost every online poker site in operation is happy to accept Canadian poker players. There are a few odd operators who have decided to leave the Canadian market mostly due to misinterpretations of gambling law.
One glaring omission is the PlayTech-based Titan Poker, which pulled out of the Canadian market without explanation in 2013. Fortunately there are plenty of options for Canadian poker players so it’s not like they'll miss a solitary poker skin.