If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you’ll know that poker events in India have become extremely popular in recent years. Thanks to a combination of regulation and innovation, the poker industry has grown in stature since the state of Nagaland issued the country’s first online licence in 2016. Regulations are state-based at the moment. However, online sites have still flourished in recent years.
Today, you can find everything from freerolls, to cash games and high-stakes tournaments. Add to this a wealth of promotions, as well as sites available in English and Hindi, and the industry is starting to blossom. In this guide to poker in India, we’ll outline all the legal stuff and highlight popular sites, including Adda52 and PokerStars IN. We’ll also talk about the best Indian poker players and a lot more.
One thing we need to note before we go on is that gambling winnings are taxable in India. A 1967 law states that earnings from games such as Teen Patti should be taxed at 30%. However, almost all of the top online poker sites will deduct this tax at source. In other words, they ensure the charge is paid before you collect your winnings.
Is Poker Legal in India?
Yes, Poker in India is legal, but not in every state. On a federal level, gambling is illegal but there is a carve out for games of skill, and poker is one. But again, the classification is state-dependent. For example, poker is classed as a skill game in the states of Nagaland and Sikkim. However, it’s classed as a form of gambling in Gujarat.
This system is, in many ways, similar to what we see in US poker. However, India’s poker laws hinge on the luck vs skill debate. If state lawmakers class it as a game of skill, it doesn’t contravene the 1867 Public Gambling Act. The good news is that poker is legal in certain states. Moreover, it’s mainly the case that live venues are subject to scrutiny and online sites can operate fairly freely.
Geolocation checks (as used in the US) aren’t common. Additionally, the 1867 Public Gambling Act doesn’t mention online gambling (unsurprisingly). Therefore, plenty of poker sites in India are available across the country. However, just to make it clear, it is illegal in some regions. Everything comes down to whether local lawmakers class poker as a game of skill or luck.
So you can be clear of the rules in each state, here’s a quick rundown of where poker in India is legal and where it’s not.
Poker India Legal States
- Karnataka = Poker is regarded as a game of skill in this state and legal if played recreationally. However, there was a move in late 2020 to consider the game’s legal status. This is an ongoing issue.
- Goa = Gambling is legal in Goa and that means all forms of poker are too.
- Kerala = Poker is classed as a skill game in this state, which makes it legal. However, online rummy was outlawed in February 2021.
- Nagaland = Poker is legal in this state. In fact, Nagaland was the first state to introduce its own licensing system and regulate the best India poker sites.
- Sikkim = The Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Rules 2009 made online poker and gambling legal.
- West Bengal = Various court rulings have clarified that poker is classed as a game of skill in West Bengal and, therefore, legal under the Gambling and Prize Competitions Act 1957.
- Maharashtra = There is no explicit ban on poker in this state. However, certain laws do make betting online illegal. Therefore, it’s a grey market.
- Assam = Poker is classed as gambling and, thus, illegal in this state under the Game and Betting Act 1970.
- Andhra Pradesh = The Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act 1974 was amended in 2020 to specifically outlaw poker, fantasy sports, rummy and other forms of real-money online gaming.
- Gujarat = Poker is illegal in Gujarat because lawmakers class it as gambling. There has been a long fight to change this definition but, at the time of writing, nothing had changed.
- Tamil Nadu = Online poker and live poker were made illegal in late 2020. However, there is a legal challenge to this which could change things in the future.
- Odisha (Orissa) = There are no exemptions for skill games in this state. Therefore, poker is illegal here.
- Telangana = Live and online poker, as well as rummy, are illegal in this state.
- Himachal Pradesh
- Jammu and Kashmir
- Madhya Pradesh
- Uttar Pradesh
Best Poker India Sites
Leaving all the regional nuances aside, we now know that poker is legal in India. That begs the question, where can I find a poker game in India? That all depends on what you’re looking for. There are plenty of local operators as well as international brands out there. This means the India best poker sites for tournaments may be different from the top cash game apps. To help you sort through the poker rooms India has to offer, here are some of leading brands:
The biggest name in poker entered the Indian online gaming market in 2018. It’s not yet the country’s top site but it has shaped its product to meet local demands. The onsite currency is INR and you can switch the language settings from English to Hindu or Kannada as required.
The PokerStars India app has a great selection of cash games that cover all variants. However, when it comes to poker sites with freerolls in India, PokerStars stands out as the best. In fact, it probably has the best MTTs overall thanks to seasonal events such as INCOOP and INSCOOP. Another selling point is that PokerStars allows you to play poker with friends through its online poker home game feature.
Fronted by Dan Bilzerian, this newcomer to India’s poker scene is big on bonuses. This brash attitude stems from the company’s frontman but it does mean you get access to some great deals. The main language used on the site is English but you will be able to make bets using INR. There’s an instant-play option or downloadable software. Both give you access to Hold’em and Omaha cash games and tournaments.
For the best cash game tables India has to offer, Adda52 is the place to be. As the country’s largest poker site, Adda52 has a seven-day average of 300 players. That’s better than any other Indian online poker site and more than enough to ensure a steady stream of low and mid-stakes action. This site is available in English and the Indian Rupee is the onsite currency. You’ll find a full mix of Hold’em, Omaha, Crazy Pineapple and 5-Card Omaha. There are plenty of MTTs but you won’t be able to play 3 Patti Indian Poker or 2-Card Indian Poker.
Spartan is the second largest online poker site in India. The seven-day average for poker cash game in India is 200 players, but the number of users online at any one time often tops 1,100. This means games and tournaments always have plenty of action. Like its peers, Spartan Poker uses English as its base language and has the Rupee as its native currency.
It also has instant-play and downloadable software that provide access to MTTs and cash games. Of all the top poker sites in India, Spartan has the best selection of games because it offers standard and non-standard options. This means you can play Hold’em and other popular variants, as well as Snap, Pick 8, Short Deck Hold’em and 32-Card Draw. It also offers up to 60% rakeback.
There is no specific restriction on Indian players playing on this site, in fact we come across many at the tables. However, it is the Indian states which may forbid online poker if it is classified as gambling instead of a skill game. We are also unsure of how much longer GGPoker will continue to accept Indian players. Since it has previously left countries to acquire bigger licenses like a UK license. GGPoker has made their pursuit of a US license public so we do not know what changes this might bring.
Poker Games in India
Sit down at an online poker table in India and you’ll be able to play these games:
Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker variant in the world. Players start with two cards and can use as many of the five community cards as they want in order to make the best five-card hand. Players can win the pot by making everyone else fold or by having the best hand at showdown.
Omaha is almost identical to Hold’em in terms of betting dynamics and hand rankings. The main difference is that players start with four hole cards and must use two of them to make the best five-card hand.
The aim of Draw Poker is to make the best five-card hand. However, instead of community cards, each player is dealt five cards. You then have the option to discard as many cards as you wish in return for new ones. After that, any players still in the hand go to a showdown. If only one person is left, they win the pot.
Stud Poker is a drawing game where players are dealt a combination of face-up and face-down cards. Seven Card Stud starts with every player holding three cards, two face-down and one face-up. From there, bets are made on each street and players receive extra cards face-up. The only other card that’s dealt face-down is the seventh. If only one player remains at any point, they scoop the pot. If, however, the action gets to the 7th card, the remaining players go to a showdown and the best five-card hand takes the pot.
3 Patti Indian Poker
Also known as Teen Patti, this is a game where everyone starts with three cards. Betting flows in the same way as other poker variants with the one difference being that bets must be equal amounts. For example, if someone bets 2 and it’s raised to 4, everyone has to call four additional chips, including the raiser. If two or more players make it to a showdown, the best hand wins. The Teen Patti hand rankings from best to worst are:
- Three-of-a-Kind (a set/trail)
- Straight Flush
- A run (a three-card straight)
- A Flush (colour)
- A pair
- High card
Check out some of our recommended poker sites to pick up 3 Patti Indian poker free chips and play against others.
Live Events in India
Poker tournament India based mainly take place online because of the country’s fractured gaming laws. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find live games. Most states where poker is legal will have local clubs offering free-play games. For something more substantial, you have to travel to Goa and climb aboard one of its floating casinos.
Spartan Poker is the headline sponsor of the India Poker Championship, which is a series of live tournaments held in the offshore casinos of Panjim, Goa. Spartan offers satellites to these events, as well as live qualifiers. Adda52 also sponsors live poker tournaments in India, such as the DPT. Held aboard the Deltin Royale floating casino, the DPT is a multi-MTT series that features main events as well as live and online satellites.
The recent growth of poker apps in India has piqued the interests of international operators. World Poker Tour India events have become an annual occurrence. Like every other live poker tournament India has to offer, the action goes down in Goa. And, as well as main events, the WPT has also hosted DeepStack events in the region.
Poker Bonus Offers and Promotions in India
There are plenty of poker India online bonuses and the main deals are:
The Poker Indian Welcome Bonus
All new poker players in India can get a welcome bonus when they create their first account at one of our partner sites. You can sometimes find no deposit bonuses which give you free credits for registering. However, first-deposit bonuses are more common. For example, when you join PokerStars India, you’ll receive up to 2,500 INR and a free tournament ticket when you deposit at least 500 INR.
More Poker Promotions in India
- Reload Bonuses: These are identical to welcome bonuses except that they’re open to existing customers that have made more than one deposit.
- Freeroll Poker India games: These are free-play tournaments that offer cash prizes or tickets to other, bigger events.
- Challenges: These are rake races where players compete to earn points and win a share of the prizepool.
- Rakeback & Loyalty Rewards: These are bonuses given to loyal players. You can earn points each time you make a real-money bet. These points can be used to play freerolls, unlock bonuses or get cashback aka rakeback.
Payments Options for India Poker Sites
To buy poker chips in India, you need to use a licensed site. Only by doing this can you be certain that your payment will be safe and secure. With that being the case, use our real poker India download links to get instant access to the safest sites in the country. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to make secure deposits in INR using the following payment methods:
- Bank Transfer
- Net Banking
- PayU Money
Top Indian Poker Players
OK, so you’re almost ready to play real poker online in India. You know the poker India app you’re going to use, the games you’re going to play and how to make a deposit. The only thing you don’t know is who to look out for at the tables. Here are some of the best poker players in India to keep an eye on for inspiration and competition:
- First-Ever WSOP Victory Hugely Important for Poker in India
- Aditya Sushant and New Wave of Indian Poker Pros Take On WSOP
Poker India FAQs
Is poker illegal in India?No. Poker is legal in certain states but regulations are regional and don’t cover the whole country.
Is 888poker legal in India?No. 888poker used to be popular in India but the company exited the market in 2020.
How to play 2 card Indian poker?This is a game where players are dealt four cards and must use two in order to make the best hand. After the initial deal, players choose two cards to keep and two to discard.
How to play Indian poker?Indian Poker is also known as Teen Patti. Players start with three hole cards and the aim is to make the best three-card hand or force everyone to fold.
Who’s India’s best poker player?Vivek Rajkumar has won more money than any other poker player. However, Nipun Java and Aditya Agarwal are making names for themselves at major events such as the WSOP.