While poker is primarily a game of skill, luck plays a significant role in determining who wins. And any game involving luck and money falls into the category of gambling. Since gambling is restricted to specific age groups, poker games are also regulated, with a minimum age requirement dictating who can or cannot play poker.
In the U.S., you have to be at least 21 years of age in most states to play poker legally in a casino, poker room, or online forum. While most states mandate that a poker player be at least 21 years old, some states have lowered their legal gambling age to 18.
Different states have different minimum ages for playing poker, so always check the minimum age allowance to play poker in a specific area. Keep reading as I discuss the minimum age for playing poker and the age requirements in different countries.
How Old You Have To Be To Play Poker For Money
First, let’s clarify something — anyone can play poker at any age.
The rules of the game are simple, and you can teach it to anyone provided they can grasp the complexities involved. However, there’s a minimum age for playing poker legally and for money, which differs based on the location you choose to play in.
Minimum Ages for Playing Poker in the United States
In most states within the U.S., poker is legal for those above the age of 21. However, the laws vary based on the state and the regulations they impose on the game.
For example, the age limit to play poker in Colorado is 21 years, which is applicable in poker rooms, casinos, and online poker websites. On the other hand, Idaho allows players to be at least 18 years old to play poker on all forums.
Some states have separate rules for casinos and poker rooms, like Oregon, where the legal age for casinos is 21, but poker rooms and online games allow 18-year-olds to play legally. Certain states have somewhat unique poker regulations to adhere to.
South Carolina has a minimum age requirement of 21 years for playing poker on cruise ships, while their minimum age for poker rooms is 18.
In Michigan, the minimum age requirement switches between 18 and 21, differing based on the restrictions of the casino you visit. However, the minimum age for poker rooms in Michigan is 32.
Aside from a few exceptions, U.S. states have a minimum age requirement of 18 or 21 across all poker-playing platforms.
Minimum Age Allowance in Other Countries
Other countries have different minimum ages for playing poker, just like in the United States. Here’s a list of countries and their minimum age requirements for playing poker.
Note: While some U.S. states change their requirements based on whether you’re playing at a casino, poker room, or online, most countries have a fixed minimum age they adhere to.
|The U.S.||18 or 21 (depending on the state)|
|Germany (and most EU states)||18|
Is Poker Age-Restricted if You Aren’t Playing With Real Money?
In most countries, the minimum age restriction for poker is the same as the age restriction placed on gambling. The “betting” aspect of poker is the prime factor that mandates an age requirement to play the game.
Poker is not age-restricted when you aren’t playing with real money. While you can’t enter a casino to play poker if you’re under the minimum age allowance, you can play it at home or online.
I’ll explain more on this, so keep reading.
Playing Poker at Home
Anyone can play poker irrespective of age at home. All you have to do is keep a count of the score to determine a winner. As long as there’s no real money involved, playing poker at home is fine. Of course, you could always play for other things like who does the chores or to settle an argument.
Playing Poker in Poker Rooms
Poker rooms don’t organize poker games with fake money, because their prime source of income is the commission fee they get from players betting real money during the game. In this situation, poker cannot be legally played by those who don’t meet the age requirement.
Playing Poker in Casinos
Some casinos set up poker tables where players can play for points or compete for a prize. At these tables, chips have no monetary value, and there’s no payout for the winners. Note that casinos typically restrict the entry of minors.
Playing Poker in Online Forums
Online forums are perhaps the trickiest to navigate when it comes to age restrictions. While there’s a legal age requirement for online poker, minors can create fake IDs and still play for money.
Online poker websites also have games when real money isn’t involved, and these games are available to any age group. However, it starts to get complicated when online poker forums offer real cash payouts for games involving points.
Some websites set up tournaments with fake money but offer cash prizes to those who make it to the top 3 at the final table. So as a minor, you can legally participate in these tournaments, win, and make some real money.
However, if you try to withdraw these funds or use them to make money and withdraw your earnings, the site has the legal right to confiscate your funds if they find out. So, to sum things up, there’s no legal age restriction if you aren’t playing with real money.
Age restrictions and legal issues crop up only when real money is used in a poker game.
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The minimum age for playing poker depends on your country and the rules and regulations of the casinos and poker rooms you visit. You can play poker safely in most countries as long as you’re at least 21 years old.
If you want to play at a younger age, it’s best to check on the age restrictions in the forum you want to play in.