IMPORTANT U.S.A NOTICE: As of last update on January 1, 2017, Party Poker still does not accept US players for real money nor has a US license to operate in the US except in the state of New Jersey; nj.partypoker.com. Launch in New Jersey was November 25, 2013 under the bwin.party company, and it’s only available to poker players physically located in New Jersey. If you want a similar type of site and are not in New Jersey we recommend IgnitionPoker.eu (previously known as Bovada) which accepts most US states and in my mind is more legit than any US based site. See our homepage for more options but this is no doubt the most legit site out there and the only one I recommend to my friends who ask.
Party Poker, now known as Bwin.Party, are en route to securing a Nevada and Delaware gaming license along with their NJ one. This will give them access to open their online poker room within those three state borders only. If a “State Compact” is signed within other US territories they will have access to let players from the 3 states to play with each other. Only Delaware and Nevada have a compact at this time. Expect in 2016 for Party Poker to be operational in 2 more US states, DE and NV in a partnership with Borgata poker and casino (bonus code info page) and Boyd gaming. There have been rumors of player combination between the two. Poker in NJ has been less than staggering for Party Poker so I see them standing back and waiting for the big states like California and Florida to open up before they really start dumping money into their offers at the 3 states available. We will continue to update this page as anything comes out.
The Story of Party Poker
PartyPoker.com made their much anticipated entry into the online poker market on August 1, 2001. At the time, poker players were already well familiar with PartyPoker due to hype that had been created on the then leading poker message board Rec Gambling Poker (RGP). This was hype that had plenty of merit, however, because for the first time in history a fixed limit tournament was coming that guaranteed $1 million dollars to the winner, and the only way to get a seat was to satellite in online, starting with a $22 buy-in at PartyPoker.com. The first three rounds were played online, and the final 100 players battled it out live on a cruise ship traveling the Mexican Riviera.
It didn’t matter who you were at the time or what online poker site you had previously played at, if you were a poker player you were online playing at PartyPoker in 2001, looking to ensure you were one of the hundred players that had a seat in the Party Million finals held Mar 16, 2002. If you don’t believe us, the field of players winning their seat online included former World Champions Phil Hellmuth, Carlos Mortenson, Dan Harrington, Scotty Nguyen, Chris Ferguson, Tom McEvoy, Johnny Chan, and Huck Seed, as well as Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Men ‘The Master’ Nguyen, T.J. Cloutier, Barbara Enright, David Chiu, Barry Shulman, Eric Seidel and Layne Flack. The finals also included, of course, the event’s winner Kathy Liebert who pocketed the $1 million dollars in cash and made a name for herself, one she’d build upon in years to follow, by winning this event.
As a result of the hype surrounding Party Millions, and that it was offered the following year in an expanded format, near instantly upon their launch, Party Poker became the world’s largest online poker site.
Party Poker from the US (history)
PartyPoker left the US market on October 2, 2006 due to Congress passing the Safe Port Act, which included unrelated anti-gambling language to the act, known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act or UIGEA for short. In doing so, Party Poker self-relinquished the title they held for four year as the largest online poker site, and eventually settled for a spot as the fourth largest online poker site trailing leaders PokerStars.com, Full Tilt Poker and iPoker. Party Poker, however, has done everything correct to prepare to reenter the US market, starting with their decision to exit before UIGEA was signed into law. In fact, it would appear from an outsider’s perspective that they are gambling big money that US legal poker is coming soon, and they want to take advantage of it. In April 2009 their company agreed to pay the United States government $105 million in penalties, for processing transactions that were “contrary to certain US laws” in exchange for a “non-prosecution agreement”. While this doesn’t fully absolve PartyPoker, it does ensure they’ll never be prosecuted for any actions prior to the agreement.
Perhaps the biggest sign PartyPoker was preparing for entry into the US market came in July 2010 when they announced a planned merger with Bwin. The value of this merger exceeds $250 billion and instantly made the Party/Bwin combo (traded on London Stock Exchange) the largest publicly traded gambling company in the world. Under the terms of this agreement, PartyGaming share holders will own 48.4% and Bwin shareholders 51.6% and the company will operate with joint CEO’s Norbert Teufelberger and Jim Ryan. This is likely quite significant in Party Poker’s US strategy for reasons we’ll mention momentarily.
In July 2010, the same month in which the Party/Bwin merger was announced, a piece of legislation that would legalize and regulate internet poker in the US passed the US House Representatives Financial Services Committee by a 41-22 vote. If and when this bill, known as HR2267, or another one like it passes, legal poker that is licensed and regulated in the US will soon follow. When this happens many big corporations in the US will be racing to get in on the ground floor. Here we could soon see WSOP Poker US, Google Poker, Bellagio Poker, and one could only imagine what else. What makes the Party/Bwin merger significant is that before PartyPoker stopped taking US players, they were the largest online poker site and Ongame, a network then and still owned by Bwin, was the largest online poker network. With Bwin being in the network business and Party having the big name and freedom from prosecution in the US for business prior to their “non-prosecution agreement”, it seems the Party/Bwin combo are in a prime position to offer services and secure investments from the big money corporations looking to get in on the ground floor of online poker licensed and regulated in the US.
At this point it US licensed poker is coming soon for Party, and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out with mergers and partnerships. Personally, we’d put our money on the same side PartyGaming has placed $105 million of theirs, that PartyPoker will once again be the dominating brand in the US, and its simply a matter of time. In the meantime, if you’d like to check out PartyPoker from the US, there is a practice version of their site open to US players that can be accessed at www.partypoker.net.