Poker has seen its popularity grow in Russia over the last several years. That has included some top-notch players like Igor Kurganov and major live series from operators like PokerStars and the World Poker Tour.
There has also been a large online poker presence in the country. This page offers everything anyone might want to know for playing in Russia — from laws and regulations to the best operators to the steps for creating an account and depositing.
Keep reading to learn all the ins and outs of playing online poker in Russia.
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Russia real money online poker laws
For decades, gambling was illegal in Russia. However, with the fall of communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union, that began to change. There were even some moves toward allowing gambling by the 1980s in attempts to attract foreign tourism during Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika efforts to restructure and reform the Soviet Union’s economic and political systems.
Slot machines were introduced for limited use in 1988, and the country did away with its ban on gambling a year later. The first full-scale casino opened in Moscow’s Savoy Hotel.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union and communism, Russians’ interest Western culture included an eagerness to gamble. Poker also became popular during the 1990s at casinos and in home games.
In 2009, however, gambling was banned again in most of the country except for the Altai, Krasnodar, Kaliningrad and Primorsky regions, though the ban only applied to live casino gambling.
In 2006, meanwhile, Russia had passed a law banning real money online gambling. But many didn’t believe the law applied to poker and continued playing. The government also has made no real efforts to regulate or shut down online poker platforms operating in the country.
Players in Russia will find several of the major sites offering their products to the Russian poker market, generally as part of major international player pools. Players are allowed to take part in some of the major tournament series offered by platforms like partypoker, GGPoker and PokerStars.
Where can I play online poker in Russia?
Some of the biggest and most trusted platforms in the world are available to Russian players. Whether you’re looking for some small-stakes action or a major tournament series with a big buy-in and massive payouts, there are some great options for Russian players to check out.
Here’s a complete look at what’s available and what to expect when playing poker online in Russia.
This is the largest and most recognized online poker brand in the world. The site is in numerous countries and numerous languages. That includes Russia and Russian, for those looking to get in on the action.
The company was founded in 2001 by poker players who knew how to create a site that would appeal to those who play the game. You’ll find plenty of the following:
- Cash games — Plenty of action is constantly running — from micro to nosebleed stakes and in numerous poker variations.
- Tournaments — There are numerous dailies with a wide range of buy-ins — including the $215 PokerStars Sunday Million. The event began in 2006 and is the oldest weekly online tournament with a guarantee of $1 million.
- Sit and go tournaments — These are smaller tournaments, usually just a single table or maybe two or three, and they offer a chance to play a quick event for those who might be pressed for time.
- Major tournament series — PokerStars is known for huge events such as the World Championship of Online Poker, Bounty Builder Series, MicroMillions and numerous others. These run the gamut in poker variations and buy-ins.
PokerStars has numerous other fun options. In fast-paced Zoom poker, you’ll be whisked away to another table as soon as you fold a hand. Spin & Go games also offer a nice option for those short on time. These winner-take-all, three-player events feature a random prize that is determined by a spinning wheel before the event begins. Payouts can run from twice your buy-in to as much as 10,000 times your money.
The site has been quite an innovator, frequently unveiling new games like “Swap” and “Showtime” Hold ’em. These games come and go, and have become part of the site’s efforts at offering some unique alternatives.
One important thing about PokerStars is that you’ll always find some action. Players also love the software experience, which is user-friendly and easy to navigate — whether on a computer or mobile device.
Along with a great online experience, players will also find numerous poker variations — from Texas Hold ’em and Omaha to more exotic variations like Badugi and five-card Omaha. The site also offers numerous promotions throughout the year. These can range from second chance freerolls for those knocked out during major tournament series to sports-themed events like the Grand Tour and Stadium Series.
PokerStars is a proven brand and part of Flutter Entertainment, which was formerly known as Paddy Power Betfair. The company owns numerous other online gaming entities. Flutter is also traded on the London Stock Exchange. Russian players looking for a great online poker option may want to check out PokerStars.
This is also another great option for real money players in Russia and one of the largest sites in the world. Finding a tournament or cash game is also easy at partypoker. The platform, which was founded in 2001, continues to grow and has seen some nice success in recent years.
Some of that comes from the company’s long partnership with the World Poker Tour. Along with live events, the two entities have been teaming up for major events in recent years.
In 2020, that included the World Online Championships, allowing players the chance to earn a spot in the exclusive WPT Champions Club, entry into the Tournament of Champions, an exclusive Hublot watch and other perks.
Players also have a shot to earn entry into numerous live series via online satellites. The site also goes out of its way to appeal to recreational players. That includes offering numerous satellites as well as promotions like the Boosted Daily Legends, which paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in tournament tickets in 2020.
Players will find plenty of cash games, tournaments, sit and go events and major tournament series throughout the years. That includes online poker games and events appealing to every bankroll and taste.
The site works hard to appeal to players, and that includes numerous satellites and qualifiers. Tournament players will also find numerous daily events with unique names like:
- The Flash
- The HeadHunter
- The Magnificent 7
- The Target
- The Blade
- The Terminator
Partypoker is owned by GVC Holdings, one of the world’s largest online gambling and sports betting corporations. The company is based in the United Kingdom and traded on the London Stock Exchange.
Those looking for a great site, nice software, and interesting promotions and events will have a great time mixing it up at partypoker.
This site is based in Gibraltar and was founded in 2002. It has become a major brand around the world and also provides the software for the World Series of Poker’s own WSOP.com online poker product in the US.
Along with that, 888 remains a major partner in the annual summer WSOP in Las Vegas. That includes being the only international online operator allowing players to qualify for official WSOP events.
888 players in Russia have the opportunity to play in WSOP qualifiers, including the $10,000 Main Event and the $888 Crazy Eights. That last event, fittingly, is sponsored by 888poker. The site offers other promotions as part of its WSOP partnership, as well.
888 regularly comes in among the top 10 in worldwide online poker traffic and is available in numerous countries. While it may be a bit below others mentioned here, players will still find plenty of action as well as unique tournament series and events.
Like others, 888poker saw big increases in player pools in 2020. The site’s regular Millions Superstorm produced the biggest guarantee in site history, awarding more than $8 million. The site added to that with $1 million in promotional giveaways.
Online players will find nice software, with mostly Texas Hold ’em and Omaha action. Rec players and those with smaller bankrolls will find plenty of small and medium stakes action.
There are plenty of cash games, tournaments and sit and go events. Looking for something fun and different? Check out the BLAST sit and go tournaments. These are four-player events with quick action. They are similar to a traditional sit and go, but once a timer runs out, everyone is all in until there is a winner.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran playing online or new to the virtual tables, getting dealt in at 888poker is a great opportunity for some fun.
This operator is part of the iPoker network and is considered one of the best poker operators that is part of that gaming consortium. The site began in 2002 and is regulated by the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association.
The iPoker network, which was launched in 1999, offers plenty of Texas Hold ’em and Omaha action. The network has several UK-based sites, including William Hill, Ladbroke’s and BetFair.
The network’s regular daily tournaments average 50 to 100 players, with that increasing to as many as 500 for big weekend events. However, that increased during 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seven-day averages for cash game players reached as high as 800-900 players with 24-hour peaks reaching 1,700. Players looking for another nice option with some nice bonus offers may want to check out iPoker and Bet365.
Online poker bonuses at sites available in Russia
Those looking to try some real money online poker in Russia for real money have numerous options. The ones outlined here not only offer some good online card-playing action, but also some ways to earn some free money for giving these sites a shot.
Players new to online poker may not realize it, but you’ll find deposit bonuses and other promotions from online sites, similar to land-based casinos offering players some free play. Bonus offers follow the same concept, and you’d be wise to take advantage of some of these exclusive PokerScout offers below.
New players will receive $30 (£20) in free play for a deposit of at least $20. This is paid out in the following way:
- Day 1: Five $1 Spin & Go tickets
- Day 2: Five $1 Spin & Go tickets
- Day 3: Five $1 Spin & Go tickets
- Day 4: $5 cash bonus
- Day 5: Five $1 Spin & Go tickets
- Day 6: $5 cash bonus
First-time depositors who can add more to their account will want to take advantage of the match bonus instead. PokerStars offers one of the best in the industry, with a $100% deposit match bonus of up to $600.
Those players looking to get in the game at this popular site will also find some interesting bonus offers. That includes a great free play bonus of £40 — available just for signing up and depositing a minimum of £10.
This is an excellent way to give the site a test drive. The free funds come in the form of fastforward cash bonuses and SPINS tickets. Fastforward is partypoker’s quick-change cash game setup, where the action shifts each time you fold. SPINS are the site’s quick three-person sit and go events with a randomized prize awarded, which can be up to $1 million.
Those players taking advantage of this bonus offer will receive:
- $5 in SPINS tickets (no matter the size of the deposit).
- Additional SPINS tickets based on how much you deposit. Make a £20 deposit and receive £30 in SPINS tickets.
Players also earn rakeback at partypoker simply for playing regularly on the platform. You’ll earn one point for every $1 of rake via tournament, sit and go, and cash game play. It’s a great offer and makes it worth your while if you are a regular online grinder.
Simply reach at least 25 points per week to qualify for some of those dollars you’ve paid in rake throughout the week. Meet that threshold and then look for some cash back in your account each Monday.
The rakeback cash is paid out on the amount of points a player accrues that week. The more points earned, the more you’ll receive. Here’s the breakdown of the different rakeback tiers:
- 25 to 149 points — 20% rakeback.
- 150 to 599 points — 25% rakeback.
- 600 to 1,199 points — 30% rakeback.
- 1,200 points or more — 40% rakeback.
Those free tournament tickets and rakeback make partypoker an excellent choice when jumping in on the online poker action.
This popular and well-established site has plenty in store for new players. Simply create an account and you automatically earn an $88 no deposit bonus. This is free cash, and you can use it on the site immediately.
It’s a great deal to play for real money — for free. How is that cash distributed? Simply verify your email to earn $1 instantly in cash for your account as well as $7 in $0.50 tournament tickets.
Look for that additional $80 released in $8 increments — each made up of $1 in cash and $7 in tournament tickets. Players can withdraw this cash after accumulating 2.5 points for every $1 received.
As if that weren’t enough, players looking to deposit at the site are in luck. 888 rewards new depositors a 100% match bonus up to $800. However, that cash is released in $10 increments until the bonus is cleared, and you’ll have to accumulate 100 bonus points.
That is basically a 20% rakeback offer with bonus points earned at a rate of two points per dollar in rake. Beyond this bonus, new depositors also receive some nice tournament ticket extras, including:
- Seven tickets for $500 first depositors’ freerolls.
- Two tickets for $1,000 depositor freerolls.
- One ticket to the First Depositors’ Challenge Tournament. This event awards seats in the 888 Sunday Challenge Tournament.
A new player can’t go wrong by checking out 888poker, considering all the freebies. Take advantage of the links on this page to receive some of those bonuses.
iPoker network bonuses can vary widely by skin, but Bet365 may offer some of the best value. Players earn a 100% match bonus up to $100.
That’s credited to your account in $2.50 increments, so it’s best to at least deposit in increments of $2.50.
The bonus is sent to your account in installments, with the first $5 coming after earning 10 status points. You’ll then earn $2.50 for every 10 status points you accumulate. That works out to a 100% rakeback on the first $5 and then 16% on the remainder of the bonus.
That’s certainly not great compared to PokerStars and 888poker, but Bet365 has a few other bonuses to throw in as well. Players completing the “welcome mission” within 28 days of logging into their account at least twice and depositing at least $10 receive a tournament ticket package comprising:
- Two tickets for Premium Steps events.
- Five tickets for $100 Bronze Loyalty Tournaments.
- One $1 Twister ticket.
- Additionally, players earn 10 slot game spins for simply accessing a game within the poker software.
Bet365 may not have as much to offer players, but this is one of the best among those in the iPoker network.
Online poker apps for Russian players
Those looking to play some online poker on the go will find apps a great alternative to the traditional desktop client. Most are available for iOS or Android devices and are only a simple download away. Here’s a quick look at the apps mentioned here.
- PokerStars — Excellent navigation, gameplay and aesthetics. The app allows almost everything a player would find on the desktop version.
- Partypoker — Completely revamped in 2019 and 2020 with easy one-hand play. Smaller field events like SPINS tournaments are perfect for mobile play.
- 888poker — Visually appealing platform that’s also user friendly and allows a nice landscape view when hitting the tables for tournaments or cash games.
- Bet365 — Excellent colors and graphics with a nice portrait view and interesting avatars to give the app a real personal feel when at the tables.
Creating an account, depositing and withdrawing
Getting started at an online poker site is an easy process. Use the links on this page to get the process started and then you’ll also be eligible for some great deposit bonuses.
Once you’ve done that, look for an area to join or create an account. You may have to download the software client for a laptop or desktop computer. If you’re a mobile player, you have to go ahead and download the app.
Once that’s completed, you’ll be asked to provide some basic information to create your account, including:
- Phone number
Some sites may require an email confirmation to complete signing up, but the entire process only takes a few minutes. It’s also important to note that some sites even offer some no deposit bonuses for players to check out what the platform has to offer.
Online poker safety and security in Russia
Choosing the right online poker site is important. Some fly-by-night operations may not offer the safety of a more respected and regulated poker site.
Look for sites that are trusted and regulated. Those mentioned here have nice track records of securing players’ funds as well as their personal information. You won’t have to worry about these sites disappearing overnight — along with your poker bankroll.
These sites are recognized leaders in the industry. Many are part of publicly traded corporations, adding another level of safety and transparency. Additionally, players not only have safety and security in terms of funds and your personal information, but you can also expect a fair game. These operators have software efforts in place to detect cheating and collusion.
If you hit a nice tournament score or big win at the cash game tables, you won’t have to worry about whether that cash will make it into your account. A sense of security can go a long way in easing fears about playing online for the first time or simply trying out a new site.
History of online poker in Russia
Online poker in Russia began growing during the poker boom of the 2000s after the game began finding popularity following the fall of the Soviet Union. Igor Kurganov is the country’s all-time poker money leader, with $18.7 million in live tournament winnings.
That includes winning one World Series of Poker bracelet and a WSOP Circuit championship ring. In 2008, Russian player Ivan Demidov finished as the runner-up in the $10,000 Main Event for $5.8 million.
The number of Russian players seems to keep growing, with more and more players learning the game and finding success on its biggest stages.
With the game growing in Russia, online operators and major tours have made efforts to reach out to players. In recent years, the ski resort city of Sochi has become a popular spot for major poker tournaments. The city is located in the Krasnodar region on the Black Sea.
Some of the events hosted at the Sochi Casino and Resort have included:
- WPT Russia
- European Poker Tour Sochi (sponsored by PokerStars)
- Partypoker Live MILLIONS Tour
- WSOP International Circuit
- 888poker Live Sochi
With a population of more than 144 million, Russia remains a growing part of the poker market — whether live or online. The game has continued to find a big player pool, and Russian players are an integral part of the international online poker market.
Frequently asked questions
Is online poker legal in Russia?
While there is a 2006 law banning online gambling, many in the country don’t believe it applies to poker, and the country has made no efforts to enforce it in regard to poker. Many of the world’s largest poker companies offer poker in Russia, including major names like PokerStars and partypoker.
What’s the legal age to gamble in Russia?
Since the country began allowing various forms of gambling in the late 1980s, the legal age to gamble has been 18.
Can I play on PokerStars in Russia?
Yes, Russian players have the opportunity to play at the world’s largest online poker site. Russians play on the full international .com version. Players can also make use of partypoker, 888poker and Bet365. Be sure to use the exclusive bonus links on this page to receive some bonuses when you decide to download and sign up.