They say that soccer is the world’s sport, but, for our money, poker is actually the king of international games. Not just because you can find poker players from all over the globe, but also the fact that so many of them are willing to risk legal action just to get their fix. In most industrialized countries, all forms of online gambling are illegal, but that doesn’t stop millions of players from doing it anyway. One perfect example is South Africa. Despite government rulings in SA, poker players in their millions do manage to play safely and securely.
Today we’ll be showing you some of the best sites that accommodate South African players, as well as give you advice on how to best use the system to your advantage.
Best Poker SA SummaryError::no related data to this provider name: 888Poker. Please double check is the provider name correct.
- Large signup bonus
- Lots of action from around the world
- Easy to use software
- Lots of deposit/withdraw options
- Relatively soft competition
- Browser version has fewer features
First on our list is the ubiquitous 888 Poker. This online poker room is consistently ranked as one of the top sites for players from around the world, and for good reason. This site has been around pretty much since the beginning of online poker, so it knows how to provide top quality and service to its customers.
What makes 888 Poker a great place to play for South Africans is the fact that there are numerous deposit and withdrawal options so that you can transact your money safely and efficiently. Also, the level of competition here is a bit softer than some of the other sites, so if you’re looking to improve your game, you can do so here.
- Casual atmosphere
- Excellent promotions and VIP scheme
- Lots of tournament options
- Easy to use software
- Limited number of games
- Relatively small signup bonus
When it comes to online poker, you will find a wide variety of players with different background and skill levels. If you’re just starting out, then you want a site where you can test your mettle against other newbies, so you don’t lose all your money right away. That being said, Party Poker is probably the premier source for soft competition online. As the name implies, this site is about the party as much as it is the winning.
What we also like about Party Poker is the fact that you can sign up for a lot of different tournaments. South African players are some of the biggest tournament players around, so you can compete against your fellow countrymen as well as people from around the world. To top it all off, Party Poker has some great VIP options and freerolls to help you get the most out of your experience.
- Largest poker room in the world
- Lots of tournament options
- Wide range of games to play
- Stiff competition
- Customer support is somewhat limited
If you simply want the best of the best, then you should come on down to Pokerstars. Like 888 Poker, this card room is always ranked as either number one or within the top three poker sites in the world. Also like 888, Pokerstars has been around since almost the beginning, so the site knows how to make your online poker experience memorable and enjoyable.
What you have to keep in mind about this site, however, is that it typically brings in the best players from around the globe. While there are plenty of low-stakes games to get you started, if you compete in some of the larger tournaments or want to try your luck at a high-limit table, you need to bring your A-game. A lot of sharks live on Pokerstars, so don’t become the bait.
- Play for real money or for free
- Easy to use software
- Soft competition
- Low signup bonus
- Limited games offered
If you’re worried about the legality of online poker in South Africa, then you probably want to sign up with Unibet, simply because you can play for free on this site and thus have nothing to worry about with regards to law enforcement. Also, playing for free is an excellent way to improve your skills without losing any real money, so you can get better here and then go elsewhere to put your new tricks to good use.
What we also like about Unibet is the soft competition that comes with the live games as well. Since this is a smaller site, it attracts a lot of fish, which means that you can either use that to improve your game, or you can take advantage of it and make a lot of money, depending on your skill level.
- Huge signup bonus
- Lots of secure deposit/withdraw options
- Great promotions and VIP scheme
- Not a lot of high-stakes tables
- Doesn’t have a browser-based version
Finally, we come to Tiger Gaming. This is probably one of the most popular sites in South Africa, most notably because of the huge signup bonus that you get when you join. When you get on Tiger Gaming, they will match your initial deposit up to $2500, so you can rake in big money right away without losing your bankroll.
What we also like about Tiger Gaming is the wide selection of different games you can play. While Texas Hold Em and Omaha are by far the most popular, this site also offers Stud and Chinese Poker, so you have options if you want something different.
Best Poker SA Summary
Is Online Poker Legal in South Africa?
Unfortunately, it is not. The last time that the government convened to discuss the matter was back in 2010, and they overwhelmingly decided to keep all online gambling illegal throughout the country. While there may be hope for that ruling to change in the future, right now things look to stay as they are for the time being.
That being said, however, despite the overwhelming number of South African poker players, there has never been a reported case of someone being arrested for playing online, at least none that we could find. Thus, while the industry is illegal, it seems that law enforcement is ill-equipped to handle any cases, nor do they seem very interested in arresting anyone as a result of their online activities. Overall, unless the government decides to crack down hard on poker players, you should be able to play without too much hassle.
One other thing to keep in mind is that if you classify yourself as a “professional” poker player, you may not be subjected to the same laws as casual players. According to the law, being a pro player may make you immune to the government mandate, although it’s still a legal gray area, and we’re not experts in South African law.
Do I Have to Pay Tax on my Winnings?
Thankfully, the South African government does not tax any winnings from online poker sites, especially if you play professionally. That means that you can keep everything you earn without worrying about the feds taking a cut.
South African Poker Tournaments
Since there are no online poker sites hosted within South Africa itself, there are no tournaments that are native to the country. However, many South African players compete in international tournaments, including the World Series of Poker. For a time, the World Series had an African Division, but that seems to have been put on hiatus indefinitely. Otherwise, you will only find tournament games on international sites. One of the best card rooms for tournaments is Pokerstars since they have the most action of any site we’ve seen, just beware of sharks!
Are South African Poker Sites Reliable?
Again, none of the sites you can access are based in South Africa, so you don’t need to worry about the rooms getting shut down by the government. Most online poker rooms (and all the ones we’ve featured) are based in countries where online gambling is legal, so they are as reliable as anything else on the internet. That being said, there are some unscrupulous card rooms out there that don’t have adequate security or safety features, so make sure to check out any potential site to ensure it will be safe.
As far as licensing and regulation, all of that is taken care of in the country of origin, and all of the sites we list have been in business for more than a decade, so they are much more reliable than some of the newer sites out there.
What Currency is Accepted?
Many international poker sites accept almost all forms of currency, and some even accept the Rand. Our recommendation, however, is that you try to deal in either the Euro or the US Dollar since that is what’s most commonly used on these sites. The rooms themselves should enable you to convert your money when you deposit and withdraw, but they do charge a fee, so watch out for that. If a site does accept the Rand, however, you may as well deal exclusively in that currency, just to make things much simpler and more efficient.
When it comes to putting money into your poker account or withdrawing it to your bank account, we would highly recommend either using a credit card or an online financial service like PayPal. You can also use services like Neteller and Western Union if you want to deal in cash instead. If you are going to use a credit card, most sites accept Visa, Mastercard, and possibly American Express.
PayPal, however, is probably your best option overall. What we like about PayPal, in particular, is that you don’t need to enter in your bank information with each site, since all of your financial info is processed through PayPal itself. Thus, you can add an extra layer of security to your transactions, and you don’t need to pay a processing fee. Additionally, poker sites like using PayPal because it’s more secure, so you can usually get your money out faster that way. If you want to compare different sites with your preferred payment method, we have a tool for that, too!
Best Poker SA – Conclusion
In South Africa, online poker is something of a gray area legally. If you keep your wits about you, play should be fine. Be aware of the laws and know where you stand. All the sites featured here are based outside of SA – poker providers who themselves aren’t going to get tangled in litigation. Keep your activity discreet and you should be able to enjoy plenty of online poker with them.