If poker sites are blocked where you live (or are visiting) you can use a Poker VPN to get around those restrictions. In this guide we show you the best VPNs for online poker, how to use them, and what you need to know before you play your first hand.
What are the Best VPNs for Poker online?
We recommend using these VPNs for playing Poker online:
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[[post-object type="gotolink" class="btn btn-md btn-primary" provider="expressvpn"]]Get ExpressVPN our #1 VPN pick for online poker[[/post-object]]
With a poker VPN, you can sign up for poker services and online casinos like PokerStars, 888 Poker, or PartyPoker. In some countries, online gambling is illegal. Unfortunately, this also includes playing poker online. Luckily, a VPN can let you access restricted poker sites from anywhere in the world. Even in the US, some poker sites are restricted in certain states – and people playing in poker tournaments may need a VPN to access their accounts.
Before recommending a VPN for playing online poker, we ensure that it offers:
- Fast servers in key locations around the world
- Solid encryption and privacy features
- Responsive and knowledgable customer service agents
- Good value for money
- The ability to unblock a variety of major poker sites.
Now that you know what we're looking for in our online poker VPN recommendations, let's take a closer look at which providers made the list.
The best VPNs for playing online poker in 2020
Here's an in-depth look at the best Poker VPNs according to our testing:
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[[post-object type="useful-articles" ids="8545,8080,9177,9386" title="Useful Guides"/]]
Can I use a VPN to play online poker?
Yes, poker players often use VPNs to trick online poker sites into believing they are in a different location. VPNs can do this by concealing your actual IP address and replacing it with one in a foreign location. This is because when you connect to a VPN, your internet connection is routed through a server in a remote location, and any website you access will register the IP address of the VPN server you're connecting through rather than your true IP address.
This means that anyone can use a VPN to access poker sites that might otherwise be blocked or restricted – or to play in foreign poker tournaments that are supposed to be restricted to a specific region.
The VPNs recommended in this article have large server networks with locations all over the earth. So, you can easily use these networks to your advantage to play on international poker sites and enter competitions from around the world.
Is it safe to play poker online with a VPN?
It is if you go with the right VPN service. A VPN provides encryption for your internet connection. Therefore, it will prevent your ISP and the authorities from knowing what you are doing online. This means that if you happen to live in a country where poker sites are banned (for religious, political, or cultural reasons) you can regain access to them without fear of being tracked. A truly secure VPN that provides proper encryption will allow you to enjoy playing poker online without having to worry about the possibility of being arrested for breaking the law.
In addition to encryption, a VPN also conceals your IP address. This ensures that poker sites can't tell where you're actually located. Because of this, you can confidently use these poker sites without the risk of the site slapping you with a ban or confiscating your winnings.
Another useful byproduct of how a VPN works is that it can prevent you from DDoS attacks. This ensures that if you are in a game or tournament, hackers will not be able to kick you from the game to prevent you from winning a hand (and potentially the entire tournament). This is important if you don't want to end up losing vast sums of money that you should actually have won!
Will using a poker VPN get my account banned?
There are some online poker sites that are known to ban users who log in using a VPN – particularly if it is proven that they are using the VPN to log in from overseas and enter games or competitions that they should not have ordinarily been able to access. Poker sites primarily enforce these bans because it also allows them to confiscate any winnings that have been accrued – which is great for the poker companies (who ultimately only care about money), but categorically not great for you as the poker player.
A PokerStars VPN is an extremely popular tool, and it can potentially be very lucrative if you are an excellent poker player. However, you must always bear in mind that you could get locked out of an account. For this reason, it is vital to do research and understand how to manage funds in a VPN poker account, and how to use a poker VPN safely.
PokerStars states in its Terms of Service that any player found to be attempting to circumvent geographical restrictions or spoof their location faces disciplinary action that may include anything from the suspension of their account to the seizing of funds from their account. Similarly, PartyPoker states in its Terms and Conditions that users are prohibited from playing from certain jurisdictions and that violating the terms can result in disqualification, account closure, forfeiture of funds, and even legal action against the user.
How does Pokerstars (and other poker sites) detect VPNs?
It's not currently known exactly how Pokerstars, and other poker sites, detect VPN usage. It's likely to be one of the three following methods, however:
- Their website logs and stores known VPN server IPs, and when a connection is made from one of these IP addresses, the site knows that it's VPN traffic.
- They monitor IPs connecting to the site. If multiple connections are made from the same IP, there is a high chance it is a VPN server.
- They monitor IPs at an account level. If they notice a wide array of IPs connecting to the same account over a short period, it could indicate a VPN connection.
Fortunately, VPNs usually operate with thousands of IP addresses, so if one fails, you should be able to just reconnect to another server to get a fresh IP to try again.
Why do you need a VPN for online poker?
Not every poker player is lucky enough to live in the US – the unofficial capital of Texas Hold 'em. In some countries, ISP blocks prevent people from accessing poker sites because gambling has been officially declared illegal.
Even without these government bans, some poker sites force players to compete against players from their own country. Or restrict their service so that it is only available in certain locations.
If you prefer to play using international poker sites – to play against the best (or worst) poker players in the world – you will need to get around these geo-restrictions. The solution to any of the problems above is to use a poker VPN to pretend to be in a different country.
Distributed Denial of Service Attacks
Any online player can be targeted by a DDoS attack – a cyberattack that overloads your computer's network with hundreds of thousands of requests.
When your system is inundated with these requests, it prevents you from being able to download more data. Your connection to the poker site will drop, and you won't be able to place bets, or you may even be booted from the table altogether. Regardless, the result will be that your opponent will end up winning all the chips that could have rightfully been yours.
Every device connected to the internet has an IP address. This IP address is given to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). This address is how cybercriminal poker players directly target their victims. When you use a VPN, your true IP address is hidden from any potential attacker, while the VPN servers are able to absorb the attack and keep you safe.
Without a VPN, your internet connection will completely freeze up during a DDoS attack. When this happens, it'll appear as though you've gone offline – and this is why you're kicked from the table and lose the pot.
Nowadays it is even possible for a poker opponent to pay for a DDoS attack against you. A short attack that lasts a few minutes can be purchased online for just $5. This DDoS on-demand service has led to a massive increase in people who play poker being attacked. In fact, Akamai reported that in Q2 2017, 82% of all DDoS attacks were aimed at online gaming sites and their customers.
If you want to play poker without having to worry about DDoS attacks, a VPN is the best solution. A VPN acts as a buffer that can take the brunt of the attack, allowing you to keep playing poker.
Vital features of a VPN for Poker
Depending where you live, and your level of play, your reason for using a VPN on Pokerstars, FullTilt, GGPoker, or 888Poker will differ. We take a look at some of the most common use cases below:
Unblocking safely and securely
If you unblock a poker website in a country where gambling is illegal, you could get in trouble with law enforcement. And unblocking a poker website from a location that is geo-restricted will usually be in breach of the site's Terms of Service.
As a result, if you are caught using a VPN, the poker site could confiscate all the money you have accumulated in your account. Luckily, there are some things poker players can do to ensure that they can't be found out.
Firstly, consider starting a new account. Only put enough money in that account to play each day – and cash out your winnings regularly to keep your account as empty as possible. Playing with an account that has accumulated a lot of winnings is risky. So don't do it.
In addition, always use a static VPN IP address. The providers we have recommended in this article have static IPs, but it is still worth asking your chosen provider which servers have static IPs. And, to be sure, it is worth using our IP checking tool before you log in to your poker account each time. Simply make a note of the IP address and make sure that you are always using that IP address every time you play poker online.
As mentioned above, launching a DDoS attack is becoming an increasingly popular way to cheat amongst online poker players. The attack works by overloading your device's network card with requests, and because the network card simply doesn't have enough processing power to handle those requests, you get disconnected. Luckily, VPN servers can handle a large volume of requests at once. This means that when you connect to a poker site via a VPN, the VPN conceals your IP address, and if somebody tries to attack you, they actually attack the VPN server – rendering the attack completely futile.
The VPNs in this guide have robust Tier-1 servers that can cope with the vast majority of DDoS attacks. They use load balancing, as well as other techniques, to deal with an attack if and when it happens. As a result, a VPN has the capacity to absorb the DDoS attack and save you from being booted from the poker table.
Use a kill-switch
If you connect to a poker website using a VPN IP address, and, in the unlikely event that your connection drops out, you will leak your real IP address to the poker website. The site will therefore learn where you are, and this can result in your account being blocked and the loss of all your winnings.
A kill-switch blocks traffic from leaving your device unless the VPN is on, meaning that if the VPN connection drops out, the kill-switch will kick in. This stops you from revealing your real location to the poker website.
A reliable VPN with a firewall-based kill-switch is an absolute necessity if you're going to be playing online poker via a VPN. Some firewall-based VPNs can stop working the app crashes, though, seeing as they only operate when the app is functioning.
You'll need to use a VPN that allows multiple connections to skirt this issue. Then, run the VPN with the kill-switch enabled on your real machine as well as your virtual one. That way, if one instance of the VPN happens to crash the VPN running on the other machine will still protect you!
Get a Dedicated IP
The best thing you can do if you want to play poker using a VPN is to get a dedicated IP address. A dedicated VPN IP address is an IP address that only you use.
Very few VPN services provide this, but it is by far the best way to play poker online and never get caught. Using a dedicated IP address in the country where you want to pretend to be in (and a kill-switch) is the most secure way to play online poker. In fact, many people would agree that it is the only absolutely secure (foolproof) way to play poker using a VPN.
If you're a big-time poker player or a poker star that wins big (or plays in important tournaments), you should definitely get a dedicated IP address. We'd also recommend running two instances of a VPN with a firewall-based kill-switch on both a real and virtual machine for optimal security.
The above link will point you in the direction of some of our recommended services that offer static and/or dedicated IPs. If you'd like to know how much a dedicated IP will cost, get in touch with the provider of your choice for a direct quote.
Will these VPNs work with all online poker sites?
Yes. Poker players in most countries have the freedom to pick from a number of different popular poker sites. And, even those in countries where online poker is banned, with the right VPN, you have the ability to choose to play on multiple sites. As such, we have tested these VPNs all work with the most popular online poker sites, including:
- Sky Poker
Best poker site to access with a VPN?
In a recent podcast episode, GGPoker ambassador Daniel Negreanu stated bluntly that he "personally [doesn't] give a crap where you're playing from, as long as it's you." Meaning that it doesn't bother him if online poker players use VPNs to hide their location to play on geo-restricted poker sites.
Although Negreanu has expressed his views clearly on online poker VPN use and how he doesn't have a problem with it, the company that sponsors him, GGPoker, makes it clear in its Security & Ecology Agreement that the company strictly prohibits the use of VPNs to mask users' locations and any user caught doing so risks suspension of their account. That said, even though GGPoker expressly forbids VPN use on its site, the fact that its star ambassador has stated that VPN users don't bother him indicates a distinct rift between players' views and the views of the online poker companies views on the subject.
All things considered, however, GGPoker is one of the best poker sites to access with a VPN, even if doing so goes against the company's terms and conditions. Just be sure that you use a reputable and secure VPN provider like the ones we have listed in this guide.
Can I use a free VPN for poker?
No. At least, we wouldn't recommend doing so, since free VPNs are generally lacking in all the privacy and security features you will need to keep you safe when playing online poker. Though there are some free VPNs that are suitable for general internet use, they really wouldn't suffice for online poker use.
The truth is that the vast majority of free VPN services simply don't do what it takes to protect your privacy online.
They lack adequate encryption and other vital security features, and some are even outright dangerous since they will sell user data to third parties or even contain malware. Your best bet will be to use one of the VPNs listed in this guide, as they are all more than capable of keeping you safe and secure while accessing online poker sites.
Alternatives to free VPNs
If you don't want to spend loads on a VPN, it is possible to get a cheap VPN for playing online poker. Generally, the longer you commit to a VPN subscription, the bigger the discounts that you can get. If you want to learn more, check out our best cheap VPNs to use.
If you're happy with a temporary VPN solution, it is possible to get a free trial VPN that you can use to play online poker with. All you need is an email address and you can gain access to a premium VPN service for a short period. If you want to know more, check out our list of free trial VPNs.
Below are some of the most common questions we see from visitors looking for a VPN for online poker. If you have any questions not mentioned here, feel free to drop us a message in the comments section at the end of this guide.
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Is it illegal to use a VPN to unblock poker websites?" answer="It is indeed illegal to use a VPN to unblock poker sites if you live in a country where gambling online on those sites is prohibited by law. You're going to need to be incredibly careful that you pick a secure VPN, like the ones listed in this guide, that has all the necessary features to keep you safe during your games. It's also important that you use caution whilst accessing poker sites with a VPN – you'll be visiting these sites at your own risk if they're illegal in your country. However, if online gambling is legal in your location, you should be fine! It's a good idea to check and see what to situation is in your country before proceeding." /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Can my poker account get banned for using a VPN?" answer="Yes, it certainly can. If you use a VPN to skirt local restrictions and are found to be accessing the poker site from a location where the site is deemed illegal, then you could be in violation of the site's terms of service, which could potentially result in your account being suspended or even banned outright. This also means that any of your winnings will become inaccessible to you. The VPNs listed in this guide all have the necessary security and privacy features in place to help protect your privacy and keep you safe from potentially being banned from a poker site." /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Is using a VPN for poker safe?" answer="Any time you attempt to access sites that may or may not be legal in your country, you're taking a calculated risk. The risk-benefit analysis of doing so will be left completely up to you. However, we are confident that the VPNs listed here in this guide are the absolute best when it comes to protecting your privacy and keeping you safe and secure when playing online poker." /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Can using a VPN for poker cause payout issues?" answer="Yes, if the poker site you are using catches you using a VPN to unblock the site from a blocked location and concludes that you are in violation of its terms and conditions, it can ban your account and refuse to pay out any winnings you may have earned. Using a VPN with the proper privacy protections in place like static and/or dedicated IPs, kill-switches, and DNS leak protection can help you keep your location properly hidden and avoid potential bans and payout issues." /]]
Best Online PokerStars VPNs: Conclusion
Online services such as PokerStars and 888 Poker are blocked in certain places. However, they don't try to fight national bans. You can get in on the action and circumvent blocks and restrictions by using a VPN for poker.
However, it is worth noting that some comparison websites falsely claim that VPNs like PureVPN are good for poker. This is untrue because PureVPN does not have a reliable firewall-based kill-switch. Please don't use PureVPN for poker and be very wary of websites that mistakenly claim it is best: it is not "best" – it is a very big risk! Without a reliable kill-switch, you could leak data about your real IP address to the poker website: giving away your real location.
You'll need a reliable VPN with a system-wide firewall-based kill-switch in order to play poker securely. You'll also need to connect to the VPN with your real machine and virtual machine at the same time – just in case the VPN crashes. It's a good idea to talk to your VPN provider before subscribing, to find out whether it has a system-wide firewall-based kill-switch.
Finally, there really is no better way to protect yourself when playing online poker than with a dedicated IP address: if this is what you want to do, you will need to use [[post-object type="gotolink" provider="cyberghost" tag="poker"]]CyberGhost[[/post-object]]. CyberGhost VPN is the one in this list that has absolutely everything you need to be completely secure while playing poker with a VPN (2 simultaneous connections for using on a virtual machine and your real machine, a firewall-based kill-switch, and a dedicated IP).