Top 10 South African Poker Sites 2021 : For South African Players
South Africa has a rich poker scene and online poker is alive and more than well. Maybe you didn’t know, but poker pros like Raymond Rahme and other recognized players around the world actually come from South Africa. And get this, the second annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) was hosted in South Africa.
When you think of South Africa, the places that immediately spring to mind include Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria. It’s probably not commonplace to really associate poker or any other sort of gambling with the country. And that’s probably with good reason, too. After all, it has been heavily restricted since the late 1600s making South Africa not the gambling friendliest country in the world. The country has a hard-line stance on online gambling, and sports betting remains the only legal form of online gambling in the Rainbow Nation.
Despite all the legal barriers, there is a horde of diehard poker fans living in South Africa that are willing to do what it takes to find a top-notch poker site. If you’re one of them, you’ve certainly come to the right place.
Now, don’t get me wrong — we’re not going to break any laws here. I’m merely going to point you in the right direction and show you what are the best offshore poker sites that accept South African residents.
Somewhere along the way, I’m also going to present my view on the South African online gambling laws and provide a mini step-by-step guide that will teach beginners how to register on a poker site.
Here’s a brief rundown of my comprehensive guide for poker fans residing in South Africa:
Let’s get right into it!
Recommended South African Online Poker Rooms
- Recommended South African Online Poker Rooms
- How We Rate South African Poker Sites
- Is Online Poker Legal in South Africa?
- How to Play on South African Poker Sites
- Most Popular Poker Games in South Africa
- Mobile Poker in South Africa
- Banking Options for South Africans
- Can I use South African Rands to play poker online?
- What payment methods can South African poker players use?
- Are there players online at South African peak hours?
- Can I use my mobile to play online poker?
- Can I play poker at real-money sites for free?
- Am I Safe Depositing and Playing at an Online Poker Room from South Africa?
After extensive research of the online poker industry, I came up with an ultimate list of the best poker sites for South Africans. Let me assure you that this list is purely statistics based — there is no subjective opinion here.
What I did is I compared all the operators’ key characteristics with those of others on the market, and put those that came out on top on the list. What sets all these brands apart from all the qualified candidates? Take a look at my next paragraph to find out!
My list of the best poker sites which I consider to be the best rooms to play in 2021:
100% Legal & Licensed Verified Bonus Mobile Friendly Advertiser Disclosure. Must be +18 to participate.
How We Rate South African Poker Sites
My team of poker aficionados have been around the online gambling industry for decades now. Over the years, we’ve learned how to recognize a first-class poker site. Based on that knowledge, we’ve established a selection criteria which is a list of essential characteristics every operator must possess to get a recommendation from us.
To get the approval by my expert team, every poker site in South Africa must comprise the following qualities:
Has to Be 100% Safe and SecureIn today’s day and age, poker sites need to be proactive in preventing security breaches and making sure that players’ sensitive data remains protected at all times. Industry-standard protocols that are being used in the online poker industry include SSL-encryption, top-notch firewalls, and other tools. To pass my team’s safety checks, every operator has to employ these security mechanisms.
Sometimes, poker sites use the highest level of security measures possible, but are not properly regulated, which means that it can do whatever it wants — even rig its games. For this reason, we opt to choose only poker sites that are licensed by a respectable jurisdiction, such as the MGA, UKGC, Curacao, Panama and others. These organizations supervise the poker operators and ensure that players are being provided with a safe and fair gaming environment.
Needs to Be GenerousI know how this sounds — gambling sites and generosity, doesn’t fit, right? But bonuses are an integral part of playing in poker sites. A great bonus can improve your odds and increase your chances of winning.
Every poker site from our list welcomes South African players with a massive bonus. You can get thousands of Rands just opening an account and depositing a small amount of cash. And to keep you entertained and engaged, these sites will constantly throw rewarding promotions at you, that come in the form of RakeBack deals, Bad Beat jackpots and so forth.
It Must Use an Impeccable SoftwarePlaying poker online is not the same as playing in a land-based venue. Even though you’re playing in real-time, against real, human opponents, you may experience problems with poker client lagging. Or maybe the platform could freeze up while you’re multi-tabbing. And trust me — there’s nothing more frustrating than running into performance issues while in the middle of an intense poker game.
For these very reasons, we picked out poker sites that use impeccable software. We want you guys to have a seamless, glitch-free poker experience. And with these sites, you can look forward to that.
Has to be Mobile-FriendlyNowadays, almost every poker operator has a mobile-friendly website. But they’re not all created equal. Sometimes, the mobile version is not properly optimized, or it’s not compatible with all popular operating systems, namely iOS and Android. To determine how good the poker operator’s mobile platform is, we run a battery of tests. We access the site from various mobile devices, and if everything runs smoothly, then we consider recommending it to our readers.
With our mobile-friendly poker sites and dedicated poker apps, it’s possible to enjoy poker games and latest promotions anytime, anywhere with a connected mobile device like a tablet or smartphone. Whether it’s Texas Hold’em you love, or Chinese Poker for example, our recommended poker sites provide the opportunity to enjoy all the perks of online poker straight from your mobile device.
Complete Package of Games is MandatoryWhy is it important that a poker site has a versatile games portfolio? Because the more options you have at your disposal, the bigger the likelihood you’ll have of finding a perfect poker table — one that matches both your playing preferences and budget. Some poker operators only have NL Hold’em and Omaha on offer, and perhaps you’re a Razz poker specialist. So, you’ll be forced to play a poker variant you don’t know much about, and you’re obviously going to lose more than you win.
Or perhaps the poker site has tables with micro stakes only, which is not suitable for high rollers who came there to make the big bucks. In our estimation, a top-notch poker site should be able to cater to both casual and pro players alike and have multiple poker formats.
It Must Have Well-Rounded TrafficI know that recreational players may not pay much attention to this factor, but balanced traffic is integral in the success of every poker site. If you’re stuck with a poker operator that has poor traffic, you’re always going to wait for the tables to fill up. And if it has strong traffic, then there is a high chance that you’ll run across sharks — high-skill poker players that make money by beating on weaker opponents.
That’s why an ideal poker site has a well-rounded, balanced traffic. During peak hours, you should always be able to find an open seat in both micro stakes and high-stakes tables.
Resourceful Customer Support Must Be Available 24/7An efficient customer service is always on our checklist of things to look for when finding a good poker site. It’s vitally important that there is someone to assist you if something goes wrong. If your payment transaction goes awry or you need help with registering. Most of the time, these issues are minor and can be easily fixed by the customer support team.
We want customer service to be always available to you when you need it. That’s why we only recommend poker sites with support teams that are knowledgeable, dedicated, polite, and available round-the-clock.
It Should Accept a Wide Range of Payment MethodsBeing able to make easy, quick, and secure deposits and withdrawals is one of the most significant features for all types of poker players. Our recommended poker sites offer a multitude of different deposit and withdrawal methods, most of which are used by South Africans for everyday payments.
Apart from a fully-stacked banking section, we expect every poker site to process withdrawals quickly, within a couple of working days. We want you guys to get your hard-earned winnings in the shortest time possible.
Every poker player is different, so what one gamer looks for may not necessarily be what others seek out. You need to find one that caters to you specifically – at least, as far as game selection, lobby layout, promotions and other features are concerned One thing that everybody should be on the look out for though, is a licensed poker site. If a poker room possesses a valid gambling licence from a reputable jurisdiction, then you’re off to a good start.
Furthermore, make sure that it supports a payment method that you feel comfortable using online. It’s no good becoming a member of a platform and then finding out that you can only make use of a Visa card to deposit if you’re not happy to insert your card details at an online site.
Don’t be blinded by the external layout or any promises of huge rewards for becoming a player at a site, either. After all, the external view of a poker platform does not dictate how it operates internally.
Just be sure that you’re playing at a recommended site. We’ve got a selection of them for you to browse through here, but even if you don’t want to visit one of the South African platforms that we recommend, read reviews from other people. Make sure they’re people that have played at the poker rooms and find out what the pros and cons of them are. See if there are any big problems that the site is having troubles with sorting out. Be sure that there aren’t any withdrawal issues or withholding of funds from players. If you do some proper research into South African online poker rooms beforehand, then you can’t go far wrong.
Is Online Poker Legal in South Africa?
South Africa has a long history of gambling restrictions. That history started changing several years ago when the legislators showed interested in changing the laws gradually in order to keep up with the industry and the needs of the citizens.
However, things are not that simple. It’s the trademark of South Africans to make things complicated and confusing, and so are the laws pertaining to online poker and online gambling.
Because the laws in South Africa regarding online poker are so stringent, it has become fairly difficult for citizens to engage in poker gameplay via the internet. Players can actually be prosecuted if they’re found to be participating in online poker or other forms of gambling.
In 1965, the Gambling Act of South Africa came into effect and that would officially ban all forms of gambling, with the sole exception being horse racing.
Despite this, the country does have a link with poker gameplay. But how does this happen when it’s considered to be an illegal act there?
There have been certain areas of South Africa that have managed to skirt around the laws, though. For example, in the late 1970s, certain casinos began operating within the nominally independent areas of the country, known as bantustans.
These took up residence in the areas of Bophuthatswana, Transkei and a few others. In those locations, only native South Africans resided, so most citizens of the country couldn’t really access the casinos. However, over time, these illegal casinos grew in number, and by 1995, it was estimated that South Africa had over 2,000 of them in operation.
Things did change in 1994 when a new democratic government came into power. It was then that all forms of gambling were made legal.
In 1994, however, things took a turn for the better when the government introduced a licensing system into the 1996 National Gambling Act and repealed a ban on all kinds of gambling. This legislation made it possible for a legal framework of the gambling industry to be created as it allowed the National Gambling Board to provide licenses to both land-based and online sportsbooks in all nine provinces.
A set of licensed casinos were set up in 1996, which is when the National Gambling Act of the country became effective. A national lottery was also set up and horse racing (while remaining legal) became defined as a gambling activity rather than a sporting activity. Rules were brought in at the same time to keep gambling within the country as regulated as possible, and a decision was made for a total of 40 gambling licences to be made available to potential South African operators. Alongside the legal casinos and national lottery, other gambling games became available, including poker.
As of 2004, a new version of the National Gambling Act was brought into effect, repealing the 1996 version, and then in 2008, a further introduction came into play – the National Gambling Amendment Act. Unfortunately, the former of these Acts prohibited any operator from providing online gaming services, while making it illegal for residents of South Africa to access such as well. Therefore, online poker (along with online casino and bingo games) was made an illegal activity. The Amendment Act of 2008 was actually meant to try and legalise online interactive gaming. However, various parties confronted the introduction of this – including land-based establishments and anti-money laundering groups – meaning that it was never brought into effect with it.
To make things worse, South Africa introduced a law in 2010 that made accessing foreign-based interactive gambling websites an illegal action. Because of this, both offering online gambling services and participating in such, regardless of server location, became illegal in the country. The National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008 could come into effect at some point in the near future if the high court listens to appeals against the laws blocking interactive gambling. For now though, poker remains as an activity that is considered illegal in South Africa.
South Africa’s Governing Body For Poker
The agency responsible for oversight of the regulation in the gambling industry throughout South Africa is the National Gambling Board.
According to the board, its aim is to preserve the integrity of the citizens as responsible.
If you fall victim to a fraud or corruption, you can report it to the Board.
The National Gambling Board is also the agency where you have to go if you want to receive a gambling license to operate a land-based operation in South Africa.
How to Play on South African Poker Sites
When I first started playing online poker, everything seemed so easy — I mean how difficult could it be to create an account, deposit, and get right into the action? But somewhere along the way, I stumbled upon a few roadblocks, and before I realized I was stuck in the seemingly endless paperwork I had to fill out to get started.
So, to help you guys avoid such unpleasantries, I created a mini step-by-step guide that will lead you through the entire process. So, just follow my lead, and you’ll be playing in world-class poker sites in no time!
Find the Right Poker SiteWhen looking for a great site for playing online poker, you have to pay attention to all those factors I was talking about earlier. But ultimately, it all boils down to your personal preferences. It all depends on what type of player you are, what your skill level is, what qualities do you expect from a top-notch poker site, and so on.
That’s why my guidance can only lead you so far, and it’s up to you to decide which of the amazing poker venues fits your preferences the most. So, take a close look at my exclusive list again, and try to figure out which of the operators listed can appease your poker appetites.
To explain the registration process, I’ve used Betonline.ag in my guide. This is a US-based poker brand that provides its services to South Africans. The procedure is similar to all other poker sites.
Create an AccountTo get to Betonline.ag’s homepage, just click on the brand’s logo on my list. When you get there, find the green Join Now button to start the registration process. In most poker sites, this button is located somewhere in the upper right corner of the page.
When you click on it, a registration form will pop out. As you will see, you are now required to submit some basic information about your identity and whereabouts. This is a pretty common procedure on every poker site, and it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to complete.
Once you fill out all the fields, the operator will send you a verification link to your email. Go to your email inbox and click on it. This will navigate you back to Betonline.ag’s homepage.
That’s it! You have successfully created an account on a world-renowned poker site. You now need to top your account with funds to start playing real money games.
Make a DepositTo deposit in Betonline.ag, you’ll have several options. To check out what these options are, you can go to the banking section.
There, you’ll find all the information you need. Once you’re ready to make your very first deposit, go to your profile and the Cashier department. There, you’ll need to select a payment method and input the amount you wish to deposit.
All deposits are being processed almost instantly, so as soon as you verify your payment, the funds should reach your poker account. You can now start playing your favourite poker games. My advice — check out the promotions section first, there are plenty of amazing bonuses to be claimed!
Browse Through Promotions PageEvery poker site from my list has several bonuses and promotions in store for South African players. Welcome bonuses are undoubtedly the most lucrative ones, but make sure to browse through the entire promotions page as there might be some other valuable promos for you.
You’ve now learned how to create an account and deposit in a poker site. All that remains is to find yourself a suitable poker table. With my recommended picks, there are all kinds of SNGs and tournaments being hosted every day. Have fun!
Most Popular Poker Games in South Africa
Texas Hold’em — that’s the easily most popular poker format in South Africa today. Rejoice my fellow poker aficionados living in South Africa as this variant is being offered by every single poker site out there. And even if Omaha or 5-Card Stud are your favorite types of poker, you can still find a couple of tables hosting these games in our recommended poker sites.
If you’re a fan of 2-7 Triple Draw, Razz, or Chinese Poker, there are a couple of brands offering these not-so-widespread poker variations. You may have to wait a while, though, for the tables to fill up.
Mobile Poker in South Africa
It wasn’t long ago that the only places hosting poker rooms were elite casino resorts in gambling centers across the globe. With the inception of online gambling, it has become possible to play real-money poker without having to leave the comfort of your home. And with mobile poker as one of the latest innovations, you can play your favourite poker games from anywhere in South Africa, whenever you want.
To enjoy all the benefits of mobile poker in South Africa, you only need a stable internet connection, and a compatible mobile device. Speaking of compatibility, almost all poker sites are developed, so that both iOS and Android users can access them. Some brands have launched native poker apps, but if you don’t want to download anything, but rather jump right into the action, you can always access the instant play version, and immediately start playing.
Banking Options for South Africans
At most SA poker sites, you’ll encounter commonly used credit and debit cards, but you can also use e-wallets, prepaid cards, and even cryptocurrencies to facilitate payments. Most of these payment methods, like PayPal, are already being used by South Africans for their everyday shoppings.
While most online poker sites will accept deposits made through credit and debit cards, there’s always the potential there for your bank to block such transactions. You can try your Visa or Mastercard if you like, but should it not process through, you’ll need to look at alternatives.
The best alternative that you can use for depositing is to transact with a cryptocurrency. Whether that be Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Ethereum or any of the others, it doesn’t matter. If the online poker room accepts transactions via cryptocurrencies, then you’ll be able to make use of instant deposits and withdrawals, without any kind of central financial institution keeping a check on what you’re doing. Additionally, you won’t have to pay any additional fees on top of your deposits and withdrawals as far as the cryptocurrency is concerned. So, if you want something free and fast, cryptocurrencies are the way to go.
You could also try and utilise an e-wallet for deposit and withdrawal purposes, although again, it’s not always possible that these are made available for residents of South Africa. If you do possess a Neteller or Skrill wallet for example though, you can try to use it at your chosen online poker room. Just be wary of the fact that it may not be supported for players from within South Africa. While bank transfers may also be available to make use of, these are situated in the same vein as credit and debit cards. Because they’re connected specifically to a bank, the transaction may be blocked if it’s found to be going to an online gambling site.
So, you’re already familiar with the process of how to use these banking options for online payments. What’s more, some of our featured poker sites accept payments in South African Rands, so you won’t be losing any money on conversion rates. Pretty neat, right?
Despite all the efforts by politicians to finally legalize online poker, South Africa’s stance on gambling laws remains intact. However, South Africans wishing to enjoy online poker are welcome at numerous world-class poker sites across the world, meaning that opportunities still exist to experience the best that the online poker industry has to offer.
Some of these places can be found right here, on this page. That’s right — you are only one click away from joining forces with the leading poker brands in the world.
Don’t forget to always gamble responsibly, and I wish you all the best, whichever operator you choose!
Now that we have clarified somewhat the legality of online poker in South Africa, in the following you will find answers to the five most frequently asked questions about South African poker sites.
Can I use South African Rands to play poker online?
We don’t say “South African poker sites” for nothing. They are not really South African because they operate overseas, but they implement all sorts of features to make South African poker players feel comfortable and welcomed. So, giving players the option to make deposits, withdrawals and wagers in Rands is one of those features.
What payment methods can South African poker players use?
Just like poker players from other countries in the world, South Africans can use the same payment methods as them such as credit and debit cards, wire transfer, or more convenient methods like Skrill, Neteller and PayPal among the many. All of these are industry-standard methods and you will find them at 90% of the poker sites.
Are there players online at South African peak hours?
Since online poker sites operate globally, expect to find enough poker players to play against during daytime or night in South Africa. People from all over the world gather to play poker online, and many of them are within the same time zone as South Africans. Even if they aren’t, there are always passionate poker players that play during off hours.
Can I use my mobile to play online poker?
Yes. If you register with those sites that are riding on the cutting edge of gaming technology, you will be able to play poker on your mobile through native or web-based apps.
Can I play poker at real-money sites for free?
If you are new to poker and don’t want to spend money immediately, but desperately want to try how it is to play at a real-money poker sites, you may want to look for freeroll tournaments. These are tournaments in which you can participate without paying an entrance fee. The best thing is that if you finish in the top spots you can get your share of the prize pool without spending a single Rand.
Am I Safe Depositing and Playing at an Online Poker Room from South Africa?
Understanding the South African laws can be quite the complex scenario at times, especially considering that they have changed so often since the start of the new millennium. Online poker gameplay of any kind is said to be completely illegal, though. And while no reports of South African players being arrested and convicted for such activities have come to light, some do say that you’re able to be punished for engaging in it.
However, the poker scene within South Africa remains as a popular pastime, with various gamblers taking it upon themselves to access foreign-based platforms. You can also indulge in poker this way too – you just need to be a bit more aware of the sites that you’re playing at, how you’re accessing them and the payment method that you’re using for depositing and withdrawing, too.
Your safety also depends upon the platform that you’re playing poker at, because some of them will definitely be out there to scam gamers. Make sure that you’re playing at a site with a reputable licence and regulations in place. This way, your money is a lot safer and you can guarantee that the poker room will be adhering to a set of rules regarding such. We have put together a collection of recommended South African poker rooms that you can navigate to and join. We have checked them out in full and written reviews on all of them. At least with these, you can also guarantee that they’re operating professionally and respectably.