This guide explores the mechanics, legality, and intricacies of sweepstakes poker.
Last updated: December 12, 2023
Unlock the world of legal poker in the United States with sweepstakes poker sites.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unravel the mechanics and legality of sweepstakes poker. If you’ve ever wondered how it’s possible to enjoy genuine poker games without breaching any laws or regulations, you’re in the right place. These social poker apps operate on a unique sweepstakes model, allowing them to host cash prize games without the need for traditional deposits.
Whether you’re a seasoned player or new to the world of sweepstakes poker, this article delves into every aspect, from obtaining and using Sweeps Coins to redeeming prizes and navigating the various game options.
Get ready to understand the legal nuances, explore top sweepstakes poker sites like Global Poker, and embark on a journey to play poker for real money prizes in a secure and legal environment.
Sweepstakes poker gives players a chance to compete for real money prizes without making traditional deposits. Instead, players are awarded Sweeps Coins, which can be exchanged for real money prizes. This model is in line with relevant US gaming laws, making sweepstakes poker platforms completely legal nearly all US states.
Regulated, real money online poker in the US is not available outside a handful of regulated states due to a law prohibiting financial institutions from facilitating gambling-related transactions. Sweepstakes poker operators are based on a model that makes it possible to host games with cash prizes without breaking any laws.
In a nutshell, players on sweepstake poker sites cannot make traditional deposits or withdrawals. Instead, they can purchase play money (which cannot be exchanged for real prizes and can only be used to play social games). These play money tokens have different names but are often called Gold Coins (GC).
With every GC purchase, the operator gifts players a certain number of Sweeps Coins (SC), which are essentially sweepstakes entries*. You can use these coins to play at sweepstakes tables (different from social tables), and you can redeem your Sweeps Coins for cash prizes.
These sites are legal, unlike unregulated real money poker sites, because players are not making any direct deposits. Sweeps Coins are given as a reward for customers’ loyalty — be it direct purchases (the easiest way to obtain SCs), time spent on the site, or participation in other promotions.
You cannot withdraw Sweeps Coins directly, as they are not real currency. Instead, you can exchange these appreciation tokens for cash rewards at a rate determined by the operator. When you make the exchange, the room will send your gift via check or bank transfer.
This setup makes US sweepstakes poker sites completely legal as it is founded on old sweepstakes laws that many companies outside the gaming niche have used for decades to reward their customers.
To play for real money prizes, you will need Sweeps Coins, and the easiest way to get these is through Gold Coin purchases. With every purchase, you will receive a certain number of SC. For example, you could come across an offer like:
At most sweep poker platforms, you will have two running balances, one showing your GC count and the other showing the number of available SCs. Likewise, every platform is divided into two sections — SC games and GC games.
If you want to play with SC, you will need to switch to the Sweeps Coin side of things, and then you can use your balance to enter tournaments and join ring game tables — just like you would in any poker room. So, to buy into a 0.50SC/1SC ring game, you could bring 100 SC from your balance.
You can exchange some or all of your Sweeps Coins for prizes at almost any point, provided you have the minimum required amount. Usually, it is $20 worth of SC to redeem gift cards and $50 to redeem cash, although these amounts can vary between platforms.
When it comes to Sweeps Coins values, these also differ. Usually, 1 SC is redeemable for $1 at the redemption stage, but if a poker site you play on has a different setup, it will be explained. Regardless of the ratio of SC to real money, you should have no problems figuring that part out within a few minutes.
The most important thing about sweepstakes online poker is that you can compete for real prizes, but the process may be slightly confusing for those new to these platforms. So, here is a quick and simple explanation.
We have already discussed how you obtain Sweeps Coins. Once you have an SC balance, you are ready to join the action.
First, make sure you switch to the sweeps side of the site, as this is where you will find games with real cash prizes. The other side offers games with Gold Coins, which have no redemption value outside the games.
Once inside the sweeps lobby, you will have the option to choose between different game types, namely:
Pick based on your preference and use filters to find the kind of games you are interested in. For instance, you can filter by stakes, number of seats at the table, etc.
Now, all that is left is to join the game. Click on the table/tournament you wish to join and use your Sweeps Coins to buy in. The amount will be deducted from your balance, and you will be entered into the tournament, or chips will be added to your stack if you join a cash game.
When you are done playing, leave the table, and any money you take out will be added back to the balance to be used later or exchanged for prizes at your leisure. In the case of tournaments, you will receive SC prizes straight into your balance whenever you make it into the money.
To sum it up, playing poker for real money prizes at sweepstakes sites is not complicated. Once you get used to the platform, it is the same thing you have been doing for years at other online poker rooms, just with an extra step or two in between.
Sweepstakes online poker sites offer all the games you are used to — multi-table tournaments (MTTs), cash games, and sit & go’s. You can pick and choose from different options, and there are different buy-in levels to cater to all player types.
You will find a variety of tournament options at US poker sweepstakes sites. It is not only daily events that will keep you busy, as there are frequent series with big guaranteed prize pools. A good example is the Eagle Cup, a major tournament series organized by Global Poker, a leading social poker operator.
In terms of buy-ins, there are events for every budget, so whether you are a micro stakes grinder or someone with a bigger gaming bankroll, you will have no problem finding tournaments to meet your expectations.
Sweepstakes poker sites offer a good selection of ring game tables, albeit you will be limited to the two most popular variations — No-Limit Hold’em and Omaha (PLO and Hi/Lo).
In terms of stakes, you will find games at both ends of the spectrum. There are micro and low-limit games running regularly and some higher-stakes tables that may not run with the same frequency but often enough to keep you in the game.
Right now, there is only one reliable sweepstakes poker operator in the US — Global Poker. This is your go-to place to legally play poker on a safe platform in most US states.
Global Poker is the leading US poker sweepstakes operator that offers everything you will find on traditional real money platforms and provides opportunities to play for cash prizes in both cash games and tournaments.
The site has built a pristine reputation over the years, building a top-quality online poker platform based on the sweepstakes model. As already mentioned, among other things, Global Poker hosts major tournament series with millions in guaranteed prizes.
You will have no problems obtaining Sweeps Coins on the site, giving you access to games with real money prizes across all stakes. When the time comes, redeeming your cash prizes is just as simple at Global Poker, so it is no surprise many US poker players choose this platform.
As mentioned earlier, the easiest way to obtain Sweeps Coins is by purchasing Gold Coin packages and collecting the attached Sweeps Coin rewards. You cannot purchase SCs directly, but once you understand the mechanics of these platforms, this does not make a big difference.
Sweeps poker sites in the US support a variety of safe and reliable payment options, such as:
You can use these methods to purchase Gold Coins, resulting in complementary Sweeps Coins, and also receive your prizes once you redeem them from the site’s online store.
The process of purchasing Gold Coins at most US online sweeps poker sites is simple and straightforward.
Once coins are in your balance, you can check out and join available games following the procedure we explained earlier on this page.
If you want to play online poker for real prizes, sweeps poker sites are the most popular option, but they are not the only one. Several platforms operate on a club model, where paying a certain membership fee will give you access to games with real prizes, such as cash, merchandise, trips, and entries into various live tournaments.
A good example of this type of social poker site is Club WPT, where all members get to compete for over $100,000 worth of prizes every month. You must pay a monthly membership fee to gain access to these games, providing added benefits, such as access to valuable poker training materials.
Another popular social poker option is ClubGG, which features a platform very similar to that of Club WPT. For a monthly fee, you will get access to $200,000 worth of tournament tickets monthly, access to GGClass, and more.
Social poker clubs are a great option for fans of tournament poker. However, they do not offer any ring game action, which is probably the biggest downside of these sites.
Yes, you can win real money prizes at sweepstakes poker sites in the United States. You can exchange your Sweeps Coins for gift cards or cash without any problems.
Yes, sweepstakes poker sites are completely legal in the United States and available to players in most states (Washington, Idaho, and Michigan are a few notable exceptions). These sites are legal because the way they operate does not violate any current relevant laws and regulations.
You can earn real prizes by exchanging your Sweeps Coins in your online account section. In most cases, you can redeem for gift cards or cash, depending on the total amount.
Cash games are available at sweepstakes poker sites in the US, and you will find a solid variety of stakes across the board. As for the game variations, you can play No-Limit Hold’em and Omaha (PLO and O8).
Yes, of course. There are many daily and weekly sweepstakes poker tournaments on offer. You can also compete in big series with large guarantees, such as Global Poker’s Eagle Cup.