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Playing Online Poker in Pakistan

Pakistan has multiple famous poker players. Hassan Habib back in 2000 finished 4th in the WSOP Main Event. In 2004 he won USD $1,372,223 USD for finishing second in the USD $25,000 buy-in WPT championship. He then won a WSOP bracelet that same year. In 2014 he cashed for his 25th time in a WSOP event bringing his career tournament winnings past the USD $5.5 million mark. Owais Ahmed born in Karachi, Pakistan, has cashed in 15 WSOP events, 5 WSOP circuit events, and won a WSOP bracelet in 2011.

The players I just mentioned are now Pakistani Americans. But, it is perhaps based on their success that there has been a bit of an online poker boom in our home country. As of 2015, global online poker forum PoketFives, has 79 members that registered from Pakistan. What is the ratio of online players total to Pocket 5 members? Probably quite high. It is not inconceivable to believe there are several thousand online poker players from our country. In this article I discuss how playing online is done.

Where to Play Online Poker?

The most popular online poker room in the world is no doubt PokerStars.com. The sad news is this is off limits to Pakistani players. For whatever reason their company eventually made the decision to not allow players from our country. The same applies to PartyPoker, Full Tilt and several others. The good news is there is still a top network that allows Pakistan residents. That being the iPoker Network from PlayTech.

www.bet365.com is one of several online poker rooms operating on the iPoker Network and is the one most friendly to Pakistan poker players. They are an all in one gambling site that offers sports betting, casino, bingo, horse race betting and of course internet poker. My article on sports betting in Pakistan covers the various ways Pakistan residents can deposit to their website and get paid when they win.

www.winner.com is another site operating the iPoker Network. They have most of the same deposit and payment methods as Bet365 but have a couple others that are unique. For example Winner accepts QIWI wallet payments, which some players from Pakistan might be able to use. While Bet365 offers more in other products Pakistan residents will enjoy, Winner.com is decent and has some unique methods in their cashier.

There are other sites on the iPoker Network too which you can find listed at PokerScout’s iPoker page. But again, the two above are on average the best for our country.

Other Alternatives

The remainder of the poker rooms servicing Pakistan residents are quite the stepdown from iPoker. They have less player volume, features and promotions. There are however a couple worth considering.

www.5dimes.eu – is most known as being a sports betting website. They are not the flashiest but they are well known and well trusted. When logging in to their website you’ll find they have multiple online poker rooms to choose from, all of which use the same account balance as their online bookie site. The benefit to 5Dimes is it is possible to deposit using Western Union and then cash out using a number of methods including Bitcoin. This introduces two other banking options Pakistan residents can use, which the iPoker sites mentioned above do not support.

www.betcoinpoker.ag – is a bitcoin only site that offers anonymous accounts. They use Winning Poker Network (WPN) software. Their tournaments are networked with WPN. While not as large as iPoker you can still find decent tournament volume and access to their large guaranteed prize pool promotional tournaments too. Their cash game tables have small traffic, mostly to No Limit Texas Hold’em. Again this is a bitcoin only site. A benefit of that is accounts are anonymous so there is no need to ever verify personal information and send scans of IDs or utility bills.

Is Online Poker in Pakistan a Serious Crime

Online poker is of course illegal under the laws of our land. Prize bonds and horse race betting with the official tote are the only forms of gambling exempted from The Prevention of Gambling Act, 1977. This is the law that makes unlawful gambling punishably by a Pakistan rupee (PKR) Rs. 1,000 fine, and/or up to 1 year in prison. Prison sentences are extremely rare and generally are reserved for high level gamblers, operators, or repeat offenders.

My article on Pakistan online casinos address why internet gambling with foreign companies is not a major concern of our law enforcement. In short: it is done in private, in our homes, using an internet connection; not as a public nuisance. Rarely do we ever hear of a casual player being arrested.

The bigger concern is the risks of public shame. This is a big issue in Pakistan where those convicted of minor crimes end up losing their jobs, or having protests, and/or other such negativities directed at them. The law plus the public shame aspect makes it worth keeping it quiet if you do decide to play a little real money poker online. Outside that, to answer the question… no, it is not a major crime. For all intents and purposes it is a minor one. When done carefully it mostly goes unnoticed, but of course there are some risks.