Poker in Germany
In Germany, online poker is a very controversial topic. Until June 1st, 2021, this was not clearly regulated and left many questions unanswered. Only in one federal state was it already regulated. Schleswig-Holstein was the only federal state that was still allowed to play without rules during the introductory phase of the regulations.
After the “gambling regulation” of June 1st, 2021, this was clearly regulated. The new laws set fixed tax rates for tournament and cash game players. Poker in Germany is only legal if played on licensed platforms. For this license, the platforms must adhere to many rules:
- Play max 4 tables simultaneously
- Monthly deposit limit of €1,000
- No free choice of seat at the table
- Panic button to be blocked immediately for 24 hours
- German players will see a summary of their wins and losses every time they log in
- Every 60 minutes there is a reminder in a pop-up window informing the player how long they have been playing.
- Identity check upon registration: A valid passport, driver’s license, ID card and current proof of address (consumer billing) to verify player account
- Everything must be displayed in €.
- Poker providers pay 5.3% tax on all buy-ins made in cash games and tournaments.
Do poker players have to pay taxes in Germany?
Due to the high taxes that a German poker player now has to pay, it has become extremely difficult to play poker profitably. This is also one of the reasons why many people decide to continue their online poker careers abroad. Austria is very popular for German players. June 1st, 2021 is therefore known as the day of death for online poker in Germany.
There is one exception, non-cash prize tournaments.
The only format of poker in public that is not considered a game of chance in Germany are tournaments with entry, also known as non-cash tournaments. The winner receives a non-cash prize that cannot be paid from the participation fees. This variant lacks the stake feature and according to German case law it is therefore not a game of chance. However, the maximum participation fee is open, but at €15 you are usually protected as an organizer or participant of non-cash prize tournaments in Germany. The relevance of the application is then missing.
Poker in the casino is still possible here. Unfortunately, poker is not very popular in Germany. Due to the small offer, many poker players switch to casinos outside of Germany. The Kings Casino in Rozvadov or the Grand Casino As in As are popular here.
Poker wave in Germany revitalized with Pius Heinz
Poker is becoming more and more popular in Germany. Most recently, there was a “poker hype” in 2011 after the German Pius Heinz won the WSOP Main Event. Pius Heinz is probably one of the most well-known German poker champions. So far he is the only German to have won the main event in Las Vegas. In 2011 he prevailed at the final table with a strong hand (King of Spades and Clubs versus 10 of Clubs and 7 of Clubs) against the remaining Czech Martin Staszko and secured prize money of $8,715,368 USD.
Now the poker hype has been reignited after Koray Aldemir won the WSOP Main Event for $8.1 million.
How popular is online poker in Germany?
As you can see in the following table, the popularity of playing online poker in Germany is well behind the USA in second place. But where does the great enthusiasm for online poker and other areas of gambling come from?
One reason is certainly the stable German economy, which gives people the opportunity to invest a little money in hobbies such as poker and gambling. Another reason is certainly that the Germans are very ambitious when it comes to sports or games of skill. If you only know the poker rules and want to gamble a bit, you will not be successful in the long term. Poker is based on the element of bad luck and luck in the short run, but in the long run the player wins with the better poker strategy as the game is based on mathematical probabilities.
Also due to the many lockdowns caused by Covid-19, the rush to online poker has increased. Many poker players who liked to play in casinos had to follow their hobby online. Many people are deterred from playing poker because of the sometimes high stakes that are required to participate in a tournament in the casino, this is of course different in the online poker world. Due to the numerous range of micro/low stakes tournaments, new players can get a feel for the sport of poker with small stakes.
Poker is still one of the most popular games of chance for many Germans. Many play almost every day. Especially in the big online poker networks there is a lively rush in the evening. But many also opt for the real poker feeling and go to the cash games and poker tournaments that take place in almost all major cities.
A highlight for every young poker player in Germany is a visit to the casino at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin or to the casinos in Hamburg-Schenefeld, Dortmund-Hohensyburg or Wiesbaden.
Koray Aldemir wins 2022 WSOP Main Event
Image by: PokerGO