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Sweepstakes Poker: A Deep Dive Into Poker Sweepstakes

Last Updated on 03/05/2024
Fact checked by: James Leeland

Sweepstakes poker is a style of poker that is played without real money. Instead, players use virtual tokens or currencies and have the chance to win prizes. Despite the difference in accessibility, there are no changes in the gameplay or rules of the game.

To understand how such a system is possible, we first have to explore the basis of a sweepstakes platform. So, read along as we explore the world of social casinos, including how they work, what makes them legitimate–especially in the United State, and how to get started playing this type of poker.

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How sweepstakes poker works

Sweepstakes casinos swap out real money for virtual currencies, typically in the form of Gold Coins (GC) and Sweepstakes Coins (SC). The former are used for free-to-play games and can only be used to win more GC. Gold Coins have no real-world value and cannot be redeemed for any kind of prize. The latter, on the other hand, can be redeemed in the sweepstakes casino for merchandise and gift cards, among other things.

With this knowledge, you can then choose how to play, whether to use GC or SC for any poker tournament or event.

Since these tokens have no real-world value and are generously offered to players from the get-go, the games they are used for are essentially played for free. Thus, any poker game offered within this casino model is classed as sweepstakes poker.

The legitimacy of sweepstakes poker sites

Online gaming is a strictly regulated industry worldwide, with some regions having more rules than others. The United States is one of the regions with strict regulations, which culminated in the birth of the sweepstakes casino model.

Since sweepstakes casinos don't rely on real money to play games, they are an alternative to online casinos and form part of a regulated industry within the United States. This makes them completely legal to play across the country, except in select areas, such as Washington, Idaho, Kentucky, etcetera.

As an alternative to online casinos, sweepstakes casinos don't offer casino games either. Instead, they offer casino-style games specifically designed for their free-to-play system. But that doesn't take away the quality of the experience, since they also rely on in-house and industry-renowned software developers, like Pragmatic Play and Hacksaw Gaming.

The best free to play poker games to try at sweepstakes casinos

Here are some of the best poker games we found on social poker sites when researching for this guide:

Hold’em

Hold'em poker is easily one of the most popular iterations of the game, with one of its most successful titles being Texas Hold’em. The game found huge success in the 1990s, peaking in the 2000s thanks to featuring in the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

It found even more fame somewhat recently, in 2015 and 2020, when the WSOP launched the International and Online Circuit respectively. This only served to greatly increase the reach and accessibility of the game worldwide.

Hold'em Poker has a relatively straightforward gameplay: Each player is given two hole cards to create the best hand with, including those from the community board. Simple as that sounds, the game can be quite challenging to master.

Omaha

While not as popular as Hold'em, Omaha Poker has carved a niche for itself. And, if its current run of form in the last few years is to be believed, it could very easily be a worthy contender for the popularity contest with Hold'em.

Much like its counterpart, Omaha also comes in a variety of styles, such as Limit, No-Limit, and Pot-Limit, with the Pot-Limit iteration being, by far, the most popular and in-demand version of the game.

The gameplay is somewhat different from that of Hold'em: players get four hole cards and race to make the best hand of five, using both the community board and two of said hole cards.

Poker Tournaments vs Sit n Go’s

Although poker tournaments aren't exactly a style of poker, they have become more and more common in sweepstakes casinos, particularly free poker sites. The existence of popular global events like the WSOP and others further makes this competitive style of poker, which blends other forms of the game, interesting to players.

If you don’t fancy the heavily structured format of a poker tournament though, then you always have Sit’n’Go’s. These are tables that start a live game as soon as enough people are sat down, more akin to traditional poker cash games than formal tournaments. Of course, at sweepstakes poker sites, you’ll use virtual currency to enter these tables with too.

Here are some poker tournaments we found on some of the free poker sites covered below:

  • Sunday Scrimmage: Pot prize of 50,000 to 500,000 SC.
  • Sit-n-go Tournaments: Daily winner-takes-all event.
  • Annual Rattlesnake Open: Pot prizes of 1,000,000 SC.
  • Scheduled Multi-Table Tournaments

We are very particular about the operators we recommend to our readers, because player safety is a top priority to us. As such, we would not discuss or recommend any operator that we haven't personally vetted and thoroughly tested through our team of industry experts and researchers.

With that said, here are some free sweepstakes poker sites and what they offer:

Stake.us

Stake.us has established itself as one of the leading social casinos in the United States, and beyond. With a minimalistic, yet crisp and vivid design, fast loading times, and an exquisite selection of games, the operator is easily one of the more ultra-modern casinos around.

With its reputation in mind, it's no surprise that this operator isn't without a poker game, even if it is just video poker. While this might seem like a shame, this slot-inspired Sit’n’Go game is based on a traditional poker game and offers hours of fun challenges for players of all levels.

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Pulsz

Pulsz is another renowned name in the sweepstakes business, featuring a colorful site, a huge library of various casino-style games, and some of the most mouthwatering bonuses you'll ever find.

For our research, we found one poker game at Pulsz: Texas Hold'em. While this might not be enough variety for some players, the operator has prioritized quality over quantity. The game is a Sit’n’Go format and showcases immersive gameplay, vibrant graphics, and high-end features.

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Global Poker

When it comes to the biggest catalog of sweepstakes poker games and events in the United States, we stand in awe of Global Poker. From multi-table tournaments that run all day, every day, to Pot-Limit Omaha and No-Limit Hold’em, this operator has it all.

But, for the biggest tournament of them all at Global Poker —the crown jewel of the platform, look no further than the annual Rattlesnake Open. The operator organizes multiple events, all of which boil down to a staggering prize pool of more than 1,000,000 SC.

The Sunday Scrimmage is another similar event that runs every week. The operator pegs a prize pool of 50,000 SC to the tournament, but it's not unusual for the prize pool to potentially spike to 500,000 SC.

Finally, there are the Global Sit’n’Go’s and Jackpot Sit’n’Go’s that add much variety to the in-house events, featuring daily single-table and winner-take-all tournaments that draw players in their droves.

Tips for signing up on social poker sites

Here are our expert tips for registering with any of the aforementioned platforms and getting the best playing experience:

Understand legal requirements

Free poker sites like these have to adhere to strict regulatory requirements to continue operating in the region. These requirements tend to vary across states, but usually have a somewhat similar theme.

For example, in some states, where sweepstakes casinos don't operate like Washington, residents cannot take part in sweepstakes poker tournaments, compete with other players, or redeem prizes.

Valid ID

The need for ID verification varies from one sweepstakes casino to the next. While some take it seriously and employ KYC solutions to ensure player safety, others employ anonymity instead. Whatever the case, make sure you have a valid identification source handy when signing up.

Read T&Cs

Both sweepstakes casinos and the games they offer are governed by certain terms and conditions. You can find the overall terms and conditions of the casino in the About and T&Cs sections, which can be found in the menu or at the bottom of the homepage.

Some operators also place info buttons or text next to tournaments and promotions that contain the terms and conditions for the event or offer. For poker tournaments, you will likely find the terms of engagement in this section, particularly the playthrough requirements, minimum entry requirements, and other rules to ensure fairness, transparency, and give players insights into how the operator conducts the event.

Conclusion

Poker is one of the oldest casino games with a rich history that is still being enjoyed today. Its transition into the sweepstakes sphere only serves to improve its popularity and the many different ways it can be played.

That being said, we recommend checking out our other guides on other sweepstakes games and operators. For instance, we recently did a Golden Hearts bingo review, where we covered crucial details like our thoughts on the Golden Hearts bingo app, and gave out a Golden Hearts bingo promo code to help you claim Golden Hearts bingo free coins. You're welcome!

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Sweepstakes poker FAQ

❓Which operator has the right poker game for me? ❓

People take to casinos for different reasons; some to test their skills, others to compete with other players, another set to win prizes, and so on. Whatever the end goal, there is an operator for every type of player. We cover the best operators for every game type and what they offer players in our reviews. Come read them.

📲 Can I play online poker on my phone? 📲

Online casinos are becoming more and more optimized to cater to a large range of internet-enabled devices. This is especially important for operators, as they have to cater to every market to ensure that players on all platforms can find and use their games easily. We cover the best operators for every location, places they aren't allowed, and other legal requirements that help ensure maximum player safety.

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