Tennessee has sports betting, with a variety of online sportsbooks up and running. However, when it comes to other casino games, the choices are limited.
Poker players in particular have no legal live rooms in the state where they can play. In fact, charity poker tournaments aren’t even permitted.
That said, there are options, including a number of nearby poker destinations in surrounding states. For online players, sweepstakes poker sites like Global Poker provide an alternative as well.
Those living near the borders of Tennessee do have some live poker options in surrounding states.
Poker players in eastern TN can trek over to North Carolina to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee. The casino has a large 25-table poker room that regularly spreads no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha cash games.
The room also hosts frequent tournaments, and the casino has been a regular site for World Series of Poker Circuit stops that draw huge fields.
Cherokee is located right at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Since it is mountainous country, it takes a bit of effort driving there, no matter which way you go. From Knoxville, it’s generally about a two-hour trip.
By contrast, you won’t find much poker in Kentucky, Virginia, or Georgia. That said, Georgia does have one charity poker room, Little Kings and Queens in Buford, a bit more than a two-hour drive from Chattanooga.
Looking to the south, Alabama isn’t very poker-friendly, either. Mississippi does have several poker rooms and casinos, although most are located in the southernmost part of the state.
However, the big 25-table room at Horseshoe Casino Tunica is only about a 40-minute drive from Memphis. Tunica is the best poker destination for Tennesseans near the southern border.
The closest Tunica casinos to the Tennessee borders are:
Meanwhile, those in the western part of Tennessee have a handful of options in both Arkansas and Missouri.
Most of the Missouri rooms are quite far away, near St. Louis and Kansas City.
The closest Arkansas poker room is a couple of hours west of Memphis in Little Rock, a small room at the Saracen Casino Resort.
What about online poker?
As noted, real money online poker is not an option for Tennesseeans. However, online poker sites that employ a promotional sweepstakes model do accept Tennessee players.
These sites are legal in the US because rather than use actual cash, players use virtual currency to enter games instead.
The best known of these sites is Global Poker, a popular site with significant traffic that serves most of the United States, including Tennessee.
Global Poker uses two different virtual currencies, Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins. Here’s how it works:
In addition to writing in to Global Poker for free Sweeps Coins, the site also runs freerolls in which players can win Sweeps Coins.
Players can also accumulate Sweeps Coins by participating in Facebook giveaways.
Players who collect a minimum amount of Sweeps Coins can then redeem them for withdrawal cash. The exchange rate is one Sweeps Coin = $1 USD.
The site offers both no-limit hold’em and fixed-limit hold’em, plus pot-limit Omaha.
There are often dozens of “cash” games at a variety of stakes, and sometimes there are more than 100 tables in action. Players can also play sit-n-go’s and multi-table tournaments.
Global Poker also often runs tournament series that feature big fields and large prize pools. One recent series featured more than a million Sweeps Coins or “SC” in total guarantees, including a Main Event with an “SC 100,000” guaranteed prize pool.
In the past, the site has even hosted an “SC 500,000” tournament. Remembering that one Sweeps Coin has a cash equivalent of $1, that gives you an idea just how popular the site is.
There are poker options, then, for Tennessee players, if they’re willing to seek them out.