Challenging the UK Pub Poker Laws

There has been a lot said recently about the state of amateur poker in the UK, for a good few years the amateur scene has been in steady decline with people falling away from the game for one reason or another. This has been troubling me for a while and I have been trying to work out the reasons behind it.

I have played in pretty much all of the Pub Poker leagues in the UK, indeed this is where I started to learn the game and where I first fell in love with it. There is a massive difference though from playing in a pub which is usually “Free to play” and making the step up to playing in a casino. An amateur player who does well in his local boozer and decides to try his hand at the local casino is easy meat for the sharks out there who are waiting for fresh meat to relieve of their chips, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always the case but what I am trying to highlight is that there is no transition from the pub leagues to the casino games. The reason behind this, in my own opinion, is simply that the current laws in the UK do not allow amateur players to play for much money. I am not for one second suggesting that you can play “No Limit £5/£10” cash games in the Dog and Duck but what I do believe is that the current law of only being allowed a maximum prize pool of £100 is quite simply appalling and very restrictive to the growth of poker.
The law states:

“Low stakes poker is permitted in pubs as long as stakes are kept below £5 a head and £100 per premises per day. A significant number of poker leagues operate legitimate low stakes poker around the country but there is some evidence of restrictions being breached. ”

Let’s put this into an example, I could go to a pub game with my friend for a nice game on a Tuesday night. The game is in a pub outside of my local area so I am driving and also I do not know many people in the venue. The game is free to play and I am there as I need the points to hopefully get to an area final. After half an hour I am eliminated from the tournament but I have to wait around for my friend who is doing quite well. To take up a bit of time whilst I am waiting, there is a strong possibility of my putting money into the flashing bandit in the corner. I can stand there for an hour and possibly lose all my money or even if I get lucky I could scoop the jackpot. There is nothing to regulate how much I am putting in this machine. I have known people in the past put over £50 over the course of an evening trying to scoop that elusive jackpot on a bandit, but still the maximum prize I could possibly win in the same venue at poker is £100.


Not only is the poker player suffering, but also the pubs. When players do progress to the casino to play in a tournament the landlord of the venue has also lost a customer. In the current climate pubs are closing down at a very fast pace due to lack of trade.

What I would love to see happen is a change in legislation. I would like to see poker in pubs have the option of allowing players to invest a MAXIMUM £20 per player buy in with no maximum winnings on the night as this would basically restrict the amount of customers who wish to play in a pub. IF this happened, you would see more people participating which in turn would bring the landlords more customers. The only way this could ever possibly be considered is with the help of YOU the player.

Please do not take this as an attack on the casino’s that is seriously not what this is about. This move is all about giving the amateur player the option of playing in his local pub for a nominal amount of money that will not break the bank at home but will also make the local game just that little bit more interesting as you can actually win something half reasonable. The casino will always be the place to go to win substantial amounts more, but if somebody can hone their skills in an environment where they are comfy then the transition to the casino will always be a lot smoother.

The only way to get something like this looked at is by doing it ourselves. This is why I have started the e-petition that needs you to sign and also to spread the word about what we would like to achieve. If this action is successful, it needs a minimum of 100,000 signatures then not only will it inject a much needed boost into the amateur poker scene but it will also benefit the pub trade that is also struggling in the UK.

I call upon each and every poker player/enthusiast in the UK to support this action by signing the e-petition and spreading the word, be that by word of mouth, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media method. Sign up to Grassroots Poker today and let us know via the forum how we can move this motion forward better. All offers of help on this matter are greatly appreciated as this move would benefit the entire UK poker community. Please take a few seconds to sign the e-petition and if possible “share” the link by your preferred social media outlet



  1. […] great point Hulme makes in his article ‘Challenging the UK Pub Laws’ is that people can visit a pub and plough as much money as they like into the slot machines but […]

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