Poker in Spain

History of Poker in Spain

Spain, like most European countries with a colonial tradition, has been playing card games for centuries, but poker never really caught on with Spanish populace until after the 2003 worldwide explosion in online poker. With lenient laws governing both online and live poker it’s only a matter of time before the Iberian Peninsula turns into one of Europe’s poker capitals –something that has already begun with the EPT Grand Final relocating to Madrid in 2010.

Despite its sparse tradition of poker, Spain has produced one of the most successful poker players in the history of the game in 2001 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Carlos Mortensen. In addition to his 2011 WSOP title Mortensen is also the all-time leader on the WPT money-list and is the only player in the history of the WPT with three open-event titles.

Spain has also become one of the hottest destinations for major poker tournaments, and now hosts both WPT and EPT tournaments, as well as fostering the Spanish Poker Tour.

Famous Spanish Poker Players

Other than the aforementioned Carlos Mortensen, Spain hasn’t produced a very large stable of recognizable poker pros, but the country does have a number of up and coming players that began their careers online and are now starting to make the transition to live poker. But when you can boast one of the top tournament players in the history of poker, how much other talent do you need?

Here is a look at some of the most well known poker players from Spain and their career accomplishments:

[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Carlos Mortensen poker Carlos Mortensen

  • 2001 WSOP Main Event Champion
  • 2-time WSOP bracelet winner
  • 3-time WPT Champion
  • $10.7 million in career tournament earnings
  • Full Tilt Red Pro
  • Shoe-in for the Poker Hall of Fame in the future


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Juan Maceiras jr Juan Maceiras

  • Over $1 million in career tournament earnings
  • Final tabled the 2010 EPT Grand Final in Madrid
  • Six EPT Main Event cashes since 2008
  • Won a PokerStars Wednesday Quarter Million in 2009
  • Team PokerStars Pro


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Maria Maceiras Maria Maceiras

  • Two Spanish Poker Tour wins including $2k Grand Final
  • $286k in career tournament earnings
  • Sister of poker pro Juan Maceiras
  • Four EPT Main Event cashes
  • Everest Poker sponsored pro


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Juan Manuel Pastor Juan Manuel Pastor

  • Six EPT cashes since 2008
  • Nearly $200k in live tournament winnings
  • Learned to play poker from his grandfather – at age 6
  • Team PokerStars Pro


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Jesus Cortez Lizano Jesus Cortez Lizano

  • Runner-up in the EPT Barcelona Main Event
  • Over $775k in career tournament earnings
  • Second place at EPT Barcelona Season 7
  • Only his second year on the live tournament circuit


Online Poker in Spain

Online poker in Spain has followed a similar path to live poker legislation in the country, which means there is little written law on the subject. The only law Spain requires for any online poker sites that operate in the EU –so basically ANY online poker site! So basically Spain is at the present an unregulated market which is a good thing for players, so long as you steer clear of smaller, unknown, online poker sites that may fold up shop in the middle of the night.

So in Spain you’ll find all of the major players in the online poker world, with Spaniards, like the rest of the world, preferring the huge player base and proven track record of sites like PokerStars and Party Poker, or Everest Poker which resides in neighboring France.

Here is a look at the Top 3 online poker sites in Spain, and a sampling of the reasons that Spaniards choose them:

[sws_blue_box box_size=”560″]pokerstars site PokerStars

  • Over 100,000 players can be found at at all hours of the day
  • Team PokerStars Spain includes Juan Manuel Pastor and Juan Maceiras
  • Largest selection of games, stakes, and tournaments in the poker world

party poker Party Poker

  • Over 10,000 players online at any given time
  • European focused marketing campaign
  • Accepts numerous Spain-friendly deposit and withdrawal options Everest Poker

  • Peak cash-game traffic 1,800
  • Located in neighboring France
  • Team Everest includes Spaniards Maria Maceiras and Javier Martinez


Where to play poker in Spain

Spain is pretty lax when it comes to allowing casinos, and has been licensing casinos since 1977, and at present there are over 40 casinos spread across Spain –not all of which have poker rooms however.

The new hotspots for poker in Spain are in the major tourist destinations, with Madrid, Barcelona, and Ibiza. One of the biggest coups in European Poker in recent history was Madrid luring the EPT Grand Finale away from Monaco, where it had resided since its inception.

Poker laws in Spain

I’ve touched on both the 2009 online poker legislation that was enacted in Spain, as well as the long-standing laws governing brick and mortar casinos, so now I’ll focus on the tax laws in Spain and private home games.

As far as taxes go, Spain does not tax any online poker winnings that were won on poker sites that operate within EU borders, but players will be taxed on their winnings from other sites that do not operate within the EU.

Like most of the world, Spain allows players to participate in private poker games so long as the house is not profiting in any way ;this includes homes, bars, and restaurants.

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