Poker in Nigeria

Regardless of genre, poker is one of the most popular games on the planet. The origins of this beloved card classic remain a hotly debated topic among historians.

Some claim that its roots are in a Chinese 10th-century domino game, with others fiercely holding the stance that it is a descendant of the Persian As Nas. Whatever the genesis of the game we recognize today as poker is, it undoubtedly got popularized in North America first, through French colonists who brought it over as Poque.

Today, due to its establishment in US casinos and thanks to the rise of the WSOP, poker is a global phenomenon that the African continent is no stranger to, as it also gets widely enjoyed here.

Per a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report, Naija is Africa’s second-largest online betting market, with poker becoming a more integral part of this industry year on year. Online poker acts as a competitive and entertainment-based arena, where players can challenge each other and socialize on digital gaming platforms.

Online gaming, in general, is rising at a tremendous speed in Nigeria, with multiple research firms projecting that the social games market will hit country revenues of $128 million by 2023, up from $41 million in 2018.

That said, while no one can argue that internet card action currently dominates Africa’s gambling landscape, there are also a few venues in Nigeria where card mavens can enjoy some head-to-head live gambling action. The most populous African nation on Earth may not have a reputation for being a specifically popular poker hub, but it is not 100% absent from the worldwide card gaming map.

Where to Play Poker in Nigeria

The truth is that there aren’t many Nigerian establishments that have exclusive poker tables. The more common option for Nigerians is to find casino-poker variants in the country’s brick-and-mortar gaming venues. For example, the Federal Palace Hotel & Casino in Lagos has a Casino Hold ‘Em Poker table that falls into this category. These are player vs. dealer games that utilize a poker theme and usually its hand-ranking system. For traditional poker, Nigeria’s premium card room can get found on Victoria Island. Precisely on 5b Akin Olugbade Street. It is a members-only spot named the Lagos Poker Club, boasting five elegant tables that offer Pot Limit Omaha and No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em.

It features a stylish bar and a side lounge packed with vast TV screens. Many consider the Lagos Poker Club Nigeria’s number one poker ambassador because it hosts weekly tournaments and VIP high-stakes private events.

Most Notable Nigerian Poker Players

Sadly, the most famous global poker tours rarely run events on the land of kesh. Thus, there have not been many players from Nigeria in particular that have risen to worldwide prominence. In recent years, the World Series of Poker has managed to give Africa more attention, with a leg of its tour circuit sporadically occurring throughout the continent in the last decade. However, South Africa has been the principal benefactor of this occurrence.

All that said, The Hendon Mob, the world’s largest poker player database that collects results from every poker tournament in the world since 2000, lists four Nigerian players. These are Dany Chidiac, Emmanuel Arokodare, George Chidiac, and Aminu PJ-Akpan.

Dany Chidiac is by far the most successful of the bunch, with recorded career earnings of $82,132. His best placing came in 2019, at the EPT Barcelona event, where he took home seventh place in his game of choice, Pot Limit Omaha, earning a $62,000 prize. Dany regularly competes in tournaments around the globe, including ones in Las Vegas and throughout Europe.

Emmanuel Arokodare is also very active, playing mainly in No-Limit contests in Britain. His most successful run was in 2013 when he took second place at the PKR Live No-Limit Hold ‘Em event in London.

Online Poker in Nigeria

Real money online poker got birthed slightly after digital casinos appeared on the internet. Interactive gaming websites sprung up in 1996 when Cryptologic developed their proprietary transaction software. Almost two years following this event, the first real money poker game got played on the World Wide Web.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that this sphere blew up, as evident by the fact that online poker revenues jumped from $82 million in 2001 to a staggering $2.4 billion four years later.

Over the past fifteen years, this sector has faced an undisputed decline. Yet, interest recently hit a five-year high, with Flutter Entertainment (PokerStars) reporting a dramatic rise in digital card revenues.

Several world-renowned sites accept Nigerian players, providing enticing bonuses for those willing to play on their mobile phones. Online gambling has undoubtedly positively impacted Nigeria’s economy. Despite slots and sports betting leading this charge, an ever-growing desire for card action is present among Nigerian gamblers.


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