I have been starting to get into playing games of poker with some friends once a week. When looking to increase my skill they recommended Bovada.lv, as it will ensure that players will take it more seriously when they have something (even if its a very little amount) to lose. My question is, what is the legality of Bovada in the U.S.? I live in VA, and even if there is a low chance of getting caught, I dont want to pursue unnecessary risks or break the law.
Playing online poker for real money in the U.S. depends on the state which you live in. There is no federal law prohibiting you from making an account and playing online poker for real money.
Unfortunately for you in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia code §18.2-325 defines illegal gambling as:
making, placing or receipt, of any bet or wager in this Commonwealth of money or other thing of value, made in exchange for a chance to win a prize, stake or other consideration or thing of value, dependent upon the result of any game, contest or any other event the outcome of which is uncertain or a matter of chance, whether such game, contest or event, occurs or is to occur inside or outside the limits of this Commonwealth.
So to answer your question, yes you would be breaking state law if you partook in real-money online poker.