Poker has been very popular in Maryland for a long time. In fact, some of the most recognizable names in the poker industry are from Maryland, including Phil Galfond and Greg Merson. The industry itself has seen its ups and downs, but that doesn’t stop the game from continuing to grow in one form or another.
This page is all about poker in Maryland – the legal status, where to find games, and how to improve your own skill levels.
Online Poker in Maryland
Online poker has had a rich history in Maryland ever since the early 2000s. Once Chris Moneymaker made his way from an online satellite in Missouri to winning the 2003 World Series of Poker, a whole new breed of poker player emerged – one that started their careers online. This is where the likes of Galfond and Merson cut their teeth, with Merson making his mark equalling that of Moneymaker by winning the Main Event of the WSOP himself.
With online poker sites booming, Maryland residents didn’t even have to travel anymore to play in huge events. However, all of that came crashing down in 2011 when there was a widespread crackdown on the online poker sites that had been accepting players from the U.S. illegally. Today, while some poker pros from Maryland have moved outside the country to continue playing online, most casual Maryland poker players have gone back to their regular lives, hopeful that one day the game will be regulated in their home state.
Land Based Poker in Maryland
Thankfully for those poker players that learned to play online only to have that option ripped away from them, the live poker scene in Maryland is also robust. What the state lacks in numbers of locations in more than covered by the sheer number of tables at each of the facilities open to residents and visitors to the state. Live poker in Maryland has always been highlighted by some major tournament festivals that have happened at Maryland Live over the years, producing some of the highest quality games seen in the state.
Here are the places that you can play cash games and tournaments live in Maryland:
MGM National Harbour
Hollywood Casino Perryville
Social Poker in Maryland
Much of the play that occurred at online poker sites in the 2000s when the game was at its peak in the U.S. was taking place at the play money tables. AS it turns out, thousands of people like to play poker as a hobby, without gambling any money at all. Unfortunately, when the large real money sites left the U.S., the play money tables left with them.
Enter the social poker sites to the rescue! Piggybacking off the popularity of the game and the emergence of social networks like Facebook, a new hybrid of the game was born. Social poker is poker played primarily for recognition rather than for real money – something the online poker industry struggled with for many years. Rather than charging people for entry fees, players could simply earn enough chips by playing and inviting their friends that they could qualify for larger buy-in events. However, there was a way to bypass the effort and simply start at the more exclusive tables – buying chip packages. These chip stacks cost real money, but if you won a tournament with them, you weren’t able to cash them back in for money.
It turns out this option was just what the public wanted. Before long, sites were earning billions of dollars from players buying these play money chips just for the exclusivity of the games they could enter. The quality of the play at the exclusive tables was much higher, so if you are thinking of playing at a social poker site, you should consider buying chips yourself. You can consider it an investment in your playing career.
Subscription Poker in Maryland
When real money online poker options appeared to be limited, players were scrambling for places to play, and operators were looking for different ways to monetize players. One solution that emerged from this necessity was the subscription-based model. Subscription sites like Club WPT are just that – a club with a membership fee due monthly or annually. As one of the perks for paying the fee, players were given access to multiple tournaments at no further cost that gave them a chance to play for great prizes…but no cash.
Unfortunately for those of you sitting in Iowa reading this, the Iowa government’s stance on online gambling has forced the subscription sites to block play from the state. That isn’t to say that you couldn’t try these sites out when you are traveling, but if you are sitting within the state borders, then you will not currently be able to play games like those found on Club WPT.
Mobile Poker in Maryland
Given how much we already do on our phones and tablets these days, the majority of us don’t even sit down to a computer anymore. When it comes to playing poker, the mobile channel has made the game even more accessible to people around the world. In places where you can play online poker legally, some mobile sites and apps allow you to sit at a table anywhere you can get a connection to the Internet.
In Maryland, with no legal online poker apps, you might think there is no way to play poker from your mobile device. However, that would be false – there are loads of poker apps in the app stores of iOS and Android devices. Even though you can’t play any real money games on them, mobile poker apps allow you to practice the games at any time without having to risk real money. This is a great way to try a game you have never played before or to brush up on the skills you currently have at your disposal.
Online Poker in Maryland FAQ
Are there ways I can learn more about different poker games?
Maryland’s land-based poker rooms are large enough to be able to spread not only Hold’em but games like Omaha, Razz and Chinese Poker in some cases. If you aren’t sure how to play these games, we suggest you start with our Poker Game Guides, which outline all the basics of each game. Taking the layer of complexity out of the game will give you the confidence to sit down at any table and start playing.
Offshore sites claim to have great offers for me in advertisements, but I thought the industry had been shut down? Is this a scam?
Well, that depends on how you look at it. There are indeed poker sites that are offering games to U.S. players even in states like Iowa. These sites are primarily hosted out of countries in Latin America, where it is a very different process to get a license to operate. While the offers you are seeing are not scams by definition, there is inherent risk in sending money to a foreign country where there is no guarantee of receiving your money back if you are a winner. The horror stories online alone about these operations should be enough to have you stay far away from them.