Massachusetts is a pretty conservative state, so when it comes to gambling as a whole, it has had a negative view until very recently. With some changes to the laws in the state to allow land-based casinos, poker players were hopeful that online gambling legislation may also pass. This page is all about poker in Massachusetts – learning about it, playing it live and online, and where to find the best games for your particular level of play.
Online Poker in Massachusetts
We are going to start this page with a status update on online poker. If you are a poker fan and lived through the 2000s poker boom, you likely had at least one online poker account (and probably more) and played in tournaments which regularly qualified players for events like the World Series of Poker or paid out upwards of millions of dollars of prizes. Sadly, those days are long gone for online poker enthusiasts thanks to the federal government. Today, 5 states have made online poker legal in the wake of the big sites all being shut down in 2011, but Massachusetts, with its conservative approach to gambling, is not one of them. There is some positive news, though – the state has softened its stance on gambling in general, and this, in combination with all the discussion about legalized online sports betting across the country, could reignite a conversation about bringing legal online poker to the state.
Land Based Poker in Massachusetts
For the longest time, the state of Massachusetts did not offer gamblers much in the way of options aside from the lottery. However, a few years ago, the government decided it was time to add land-based casinos to the mix, considering how many residents were traveling to other states like Connecticut to play their favorite games.
Two casinos were granted licenses by the Massachusetts government, and the two casinos that opened both have full poker rooms for players to try their luck at cash games and tournaments. The two Massachusetts poker rooms are located at the MGM Springfield in Springfield, near the border of Connecticut, and the Encore Boston Harbor, located just outside of Boston.
Social Poker in Massachusetts
When companies like Zynga started social poker sites on networks like Facebook back in the early 2010s, many from the traditional online poker industry could not believe that the proposed model would be a success. Social poker sites are just that – built with social interaction, not winning money, in mind. These sites, however, do give players the option of either earning free chips in games or purchasing chip packages that allow them to skip levels and enter bigger events. If you are planning to play at a social poker site, the gameplay will be just like playing at a typical card room, but if you buy any chips, don’t expect to be able to cash them out anytime – they are meant for entertainment purposes only.
Subscription Poker in Massachusetts
A funny thing happened when the poker industry splintered in the early 2010s – people didn’t lose interest in playing the game. Despite having most of their online options removed from them, the power of poker persisted, and that gave the industry cause to find new ways to attract and allow players to access their favorite games.
While the social poker model works for a certain subset of players, those who want to play with a little skin in the game can use the sweepstakes model that allows for subscription-based poker. Sites like Club WPT allow players to pay a one-time monthly fee to access as many tournaments as they want on the site. Even this minimal monthly fee weeds out many of the free-chip players that tend to drive down the quality of play. This is an excellent way for players to practice tournament poker against thousands of other players, and while there are no cash winnings, the sites put up thousands of dollars of prizes in tournaments every day on these sites.
Mobile Poker in Massachusetts
Mobile devices around the world are being used for real money online poker, and in states where poker is legal in the U.S., the move to using phones and tablets to play games is evident. The good news for residents of Massachusetts is that by the time online poker is legal again in the state, the technology will have improved, even more, making it way easier to access and play cash games and tournaments from anywhere you have an internet connection.
Regardless of what type of poker you are planning to play or how much experience you have with the game, there is always something to learn with poker. Even the best players in the world are working to understand how to play certain situations better, and new games like Short Deck Poker that have burst onto the scene have given everyone something new to play. Our Poker Game Guides break down each game into an easy-to-understand overview, showing you how each hand is played and giving you some great tips and tricks from our team of experts. After you are done, you are bound to feel more confident at whatever table you choose to play at!
Online Poker in Massachusetts FAQ
Are there still online poker sites that take play from American players?
There are some smaller sites that did not get shut down in the crackdown on online poker in the U.S., but these sites are not recommended by our team. In the years since 2011, these sites continue to find ways to get money to and from their sites, often using Bitcoin or other less than reputable means to do so. Add in the fact that a couple of the poker sites based offshore have just closed their doors in the last couple of years without any notice, and you can imagine that the risk is just too much for many casual online poker players to bear.
I read a lot about Bitcoin – is this something I need to understand for online poker?
As we mentioned above, the cryptocurrency that you have seen in the news a lot recently has actually been used in the offshore online gambling world for many years. This digital, unregulated currency may have some merit in countries where moving money is difficult or costly, it is highly unlikely that regulated markets will allow its use without at least understanding it better. No need to worry about it for the time being.
What is the best way to learn poker if you are a beginner?
Well, the first thing we can suggest is to check out our Poker Guide section – there, we have overviews of all the different types of poker along with some beginner and intermediate tips. If you are looking for more in-depth knowledge or advanced training, there are many great training videos and tools that you can get your hands on. The main thing is to keep learning – this game is not easy to master, just ask the pros!