Poker in Massachusetts

Introduction

Population: 6,893,000

Capital: Boston

Currency: United States Dollar ($)

Time Zone: UTC-5

State Name Abbreviation: MA

Casinos with Poker

  • Encore Boston Harbor
  • MGM Springfield

Massachusetts, the most populous of the six New England states, is perhaps best known for its world famous colleges (such as Harvard and MIT) and the American football team New England Patriots. Coincidently, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has held a series of lectures about poker strategy in 2015.

They also have legal land based casinos. The history of legal gambling goes all the way back to 1934 in this state, when horse and dog race betting was legalized.

As for large commercial casinos, the firsts to open their doors were on cruise ships. Starting in 1998, casino ships started sailing from Boston harbors to so-called “federal waters”, where state gambling regulations no longer apply.

While gambling houses on Native American lands became legal after the passing of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, the first tribal casino still hasn’t opened yet in Massachusetts! The reason for this is that there are only two federally recognized tribes in the entire state (the Wampanoags and the Mashpees, the latter was only recognized in 2007). Both of these tribes’ proposed plans for casinos have been halted.

In the meantime, the Expanded Gaming Act of 2011 legalized land based casinos as a whole, not just on tribal land. The first one to launch operation was the Plainridge Park Casino in 2015 in Plainville, MA. Currently, there are three full service casinos in operation in the state of Massachusetts.

Also, in July 2021, the state’s House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor (156-3) of a bill making sports betting legal.

Famous Massachusettsan Poker Players

The Bay State has produced quite a good number of famous, world class poker pros over the years.

Daniel Colman was born in Holden, Massachusetts. He has a whopping $28.9 million in live tournament cashes, more than anyone from his state. He’s currently in the top 10 on the USA’s all time money list as well.

Colman has won the $1,000,000 buy-in WSOP Big One for One Drop high roller in 2014 for $15.307 million. He’s famous (or notorious) for not smiling while his picture was being taken after his glorious victory. His reason was that he sees poker as “a very dark game”, that has an overall negative effect on society. That didn’t stop him from racking up millions of dollars in live tournament winnings over the next few years.

Nick Petrangelo is from Feeding Hills, MA. He has $17.750 million in live tournament cashes, including two WSOP gold bracelets; as well as a WCOOP and a SCOOP title in online poker.

Dan Harrington from Cambridge, MA won the WSOP Main Event for $1 million in 1995. He authored the influential poker strategy book titled “Harrington on Hold’em”, which was first published in 2004.

 

– Playing Live Poker in Massachusetts –

   Live Poker Legislation in Massachusetts

We’ve mentioned the Expanded Gaming Act of 2011 in intro, which made casino gambling legal in the state of Massachusetts.

Today, 271§1 of Massachusetts’s General Law (which is their criminal code) covers gambling offences. That section is titled “Gaming or Betting: Forfeiture”. The conditions of obtaining a gaming licence is prescribed in Chapter 23K in the General Law. Licencing and regulation of land casinos in the state are under the purview of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. This organization was formed in November 2011, after the passage of the aforementioned gaming act.

Fun fact: Massachusetts only legally considers a game “gambling” if you can win more than $5 on a bet “on sides or hands of those playing”. Private games and charitable gaming are also allowed.

  Live Poker Venues in Massachusetts

As we wrote in our intro, just three casinos are currently in operation in the entire state of Massachusetts. Alas, the choice is even more scarce for poker rooms. Pokeratlas.com only lists two poker rooms.

What’s worse, both of them closed down in March 2020 at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic and the casino managements still haven’t made a decision on reopening.

One of the rooms is inside the Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, MA. Before the pandemic, they offered daily No Limit Hold’em tournaments, with buy-ins ranging from $140 to $200, and thousands of dollars in guarantees. They also ran 30-minute high hand promotions for their cash games – however, information is no longer available about the stakes and game types available in their cash room.

At the MGM Springfield’s poker room in Springfield, MA you could play $1/$2, $2/$5, and $5/$10 No Limit Hold’em, $3/$6 Limit Hold’em, and $2/$2 Pot Limit Omaha cash games. They too ran high hand promos; as well as a so-called ”Football Frenzy” where they held random table and seat draws for prizes whenever a team scores during a football game.

As for tournaments, they used to hold a $75 NLHE tourney every Sunday. They also hosted the October 50/50 poker festival in October 2019, which featured two events: a $330 and a $1,200 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament.

Both venues claim on their websites that the decision on the re-opening of their respective poker rooms will be made by December 31st, 2021.

– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Massachusetts –

Encore Boston Harbor

MGM Springfield

 

 Online Poker in Massachusetts

Massachusetts, just like most other states in the Union, does not have a regulated and licenced online poker market. This, due to federal laws, makes online gambling technically illegal by default.

Players from the Bay State can only play on real money poker apps that use the sweepstakes model, such as Global Poker and PokerBROS; or on unregulated offshore sites such as Americas Cardroom.