Online Poker in Massachusetts – Is it Legal?

On January 31, 2023, the state of Massachusetts joined a growing list of states that have opened their doors to new economic opportunities in the form of regulated gambling. Shortly after, on March 10, online sportsbooks went live as well.

Although you can now place your sports bets at state-licensed sportsbooks, online casino gaming is still not a regulated market, so if you’re looking to play poker online, your best bet is to go to one of the top-rated offshore sportsbooks in Massachusetts.

In fact, one of the busiest poker rooms in the country is hosted by an offshore sportsbook. That site is a part of our list, chosen by our poker experts. They signed up for an account at as many offshore poker sites as they could find and compiled a list of their top choices based on a specific set of criteria.

Best Massachusetts Online Poker Sites

The four online poker operators listed below were chosen by our experts according to specific criteria. The best reviewed sportsbooks have top-of-the-line poker rooms where you can get hours of practice under your belt. Poker players have been playing at these sites for years because of their reputation for reliability and consistency.

  1. Bovada – The busiest poker rooms in the U.S.
  2. BetOnline – Busy poker room that offers great bonuses
  3. Everygame – Players in Massachusetts enjoy the rakeback promotion
  4. SportsBetting – Poker players enjoy fast payouts

Is online poker legal in Massachusetts?

No, currently, the gambling laws in Massachusetts prohibit online poker for real money. If you’re looking to play online poker in Massachusetts, you can do so on one of many online betting sites that fall outside the jurisdiction of the United States.

Massachusetts Online Poker Sites Reviewed

These are the best online poker rooms according to our betting experts. As is usually the case, each of these brands excels at different parts of the gambling business. These are only recommendations and ultimately only you can know which online poker room is right for you.

As mentioned earlier in this guide, if you aren’t sure what type of poker player you are, you will need to figure that out by practicing and developing a strategy. You may start off signing up at one site only to realize when you’ve had more hours of game time under your belt that, for the type of player you are, a different poker room might be a better place for you. 

This is also a good time to mention that no rule says you can only have one account at a time. Shopping around is a big part of getting the best gambling experience online.

1. Bovada: America’s Busiest Poker Room

Bovada Poker

Poker players in Massachusetts have helped Bovada remain one of the busiest poker rooms in the country. This is not just their mantra, it’s simply a fact. They have consistently ranked at or near the very top in terms of poker traffic for years. Even though their main offering is the sportsbook, the reason they are able to be so successful in the poker market is that they are part of the Paiwangluo Poker Network.

This company is based in Hong Kong but is actually the biggest U.S.-friendly poker provider. The network is home to several brands that operate in over a dozen countries. The two biggest markets they serve are the U.S. and Australia.

Bovada understands its customer base and has been committed to improving the user experience in whatever way it can. Their anonymous tables are a favorite of players in Massachusetts because it has helped even the playing field. Introduced back in 2011, the idea was not welcomed by veteran players. Clearly, Bovada realized that most of their customers played recreationally and it would be unfair to have a system in place where pros could take advantage of them. Further improving the user experience, Bovada’s promo codes can provide additional value for players.

Pros:

  • Busiest poker network in the country
  • Anonymous tables help avoid pros preying on recreational players

Cons:

  • Mobile does not offer multi-table function

2. BetOnline: Great Sign-Up Bonus for MA Poker Players

BetOnline Poker

As another big brand name that built its reputation on the back of its sportsbook offering, BetOnline has been an industry leader in that space for decades. All of their offerings are of the highest quality and Massachusetts players in their poker room can certainly attest to that.

Poker tournaments are a great way to gain experience and have fun while playing. BetOnline offers one of the best poker tournaments in the industry with their Championship Online Poker Series. It’s a month-long tournament that attracts players from all over the country. With a prize pool of over $2 million, it’s easy to see why. 

It’s not just the money that attracts players, however, as you are constantly being rewarded throughout the course of the month. Of course, players want to win as much as possible, but with tournaments, the playing time and experience that come with it are almost as valuable. As long as you’re an active participant in the Championship Online Poker Series, you will be rewarded with free tournament tickets.

There’s also something called the “All-in Shootout” which is a daily event that gathers players who have already participated in some of the special tournaments happening as part of the Championship Series. Based on your previous action, you will be given a certain amount as a starting stack. Essentially, the more you’ve participated up to date, the bigger your stack.

BetOnline gets new players from Massachusetts started with a 100% welcome poker-specific bonus. The BetOnline promo code to claim that bonus is “NEWBOL” which has a minimum deposit requirement of $50. The maximum bonus amount is $1,000 and the way it is given out is directly related to your rake.

In other words, every time you accumulate $50 in rake, $5 will be released until the full amount of your bonus has been set free. This bonus is only available on your first poker deposit. It is valid for deposits that range from $50 to $1,000. You have 30 days to release all of the bonus funds. Any bonus funds that are not released in that period will automatically be forfeited.

If you choose to make a withdrawal before all of the bonus funds have been released, the remaining bonus amount will also be forfeited.

Pros:

  • Fantastic poker tournaments
  • Welcome bonus for new customers

Cons:

  • Anonymous tables not available

3. Everygame: Excellent Rakeback for Online Poker Players

Everygame Poker

In order to understand the benefits of a rakeback bonus, you first need to understand what a rake is in poker. In essence, it is a fee taken by the poker room from every hand. There are several different ways that the rake can be calculated with the most common being a percentage of the pot.

Rake percentages vary but the average is somewhere between 3-5%. There is also usually a cap on the total amount the poker room can take per pot. That amount is based on how many players are at the table. Now, let’s get into the rakeback promotion that Massachusetts players at Everygame Poker love so much.

This offer gives you a percentage of the rake that you’ve paid while playing back in the form of a bonus. Much like rake itself, the rakeback that Everygame offers is based on a percentage and will give you 36% back of the rake you contributed. 

One of the reasons our poker experts have included Everygame is the generosity of their bonuses. Most poker rooms either offer a deposit-related bonus or some form of rebate. Everygame offers their players both which makes them unique in this respect.

They have a very generous bonus for new players based on their deposit amount. The Everygame welcome bonus is 200% up to $1,000 on your first deposit. Additionally, there are many promo codes at Everygame that can provide additional benefits.

Pros:

  • Multiple types of houses
  • Generous 200% welcome bonus

Cons:

  • Less traffic than some competitors

4. SportsBetting: Great Bonuses & High Betting Limits

Sportsbetting.ag Poker

There are a lot of different ways to earn a bonus with SportBetting which is one of the many perks that Massachusetts poker players have been enjoying. They start you off on the right foot with a generous 100% bonus up to $2,500 which clears at a rate of $5 for every $15 worth of cash games that you play.

Another perk for new players is the $5,000 worth of free roll tickets that they receive. For existing players, they have a rakeback promotion where you get 30% of the rake that you contributed. You have 60 days to clear the bonus or it is forfeited.

There’s yet another bonus where you can receive 100% up to $1,000. For that particular promotion, you have 30 days to clear the bonus. 

Pros:

  • Several bonus options
  • Generous 30% rakeback promotion
  • Many tournaments to choose from

Cons:

  • Use of HUDs permitted

Massachusetts Poker Laws

Here is an in-depth look at the laws surrounding other ways to play poker in the state.

Video Poker

Video poker is available at three land-based casinos in Massachusetts for in-person play.

  • Encore Boston Harbor
  • Plainridge Park
  • MGM Springfield

Anyone looking to play video poker online can do so at an offshore sportsbook.

Casual Poker

Casual poker is allowed among friends and colleagues as long as there is not a host making a profit from the games.

  • Private poker rooms are illegal
  • A regularly hosted poker game for profit is illegal (charging an entry fee)

To learn more about the Bay State’s available forms of wagering, check out our Massachusetts online betting guide.

Massachusetts Gambling Updates

The timeline below illustrates important updates for Massachusetts betting and gaming.

  • March 2023: The online sports betting market launches on March 10th.
  • January 2023: The first sports betting licenses are approved. On January 31st, retail sports betting goes live.
  • November 2022: The application process has officially opened, and operators can start applying for licenses to operate within the state.
  • September 2022: Sports betting operators announce they intend to apply for gaming licenses. Out of the 42 operators that plan to apply, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will grant only 15 licenses.
  • August 2022: Rob Mariano announces a sports betting bill, which passes by a 36-4 vote. Nine days later, Governor Baker puts his signature on it.

Massachusetts Poker – Live and In-Person

While online gambling in Massachusetts is limited to offshore options, you can play live games at two Massachusetts casinos:

  • Encore Boston Harbor (Everett, MA)
  • MGM Springfield (Springfield, MA)

The Encore Boston Harbor Poker Room, which is located in The Loft, has poker games available Sunday through Thursday from 10–2 a.m..

There’s also the MGM Springfield poker room which is open 7 days a week from 11-3 a.m..

How to Play Online Poker in Massachusetts

Signing up for online poker sites and playing poker online is pretty straightforward. We cover the necessary steps below.

Funding Your Account

To get started we recommend signing up at one of the offshore gambling sites in this guide. We also have additional reviews of more online betting sites to help you find the right place for you. Once you’ve signed up for your account, you will need to fund it.

You can do that by using credit cards (such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express), debit cards, cryptocurrency, bank transfers or person-to-person transfers. The most convenient option would be to use a credit card but that comes with identity verification requirements, which some may find to be a hassle.

The reason for requiring customers to verify their identity is that these offshore sites must keep their reputations intact. Because of that, they can’t have situations where individuals are using credit cards that do not belong to them for the purpose of gambling. Therefore if you fund your account via credit card, be prepared to submit documents for identity verification purposes.

Deposit and Play Right Away

For the sake of convenience and a good user experience, most sites will allow you to play right away without having to send in proof of I.D.. They’ll usually ask for that information if you’re making a big deposit amount or depositing more frequently than the average player. It is also a requirement for requesting a cashout. Once you send documents for a card once, you won’t be asked to do so again unless you introduce a new card to your account.

The best way to fund your account would be with cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. The reason we say this is that it does not involve a third party. A credit card can belong to anyone which is why there’s an identity verification process in order to satisfy banks and credit card processors. With crypto, it’s a transaction between the sender and the receiver, or you and the site where you are looking to fund your account.

Find A Poker Table

Whichever way you choose to fund your account, the process is actually quite simple. Although we’ve mentioned an identity verification process when depositing with a credit card, most sites will only require that before you cash out. Many poker sites will simply allow you to deposit and play right away. These sites also have great customer service reps to assist you in getting funds into the account.

Once the money is in it’s all about picking the right game for you. You have the option of playing cash games or tournaments. There are also games such as No Limit Hold’em or Pot-Limit Omaha which as the name suggests, the max bet and the max raise are the size of the pot. It’s more common to pay Pot-Limit Omaha than No Limit Hold’em but you can play either variation of both.

Variations of Poker

The best legal poker sites available to players in Massachusetts feature the following poker variants.

Five-Card Draw

This is the original form of the game. Each player is dealt 5 cards to start. Each player can then discard up to 3 cards and then get back as many cards as needed from the deck to make up their hand.

Seven-Card Stud

This was formerly one of the most popular poker variants until it was surpassed by Texas Hold’em.

Before the first round of betting, each player gets two cards facing down and another one facing up. Then, players are dealt three more cards facing up and one more face down. There is a round of betting in between. 

After the last face-down card is dealt, there is a final round of betting. The best five-card hand wins.

Omaha High

At the moment, this is the second most popular form of poker.

Each player is dealt 4 hole cards to start. 

To make a hand, you must use 2 of your hole cards with three cards from the board. The betting rounds are the same as in Texas Hold’Em.

Texas Hold’Em

This is the most popular version of the game. Each player is dealt two hole cards to start.

Three board cards are then dealt which is referred to as “the flop” after which the second round of betting occurs. The final two board cards are dealt with a round of betting in between. You then make the best five-card combination from the seven available cards.

Other Versions of Poker Include:

  • Omaha Hi/Lo
  • 5-Card Omaha
  • 5-Card Omaha Hi/Lo
  • 6-Card Omaha
  • 6+ Hold’em
  • 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo
  • 7-Card Stud Low (Also known as Razz)
  • Showtime Hold’em
  • Split Hold’em
  • Swap Hold’em

Different offshore casinos are going to offer different options for games, and you should know that there are more variations than this available online. We strongly recommend that you only play real money games that you are familiar with.

There are several types of players, from casual to professional poker players, due to the fact that poker is a game of skill. Before you start playing with real money, make sure you have a strategy in place. There are either free money games or tables where the limits are extremely low. If you do not know what kind of player you are, you can get some practice on virtual gaming tables.

Tips for Playing Real Money Online Poker in Massachusetts

Once you have signed up and funded your account, it’s time to get in on the action. You can do so in an online poker tournament, or by hitting up the poker tables.

Basics of Tournament Play

In tournament poker, you pay an entry fee that varies from a few dollars to a few hundred. The size of the entry fee and the number of participants determines the prize money. A certain amount of places are paid out with the winner earning the largest share of the prize pool. The top ten places are usually paid out.

All players in the tournament start off with the same amount of chips, usually ranging from $500-$1,500. The blinds increase in a predetermined amount of time which is explained before you sign up. The increasing blinds are meant to stimulate action which makes the tournament go faster.

Players are split up into tables of 8-10 players. The goal is to get to the “final table” which means that you are among those getting paid out as part of the prize pool. Obviously, the goal is to win every tournament but if you are among the prize pool, that means you’ve at least got the money back from your entry fee while also making a profit.

Cash Games Require a Different Strategy

We should start off by mentioning that cash games are generally more difficult than tournaments. There are several factors for this with the main ones being players can have much bigger stacks than you and you can reload your stack at any time. So while in tournament gaming, you’re always forced to place some kind of play because the blinds are going up, in a cash game, they stay the same.

All of these factors mean the decision-making process is much different. The perfect example of that is when someone goes “all in.” Going all in means you’re betting all of your chips on this hand. However, if you do that and lose in a tournament, you’re gone. In a cash game, if you make that same decision and lose, you can simply buy back in at the table.

Since the risk of going all in is significantly less in a cash game, a lot of people tend to play much looser. We don’t cover situational poker in this guide but this point is definitely part of learning the basics. When you’re playing a cash game, be aware that it is not the same strategy you would use when playing in a tournament.

Cash Game Basics

The first thing to understand about cash gaming is that you’re betting real money. While this might seem obvious, if you are used to playing tournaments that are significantly more popular, then this takes some getting used to.

In a tournament, you can pay as little as $1 but have a starting stack of $500 chips. In a cash game if you buy in for $1, then that’s the amount of your starting stack. Obviously, for that reason, cash tables have minimum buy-ins. The other major difference with cash games is that the blinds do not increase. The size of the blinds is relative to the minimum buy-in. That amount is usually 100 times the big blind. So if you are buying into a game where the blind levels are $1-$2 (the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2) then the maximum buy-in would be $200.

What to Look Out For When Playing Cash Games

The main difference between cash games and tournament play is the patience required. In a cash game, a lot of action happens on the turn (after the flop) and on the river (after the turn). The reason for this is that in tournaments, people can accumulate huge stacks due to the elimination format and the number of players.

For that reason, you’ll see a lot of folding pre-flop or after-the-flop. In cash games, there tends to be a lot more action on the later parts of the hand (turn and river) which require a lot more strategy than pre-flop and post-flop decision-making. Again, if you have spent most of your time playing in tournaments that are more common, you won’t have as much experience with these scenarios.

As long as you remember these fundamental pieces of strategy, you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience playing cash games. Also, another benefit of playing cash games is that they make you sharper when playing tournaments because you generally get to participate in way more hands at cash games which in turn will make you a better player.  

Playing Poker in Massachusetts

There are in-person poker rooms in Massachusetts at the MGM Springfield and the Encore Boston Harbor. 

If you’d rather not opt for in-person gambling venues and you prefer to play from the comfort of your home or on the go via mobile devices, you can sign up with an offshore betting provider. Poker players in Massachusetts have been playing online poker for years at brands like Bovada and BetOnline which are included in our list of recommended sites.

The process of registering for an account and making a deposit is quick and simple and you will be playing in no time. We always recommend that you thoroughly review the websites in question. If you can, reach out to their customer service teams to get all of your questions answered.

FAQs – Massachusetts Online Poker

Can I bet online if I live in Massachusetts?

At the moment, there are currently no legal and state-regulated online poker operators in Massachusetts. However, offshore casino sites provide a viable legal option to access multiple forms of online gambling for Bay State players. 

Can you play online poker in Massachusetts?

Players in Massachusetts can play online poker at online betting sites located offshore. Until gambling laws catch up with Bay Staters, this is the best option.

Since these companies are not in the U.S., they fall outside state and federal jurisdiction.

Where can you gamble in Massachusetts?

In-person gambling at land-based casinos in Massachusetts is available at Encore Boston Harbor, Plainridge Park Casino and MGM Springfield.

These provide a great time for those wanting an in-person gambling experience at commercial casinos, but offshore online casino sites often provide more gambling options.

Can you really make money online gambling?

If you gamble online with the intent of earning a profit, you should follow the pros. Professional players treat playing poker like a real job. That means a lot of hours spent playing which is a big commitment. If you treat it similarly, then you can earn a profit.

Does Massachusetts tax gambling winnings?

Any profits you make while gambling online will need to be reported and will be taxed. This includes poker match or tournament earnings, and even includes money won in private games.

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