After a long year of live poker rooms being closed and online poker options limited, Pennsylvania poker players have a lot to be encouraged about heading into the summer months.
There are now multiple online poker rooms to try, and many of the state’s live rooms are welcoming players back as well.
Here’s a quick overview of what is currently happening poker-wise in the Keystone State. Let’s start with online poker, where options for Pennsylvania players have recently increased and might do so again sooner than later.
Online poker options in Pennsylvania
Right now there are three PA online poker sites:
- PokerStars PA
- BetMGM Poker PA
- Borgata Poker PA
For nearly a year-and-a-half, PokerStars PA enjoyed a monopoly as the only legal, real money online poker site in the Keystone State. First launching in Nov. 2019, the site has built a sizable player pool as demonstrated by the large turnouts during recent tournament series.
In Feb.-March the Bounty Builder Series on PokerStars PA awarded over $2 million with more than 35,000 total entries. The Pennsylvania Spring Championship of Online Poker in April-May then topped those figures with more than $2.6 million won and over 47,000 total entries.
In late April, PokerStars PA finally faced a competitor — two of them, in fact. BetMGM Poker PA and Borgata Poker PA both launched sites, albeit using the same software and sharing a player pool over the partypoker US network. Like PokerStars PA, the new sites are “ring-fenced” meaning only Pennsylvania players can play on them.
The BetMGM and Borgata sites are off to slow starts in Pennsylvania, having only just begun attracting players.
In early May an initial 10-event PartyPoker Network Online Series was announced for later in the month featuring $320,000 in total guarantees. However the series was subsequently cancelled and will likely run at a later date, perhaps after the sites attract more sign-ups and the number of active players increases.
WSOP PA poised to make the PA online poker game four-handed
A fourth online room waiting in the wings is the long-promised World Series of Poker site, WSOP PA.
Back in Sept. 2020, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved an interactive gaming manufacturer license for WSOP-owner Caesars‘ online poker partner 888 Holdings, and it appeared WSOP PA may launch soon thereafter. But a month later a Caesars representative indicated no launch would happen until 2021 at the earliest. Despite various hints during the first part of the new year, nothing new developed.
In late April during an investors call, 888 Holdings CEO Itai Pazner stated the company planned to launch WSOP PA “in the first of half of this year, which basically means in the next couple of months.”
There have been other indications the company would like WSOP PA to be up and running well ahead of the in-person World Series of Poker in Las Vegas scheduled for Sept.-Nov. 2021. That said, if WSOP PA does launch before then, it is unclear whether WSOP online bracelet events will be hosted on the site.
In any case, like the other three PA online poker sites, WSOP PA will also be in-state only with no sharing of player pools at WSOP sites in other states, at least not at first. PA regulators will have to approve a multi-state agreement with other states first before such could occur.
Live poker options in Pennsylvania
Meanwhile, PA poker players currently have a number of live poker options at the state’s casinos. Following the closure of rooms due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, many have now reopened for business.
Most rooms have begun removing plexi-glass dividers and eased other protocols while continuing to ensure player safety. As of the start of June, seven live poker rooms are open in PA. These include rooms at the following casinos:
- Live! Casino Philadelphia
- Mohegan Sun Pocono
- Mount Airy Casino
- Parx Casino
- Rivers Casino Philadelphia
- Rivers Casino Pittsburgh
- The Meadows
Three other poker rooms remain closed, the ones at Hollywood Casino, Presque Isle Downs, and Wind Creek Casino. Neither Hollywood Casino nor Presque Isle Downs have indicated if and when their rooms will reopen. Wind Creek Casino plans to reopen its room by this fall.
Additionally, the Harrah’s Philadelphia poker room permanently closed last November.
Promotions, tournaments scheduled to bring players back to poker rooms
All of the poker rooms are running promotions and other events designed to bring PA players back to live poker.
For example, the newest casino and poker room, Live! Casino Philadelphia, just saw a lucky group of players split a $600,000-plus Bad Beat Jackpot over Memorial Day weekend.
Live! Casino Philadelphia features a 29-table room with several promotions. There are $40/$80 HOE (Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Seven-card Stud 8 or Better) games on Thursdays and Sundays and a $5/$10 Omaha 8 Full Kill on Fridays. The room plans to begin hosting tournaments soon as well.
Looking at what other rooms are up to, the one at Rivers Casino Philadelphia is hosting a $240 buy-in Welcome Back Tournament with a $20,000 guarantee on June 27. They are also awarding $500 High Hand Jackpots every hour from noon to 10 p.m. throughout June, amounting to over $200,000 in awards.
The Mohegan Sun Pocono room has daily tournaments and $300 high hand jackpots every half-hour from 2 to 10 p.m. Rivers Casino Pittsburgh will award over $80,000 in high hand jackpots during June. And Parx Casino‘s Bad Beat Progressive Jackpot is just about to exceed $400,000.
All of which is to say, there is plenty of shuffling up and dealing happening around the state for players eager to get back to the tables.
Image via Dreamstime.