Going for the Gold: First WSOP Online Bracelet Series in PA Coming in August

The brand-spanking-new World Series of Poker Pennsylvania online poker room had only just launched last week when the WSOP shared some big news. Like players on WSOP sites in other states, those in Pennsylvania will be able to play for WSOP gold bracelets as well…and very soon.

The first ever WSOP Online Bracelet series in PA will take place August 6-16 on WSOP PA during which eight WSOP gold bracelets will be awarded.

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WSOP PA bracelet series schedule

The series begins and ends with two multi-flight tournaments. The initial “kick-off” event has a $500 buy-in and three starting flights on Aug. 6-8, with the final day Aug. 9. The series concludes with the $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Pennsylvania Championship for which there will be three starting flights Aug. 13-15 with the finale Aug. 16.

Each of the eight tournaments are no-limit hold’em, including two that will employ the progressive knockout bounty format. Buy-ins range from a couple of $400 tournaments up to a $3,200 high roller event.

PA WSOP Online Bracelet series schedule

No.DateTime (ET)EventBuy-in
1Aug. 6-9 (Th-Su)5:30 p.m.No-Limit Hold'em Keystone Kick Off$500
2Aug. 9 (M)5:30 p.m.No-Limit Hold'em PKO$500
3Aug. 10 (Tu)5:30 p.m.No-Limit Hold'em High Roller$3,200
4Aug. 11 (W)5:30 p.m.No-Limit Hold'em 6-Max$400
5Aug. 12 (Th)5:30 p.m.No-Limit Hold'em Lucky 7's$777
6Aug. 13 (F)5:30 p.m.No-Limit Hold'em PKO$400
7Aug. 14 (Sa)5:30 p.m.No-Limit Hold'em Monster Stack$600
8Aug. 13-16 (Th-Su)5:30 p.m.No-Limit Hold'em PA Championship$1,000

WSOP PA already has the events listed in the client and open for registration. There are currently $10 satellites running for those first two $500 buy-in events. More satellites will likely appear for all of the other events once the series draws nearer.

The quick announcement of a bracelet series starting less than a month after WSOP PA’s launch might have surprised some. Many expect a WSOP Online Circuit series awarding WSOP Circuit rings to take place on the site thanks to earlier hints regarding from the WSOP. That may happen sooner than later, which if it follows other similar series, will be a 12- or 18-tournament series.

Pennsylvania bracelets help push overall WSOP total to record high

The bracelet series on WSOP PA arrives as sort of a supplement to the currently in-progress WSOP Online Bracelet series running on the WSOP Nevada and WSOP New Jersey sites. That series runs from July 1-August 1 and features 33 events.

Thanks to a multi-state agreement, WSOP NV and WSOP NJ share a player pool for their bracelet events. By contrast, the new WSOP PA site is a ring-fenced site. Only players physically located in the state of Pennsylvania can play real money games on the site. That will likely mean smaller tournament fields for the series on WSOP PA. However it could also increase players’ chances to win a WSOP bracelet.

A second half to the WSOP Online Bracelet series will run on the international GGPoker site from August 1-September 12 during which another 33 bracelets will be awarded. Although available in dozens of countries around the world, GGPoker is not open to US players.

Meanwhile, the traditional in-person WSOP series will happen at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas this fall. A total of 88 bracelet events will play out from September 30-November 22, including the $10,000 WSOP Main Event.

That adds up to 162 bracelets awarded by the WSOP in the US during 2021. Still more will be won at WSOP Europe at the King’s Resort in Rozvadov, Czech Republic in November and December. As of now, that series schedule features 15 more bracelet events.

Bracelets carry prestige, fifty years of tradition

Barring any schedule changes, poker players will win more WSOP bracelets this year than in any of the previous years of the World Series of Poker.

The series first began in 1970 as a small, intimate gathering of gamblers who came together at Binion’s Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas. In fact, tournaments weren’t even introduced until the second year, and bracelets only became the standard winner’s “trophy” a few years after that. In 1974, WSOP Main Event champion Brian “Sailor” Roberts was given a gold bracelet for his victory, and starting in 1975 bracelets were given to winners of all tournaments, including the preliminary events.

Even so, for many years the WSOP only featured a modest number of bracelet events. In 1977 the total reached double-digits for the first time with 13 bracelets awarded. It took until 1992 for the total to reach 20. In 2004, the first year events began to take place at the Rio, players won 33 bracelets.

The “poker boom” of the mid-2000s increased the WSOP’s profile significantly. More players took part, and thus the schedule continued expanding. The WSOP first added online bracelet events in 2015, helping the overall total grow even more. Players won more than 100 bracelets both in Las Vegas and at WSOP Europe in 2019, the first year the figure reached triple-digits.

Phil Hellmuth currently tops the all-time list with 15 bracelets, well ahead of nearest challengers Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Phil Ivey who each have 10.

Despite the explosion in the number of bracelets, they still carry a great deal of prestige among poker players. Winning one of the first at WSOP PA will no doubt provide some memorable early highlights for PA players.

Lead photo John Locher/AP

High Hand Alert: Pennsylvania Poker Options Expanding Both Live and Online

Live and online poker options continue expanding for Pennsylvania players, along with some juicy welcome back promos at poker rooms around PA.

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.

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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.

When Will WSOP.com Stop Hinting and Start Dealing in PA?

WSOP teased an impending launch in a new market with their recent Online Circuit Series announcement. Could it mean good news for PA poker players?

It’s a new year. Much as was the case throughout the last one, online poker players in Pennsylvania continue to watch for the arrival of WSOP.com to the Keystone State.

Neither the WSOP nor the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) have shared anything new during the first two weeks of 2021 regarding the launch of WSOP PA.

However, there have been hints, including one this week suggesting WSOP.com could be coming sooner than later.

Wait continues for WSOP in PA

The last we heard on the matter was in October 2020 when a Caesars representative noted it would be at least 2021 before WSOP.com would launch in PA.

By then the PGCB had already approved an interactive gaming manufacturer license for Caesars‘ online poker partner 888 Holdings. Indeed, some Pennsylvanians began to receive promotional emails at the time suggesting a WSOP.com PA launch was imminent.

Among other clues being parsed then were changes to the WSOP.com website. Those included the addition of a Harrah’s Philadelphia logo and a PA-specific “House Rules” page.

Such co-branding of Harrah’s Philadelphia resurfaced on a promo page in recent days, although it has since vanished. That said, this week’s announcement of a new 2021 WSOP Online Circuit Series includes an even more tantalizing suggestion.

WSOP Online Circuit announcement teases new WSOP.com site launch

The year-long series actually involves multiple tournament series of 12 or 18 events each. The schedule somewhat follows the one used by the WSOP Circuit live tour. Such live events have understandably been postponed for now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently only players on WSOP New Jersey and WSOP Nevada can participate in the events. Each awards a WSOP gold ring to the winner. There is also an ongoing leaderboard with a championship tournament scheduled at the end of December.

There are 12 series overall, one for each month in 2021. However, the announcement mentions “An additional 13th online circuit event is earmarked pending launch of the WSOP.COM service in a newly regulated market” (emphasis added).

With no other discussion, such a reference sounds as though it might indicate an additional WSOP Online Circuit “stop” could take place on WSOP.com PA soon after it launches.

Making moves in Michigan, online sites soon to launch

Then again, the reference could mean something else.

Stepping back to survey the national picture, Michigan is on the precipice of launching its first online casinos, likely in the coming days. Online poker may be part of the picture there as well, although perhaps not at the very start.

On Tuesday the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) had its first public meeting of 2021. One consequence of that meeting was regulators giving the go-ahead to approved operators to launch their sites when ready. According to Online Poker Report, the first sites should go live by early next week.

That includes online poker, although “testing requirements” will likely delay the opening of the first online poker room (or rooms) in Michigan by “four or five days.”

WSOP.com is not among sites in the running to launch a poker room in MI at the start. Meanwhile PokerStars, still the only online poker room operator in Pennsylvania, appears poised to do so via its partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

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Prospects for multi-state agreements, shared liquidity

Of relevance to Pennsylvanians is the fact that earlier this month, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law a bill allowing interstate compacts for online gambling. That means the MGCB can permit operators in MI with online poker to enter multi-state agreements with sites in other states that also permit such compacts, thereby allowing shared player pools.

Michigan online poker rooms will not be sharing liquidity with other states for a while yet, however. According to OPR, any sharing of Michigan player pools with those from other states will not happen until late 2021 at the soonest.

New Jersey could be Michigan’s first choice for such an agreement. MGCB staff are presently in discussions about an interstate compact with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Pennsylvania would likely be less quick to enter a multi-state compact, given the caution PA regulators have shown to this point regarding uncertainties surrounding the US Department of Justice‘s interpretation of the Wire Act.

In any case, stay tuned here to find out if and when WSOP.com PA stops hinting and starts dealing.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong