Online poker in Pennsylvania was ready to launch July 15th with the legalization of online gambling in the state. Online operators are allowed to offer any poker game they want so long as they attain the license. PokerStars and partypoker are among the seven companies to have secured and paid for online poker licenses and due to the state population of 13 million the potential in the market is great, especially if PA goes the same route as Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey by joining the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association which allows players to combine pools in the states. However, for some reason, none of the online casinos in the state have released an online poker platform but it's predicted to be coming very soon.
Best Online Poker Sites in Pennsylvania
There are a few companies that already have strong connections in Pennsylvania and other states giving them a lead in the online gambling market already. The following are predicted to be the best online sites for Pennsylvania players to play legal online poker on:
- PokerStars is partners with Mount Airy and is the #1 poker operator in the world.
- 888 Poker/WSOP.com is connected to Mount Airy and Harrah’s, although ties are stronger with Mount Airy. The company also owns the interstate poker network that runs through Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey.
- GVC/Partypoker.com has signed a deal with MGM which gives them access to Boyd Gaming and is continuing to grow its expansion in the United States with other partnerships.
- Rush Street Interactive has two online gaming licenses and is rumored to have its own poker software.
IGT and Pala will also support online poker platforms in Pennsylvania.
Legal Online Poker in Pennsylvania
Anyone who wants to play legal online poker in Pennsylvania will need to adhere to the regulations set by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board which include being at least 21 years of age, providing valid identification upon signing up, and being inside state lines to wager (all online casino sites will be using geolocation software to enforce this). Sites will also be paying a 16% online gambling tax on gross revenue. While players must be within PA borders to play online, they will have access to games with competitors from around the world wherever online poker is also legal.
Playing poker online compared to playing at a real casino has its advantages and disadvantages. For starters, the rules are the same no matter what platform a player is playing on but with online poker, the game tends to be faster and comes with less risk as players have the option to wager lower amounts. The disadvantage comes with not being able to see other players' faces, but with practice, players can find other ways to catch an opponent bluffing.
The following casinos have been approved to offer legal online poker in Pennsylvania as of July 15th:
- SugarHouse Casino
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National
- Mount Airy Casino
- Parx Casino
- Sands Bethlehem
- Valley Forge Casino
Best Live Poker Rooms in Pennsylvania
Harrah’s Philadelphia is considered to be a leader in the market as they are owned by Caesars Entertainment. Caesars also owns the World Series of Poker which currently run online poker sites in Nevada and New Jersey. Harrah’s will be using a platform designed by 888Poker and is expected to merge Pennsylvania player pools with NJ and Nevada. Harrah’s Philadelphia currently has the only WSOP Poker Room in Pennsylvania made up of 28 tables, open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It offers a generous amount of promotions and tournaments with games including Texas Hold’em, Seven Card Stud and Omaha and more ensuring any Philadelphia poker play will find a game that suits them.
Parx Casino is the gross revenue leader when it comes to PA poker rooms, having a venue made up of 80 tables. The casino hosts poker tournaments on the daily, 150-300 mixed games as well as offering players the most variety in PA for cash game offerings. Parx Casino also hosts the biggest poker tournament in the State called Parx Big Star that runs five times a year.
Sands Bethlehem has 30 tables located in the middle of the casino and attracts players from not only Pennsylvania but New Jersey and New York City as well. The casino hosts daily tournaments and a DeepStack Extravaganza, with a varied playing schedule.
SugarHouse Casino is made of 28 tables and had the first poker room in PA called the Poker Night in America Poker Room at Sugarhouse Casino. Due to the casino's connection with “Poker Night in America,” they also host TV events and offer tournaments 6 days a week with two on Saturdays and Sundays, and promotions including an instant high hand progressive jackpot.
Other PA casinos like Hollywood Casino, Meadows, Mount Airy and Presque Isle Downs also have good poker rooms but they are on the smaller size ranging from 7-15 tables.
Play Online Poker
Poker has a variety of games in which cards available to the player and amount dealt, hand rankings, and betting rounds offered vary depending on the game. No matter the game though, there are a few basic rules beginners can follow which will help guide them in any online poker match.
Royal Flush - The hand that can not be beaten and must contain an ace, king, queen, jack and ten of the same suits.
Straight Flush - Five cards that make a sequence in the same suit, wins the hand if there is a tie.
Four of a Kind - Four cards with the same rank and a “kicker” which is used in the event of a tie and win goes to the player with the highest “kicker.”
Full House - Three cards that are the same and two different but matching a suit from the three. In the event of a tie, the winner holds the highest three cards.
Flush - Five cards in the same suit in no particular order. In the event of a draw, the winner is holding the highest card.
Straight - Five cards in sequence but not in the same suit. The highest card in the sequence is the winner.
Three of a Kind - Three cards worth the same and two in no order. The highest side card wins the hand.
Two Pair - Two cards that match rank, two cards that have different match rank and one “kicker.” If players have matching doubles then the winner goes to the player holding highest “kicker.”