In 2003, former accountant Chris Moneymaker sparked a nationwide poker boom after winning the World Series of Poker Main Event through an online satellite. At the time though, PA card players didn’t have a convenient place to enjoy live poker legally inside the state, and were relegated to making long trips to the poker rooms at Borgata, Foxwoods and elsewhere.
The following year, PA lawmakers passed landmark legislation allowing for the construction of several casinos and authorizing limited forms of gambling, like slot machines. Unfortunately, the bill did not include provisions for table games like poker, or casino staples such as blackjack and craps.
That all changed in 2010, when Pennsylvania casinos and racinos were given the green light to offer peer-to-peer poker along with a wide array of table games.
Best PA Online Poker Sites
Now, Commonwealth poker players have their pick of 10 poker rooms, scattered throughout the territory, and are choosing to spend their money at local casinos instead of taking their cash out of state. For those who are looking for an online poker room, PokerStars launched in November 2019 with more online rooms to come in the near future.
The addition of poker and table games has, in short order, helped turn Pennsylvania’s gambling industry into the second largest in the US, behind only Nevada.
Here we take a closer look at each of PA’s brick-and-mortar poker rooms, highlighting what they have to offer in terms of cash games and tournaments, signature series, amenities and more.
Parx’s poker room is widely considered to be the state’s premier poker destination, and is by far the biggest and most profitable in PA.
In 2018, the casino completed a $50 million expansion which included the construction of a brand-new 48-table, state-of-the-art poker venue. Patrons can now enjoy their favorite games surrounded by high-end finishes and nearly two dozen high definition TVs.
The room now also features a VIP poker “enclave” for highrollers, or anyone brave enough to take a shot at high-stakes.
Parx’s cash game selection is second to none in the state. Casual players will have no trouble finding low to mid-stakes No Limit and PLO games, and can even jump into one of several $10/$10 NLHE tables which run most nights.
$15/$30 Limit games get going most evenings as well, with bigger Mixed games coming together during high-traffic hours. $6/$12 O/E and $10/$20 Big O/SuperStud are also popular games, which generally can’t be found at other PA poker rooms.
Parx is well-known for its Big Stax tournament series, and offers the chance to make a nice score in nightly tournaments as well.
Parx will be bringing its brand into the online realm when PA online gambling sites get the green light to launch later this year. The company inked a partnership deal with gambling software provider GameAccount Network back in 2015, which powers the casinos online casino and sportsbook, but online poker has yet to launch.
Wind Creek Casino Poker Room
Wind Creek, formerly Sands Bethlehem, is home to PA’s second-highest grossing brick-and-mortar poker room, but has reduced its table count from 37 to 26 since Wind Creek has taken over operations.
Players can always find $1/$2 and $2/$5 NLHE tables running, with higher stakes action kicking off sporadically, especially on weekends. Omaha, Limit Hold’em, and Stud games also come together, but do not run as regularly.
Tournament players will enjoy nightly events at Sands and their Bad Beat Jackpot that is only available for lower limit games.
The poker room is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, around twenty 55 inch tvs to sweat your sports bets, and offers massage service along with complimentary beverages. At the tables you will find USB ports to charge your devices, and table side dining which is offered every day of the week.
Rivers Casino Philadelphia
Rivers Philadelphia Casino’s poker room lies 60 miles south of Wind Creek, and is a popular choice for grinders in Philadelphia and beyond.
The venue boasts 16 tables and offers mostly low stakes NLHE, with the option to play PLO and a few other variants a couple of times a week.
Tournaments are currently on hold due to Covid-19 protocols, but when back to normal, typically run several days a week. The room is also known for its periodic tournament series, a special $250 buy-in, $100,000 guaranteed event.
The card room was also the home of Poker Night in America, a CBS Sports Network television series which used to broadcast marquee poker tournaments from around the country but the series was cancelled back in 2019.
Rivers Philadelphia is owned by Rush Street Interactive, which operates the successful SugarHouse Casino online gambling site in New Jersey.
Rivers Casino Pittsburgh
For poker players living in Western Pennsylvania, or in neighboring Ohio, Rivers is by far the most attractive option. Located on the Ohio River, the casino’s poker room boasts 20 tables and is the favorite poker room of grinders in the Pittsburgh area.
No Limit players will always find a few smaller stakes tables running, with $5/$10 and $10/$20 games ramping up during the busier hours. PLO tables come together occasionally, as do lower stakes Limit Hold’em games.
The card room is known to offer occasional freerolls, along with a $10K “Full House Ladders” promotion and High Hand awards.
Tournament players can take their pick of two daily events, six days a week, with an additional tournament added on Saturdays.
Rivers is run by Rush Street Gaming.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National
Offering just 16 tables, the game selection at Hollywood Casino is not nearly as diverse as some of its competitors. You will, however, find $1/$2 NLHE games running consistently, higher stakes NLHE games running primarily on the weekends. Limit and PLO tables run a few times per week.
The room spreads tournaments Monday-Saturday, nightly high hand promotional giveaways and offers a Bad Beat Jackpot which can grow into the six figures.
Mohegan Sun Pocono
Mohegan Sun Pocono boasts a poker room that is slightly larger than Hollywood’s, yet over the years it’s taken in significantly less revenue. Of late, however, the room appears to be on the upswing, with as many as 20 games running on weekends. The most common game is by far $1/$2 NLHE, but Limit and PLO games do run with some frequency.
The card room is a non-smoking venue, which features a Bad Beat Jackpot and a Royal Flush Jackpot promo.
Players can choose from two daily tournaments, which include Rebuys, Deepstacks, Bounties and Turbos. Mid-high stakes players will be delighted with the selection, as Mohegan supports MTTs with buy-ins of $100 or greater take place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Mohegan Sun operates its own online casino in the Garden State and has a solid foothold in the PA iGaming market, via their partnership PokerStars, which is currently the only online game in town.
The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
The Meadows is located less than an hour’s drive south of Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, its closest geographical competitor. The card room features just 14 poker tables, but offers a view of live horseracing which can’t be beat.
The poker room offers both No Limit and Limit Hold’em games, occasionally spreading PLO. Tournaments run twice daily, Monday-Saturday, with events occasionally scheduled for Sundays as well. Meadows also features a progressive Bad Beat Jackpot that starts at quad sevens and progressively pays higher amounts the better the hand rank is.
The Meadows has also become an official stop on the Heartland Poker Tour, a televised poker tournament series.
Mount Airy Casino Resort
With twelve poker tables to choose from, cash game options at Mount Airy are severely limited, usually consisting of a few tables of low limit NLHE. Not surprisingly, the low traffic makes putting together a viable tournament essentially impossible.
Players do have the chance to win extra cash in occasional promotions, however, like the High Hand promo the room is running currently.
The new poker room was built in 2020, and has moved poker from the basement to the main floor, which now shares a space with sportsbook.
Presque Isle Downs
Located a short distance from Lake Erie, Presque Isle is the smallest and lowest earning cardroom in the state, featuring a meager seven poker tables.
Surprisingly, the room still manages to put together a tournament five or six days a week, some with surprisingly high buy-ins and guarantees. We do wonder how many of these MTTs actually get off though.
The new casino situated right in the heart of the Philly stadium district opened its doors in early 2021, and is quickly trying to make a name for itself in the poker community boasting a 29 table live poker room. The new Live! poker room spreads cash games for all limits, primarily No Limit Hold’em but do offer PLO, Stud and other variations.
While Live! opened their doors amid the Covid-19 pandemic, games are running 24/7. There is no food service at this time, but cocktails are available and WiFi is also available for poker patrons.
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