After nearly a year-and-a-half with PokerStars PA the only online poker room up and running, other sites are now ready to launch in Pennsylvania.
Both BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker are poised to begin dealing their first virtual hands in the Keystone State, with a two-day testing phase beginning Tuesday, April 27, PGCB Director of Communications Doug Harbach confirmed to PlayPennsylvania on Monday.
Both poker sites will be accessible through their respective iGaming products. BetMGM poker will launch under the BetMGM online casino, which falls under Hollywood Casino Grantville‘s license. Borgata poker is accessible via the Borgata casino app under the Rivers Philadelphia iGaming license. BetMGM online casino launched Dec. 4, 2020 and Borgata followed Feb. 24, 2021.
Harbach also confirmed that the two PA poker sites will be interlinked when it comes to player pools.
“Players can enter via either provider and be combined into one when it comes to playing cash or tournament games.”
What can Pennsylvania poker players expect to find at BetMGM and Borgata online poker sites in PA? Here’s a quick overview of what players will find at the new PA poker sites.
April 29 update: Both BetMGM and Borgata PA poker apps are now fully live as of 9 a.m. April 29. Find details on opening freerolls and an opening series for PA players.
Similar design, functionality on BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker
Both BetMGM Poker and Borgata operate using the same software platform, which means the sites have a lot in common in terms of appearance, functionality, and game selection.
Entain (formerly GVC Holdings) powers both the BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker sites in New Jersey. In fact in NJ the two sites join partypoker NJ as part of the three-site partypoker US network that shares the same player pool, meaning all of the games are identical on both sites.
Meanwhile the new BetMGM Poker MI site operates on its own in Michigan, also using the same software platform.
In terms of appearance, the sites feature a fairly plain, streamlined design without much flash, although the lack of distracting bells and whistles definitely makes it easier to focus on the poker.
The navigation on both sites is identical, with tabs along the top of the main lobby showing “Cash Games,” “Sit & Go” tournaments, and “Tourneys” or multi-table tournaments.
There is a tab for “My Tournaments” where players can access tournaments in which they are currently registered. (On the BetMGM MI site, this tab has a trophy icon.)
There are also tabs for “Spins” (jackpot-style short-handed spin and go’s) and “Fast Forward” games, a version of fast-fold poker like PokerStars’ Zoom. On neither of the sites do the Fast Forward games attract enough interest to run very often.
Hold’em and Omaha only, cash games from pennies to higher stakes
When it comes to game types, both sites are limited to offering just three variants:
- No-Limit Hold’em
- Fixed-Limit Hold’em
- Pot-Limit Omaha (Hi and Hi-Lo)
In other words, unless new variants are introduced, PokerStars PA should have the upper hand on both sites with its wide array of stud games and other variants. Seven-card stud has appeared on the platform in the past, however, so it could potentially be reintroduced in PA.
Cash game stakes vary from the micros to higher limits. Both NLHE and PLO games run from $0.01/$0.02 to $25/$50, while the fixed-limit hold’em games go from $0.02/$0.04 to $30/$60.
Featured daily and weekly guaranteed tourneys, frequent tournament series
For tournaments, both sites feature a wide variety of daily and weekly tournaments with guaranteed prize pools. Certain tournaments popular among regular players appear both in NJ and MI, such as:
- Daily $10K ($109 buy-in)
- Sunday $40K ($215 buy-in)
- Mega $535 Tuesday ($12K guaranteed)
- Thursday $320 buy-in PKO Bounty (progressive knockout), $10K GTD
- Dozens of other daily tournaments
- Keystone Grind promo: Earn up to $6,500 in a month via poker credits (iRPs) earned for real-money cash games and tournaments
Expect the PA sites to feature more “marquee” tournaments as they begin to build their schedules.
Expect there to be frequent tournament series as well, as they frequently appear on both BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker.
Most recently, the New Jersey sites hosted a partypoker US Network Online Series. The series featured 11 events over seven days, with guaranteed prize pools totaling $360,000.
After launching last month, BetMGM Poker just completed its BetMGM MI Inaugural Online Poker Series Sunday. That series similarly ran for one week, featuring 10 events with $300,000 in guarantees.
These tournament series are much more modest in scale than the ones PokerStars PA has been offering. For example, the ongoing Pennsylvania Spring Championship of Online Poker features 120 tournaments over 17 days with just over $2 million in guaranteed prize pools.
BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker should aim a bit lower than that with their first Pennsylvania tournament series. But the competition could encourage expanded offerings.
Competition could stimulate more offers, options
The competition could motivate the sites to offer worthwhile sign-up bonuses and other promotions, as well as reward programs.
The BetMGM and Borgata poker apps in PA both link to MGM’s M Life Rewards program, so poker players can earn tier credits for tournament and cash game play. Also, players can easily switch between poker, online casino and sports betting via tabs on the app or website.
In any case, PA online poker players have much to look forward to once the game becomes “three-handed,” so to speak, with a trio of sites from which to choose.