Online poker is alive and well in Pennsylvania. PokerStars, a heavy hitter in the international online poker industry, was the first up and running Nov. 4, 2019. The site enjoyed its status as the lone PA operator for its for several months. WSOP.com/888 and partypoker are expected to join soon to expand the offerings for PA residents.
As a player you can take advantage of the big marketing budgets these sites will use to gain traction in the Keystone State. There are no-deposit bonuses, big matched welcome offers and generous loyalty schemes available right now.
This page has everything you need to understand the games, bonuses, and software options available at the legal PA online poker sites. You’ll also find a brief explanation of how the sites work and a detailed FAQ located at the bottom of the page.
Play online poker in Pennsylvania at PokerStars
Is online poker legal in PA?
Yes. Seven casinos took up the poker license, most as part of a package deal.
Instead of $4 million per gambling vertical, several PA casinos paid $10 million for poker, online slots, and online table games licenses. Many also spent $10 million for a separate sports betting license.
It took a long time from when the gambling expansion act (H 271) of 2017 was passed for PA online poker sites to appear. License holders prioritized sports betting and casinos as these have higher revenue than poker.
Best Poker Sites in Pennsylvania
Poker sites need to reach a critical mass of players to offer a good enough choice of cash games and big guarantees for their tournaments. This naturally limits the number of successful rooms possible, and healthy market share is critical.
The biggest rooms in other regulated states are strong favorites to be the biggest and best in Pennsylvania. Here are the sites to check out:
- PokerStars: Poker players the world over agree that PokerStars has the best software. While you will not be able to play against the giant global player pool in PA, you can enjoy the huge game choice and slick platform. New players get $30 in free play with a small ($20) deposit, with the ‘Stars Rewards’ loyalty scheme keeping your bankroll topped up after that.
- Party Poker: Soon, PA players will be able to check out the software and the famously soft poker games at Party with free money. Party offers NJ players $25 simply for signing up – which we expect to see on offer in PA too. Enjoy tournaments, cash games and the new Fast Forward poker format.
- WSOP.com/888: This brand is owned by Caesars Entertainment and will partner with Harrah’s Philadelphia to bring their unique platform to PA. There is more to this site than just qualifiers to the WSOP tournaments. You can play cash game, ‘Blast’ poker and a packed tournament schedule. New players get a matched welcome bonus of up to $1000 to get their bankrolls off to a flying start.
What do these PA poker apps offer?
Poker players worldwide consider the PokerStars desktop client and apps to be the best software around. This covers the speed and smoothness of the games – plus small factors like how easy it is to resize tables and the ability to upload your own pictures.
PokerStars partnered with Mount Airy Casino. They were the first online poker site to launch in Pennsylvania – and have exceeded expectations in popularity. Player pools are not shared with their New Jersey site for the time being, which will be the case for all PA online poker rooms until further notice.
There are two bonuses for new players:
- Deposit a minimum of $20 to get $30 in tournament buy-ins and cash game tickets with bonus code THIRTY.
- Alternatively, PokerStars will match your first deposit up to $600. To claim this offer, use bonus code STARS600.
Regular players will enjoy a novel loyalty program. Stars Rewards gives you chests as you play, these have prizes tailored to you – going up in value depending on the stakes you play.
Games at PokerStars include the usual mix of cash games, tournaments and sit & goes. This site has a fast-fold cash game called Zoom Poker, and a lottery sit & go format called ‘Spins’. Regular ‘PACOOP’ (Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker) events feature big prize tournaments – the highlight of a busy tournament schedule. They also run a number of other exciting tournament series that come with hefty guarantees.
Party Poker Pennsylvania
Party Poker is the biggest rival to PokerStars. This site is owned by gambling giant GVC, which has a national deal with MGM. Valley Forge Casino will supply licenses for GVC.
Once live, PA poker players should receive $25 simply for signing up. This bonus comes in two parts:
- $10 is a cash bonus, you can use this for any type of game
- $15 is in tournament tokens
If you like what you find, then you can get a 100% matched welcome bonus on your first deposit up to $1000 max. Promotions include leaderboards, reload bonuses and a loyalty points program.
In addition to the packed list of cash games, tournaments and sit & goes, you can now play ‘Fast Forward’ poker at Party. This is a fast-fold format, where players are moved to a new hand as soon as the current hand is folded.
The partypoker software has been completely revamped since they were last available in the US. You will find smartphone apps and desktop downloads for both Windows and Mac devices. At launch, games will only be against other players from PA. In time it is hoped that the shared player pools will expand to cover Pennsylvania – allowing games against other partypoker players from other states.
How legal online poker sites in Pennsylvania work
For online casinos and sportsbooks, you’ll normally access the website to enjoy gambling. Poker sites are different. Most players prefer to download a desktop software client to access the games. This gives you all the game types, and the ability to comfortably multi-table (play more than one table at a time). It also ensures the games are stable. Avoiding the client crashing just as you get dealt pocket aces is important.
PokerStars PA launched with both an Android and an iOS app available.
When you access the PA poker rooms, you will find four main poker formats. Which are available (and have games running) will depend on the size of the player pool at each site.
Here are the main formats:
- Cash games: Your chips have a real monetary value and can be topped up to the table maximum at any time. Online poker cash games start at $2 buy-ins (micro-stakes) up to around $1,000+ buy-ins. The stakes at these tables range from $.02/$.04 to $1,000/$2,000. Tables typically have two, six, or nine players.
- Poker tournaments: A knockout format where each player starts with a stack of chips in exchange for their buy-in. The bet sizes increase steadily, and play continues until one player has all the chips. Expect 10% or so of the field to get prizes. There are many variations in speed, poker game type, and the ability to rebuy or re-enter if you bust.
- Sit & Go tournaments: Usually single table games, these kick off whenever a table is full. New variations include PokerStars’ Spin & Go. These are three-handed games with a random prize pool of up to 10,000x your buy-in.
- Fast-fold poker: This innovation dispenses with the waiting time while other players finish hands by taking you to a new hand as soon as you fold. Players sit in pools rather than individual tables. Fast fold poker is used for both cash games and tournaments but is not available in Pennsylvania yet.
At international sites, there are a lot of poker variations to enjoy. The smaller player pools in Pennsylvania will mean that only No-Limit Hold’em and some Omaha variations like PLO and PLO8 will be available. If PA joins a wider group of state sites then Stud, Draw, and mixed games could become available.
Real Money Poker vs Free Online Poker
If you have only ever enjoyed poker on free to play apps, you will need to read up on strategy before you jump into the real money games. There is a huge difference in skill level as soon as real money is on the line.
The online poker rooms in Pennsylvania have options to enjoy play-money only tables. These can help you get to know the different types of poker game and how the betting rounds work. At PokerStars, the Home Games function lets you create private tables for your friends and colleagues. You can even play them with friends outside of PA, as long as they are for play money.
You can try out real money poker games at some sites without making a deposit. Party Poker should offer $10 in cash plus $15 in tournament entry tokens just for signing up. Other sites like PokerStars give you tokens worth $30 for just a small deposit.
To get off to a solid start at the real money poker tables, it is worth starting off at smaller buy-in levels than you would play in a live setting. This will give you a chance to assess the skill levels of your opponents and make sure you can beat the games before you move up to higher buy-ins.
Pennsylvania online poker: Bonuses and promotions
The online poker sites which have the most players in PA will have a huge advantage over competitors. PokerStars got a leg up on the competition as the first to market and exceeded expectations right away, taking in nearly $2 million in rake and tournament fees in its first month back in November.
As the number of players grows, bigger tournaments, better promotions, and a wider choice of cash games become available. This has the effect of attracting more players. Currently, PokerStars PA offers a choice of two welcome bonuses, namely $30 free if deposit $20 using marketing code FREE30, or a 100% bonus match up to $600 using marketing code STARS600, not both though.
Once more online poker rooms go live in Pennsylvania, there will be fierce competition for new players. You can take advantage of this by getting your bankroll off to a great start thanks to the sites’ big marketing budgets and generous bonus offers.
Based on poker rooms in other regulated states, here is what to expect:
- No-deposit bonuses: Some poker sites will offer completely free chips, no deposit needed. This will sometimes come in the form of buy-ins to different tournaments or cash games. You’ll need to play this money through a set number of times before it can be withdrawn.
- Matched welcome bonuses: Expect your first deposit to be given a 100% (or better) match. Some sites offer up to $1,000 in bonus money this way. This is usually released in increments as you play.
- Freeroll tournaments: New players will be given access to beginners or depositors freerolls with real money prize pools. There may be additional entries based on loyalty schemes or future deposits.
- Reload bonuses: If your bankroll gets depleted, you will usually be offered an extra bonus to reload. Be advised these are usually smaller offers than the initial deposit bonus.
- Loyalty schemes: Poker sites all handle their loyalty programs differently. For PokerStars PA, expect to be awarded treasure chests, which have prizes tailored to your individual gambling preferences.
Depending on the brand, you might also be offered crossover promotions for the different gambling verticals.
Sports betting and casino games are well established in Pennsylvania, with many of the license holders for poker involved in all three industries. For example, players can now sign up for Fox Bet online sports betting and also access the PokerStars PA online poker and online casino verticals.
Depositing and withdrawing at PA online poker rooms
With poker being a skill game, more players will withdraw money than the other gambling verticals. You’ll have a lot of choices for how to get your money on board and your profits back off again.
While not all the online poker rooms will have all of the methods listed, the deposit methods below are the most commonly accepted.
- Credit / debit cards: Instant payments can be made with your regular bank cards. Visa and MasterCard are accepted by all the sites. Some sites will also allow deposits with Discover cards as well.
- Prepaid Play+ cards: Many gambling sites have branded debit cards. These add security and can be used for withdrawing your winnings. Then players can access funds via ATMs.
- Casino cage: You’ll be able to deposit and withdraw at the casino associated with each of the poker room brands.
- PayNearMe: This is another way of depositing cash, this time via 7-Eleven or CVS stores. Note that the fixed costs make this expensive for smaller deposits.
- PayPal: This is a popular online wallet system. It is used as a secure bridge between your bank and online merchants. PayPal is used for both deposits and withdrawals. However, do not be surprised if this option is not available at most online poker sites. The fees associated with PayPal, combined with the high tax rates for PA online operators mean this will be a rare option, not a common one.
- Neteller / Skrill: Owned by the same company, these wallet services work in a similar way to PayPal. They have been popular with poker players internationally for many years. Like PayPal, there is a chance these will not be available at every site because of hefty fees.
- eChecks: Also known as ACH transfers, this poker deposit method comes directly from your bank. You can get pre-verified, making your eCheck deposits and withdrawals instant.
- Bill pay: If you use a major bank, you might already pay your utility bills with Bill Pay. Paying into your poker account works in the same way. This banking option is not used for withdrawals.
- Bank wire: This is a slower way to transfer from your bank, though can still be used if you wish to securely transfer large amounts.
- Money order / paper check: Another slower banking method welcomed by many sites. If there are no alternative ‘online’ methods, you can withdraw your profits via a paper check.
Online poker partnerships in PA
For now, PA poker games are ring-fenced. This means that tables will not be shared with poker players from other regulated states like New Jersey and Nevada.
Three major international brands already partnered with Pennsylvania casinos, with only PokerStars and Mount Airy Casino live with their online poker product. More announcements are expected soon to clarify plans for online poker.
This is the full list of the PA casinos which have licenses to open online poker rooms:
|Poker Site||Casino Partner||Software||Status||Bonus|
|PokerStars||Mount Airy Casino Resort||PokerStars||Live||$30 Free|
|PartyPoker PA||Valley Forge Casino||PartyPoker||Approved||TBD|
|SugarHouse||Rivers Philadelphia||Rush Street||Approved||TBD|
|Penn National||Hollywood Casino||IGT||Approved||TBD|
|Parx Casino||Parx Casino||GAN/Kambi||Approved||TBD|
|Wind Creek Casino||Wind Creek Casino||TBD||Approved||TBD|
Live poker in Pennsylvania
There are 10 live poker rooms in Pennsylvania. They are:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia: This poker room is branded using the World Series of Poker name. It is open 24/7 and has 28 tables featuring cash games and tournaments. Types of poker include the popular No-Limit Hold’em, Seven-Card Stud, and Omaha.
- Mohegan Sun Pocono: Located close to Wilkes-Barre, this poker room holds 18 tables. Daily tournaments include bounty events. The room also offers bad beat and royal flush jackpots for cash games.
- Parx Casino: This is one of the bigger poker rooms, hosting 48 tables including a separated three-table high-limit poker room. Parx is located at Bensalem, northeast of Philadelphia. They hold big buy-in tournament events, as well their own regular schedule of tournaments and cash games.
- Rivers Casino: Located in Pittsburgh, Rivers Casino hosts a 30-table poker room, which covers more than 8,000 square feet. Hourly high-hand bonuses keep the cash games lively, while bigger buy-in tournament events run alongside their busy weekly schedule.
- The Meadows Casino: Rather than a separate room, the 14 poker tables at The Meadows are on the main casino floor. You’ll have a view of the live racing while you play. This room is located 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, at Strabane Township.
- Hollywood Casino: This live poker venue is located at the Penn National Racecourse, at Grantville, PA. They have 17 tables and run cash games with a high hand promotion. Tournaments include both standard and turbo blind options.
- Mount Airy Casino: The poker parlor at the Mount Airy resort in northwest PA is a smaller live poker venue. With only nine tables, Texas Hold’em is the only variation you will find here.
- Presque Isle Casino: This is the smallest poker room in Pennsylvania, with only seven tables. While most rooms are 24/7, this one opens at 10 a.m. / 12 p.m. and continues only as long as there is substantial play. Single and multi-table tournaments are advertised, in addition to cash games.
- Sugarhouse Casino: Located in Philadelphia, Sugarhouse offers a 24/7 poker room which holds 28 tables. High hand and bad beat jackpots are run. Buy-ins for their cash games range from $60 to $3,000.
- Wind Creek Casino: This 28-table live poker room is located close to Bethlehem, PA. This was previously known as Sands Casino. With a complimentary beverage service, tableside dining, and a lot of TV’s showing sporting action, this poker room is advertised as state of the art.
Pennsylvania online poker FAQ
Is Pennsylvania online poker legal?
Yes, online poker became legal as part of the gambling expansion act of 2017. Sites are licensed under existing B&M casinos. They are under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board.
Who can play online poker in PA?
You need to be 21 or over, and inside state lines to play online poker in Pennsylvania. Note that there is no requirement to be a permanent resident of the Keystone State.
When will PokerStars launch in Pennsylvania?
PokerStars PA has fully launched in Pennsylvania.
Can I play against players from other regulated states or foreign countries?
No, the player pools at PA poker rooms are ring-fenced. You will only play against others from inside state lines. The state has the option to compact with other states eventually, but likely won’t pursue shared liquidity until the ongoing DOJ and NH Lottery Wire Act court case is resolved.
Can I access the games from outside of PA?
No, geolocation technology will only allow you to play if you are inside state lines. If there is any doubt, or location masking technology (for example a VPN) is detected, you will not be able to play. If caught, you stand the chance of having funds confiscated and your account banned.
What forms of online poker will be available?
Cash games, tournaments, and Sit & Gos are all available. Formats like fast-fold poker should get added at some point as well.
Texas Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha will be the main game formats available.
Are PA online poker games fair?
Yes. All sites will need to demonstrate the integrity of their random number generator (RNG) software, which controls the shuffle of cards. Despite many rumors to the contrary, there has never been any mathematical evidence that the deal at major sites are rigged. They are overseen by PGCB and subject to rigid testing and regulations to ensure the product is nothing but fair.