The history of online poker in Pennsylvania has been brief. It was only last November that PokerStars Pennsylvania launched. So far, PokerStars PA is the Keystone State’s only operating online poker site.
Even so, after a little over six months, some Pennsylvania online poker history was made this week.
That’s because the appropriately named Pennsyl-MANIA event that played out Sunday and Monday featured the site’s largest tournament prize pool ever.
Largest prize pool in Pennsylvania online poker history
Pennsyl-MANIA had a $200 buy-in with up to five re-entries allowed per player.
The guaranteed prize pool of $250,000 was the largest ever for a tournament at PokerStars PA. However, once play began Sunday night and the entries began piling up, it was soon apparent that there would be no difficulty avoiding an overlay.
In fact, by the time late registration closed, the event had attracted a whopping 2,774 total entries (1,760 entries, 1,014 re-entries). That meant a $515,964 prize pool, more than double the guarantee.
It was the largest prize pool of any tournament on PokerStars PA, thus far. The site’s previous record prize pool was $368,200 for the Pennsylvania Spring Championship of Online Poker Main Event last month.
‘D-Low1527’ wins $69K after heads-up deal
The tournament lasted two days, with Monday’s long Day Two requiring nine hours for 291 players to play down to a winner. That meant the tournament went deep into the night, not finishing until just after 4 a.m.
It ended when “D-Low1527” defeated “justbuy44” to win the title after the pair agreed to a deal while heads-up.
PocketFives reports how there had been some issues starting at five-handed with some players unable to access deal numbers. In any case, following the heads-up deal, “D-Low1527” claimed a handsome $69,670.69 first prize, with “justbuy44” taking away $58,175.62.
Pennsyl-MANIA follows big April for PokerStars PA
The record-breaking Pennsyl-MANIA event provides a big May highlight for PokerStars PA to build on a huge April.
According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board‘s monthly revenue report released on Monday, PokerStars PA earned $5,253,304 in revenue last month. That total crushes the site’s previous record high month of $3,133,019 in March.
In fact, all by itself, PokerStars PA earned more in April than did the three New Jersey online poker sites. In April, partypoker NJ, WSOP.com NJ and PokerStars NJ combined to earn $5,148,373 in revenue.
Just like Pennsylvania, April was also the highest ever month for online poker revenue for New Jersey, which is where the first sites launched in 2013.
Online poker continues to thrive during retail casino shutdown
The coronavirus pandemic and the forced shutdown of retail casinos have been the primary cause for increased traffic on online poker sites.
This month, casinos have begun to reopen in limited fashion across the country. That said, in many cases, these openings have not included opening up poker rooms.
Currently, all 12 of Pennsylvania’s retail casinos remain closed. However, in anticipation of casinos eventually reopening, on Wednesday, the PGCB announced a list of protocols for casino operators to follow.
According to the protocols, PA casinos will not be able to offer poker when they reopen, at least not initially.
“Poker rooms are not authorized to operate due to players handling cards and chips,” said the PGCB. Regulators will follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Pennsylvania Department of Health when making later recommendations regarding live poker.
It will be interesting to see what effect casinos and especially poker rooms opening will have on online poker traffic in PA down the road.
Consult our live updates page for the latest on PA casinos’ closures and reopenings.