Pennsylvanians continue to prove that the appetite for online poker is strong in the Keystone State. PokerStars PA is well aware. The international poker brand is enjoying a strong position in the budding regulated US market, a position which they are confident they’ll continue growing, even as competition rises.
In Pennsylvania, PokerStars has been the lone operator from its start in November, 2019. That may soon change, as the likes of WSOP.com (in partnership with 888) and/or partypoker make their way in, but a confident PokerStars welcomes the newcomers. After all, they got quite the headstart on securing market share, and they know their customers well.
Giving the online poker players what they want
In just seven months of operations, PokerStars PA has run four successful tournament series. They were PACOOP, Winter Series, Bounty Builder Series, and PASCOOP.
The most recent series, the Pennsylvania Spring Championship of Online Poker, took place in April during statewide stay-at-home orders for coronavirus containment. Traffic was as high as it’s ever been in PA, resulting in the series crushing overall guarantees and paying out over $3.2 million.
Traffic numbers continue to impress, and PokerStars PA followed PASCOOP with a one-off tournament called Pennsyl-MANIA. Players again logged on in droves, resulting in the biggest prize pool in the site’s young history. Timing is everything, as they say, and PokerStars nailed it on this one.
The event already promised to be the biggest in terms of prize pool with $250K guaranteed. But they blew that figure out of the water. The buy-in was $200 with up to five re-entries allowed and in the end, a total of 2,774 entries were tallied, bringing the total prize pool to nearly $516K.
What’s next for PokerStars PA players
So, what’s next? The players would love to know. Summer months are typically the slowest for online poker sites. The weather gets nicer, people do more outdoor activities, and of course, the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas draws thousands of poker lovers west in search of coveted gold. But the coronavirus pandemic changed the game this year.
The WSOP is postponed to the fall. Then this week, WSOP announced a 31-event schedule of domestic online bracelet events to start July 1, but only accessible at WSOP.com in New Jersey and Nevada. Although WSOP is working on getting approved to operate in PA, it hasn’t happened just yet.
Even as casinos in PA begin reopening (June 9 for some Pittsburgh-area casinos), live poker rooms will not. Additionally, phased reopening plans and fear of a revived outbreak will likely deter many from traveling by plane or from seeking out crowded entertainment activities of yesteryear.
All that to say, the summer demand for online poker may be atypically high this time around.
The global PokerStars.com site is already catering to increased demand. The new Summer Series promptly followed an extended SCOOP series and is already afoot with two more weeks of tournaments on tap on the dot-com site. Will they do a similar series at their PA and NJ sites, as has been the trend thus far? It seems likely considering PokerStars NJ ran a two-week Summer Series last year.
PlayPennsylvania had a chance to get some answers on the recent Pennsyl-MANIA slam dunk and the future of the site, from Rebecca McAdam Willetts, PokerStars Associate Director of Public Relations. You can read the Q&A here.
Pennsyl-MANIA breaks records, exceeds expectations
The Pennsyl-MANIA event brought in double the prize pool guarantee. Did it exceed expectations?
It definitely exceeded expectations! Being able to offer the biggest online tournament guarantee in Pennsylvania was already a great feeling and we were able to achieve this with the support of the PA poker players. They really got behind it and turned it into a huge event.
The prize pool was massive, but we were also delighted with satellite participation. Overall, 478 players were able to win their way into the Pennsyl-MANIA event from as little as $10 and 50 players also won their way in for free through our Depositor Freeroll.
There was some reporting about a technical issue with players not being able to see deal numbers five-handed. Can you speak to that issue and how it was resolved?
Some players unfortunately experienced a bug with our automated deal functionality. Our technical team are reviewing the cause of this issue and will work to ensure the bug doesn’t pop up during our next event. The players continued playing and a deal was successfully made between the final two players.
Can players in PA expect more one-off tournaments like this in the future?
The success of Pennsyl-MANIA showed appointment poker at its best. We’re already looking at more ways to build on this success and bring high value, one-off events to PA players to feature in between our flagship tournament series.
Hints at an exciting summer schedule at PokerStars PA
Are there any other future events or plans that you can share that players can look forward to?
We’re working on the blueprints now but can assure you that there’s an incredible summer of poker lined up for PA players on PokerStars.
April was the best revenue month yet by far for PokerStars PA, even setting a record for best month of any US state. Can you provide comment about the recent surge and the success the site is having in PA?
PokerStars was a success in Pennsylvania right from the start. We exceeded expectations at testing and we’ve only gotten stronger since.
PA’s first COOP in December beat its $1,225,000 guarantee to award $1,559,576. In February, Pennsylvania’s bounty builder series awarded more than $1 million. Pennsylvania’s very first PASCOOP in April attracted nearly 80,000 entries recently and awarded a massive $3,267,905 prize pool, and we’ve just seen the results of Pennsyl-MANIA.
So, our players were and remain very enthusiastic about our offering. We’re excited to see their response as we work on our summer schedule.
PokerStars has enjoyed the position of sole operator in PA since launching in November. As other sites join the market in the future, what hopes or plans does your brand have for maintaining market share as competition is introduced?
A lot of our success can be attributed to the lessons we’d learned from New Jersey, where we’d launched years earlier. We knew the importance of treating each state as its own and of staying flexible so that our offering is in line with the wants of our players.
There’s still work to be done, but that’s where our focus will remain. On seeking and adjusting to feedback, testing and adjusting again. We’re allowing our players to shape PokerStars in the US.
Looking to the future, we welcome the competition. Our goal has always been to promote poker as a safe, social and exciting way to sit down with friends at the table for a bit of competition at any stakes. As the market expands, so too will awareness of regulated online poker. That’s how we sustain the game well into the future.