Back in Action: Rivers Casino Announces First Live Poker Tournament Since Early 2020 With Plans for More

Posted By Katie Kohler on June 14, 2021

One of the reasons poker players wear sunglasses is that eyes express emotion. Jim Moore‘s pair of peepers can’t hide his excitement. Players are returning each week to the Rivers Casino Poker Room where he is the manager.

Capacity limits have been lifted. The plexiglass has been removed. Philadelphia dropped its indoor mask mandate. But if you want to get Moore really excited and see his eyes widen to the size of saucers, just talk about poker in Pennsylvania.

Moore is optimistic about what he’s seen and what’s ahead for Philadelphia’s first poker room:

“From the day the plexiglass came down in early June to now, it’s been like lightning. We are playing 8-handed instead of 7-handed. Thunder Thursdays is the cornerstone of our high-hands during the week and every Thursday I am seeing people I haven’t seen in 18 months,” said Moore, Rivers Philadelphia Poker Room Manager.

Here, we highlight what the poker room at Rivers Casino Philadelphia has planned for the summer 2021 so far. No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you; poker tournaments might start again in Pennsylvania soon.

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Welcome Back Tournament at Rivers Casino Poker Room

Rivers Casino Poker Room will hold a welcome back celebration on June 27 with $500 high-hands running every half hour from 2 p.m. to midnight.

The day will definitely be a cause for celebration for Pennsylvania poker players. Rivers Casino Poker Room announced plans for the first poker tournament since March 2020.

Rivers Casino Poker Room Welcome Back Tournament

  • When: Sunday, June 27 at 11:15 a.m.
  • Buy-in: $240 No-Limit Hold ‘Em ($30 registration fee).
  • Guaranteed prize pool: $20,000
  • Details: Starting stack of 20,000 chips, 20-minute levels, Big Blind Ante. For full tournament details, visit Rivers Casino Poker Room’s website. Or follow them on their (very amusing) Twitter page.

PA poker tournaments returning regularly?

Through all the restrictions and changing rules, Moore says one question remained a constant: “When are poker tournaments coming back?”

Rivers Casino Poker Room worked closely with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board which approved the Welcome Back Tournament.

“The reaction to the Welcome Back Tournament has been bananas,” said Moore. “We are so thrilled that so many people are excited to come play.”

Moore told PlayPennsylvania they are hoping to bring back tournaments regularly, three times a week, starting in July.

Moore misses tournaments, too. He says he is a “tournament guy at heart.”

“In this region, there is a really strong core of tournament players. Once you set that routine, you get a group regulars. I like the camaraderie tournaments build and the schedule. I love our tournament product here and have spent a lot of time working with our players to get it to where we want it to be. Not having tournaments, is like not having your right arm.”

High hands at Rivers Casino Poker Room

Rivers Casino Philadelphia offers daily high-hands totaling over $215,000 in June. As previously mentioned, Thunder Thursdays highlight the poker schedule. Poker players at Rivers Casino Poker Room can win $500 every half hour from noon to midnight.

Jim Moore, Rivers Philadelphia Poker Room Manager. (Photo by Katie Kohler)

Other featured promos include $500 high-hands at select times on Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesdays, plus $400 every 30 minutes on Philly Fridays (noon to 2 a.m.) and Super Saturdays (11 a.m. to midnight).

“A few years ago, we moved away from bad beat jackpots and towards high-hands. Instead of us giving out a $300k jackpot, if we ran $200-250k in high-hands for the month it will hit more people each day. We average giving out 20-30 high-hands a day. It adds up over time and rewards our regular players more often,” said Moore.

A celebration for poker players and staff who endured a long way back

Rivers Casino Poker Room closed as a part of the property-wide shutdown on March 15. The casino reopened on July 17; however, poker wasn’t included per the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s initial COVID-19 safety rules.

Pent-up live poker demand

Rivers Casino Philadelphia was the first to reopen its poker room on Oct. 23 with approval for up to 14 tables with a capacity of 100 guests. Under normal circumstances, the room has 28 tables.

An order by PA Gov. Tom Wolf caused the casinos to close from Dec. 12 to Jan. 4. However, even when they reopened on Jan. 4, casinos and poker rooms were not permitted to serve drinks. That rule wasn’t lifted in Philadelphia until May 2021.

“We’ve been pent-up. The team has gone through a ton,” said Moore who praised the Rivers Casino Poker Room team for their high-level of safety standards and the customers who have been “very patient with us.”

“Poker is a social game. As things start to return to normal, we wanted to celebrate the team and invite back our tournament players.”

Lead image courtesy of Rivers Casino Philadelphia.

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Katie Kohler

Katie Kohler is a Philadelphia-area based award-winning journalist. She is the Managing Editor at PlayPennsylvania and covers the Pennsylvania gambling industry with an emphasis on sports betting, online casino/poker and the lottery.

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