Is Online Poker Legal In Pennsylvania?
Yes, online poker in PA is legal. Pennsylvania became only the fourth state to legalize online poker back in October 2017, with online poker facilities becoming available to PA residents aged 21 and over two years later. The bill covers all forms of poker, ensuring the integrity of projected growth in the industry’s consumer base.
Signed by governor Tom Wolf, amendment H 271 also legalized online casino and daily fantasy sports with real money prizes, and retrospectively legalized sports betting when the federal ban on it was lifted in May 2018 by the Supreme Court.
Best Online Poker Sites In PA
With a population of just under 13 million, the state of Pennsylvania is a very valuable asset to poker sites with the desire to provide a truly flawless gaming experience. Three operators, in particular, have emerged as potential market leaders, having already been established with a long-standing history of legalized online poker.
PokerStars is known worldwide for providing a vast array of competitions and streamlined user experience. Many consider PokerStars’ software to be the top of the class and one that any player, beginner or professional can enjoy.
PokerStars Games And Tournaments
One of the most popular features on PokerStars is the Sit and Go tournament. These are quickfire poker tournaments that begin once a certain quota of players has been reached. NL Hold’em Multi-Table Tournaments (MTTs) also run every day with buy-ins for as little as $1, and as much as $500.
Players can also participate in the Hot Turbos, which are also daily mini-tournaments. These start later than the Daily Bigs, as follows:
Aside from the more conventional tournaments, users can also participate in KO Fever, which is a knockout tournament that offers a progressive prize pot, which grows as the rounds progress. Cash prizes (a “bounty”) can be won by eliminating rival players, but the bounty on the winning player will increase, offering any foe that vanquishes them an even bigger cash prize.
Other games include Nightly Stars, which offers a guaranteed $10,000 minimum prize, and the Moonlight Express (NL Hold’em), a $20 buy-in event with a hyper-turbo structure and mere 3-minute blind levels. Three Change-Up events (Change-Up for Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, and Stud) also offer a guaranteed prize of up to $5,000 from a $100 buy-in.
WSOP prides itself particularly in being a market leader when it comes to the range of tournaments offered. Once PA joins the party, this sense of superiority surrounding WSOP’s tournaments will only intensify. The Sunday $100k guarantee is the jewel in the site’s crown, but it doesn’t stop there, with WSOP also hosting four World Series tournaments, the most prestigious of which offers a staggering $1m prize.
PartyPoker is well-known for the generous nature of its bonuses, and with PA traffic being so valuable, what PartyPoker does in NJ will surely translate to perfection in PA once available. Players currently benefit from a $25 no-deposit bonus, which is split into three segments:
- $10 for casino play
- $10 for poker
- $5 for major tournaments
People who play and invest regularly can enjoy VIP status, which is tiered according to the level of commitment, as follows:
- Bronze: Rewards equivalent to 6.7% rakeback
- Silver: 50 points per month minimum and up to 15.4% rakeback
- Gold: 750 points per month minimum and up to 20.5% rakeback
- Palladium: 2,000 points per month minimum and up to 30.7% rakeback
The range of tournaments offered by PartyPoker is impressive, with hundreds of weekly tournaments, on top of some featured tournaments, such as:
- Sunday: $109 Main Event: Offers a guaranteed prize pool of $150,000
- Daily: High Rollers: Events with a buy-in of up to $2,600.
- Daily: Contender: A $15k guaranteed prize Mon-Sat, $25k on Sundays.
- Sunday: Title Fight – $300,000 guaranteed, but has been previously known to offer a guaranteed $1,000,000 guarantee.
PA Casinos With A License To Operate An Online Poker Site
The range of casinos with such an ability is ever-expanding. Currently, the following operators are either active or have the ability to launch an online poker site in the future:
PokerStars operates using its own in-house software by the same name, and its casino partner is Mount Airy Casino Resort.
PartyPoker PA uses its namesake in-house software, with Valley Forge Casino as its official casino partner.
WSOP is powered by 888 and partnered with Harrah’s Philadelphia.
Partnered by Rivers Philadelphia, SugarHouse uses software by Rush Street.
Bet MGM operates on an independent license and uses software from GVC.
The famous Hollywood Casino is Penn National’s partner, with the site using IGT software.
Using software created by a GAN/Kambi venture, Parx Casino is its own casino partner.
Playing Real Money Poker Online
It is now legal to play online poker for real money in Pennsylvania. The only current site available is PokerStars, but the site has a large abundance of cash games and tournaments, including the PokerStars New Jersey Championship of Online Poker.
And as always, you can play for free, but most players are looking to play for real money, at least once they are done getting their feet wet. So although PokerStars is the only real money online poker site in Pennsylvania, there is one more poker site to talk about, and that site is called Global Poker, which is a sweepstakes poker site.
Global Poker is what we call a social casino and although you can play for free, you can also play for actual money. Read our Global Poker review to find out more. And when you do, be sure to sign up by clicking the “Get Bonus” link to earn the special welcome bonus.
Difference Between Real Money Poker Sites And Live Poker
If you ask any poker player, they’ll tell you the biggest difference between online and live poker is speed. Unlike live poker, online poker moves at a very fast pace, but once you get used to this speed, it is a great feature.
Because it is such a breeze to deposit, withdraw, and find a seat, there is rarely any waiting around at a PA poker site. Hands are dealt quickly and the gameplay is much quicker than in a live setting.
This speed means you get the chance to make more money, and if you play professionally, you appreciate how this will reflect on your hourly.
Poker sites will generally witness around 50 hands an hour on average, roughly double the rate of most live events. Due to seeing more hands, this also means the luck factor has a better chance to balance out over the course of a poker session.
Another asset is the display of information at a poker site. Whether that is giving you the exact chip counts of your and your opponent’s stacks, the amount that’s in the pot, or the strength of your hand, it is far more accommodating to less experienced players.
PA online poker sites also have a greater range of games available to players. At times, these tables will be empty, but it is much easier to find a game of Pot-Limit Omaha or to hop into a head’s up format when compared to live poker play.
Some other key differences would be the range of buy-ins. Online poker offers micro stakes as well as high stakes, and live poker games simply don’t have the ability to do this. You can play 0.05/0.10 cent cash games online, but the lowest No-Limit Hold’em game you will find in a live setting is $1/$2.
And of course, PA online poker allows you to play from anywhere in the state.
PA Online Poker Real Money Games
PokerStars initially had cash games offered in the form of No-Limit Hold’em, Limit Hold’em, and Pot-Limit Omaha. The limits were low stakes ($0.01/$0.02) to medium stakes. Since that time, the offers at PokerStars only grew and now players can take part in a full library of games and stakes. This also includes tournaments and sit-n-go’s.
There are a number of game types that involve PA online poker real money. Here is a list of potential poker games available at a PA online poker site:
PA Online Poker Game Types
- Texas Hold’em
- Omaha Hi/Lo
- 5 Card Omaha
- 5 Card Omaha Hi/Lo
- Courchevel Hi/Lo
- Stud Hi/Lo
- Five Card Draw
- 2-7 Triple Draw
- 2-7 Single Draw
- 8-Game Mix
PA Online Poker Cash Games
PA online poker cash games come in many variations.
- Full-Ring Game: Depending on the poker game (Omaha, Seven-Card Stud offer less seating that Hold’em), a player can join a cash game table that may fit up to 10 people.
- Short-Handed Ring Game: This usually refers to a six-person max table. Many players prefer this variation of cash game due to the increased action, as players’ hand ranges tend to be wider in this format.
- Heads-Up Cash Game: This format means you will be playing against another opponent, one-on-one. Past poker professionals such as Doug Polk, Jonas Mols (OtB_RedBaron) and Daniel Cates were very profitable playing heads up in their careers.
PA Online Poker Tournaments
PA online poker tournaments also come in many variations and can give players big value in comparison to the money they invest. Here are some tournaments that may be available on a PA online poker app:
- Rebuy Tournaments: This is a tournament that allows players to re-enter after being eliminated from the event.
- Heads-up Tournaments: A bracket-style tournament, players are paired off, facing each other in one-on-one competition, tournament style. Eliminate your player to move on in the event until you are the last person standing.
- Shootout Tournaments: In this event, you must be the last person remaining at your specific table. Once all the players are eliminated, you will then move onto another table until the field eventually shrinks to one.
- Sit And Go Tournaments: A mini-tournament of sorts, you play a limited number of players, usually anywhere from six to 45.
- Satellite Tournaments: Satellite poker tournaments are quite popular. These events allow you to buy-in at a relatively low cost and if you win, you are rewarded with an entry into a bigger, more expensive event. Satellites are popular among players who are trying to enter the $10,000 World Series of Poker Main Event.
- Turbo Tournaments: Turbo tournaments are very fast-paced due to the manipulation of the blind structure. This usually involves short blind times, shorter stacks and even skipping common blind levels.
- Bounty Tournaments: A cash prize is placed on a specific player. Eliminate that player from the tournament and win that prize.
- Knockout Tournaments: A knockout tournament means each player has a price on their head. Eliminate them from the tournament and win the amount that is determined during the buy-in period. Every player you eliminate for the tourney is worth the same amount.
Can I Play Online Poker For Free?
Yes, you can play online poker for free, also known as play money. PokerStars offers this as a feature, as does Global Poker.
What Is The Biggest Poker Site In PA?
PokerStars remains the only poker site in PA (besides Global Poker, which is across the US) and therefore is currently the biggest online poker site in the state.
How To Fund Your PA Poker Account
Every site worth visiting has a range of deposit and withdrawal options, as follows:
Online Poker Credit Cards
Visa and Mastercard are safe and quick, though some banks may automatically block payments unless manually whitelisted by the account owner.
You can use both credit and debit cards at a PA poker site.
Aside from providing a popular and easy way to deposit funds, withdrawals via ACH or eCheck are also quicker than most other methods, with verified winnings appearing in the user’s bank account within 72 hours of withdrawal from their wallet on the poker site.
PA residents are expected to be able to use Skrill and Neteller at any regulated, PA-legal poker site. Skrill allows players to switch between currencies, while Neteller provides a debit card that can be used at any ATM.
PayPal is available across all of the major poker sites and offers instant withdrawal after verification from the operator.
Users that wish to deposit using cash in person can choose this option, and make a deposit using a unique barcode at their nearest 7/11 store. Withdrawal by this method is not possible.
Cash At The Casino Cage
This is ideal for bigger deposits, and after your ID and account ID is verified, you can deposit and withdraw instantly in person at the appropriate casino. That said, the approval must have been confirmed before any withdrawal.
Check By Mail
This is obviously the slowest way to withdraw winnings, and admin fees may also apply.
All of the major poker sites out there have their own Play+ prepaid debit card. Topping up the card is done easily, by bank transfer or via Visa/Mastercard.
PA Online Poker Signup Offers
There are several online poker bonuses you can obtain when you sign up to a PA poker site.
First Deposit Offer
A first deposit offer is an offer that usually matches your first deposit up to a certain amount. So for instance, if you deposit $600 at PokerStars they will match this by giving you bonus money, which you can use to enter cash games and tournaments. Keep in mind, there are terms and conditions, such as wagering requirements, which you need to achieve to unlock and eventually withdraw any winnings from this bonus money. So be sure to read all the terms on the poker site.
No Deposit Offer
A no deposit offer means you get a bonus without having to risk a dime of your own money. This allows you to try the poker site and even win some real money! Of course, be aware of the terms and conditions and potential playthrough requirements needed to withdraw your winnings.
Bet And Get Offer
Bet and Get offers refers to a player investing in a PA online poker game and receiving a bonus. For example, you may deposit, play a $30 tournament, and the poker site would reward you with $20 in free play. This is more infrequent of an offer compared to the first deposit and no deposit offers.
Can I Play Poker On My iPhone or Android?
Yes, you can play poker on your iPhone or Android device. Every legal poker site has a mobile application, with PokerStars even boasting a customer service team dedicated to mobile users.
Are Offshore Poker Sites Safe?
In the US, most offshore poker sites are not safe due to banks and credit card companies making it difficult to deposit and withdraw funds. Some offshore poker sites may also not have proper regulations in place and therefore are risky for the player.
Pennsylvania Legal Poker Market
In summary, these are the legal ways you can play poker in PA:
PA Poker Apps
PA poker apps make it convenient to play from anywhere or on the go.
For example, you can download the PokerStars app for Android or iOS and play right from your phone. You can also play on your desktop computer, tablet, or laptop.
Land-Based Poker Rooms
As can be seen in the section below, there is a good range of live poker opportunities at designated areas. Alongside the diverse elements mentioned at the very top of this page, Amendment H 271 also permitted the presence of gaming terminals in some designated public areas and satellite casinos in PA.
Are Home Poker Games Legal?
Yes, PokerStars makes it possible to create a private room and play on an invitation-only basis. You are also allowed to run games from the comfort of your own home as long as you don’t collect rake.
Pennsylvania Poker Rooms
These following poker rooms are active, and offer both cash games and tournaments:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Harrington Raceway and Casino
- Mohegan Sun Pocono
- Mount Airy Casino
- Parx Casino
- Wind Creek Casino
- Rivers Casino Philadelphia
- Rivers Casino
- The Meadows Racetrack and Casino
PA Gambling History
No form of gambling was legal in PA until 1959 when the Race Horse Industry Reform Act passed. Meadows Racetrack opened in 1963, and soon after came off-track betting facilities. In 1971, the PA state lottery was established in Act 91, as a government-run entity designed to provide property tax relief for the elderly.
This prompted calls for the legalization and establishment of casinos, all of which came to nothing until 2004 when PA legislators passed Act 71. It was officially known as the Pennsylvania Racehorse Development and Gaming Act and served to grant a blanket license for the development of casinos and racetracks in PA.
Since that landmark year, more and more bills have passed, producing the staggered approach to legalization that culminated in 2017’s all-encompassing legislation. In 2016, the tax revenue generated by legalized gaming on land alone was $1.4bn.
PA Online Poker Frequently Asked Questions
Which Poker Sites Are Available In PA Right Now?
PokerStars is the only poker site currently available, though others are set to be launched in the near future.
What Is The Minimum Deposit?
The minimum deposit for the PokerStars app is $10 (USD).
Can I Use PayPal To Play Online Poker?
Yes, PayPal is one of the options available to app users.
Does PA Pool Traffic With NJ Or NV?
PokerStars is allowed to pool players from its New Jersey site, as well as its Pennsylvania site.
How Do I Know If A PA Poker Site Is Safe?
There are a number of laws that sites must follow to keep their gaming license. These sites are regulated by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
What Are Overlays?
Overlay refers to the amount paid towards the guaranteed minimum prize by the operator, in the event of the combined buy-ins falling short of the quota.
What Is Rakeback?
Rakeback is a percentage of the rake that is returned to the player.
Rakeback offers are based on the “rake” associated with poker sites. Simply put, it is a small percentage of the prize pot taken by the site itself to stay profitable and functional. Sometimes this results in rakeback offers, whereby you can get a small amount for re-use as cash in future games.
For instance, WSOP.com’s launch in PA will automatically enroll members in a loyalty points program, where users can unlock rewards.
Over in NJ, users currently gain 2 points for every $1 paid in cash for games or tournament entry fees. Users are then “tiered” depending on the points gained:
- 200+ Points per month: Bronze (4x Multiplier, 8% Rakeback)
- 750 Points: Silver (10x Multiplier, 20% Rakeback)
- 1500 Points: Elite (12.5x Multiplier, 25% Rakeback)
- 20,000+ Points per year: Champions Club (16x Multiplier, 32% Rakeback)
What Is Fast-Fold Poker?
Back in 2010, Full Tilt Poker launched a fast-fold version of Hold’em, and it proved exceptionally popular. Simply put, players can fold at any time and simply join another table instantly, meaning that they do not have to sit out the remainder of the game, as they would in a live room.
This is what fast-fold poker is known as on different sites.
- Zoom Poker (PokerStars)
- Snap Poker (888poker)
- Fast Forward Poker (PartyPoker)
With players active on just one table at a time during this variant, the mobile experience is also far more streamlined, drastically cutting any lag.
If you would like to know more about problem gambling or think you may need to speak with someone, you can find great PA’sresources about Self-ExclusionYou can also contact the helpline; 1-800-GAMBLER.