PokerStars has been approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to offer a full array of online poker and casino games around the clock in the state of Pennsylvania.
Shortly after 11 AM ET on Wednesday, PokerStars PA became fully operational following a successful two-day testing period that saw hundreds of Pennsylvanian online poker enthusiasts try out real money poker and casino games.
“PokerStars PA is now officially live after receiving full approval from the regulator,” PokerStars representative Rebecca McAdam Willetts told pokerfuse. “We look forward to welcoming players in Pennsylvania around the clock and we’re very excited by the level of engagement and support so far.”
At the time of writing, there are close to 500 players occupying the tables according to the counter displayed in the PokerStars PA lobby. Dozens of cash game tables are running spread across a wide variety of stakes ranging from 2NL to 600NL.
As previously revealed, Spin & Go and Zoom games are missing from the game offerings and are likely to be added later, presumably after seeking approval from the state regulators.
PokerStars PA Has Bigger Guarantees than PokerStars NJ
PokerStars has deployed the weekly tournament scheduled for this week and just as we predicted in September, the guarantees on PokerStars PA are bigger compared to the New Jersey schedule.
Not only are the guarantees larger, but the buy-ins are also much smaller in Pennsylvania making these tournaments more valuable for the players.
Buy-ins start at $2 and go up to $250 for the Sunday High Roller boasting $10,000 in guaranteed prize money.
The $100 buy-in Sunday Special tournament in Pennsylvania—scheduled to run on Sundays at 18:00 ET —is guaranteeing $40,000, up from the $30,000 guaranteed that we observed in the testing phase. Players will be able to re-enter up to three times.
The same tournament in New Jersey guarantees $25,000 for a much higher buy-in of $250 with unlimited entries.
The $250 buy-in Sunday High Roller boasts $10,000 in guaranteed prize money in Pennsylvania, while in New Jersey the Sunday High Roller carries a buy-in double the size with a lower guarantee.
PokerStars PA vs PokerStars NJ Sunday Brand Tournaments Comparison
|Tournament Brand||PokerStars PA||PokerStars NJ|
|Sunday Warm-Up||$30 Buy-in, $7.5K GTD||$50 Buy-in, $4K GTD|
|Sunday Storm||$10 Buy-in, $5K GTD||$10 Buy-in, $3.5K GTD|
|Sunday Special||$100 Buy-in, $40K GTD||$200 Buy-in, $25K GTD|
|Sunday High Roller||$250 Buy-in, $10K GTD||$500 Buy-in, $8K GTD|
|Sunday Supersonic||$50 Buy-in, $5K GTD||$75 Buy-in, $4K GTD|
In total, there will be five Sunday major tournaments with a combined $67,500 in guaranteed prize pools.
The PokerStars PA MTT schedule will also be offering daily major tournaments including Super Tuesdays, Thursday Thrills, Wednesday 6-Max, Fast Fridays, Saturday Speedways, etc. The buy-ins for these daily majors range from $50 to $200.
$30,000 Worth of Welcome Freerolls and Welcome Bonuses in Store for PA Players
In addition to offering guaranteed prize money in tournaments, PokerStars is running several welcome promotions including two welcome bonuses for new players:
- A 100% first deposit bonus matching up to $600 using the bonus code “STARS600”
- A first deposit bonus offer of $30 free play ($20 in cash and $10 in tournament tickets) by using code “FREE30”
Additionally, the room will also kick off its “We are in Pennsylvania” celebration freerolls starting November 7.
- A $20,000 Welcome Freeroll open to all is scheduled to run on November 17 at 17:00 ET
- Daily $1000 Welcome Freerolls also open to all will be running from November 7 to 16
Depositor freerolls worth $5000 will also be running starting November 24 at 18:00 ET and a Monthly Stars Rewards Freeroll worth $2000 will be running on December 1 at 15:00 ET.
PokerStars PA Off to a Soaring Start Despite Minor Hiccups
PokerStars PA entered its second US state with its launch in Pennsylvania on Monday afternoon at 2 PM ET, dealing its first real-money hand which pokerfuse caught in real-time.
While there were a few hiccups surrounding the accessibility of the PokerStars PA website and confusion relating to the download URL for the software, the soft-launch is being heralded as a massive success for the operator.
The traffic on the first day of the testing period which lasted eight hours peaked at around 750 players. Twelve MTTs ran on the first day, three of which had guarantees attached. In total, the tournaments generated over $12,000 in prize money thanks to a total of 1341 entries.
According to independent industry monitor GameIntel, which powers the cash game data available on Poker Industry PRO, PokerStars PA was the largest US-regulated site on launch day.
Concurrent cash game players peaked at 573, as per the statistics tracked by GameIntel. During the same period, PokerStars New Jersey registered close to 300 players.
The response on the second day was even more encouraging. Within minutes after going live, hundreds of players joined in filling dozens of cash games and sit and go tables.
Tournaments generated nearly three times bigger prize pools. Across 15 tournaments that ran yesterday, a total of $33,664.57 was built after 2688 entrants joined in.
Close to the end of the day, the traffic peaked at over 1100 players, exceeding many expectations.
PokerStars PA Soft-Launch Report Card
|Hours Ran||Occupied Seats Peaked||Total Tournaments Ran||Total Prize Pool Paid||Total MTT Entries|
|Day 1||8 Hrs (2 PM – 10 PM)||745||12||$12,305.99||1341|
|Day 2||10 Hrs (2 PM – 12 AM)||1160||15||$33,664.57||2688|
In neighboring New Jersey, when PokerStars went live there three years ago, the traffic was reported to have only around 150-200 players during the testing period which had a cap of 500 players.
Even if the numbers for PokerStars die down slightly once the excitement wears off, PokerStars’ prospects for the Pennsylvania online poker market still look promising.