Pennsylvania poker rooms have become a go-to destination for players of all skill levels in the northeastern United States.
The Keystone State represents one of the largest land-based casino markets in North America since it authorized real money gambling over a decade ago. And with online poker coming to PA by early 2019 (thanks to an October 2017 gambling expansion law signed by Gov. Tom Wolf), Pennsylvania will soon be the fourth U.S. jurisdiction to offer regulated online poker.
Following is a look at the top 5 Pennsylvania poker rooms along with a brief tie-in to upcoming online poker games in the Keystone State.
1. Parx Poker Room (Bensalem)
2999 Street Rd. — Bensalem, PA — TEL: (888) 588-7279
Located just outside Philadelphia, Parx Casino hosts the largest of all Pennsylvania live poker rooms with a total of 48 poker tables dedicated to the game enjoyed by millions around the world. This makes it ideal for hosting small-to-mid stakes tournaments that take place daily (buy-ins typically range from $300 to $500 during the week, with $1,500-$2,500 MTTs on the weekends).
Parx Poker Room’s cash games consist mainly of No Limit Hold’em with a slight blend of Pot Limit Omaha and Mixed Games. Max buy-ins for competitive players generally top out between 150 and 200 Big Blinds. However, some low-stakes PLO games allow players to buy-in for 400 Big Blinds, with a few of the high stakes cash games having no max buy-in at all.
2. Rivers Poker Room (Pittsburgh)
777 Casino Dr. — Pittsburgh, PA — TEL: (877) 558-0777
In early 2017, Rivers Pittsburgh hosted perhaps the largest beatdown of heads-up No Limit Hold’em pros ever witnessed, when Carnegie Mellon University poker bot Libratus soundly defeated Jason Les, Dong Kim, Daniel McAulay and Jimmy Chou.
With a total of 30 poker tables, Rivers offers a standard mix of live poker games while entertaining fans during its Poker Night in America broadcasts — televised by Rivers’ parent company Rush Street Gaming.
Rivers offers daily MTTs with low buy-ins typically ranging between $50 and $100, although entry fees are usually bumped up to around $300 on the weekends.
3. SugarHouse Poker Room (Philadelphia)
1080 N. Delaware Ave. — Philadelphia, PA — TEL: (267) 232-2000
SugarHouse Casino holds a special place in the hearts of Upswing Poker fans, as it was the site of Doug Polk’s PNIA debut (March 2017) when he bested 14-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth in a huge cash game pot before taking home another $25,000 in a “coin flip” against Chicago businessman Jeremy Kaufman.
SugarHouse is also among the largest Pennsylvania poker rooms with a total of 28 poker tables. Daily MTTs are generally in the low buy-in range of $45 to $100, although some seasonal events boast guarantees with a larger buy-in of $150 to $200. The poker room releases monthly tournament calendars on its official website.
4. Sands Poker Room (Bethlehem)
77 Sands Blvd. — Bethlehem, PA — TEL: (877) 726-3777
Any property with the name Sheldon Adelson attached to it has historically been a controversial topic for poker players in the United States, as the casino magnate’s properties — along with their owner — have been steadfast in their opposition to regulated online poker in America.
However, Sands Casino Bethlehem is tied for the second largest Pennsylvania poker room with 30 poker tables… plus, there is a change in ownership in the works as the Alabama-based Poarch Band of Creek Indians purchased the Bethlehem casino for $1.3 billion USD in March 2018.
Sands Pennsylvania holds tournaments on a daily basis with buy-ins between $100 and $250, which is a slightly more worthwhile entry point for profitable players when compared to smaller PA poker rooms.
However, cash games are not that popular at Sands Monday-thru-Friday. A mid-week check of “Current Games” will typically show only low stakes games with a $1/$2 blind structure, with perhaps a dozen total players in the Sands PA poker room.
5. Harrah’s Poker Room (Chester)
777 Harrah’s Blvd. — Chester, PA — TEL: (800) 480-8020
Harrah’s Casino in PA is located on the outskirts of Philadelphia and houses 28 poker tables. Harrah’s also forms part of the Caesars Entertainment casino empire which operates the world famous WSOP brand.
Unfortunately the official website’s tournament calendar was unavailable when we checked, but Harrah’s Philadelphia does host cash games with stakes as high as $5/$10 for No Limit Hold’em.
As with all Pennsylvania poker rooms, we recommend that players in the area phone-ahead to the poker rooms of their choice to inquire about game offerings on a particular date.
Below is a list of smaller Pennsylvania live poker rooms. As of March 2018, only ten brick & mortar casinos in the Keystone State offer poker.
6. Mohegan Sun Poker Room: 18 Tables (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
7. Hollywood Poker Room: 17 Tables (Grantville, PA)
8. The Meadows Poker Room: 14 Tables (Washington, PA)
9. Mount Airy Poker Room: 9 Tables (Mount Pocono, PA)
10. Presque Isle Poker Room: 7 Tables (Erie, PA)
Pennsylvania Poker Online Update
The latest news from Pennsylvania concerning real money online poker games is that regulators will begin accepting applications for iGaming licenses beginning in April 2018.
Most media analysts have determined that Pennsylvania online poker games should be available by early 2019, if not later this year.
If you would like more detailed information on the current Pennsylvania iGaming landscape, read our U.S. Online Poker Sites Legislation article from February 2018.
NOTE: For official revenue data relating to Pennsylvania live poker rooms, our readers should visit the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board website. The PGCB is the regulatory body that governs both land-based and online casinos in the Keystone State.
David Huber (known as “dhubermex” online) has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade. He currently assists several poker and gaming entities as a researcher, writer, and consultant. Former Editor-in-Chief & Head Moderator of online tournament rankings site PocketFives (2006-2011).