Pennsylvania Poker Players Shined Bright at the 2019 WSOP

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania players accounted for nearly 2% of the US participation at the 2019 WSOP

As the launch of Pennsylvania online poker approaches, PocketFives takes a look at how players from that state did at the 2019 World Series of Poker.

Pennsylvania poker players accounted for 2,439 total entries at the 2019 WSOP, ranking the state 15th out of all states to have players participate in the series. Per official numbers sourced from the WSOP, US-player participation made up for 129,154 entries from live tournaments at the 2019 WSOP. With 2,439 of those entries coming from PA poker players, Pennsylvania accounted for nearly 2% of the US participation at the 2019 WSOP.

Pennsylvania’s participation wasn’t that far off of what New Jersey’s was, another state with legalized online gambling and online poker. Players from NJ accounted for 3,501 total entries in live events at the 2019 WSOP, which was just more than 2.7% overall.

US players accounted for 18,571 cashes at the 2019 WSOP, which was the most for any single country. Players from Pennsylvania accounted for 338 of those cashes, including some of the top performers below.

Pennsylvania’s Top Performers at the 2019 WSOP

Of all the Pennsylvania poker players to compete at the 50th annual WSOP, Garry Gates was the highest earner with $3,006,881 won. The bulk of Gates’ winnings came via his fourth-place finish in the WSOP Main Event, a score worth $3,000,000 that landed Gates in the top 10 of the Pennsylvania all-time money list. Gates also cashed in the $1,500 Monster Stack and $1,000 Mini Main Event at the 2019 WSOP.

Thomas Parkes of Alburtis, PA, finished 59th in the 2019 WSOP Main Event and took home $142,215. He was the second-highest finisher from the Keystone State. Chad Power (89th – $82,365) and Kenny Smaron (92nd – $69,636) also placed in the top 100.

Jake Schindler, the PA poker all-time money list leader at time of writing, cashed three times at the 2019 WSOP. His first was a fifth-place finish in the $10,000 Heads-Up Championship worth $31,151, his second was in the WSOP.com $500 Turbo Deepstack for $1,113, and his third was a 67th-place result in the WSOP Main Event for $117,710.

Joe McKeehen, winner of the 2015 WSOP Main Event and second on the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list, cashed just once at the 2019 WSOP. He finished 65th in the $1,500 Millionaire Maker event.

John Hennigan, who is originally from Philadelphia, only cashed one time at the 2019 World Series of Poker, but that cash was a victory in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship to the tune of $245,451. Hennigan defeated Daniel Negreanu in heads-up play to win that tournament.

Matt Glantz, the player who was fourth on the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list at time of writing, finished in the money of seven WSOP events in the summer of 2019. His best finish was a third-place result in the $10,000 Dealer’s Choice Championship for $139,126. He also had a deep run in the WSOP Main Event, finishing 205th for $50,855.

PA Players in the WSOP Big 50

In the record-breaking WSOP Big 50, 345 entries came from Pennsylvania poker players. Of the 28,371 entries, PA poker players made up 1.22% of the total field. As it pertains to US participation in the Big 50, US players made up 23,972 entries in this tournament, meaning Pennsylvania players accounted for 1.44% of US participation in the Big 50.

The highest finish in the Big 50 for a Pennsylvania player came from Fabio Garofalo. Garofalo, who hails from Mercer, PA, took 66th and turned a $500 entry into $14,958. Pennsylvania’s Gregory Fishberg (90th – $10,233) and James Gilbert (98th – $8,539) also placed in the top 100 of the 2019 WSOP Big 50.

PA Online Poker Gives Potential for More WSOP Participation

With the launch of PA online poker looming, exciting times are ahead. Legal, regulated online poker platforms in the Keystone State should help grow the game in the region and be a catalyst for increased participation by Pennsylvania players in the WSOP.

Although it will take some time for the state to get up to speed with the likes of its neighbor, New Jersey, Pennsylvania’s upside is quite large. New Jersey has a growing online poker market in the 11th most populated state in the country with nearly 9 million people to pull from. Pennsylvania will be drawing from the fifth largest population of nearly 13 million people when online poker goes live. The potential is there and it wouldn’t be out of the question to see Pennsylvania’s WSOP participation meet or surpass that of New Jersey’s in 2020 or 2021.