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  1. Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee (CERD) heard testimony from several of the state's regulators on Wednesday to assess the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board's (PGCB) ability to police the online gambling industry. That would, of course, only happen if iGaming were legalized in the Commonwealth. Some information for this article was taken from a hearing summary on USPoker. PGCB Executive Director Kevin O'Toole was the first to offer testimony in the hearing. He expressed confidence that internet gambling could be safely regulated, citing the clean track record of legalized iGaming sites in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. He described PGCB officials as "experienced and capable" and assured their ability to regulate the internet gambling environment in an "efficient and controlled manner." Next up was PGCB's Douglas Sherman, who spoke on the legality of the industry in the US, focusing on the Wire Act of 1961 and the UIGEA. He explained that the Department of Justice changed its opinion on the Wire Act in 2011, concluding that it only applied to sports betting, not online poker or other forms of gambling. He also touched on the Sheldon Adelson-backed Restoration of America's Wire Act(RAWA), anti-online gambling legislation introduced by Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah, pictured) in the US House. Sherman highlighted the threat imposed by RAWA, stating that if the bill passes, Pennsylvania would lose its chance to offer iGaming. With that legislation looming, many state lawmakers believe an online gambling bill should be passed sooner rather than later in order to ensure that the industry would be grandfathered in if a bill like RAWA were successful. During questioning, O'Toole stated that it would take between 9 and 12 months from a law passing for internet gaming to go live. He described geolocation technology as impressive and said that age verification systems could weed out underage players handily. There seemed to be a common misconception among lawmakers and regulators that no research has been done regarding the effect online gambling sites would have on brick-and-mortar casinos. State Senator Robert Tomlinson suggested that a Pennsylvania casino lost 20% of its players to New Jersey online gambling, yet presented no information as to how that figure was calculated. In reality, studies have already been done on the New Jersey iGaming market. These have shown there is little to no cannibalization by iGaming sites and that the market for online players is completely different from the market that favors land-based casinos. Michael Cruz, PGCB Chief Technology Officer, later fielded questions on the effectiveness of geolocation systems ensuring that players are physically inside the state. He described how New Jersey players close to the state border can be "pinged" more frequently to verify their location. He also asserted that regulators could set up an online environment that would be safe from hackers. With the hearing winding down, PGCB's Ken Martz spoke about the issue of problem gambling, saying it was "better to prevent" the problem than treat it. Commonwealth casinos, including Parx(pictured), currently contribute $150,000 a year to address compulsive gamblers. He also stated his concern that the ease of access to gambling would increase the number of gambling addicts. Again, this research has already been conducted and concludes that the rate of problem gamblers would not be likely to increase significantly. The hearing is the committee's second to focus on iGaming in the past two weeks. Earlier this month, CERD heard testimony from 11 of Pennsylvania's casino stakeholders, who gave their thoughts on Ward's iGaming legislation, SB 900. State lawmakers have introduced several online gambling bills so far this session. Visit PocketFives' Pennsylvania poker community for the latest news and discussion from Pennsylvania players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  2. [caption width="640"] Pennsylvania and Michigan could still find a way to regulate online gaming in 2016[/caption] The future of online gambling in the United States could very well be decided between now and the end of the year. The country isn't at a make-or-break point, but with no state legalizing online gaming in over three years, any chance at widespread online gambling legalization by 2020 is slowly slipping away. On the other hand, if one or both of the states where online gambling legalization is still very much in play can get a bill passed this year, we could see several other states follow suit in 2017, creating the widespread legalization that seemed like a foregone conclusion back in 2013, when Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey all launched legal online gaming sites. What states are still in play?In Pennsylvania, the legislature is on the precipice of passing a bill legalizing online gambling. The Pennsylvania House of Representative passed the bill back in July, and both chambers have included online gaming revenue from the bill as a funding source for the state budget. But nothing is a slam dunk, and as is often the case with any legislation that is seen as an expansion of gambling, the final nudge across the finish line is the hardest and most frustrating. As Happy Gilmore would say: At the same time, online gambling legislation in Michigan has been flying under the radar and quietly biding its time. This isn't surprising considering the bill's sponsor, State Senator Mike Kowall has said action is unlikely until after the November 8 elections. Here's a closer look at where both states stand. PennsylvaniaThe Pennsylvania question - is this really the year or is it just another case of Charlie Brown falling for Lucy's tomfoolery - should be answered over the course of the next two weeks. However, it's not out of the question that online gambling could drag into November or December if the Pennsylvania legislature hasn't passed a bill to fix the local tax share the state Supreme Court recently ruled unconstitutional. If this occurs the legislature could add session days in November or December. If the tax share issue is solved, and online gambling isn't addressed at the same time, the legislature will need to start over in 2017, although the foundation for the bill, and the impetus for it (a funding source for the budget) will already be in place. Dragging into 2017 isn't a death knell, but the hope among online gambling supporters is the legislature will use the urgency of the tax share fix (the Pennsylvania Supreme Court gave the legislature until the end of January to solve the issue) to deal with online gambling, and that the two issues will be solved together. This is something House members seem to favor, while the Senate is more wishy-washy on the best way to deal with both of these issues. Also of note, the Senate is apparently trying to decouple daily fantasy sports from online gambling. I was told this summer that the separation of online gambling and DFS would be a bad sign for online gambling's 2016 chances. It's unclear if the House has the votes to pass a standalone DFS bill without online gambling legalization. MichiganMichigan burst onto the scene as a potential candidate for online gambling legalization this summer, but all along State Senator Mike Kowall, who is pushing for the legalization of online gambling and sponsored the state's iGaming bill, has been tamping down expectations until after the elections. Despite its inaction, there have been several breadcrumbs dropped in the past couple months that would seem to indicate online gambling is still very much on the table in Michigan. On September 1, Amaya's Jeanne David, who runs the company's responsible gaming department, tweeted out that the company gave a Michigan Senator (almost certainly Mike Kowall) a tour of its New Jersey operation. A couple of weeks later, on September 14, Gambling Compliance's Chris Krafcik tweeted out that "substitute iGaming bill lingo" was in the works; a bill that would fix a couple of structural issues with the original bill. The final breadcrumb was dropped this week when Brian Pempus reported that Senator Kowall's office stated there is "plenty of time" to get the bill passed this year. Per Pempus' reporting: "Lawmakers are meeting this week and will come back in November to try to finalize a plan. There are also session days in December."Upshot2016 isn't the end of the road for online gambling in the United States, but the longer we go in between legislation, the harder it becomes to reach a point where legal online gambling is available in the majority of the country.
  3. As Pennsylvania continues to discuss the specifics of an online gaming framework in the state, a new bill and continued debate over proposed tax rates have taken center stage. On April 4, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passedH 271, which legalizes tablet gaming in airports. Although this bill only authorizes tablet gaming, legislators see this as their path to becoming the fourth state to legalize online gaming since 2013. Pennsylvania Rep. George Dunbar recently told PocketFives that the ball was in the Senate’s court when it comes to finalizing the deal for online gaming and that’s exactly what H 271 represents. By passing H 271 without many details on online gaming, the House is allowing the Senate to essentially fill in the blanks with their preferred options on an online gaming market. Once the Senate can agree on their framework for online gaming and pass a bill, it will then be kicked back over to the House for final approval. As the Senate continues to mull it options, there are a couple of factors that could trip up the process. Could the Tax Rate Cause Trouble? The Senate continues to have a number of gambling options on the table, including aspects from one proposal introduced by Sen. Thomas Killon. This bill is identical to the original gaming bill proposed by Dunbar in the house. Additionally, Sen. Jay Costa has introduced a gaming bill and one of the biggest differences between these two proposals is the tax rate. Costa has proposed a 25 percent tax rate, which is nearly twice as high as Dunbar and Killon’s 14 percent proposal. The higher the tax rate, the more concern that iGaming may not be sustainable in Pennsylvania. To further complicate matters, a new threat, in the form of an even higher tax rate, has emerged. OnlinePokerReport.com has recently reported that Republican Sen. Tommy Tomlinson is trying to rally colleagues to support an online tax rate equivalent to what land-based casinos pay – 54 percent for slots and 16 percent for table games. If Tomlinson’s advocacy gains enough momentum, it may be enough to quelch any prospect of an iGaming market in Pennsylvania. With deliberations ongoing, the Senate is expected to vote on online gaming within the next two weeks. Video Game Terminals Also on the Docket Another potential speed bump for online gaming in Pennsylvania could be a proposal for video game terminals (VGT) in bars, private clubs, and other places around the state. This has been a topic discussed and rejected previously, but reports show that the effort may have more support this time around. According to the Pennsylvania State Police, there is an estimated more than 40,000 illegal VGTs throughout the state and supporters of VGT legislation are looking to regulate and tax this underground market. But for casinos, the fear is how these VGTs would presumable eat away at their bottom line. There’s a lot for Pennsylvania lawmakers to dig into and time is starting to run short. May 26 would appear to be the deadline for lawmakers as that is the date that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court gave lawmakers to fix the local tax share on slot machines after it ruled the current setup to be unconstitutional.
  4. The PokerStars PA soft launch is over and the site’s first full day of play is here. Following what was an exciting, but limited, Monday and Tuesday this week, Pennsylvania poker players are now welcome to fully enjoy all that the site has to offer. There is a wide variety of game types and stakes available, so let’s take a look at what PokerStars PA has to offer. Checking out the PokerStars PA lobby, players can find games sectioned off across three tabs. Those tabs are 'Cash,' 'Sit & Go,' and 'Tourney,' with each offering different options for players. Plenty of Cash Games On Offer Checking out the Cash section first, we can find stakes ranging from as low as $0.01/$0.02 all the way up to $100/200. The PokerStars PA No Limit Hold’em offering is predominantly made up of six-handed tables, although there are a few nine-handed tables available. These No Limit Hold’em games range in stakes from $0.01/$0.02 up to $25/$50. If you’re looking for Limit Hold’em, PokerStars PA has that available as well, albeit in a smaller serving. Limit Hold’em games available in the client started at stakes of $0.10/$0.20 and went up to $50/$100. Other cash games available are a few different Omaha variants, the main Stud variants, and some Triple Draw. For Omaha, we found PokerStars PA offering Pot Limit Omaha, Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Low, Limit Omaha Hi-Low, and Pot Limit 5-Card Omaha. For Stud, there is regular Seven Card Stud, Razz, and Stud Hi-Low. There is also a handful of 8-Game tables available to play, with stakes as low as $0.50/$1.00 up to $100/$200. As one could expect, the most populated cash game tables to start the first fully live day of PokerStars PA were the No Limit Hold’em tables. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] SNGs Are All Turbo and Hyper Formats Checking out the Sit & Go section, it’s dominated by Turbo and Hyper SNGs and we don’t find anything other than heads-up or six-handed formats available. The lowest SNG buy-in available was for $1. On the higher end, bigger players could challenge others at the $500 buy-in level. Both No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha SNGs are available in the lobby. Tourney Schedule Beefs Up After a successful two days of the soft launch, which included quality attendance in PokerStars PA’s multi-table tournaments, Wednesday brought a fuller offering of MTTs, with buy-ins ranging from $2 to $100 and plenty of guaranteed prize pools. The first tournament of the day was scheduled as a nine-handed, $3 buy-in ‘Time Tourney: 45 Minutes.’ Things quickly ramped up at 12:30 p.m. ET with ‘The Lunchtime Hot $20, $750 Gtd’ tournament, though. The real juicy prize pools were slated for later in the day, specifically at 7 p.m. ET. That’s when ‘The Big $20, $1,500 Gtd’ and ‘Nightly Stars, $7,500 Gtd’ tournaments were scheduled for. The Big $20 has a $20 buy-in and $1,500 guarantee on the prize pool, and then the Nightly Stars comes with a $100 buy-in and $7,500 prize pool. There is also a $50 buy-in ‘Wednesday 6-Max, $5,000 Gtd’ scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. Below is a screenshot of the MTT lobby about 20 minutes before the first tournament kicked off at 12 p.m. ET. [caption id="attachment_627448" align="alignnone" width="657"] PokerStars PA multi-table tournament offering on first fully live day of action[/caption] The biggest prize pool guaranteed during the two soft launch days was $5,000, so the Nightly Stars will serve as another test of the market. The tournament that had the $5,000 guaranteed prize pool was Tuesday’s ‘Bounty Builder $50, $5,000 Gtd’ and it crushed with a prize pool of $12,103. What's Missing? One noticeable game that's missing from the PokerStars PA lobby is the popular Spin & Go format. Spin & Gos are PokerStars' three-handed Hyper SNG tournaments that feature a randomly drawn prize pool. A second missing game type is PokerStars' Zoom Poker, which groups players at the same game and stakes into a pool and constantly shuffles them around. Once you fold your hand, you're immediately moved to a new table and dealt a new hand, which allows faster gameplay. Spin & Gos and Zoom Poker may be available to PokerStars PA players in the future, but both formats were not available when the site went fully live on Wednesday. There is no 'Events' tab in the lobby, which could be made available in the future should PokerStars PA come out with a Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker (PACOOP). Lastly, Pennsylvania players will have to wait for the Sunday MTT schedule. It's not out yet but will be available soon. Once it's live, we'll let you know what's on offer for online poker's biggest day of the week.
  5. 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.
  6. The World Poker Tour Borgata Poker Open was recently at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It's always a very popular, well-attended series that draws in poker players from all over. Zach Gruneberg, one of the top players on the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list, was one of them. Not only did Gruneberg show up, he won, taking home two Borgata Poker Open titles from the series. With the victories coming at a time when Pennsylvania online poker is working to launch any day now, it felt as good a time as ever to check in with Gruneberg. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker"][ptable zone="PokerStars NJ"] "Honestly, it's pretty surreal," Gruneberg said of how he felt getting the two recent wins at Borgata. "Getting a first place ever, especially outright with no chop, is an extremely rare thing in tournaments. To get two within pretty much the same week doesn't seem real. I always say there's nothing like outright winning a poker tournament, well, I’ve got to find something new to say about winning two almost back-to-back (laughs)." The two events Gruneberg won were both bounty tournaments. He first won the $500 Black Chip Bounty Deepstack for $56,073. In that event, Gruneberg topped a field of 688 entries to take home the trophy. The second event he won was the $1,060 Purple Chip County tournament. In that one, Gruneberg bested a field of 232 entries to win $31,502. "The first win was a Black Chip Bounty event," Gruneberg said. "Meaning you get $100 for every person you knock out and the buy-in I believe was like $500 total. In this one, I really didn't make any adjustments. The bounties are pretty much worthless compared to the actual prize pool you are playing for. I ended up getting seven bounties, including my own for winning. However, in the $1,090 Purple Chip Bounty, each knockout is worth $500. This changes things slightly. This exact instance I really didn't change too much because I didn't have the spots to, but you definitely want to be calling some shoves a little lighter and going for those $500 bounties. I ended up getting 10, including my own, so $5,000 in bounties when first place was $31,000 is definitely a decent ratio." Knowing Gruneberg scored $700 in bounties in the first event and $5,000 in the second puts his total haul from these two tournaments at $93,275. That's quite impressive for about one week's work, but it wasn't the first time Gruneberg had scored big from a WPT series at Borgata. In 2016, Gruneberg maneuvered his way to the final table of the WPT Borgata Poker Open $3,500 Main Event. The field had 1,179 entries and Gruneberg ended up finishing in second place to Jesse Sylvia. Although he didn’t get the WPT title, Gruneberg scored $490,617 in prize money. To date, it was his largest live tournament score. In 2018, Gruneberg found his way back to a WPT final table at Borgata, only this time it was in the 1,244-entry WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open $3,500 Championship. Another top-three finish would be had for Gruneberg, as he took third place for $321,533. "Borgata is my main girl," Gruneberg said of his success at Borgata. "She never does me dirty and always does me right. I've considered it my home casino as long as I've played, so to have the level of success I've had there which includes chopping the WPT with Jesse, a third place in another WPT, and now three outright wins, it's wild. At this point now, I just feel completely relaxed and in my element there and I also am able to drive there from my home. Something about just being a car ride away instead of across the entire country or globe makes me feel at ease. It helps that I run like a Greek god at the Borgata, too. I love her!" The other title from Borgata that Gruneberg is referring to is a Saturday Series event during the 2017 Borgata Spring Poker Open. He won that $400 buy-in event for $35,996, topping a field of 415 entries to get the win. Gruneberg mentioned being just a car ride away from Borgata. He's originally from Pennsylvania, which isn't too far of a drive from Atlantic City. Soon though, Gruneberg could be trading in the drive to the casino for a walk to his computer in the comfort of his own home. Pennsylvania has legalized online poker and now it’s just a matter of time before regulated online poker sites launch in the Keystone State. Gruneberg is no stranger to the online poker world, having amassed more than $2.8 million under the alias 'HustlerGrune' on PokerStars and Full Tilt back in the day, and he’s pretty excited for the change to get legal PA online poker in his home state. "I'm super hyped for online poker to come back," Gruneberg said. "Should be any day now, but I am not really sweating it. When it comes back, it comes back, and I am excited to be able to play on partypoker and PokerStars (even though they seem like a shell of the company they once were now)." Whether it’s the live grind or competing on the virtual felt, Gruneberg said he’ll take it slow when it comes to planning out his poker schedule and just see where things take him. "Next for me in terms of poker will be WPT Maryland," Gruneberg said. "Technically, in terms of distance, that's actually the closest WPT to me and I have some good friends that live in the area, so I am excited for that. Mainly, I want to continue to focus on fitness and my health and just freestyle my poker plans. I am definitely trying to put more volume in, which means more WPTs and more WSOP Circuit stops - Vegas in December seems like a must. I'm just going to take it one day at a time and enjoy these wins."
  7. Sundays are for grinding. With PokerStars PA now going around the clock, the best online poker players in Pennsylvania now have their own set of Sunday Majors to look forward to each week. While those who still long for the pre-Black Friday MTT schedule might be disappointed, the players in Pennsylvania who have been waiting to get back on PokerStars since that fateful day 8.5 years ago will be excited to head into battle. There's a full tournament schedule to play with buy-ins ranging from $2 to $250 but there are five tournaments worth highlighting. Things get underway at 4 pm with the $30 buy-in Sunday Warm-Up with a $7,500 guarantee. Levels are eight minutes long and players can re-enter up to twice in the first two hours of play. An hour later, the Sunday Storm is a Six-Max event and has just a $10 buy-in and a $5,000 guarantee. Players can fire up to six total bullets into this tournament during the 95-minute late registration period. The highlight of the schedule is the $100 buy-in Sunday Special at 6 PM. The guarantee for the first week is $40,000 and players who bust in the first three hours of play can re-enter up to a maximum of three times. Players looking for a bigger buy-in can fire away at the $250 Sunday High Roller event at 7 pm. The tournament has a $10,000 guarantee and players can re-enter as many as five times during the 2.5-hour re-entry period. Lastly, the Sunday Supersonic has a hyper structure, a $50 buy-in, and a $5,000 guarantee. The tournament begins at 10 PM and late registration is only open for 45 minutes during which players can re-enter up to five times. PokerStars PA Sunday Majors Schedule Time Game Buy-in Name Guarantee 4:00 PM NLHE $30.00 Sunday Warm-Up $7,500.00 5:00 PM NLHE $10.00 Sunday Storm $5,000.00 6:00 PM NLHE $100.00 Sunday Special $40,000.00 7:00 PM NLHE $250.00 Sunday High Roller $10,000.00 10:00 PM NLHE $50.00 Sunday Supersonic (Hyper) $5,000.00 The schedule isn't an exact copy of what PokerStars NJ offers just across the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Outside of the $10 buy-in Sunday Storm, the New Jersey schedule features bigger buy-ins but smaller guarantees. Time Game Buy-in Name Guarantee 4:00 PM NLHE $50.00 Sunday Warm-Up $4,000.00 5:00 PM NLHE $10.00 Sunday Storm $3,500.00 6:00 PM NLHE $200.00 Sunday Special $2,500.00 7:00 PM NLHE $500.00 Sunday High Roller $8,000.00 10:00 PM NLHE $75.00 Sunday Supersonic (Hyper) $4,000.00
  8. It’s another month at the top of the PocketFives United States Online Poker Rankings for New Jersey online poker grinder Yong ‘ykwon17’ Kwon. After taking the first couple of weeks in August off, Kwon soon himself back on the online grind picking up PLB-qualifying scores in bunches. Throughout the second half of the month, Kwon racked up four qualifying scores and nine cashes worth four-figures or more. Kwon’s highlight score was a final table finish in the August 14 edition of the WSOP.com Tuesday Showdown where he picked up $4,810. In total, he amassed of over $27,000 in cashes for the month. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] Kwon’s September is shaping up to be more of the same with two first-place finishes already under his belt including a victory in the September 10 Super Tuesday on PokerStarsNJ for $4,806. His success not only has him as the #1-ranked player in the U.S., but he also sits at #55 in the world. United States Online Poker Rankings Top 10 RANK PLAYER POINTS 1 Yong 'ykwon17' Kwon 5409 2 Daniel 'centrfieldr' Lupo 5339 3 Vladimir ‘Donate_here’ Alexandrov 4847 4 David ‘dehhhhh’ Coleman 4586 5 Ryan ‘shipthesherb’ Hohner 4267 6 Jon ‘itsmejon’ Borenstein 3592 7 Michael ‘JohnnnyDrama’ Haberman 3579 8 Jason ‘JLaw’ Lawhun 3496 9 Michael 'Gags30' Gagliano 3327 10 Matthew ‘MattEMenz’ Mendez 3282 In past months, since his WSOP online bracelet win, Kwon has held a commanding lead in the rankings. This month, however, the #2-ranked Daniel ‘centrfieldr’ Lupo closed the gap and currently sits only 70 PLB points behind Kwon. It’s been a good month for Lupo who finds himself sitting at a career-high rank of #57 in the world. His rise in the rankings can be attributed to nine PLB-qualifying cashes, three of which were outright victories. His largest score in August was his victory in the August 12 edition of WSOP.com’s $30,000 Weekly Sunday Six Max where Lupo took home a $12,852 score. Two weeks later he nearly repeated the feat, coming up just short finishing as the runner up in the same tournament for another $7,229 payday. Another New Jersey player sitting at a career-high in the Worldwide Rankings is Vladimir ‘Donate_here’ Alexandrov. Alexandrov maintains his #3 ranking in the U.S. for another month but rose to #87 in the world on the back of 11 PLB-qualifying cashes in August. In total, he accumulated 1,220.63 points and just over $66,500 in the month. Even though he had four victories in the month, his largest score came from his runner-up finish in the August 19 edition of WSOP.com’s $100,000 GTD Sunday where he won $17,624 and 222.47 PLB points. David ‘dehhhhh’ Coleman jumped up one spot in the U.S. Rankings to #4 by amassing a string of four-figure score in August. Coleman grinded his way to 22 four-figure scores in a month where he added over $76,000 to his already impressive $2.29 million in career online earnings. Coleman also picked up a five-figure cash when he defeated Daniel Lupo heads up in the August 26 WSOP.com $30,000 Weekly Sunday and picked up $12,852. Like a number of his peers, Coleman is enjoying a career-high rank in the Worldwide Rankings, currently sitting at #104 in the world. After taking some time off in July, Ryan ‘shipthesherb’ Hohner added a little more volume in August. Dropping to the #5 rank, Hohner still managed to pick up some impressive scores as well three outright victories. His spotlight score for the month came on August 14 when he took down the WSOP.com $20,000 Weekly Tuesday for just over $9,000 and 178.01 PLB points. Hohner’s September is headed in the right direction as well having just locked up a five-figure score in the September 9 $30,000 Weekly Sunday on WSOP.com for $13,870. Below are the current top 5 rankings for the U.S. regulated states of New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, which is expected to go live with regulated online poker this October. New Jersey Online Poker Rankings Top 5 New Jersey online poker players. RANK PLAYER POINTS 1 Yong ‘ykwon17’ Kwon 5409 2 Daniel ‘centrfieldr’ Lupo 5339 3 Vladimir ‘Donate_here’ Alexandrov 4847 4 David ‘dehhhhh’ Coleman 4586 5 Ryan ‘shipthesherb’ Hohner 4267   Nevada Online Poker Rankings Top 5 Nevada online poker players. RANK PLAYER POINTS 1 Jed ‘JCHAK’ Hoffman 2975 2 David ‘bewater’ Goodman 2916 3 PunnyYouSayThat 2618 4 Tanner ‘Bamatide88’ Bibat 2518 5 Bobby ‘bcm4924’ McLawhorn 2302 Pennsylvania Online Poker Rankings Top 5 Pennsylvania online poker players. RANK PLAYER POINTS 1 Thai ‘thaiha91’ Ha 1314 2 Chris ‘Billypoker101’ Bilinsky 810 3 RyJS 763 4 sr86 604 5 Head218 578
  9. If you tuned into the World Series of Poker Main Event broadcast on Sunday, you were mostly viewing a feature table that had Nick Schulman and Loni Harwood as the prominent players. If you stuck around to watch, you likely noticed the player in Seat 2, well-built with a neatly trimmed beard and strong table presence. That's Ryan Pochedly. Living in Pennsylvania, Pochedly got his start in poker "like everybody else." He started playing in college, deposited some money with an online poker site, and never looked back. Today, poker is Pochedly’s profession and he's looking forward to regulated online poker coming to his home state. "I started playing online," Pochedly said. "I put like $30 on Pacific Poker and grinded it up from there." Pochedly performed well under the bright lights and television cameras, picking up chips and confidently building his stack. It was evident that he might’ve done this before. "I was on a live stream once when I final tabled a turbo event at the World Series a few years ago, but this was the first time for me being on live television," Pochedly told PocketFives. "It was really cool and I enjoyed it." Looking up Pochedly’s records, he had a deep WSOP Main Event finish in 2012, taking 182nd for $44,655. Scanning Pochedly’s list of results a little more reveals that he’s had 14 prior WSOP cashes, including the 2012 WSOP Main Event run and a WSOP final table in 2016 when he placed eighth in a $1,000 turbo event. "It definitely helps because I’m not as nervous as I would have been years ago," Pochedly said of how his prior WSOP experience has been helping him this year. "The first time I had a deep WSOP Main Event run, I had trouble sleeping and stuff like that. So far, so good. I’m sleeping like a baby, and I’m not tired or anything." Pochedly's career-best score is $101,105 from 2015 at Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. In the Big Stax XI $1,600 event, Pochedly topped the field of 259 entries for the victory. The following year, he won another tournament at Part. This time it was the Big Stax XIX $340 tournament for $78,244. In that one, Pochedly topped a much larger field of 1,722 entries. In May 2019, just before the World Series of Poker, Pochedly finished fifth for $50,797 in the WPTDeepStacks Big Stax XXIX $340 event. All of those results are live tournament scores, but Pochedly is as excited as anyone about the thought of PA online poker opening up soon. When he was asked about how he felt about it, a smile came across his face before he gave his answer. "I'm probably one of the most excited guys about [online poker returning to Pennsylvania]," Pochedly said. "I used to play a lot online, and I’m looking forward to playing cash and then tournaments on Sundays and pretty much every day." Pochedly finished Day 2c of the 2019 WSOP Main Event with 182,000 in chips and will be back in action on Monday at 12 p.m. PT.
  10. Pennsylvania is preparing for a much-anticipated launch of regulated online poker. Once it does, it will make regulated online poker play available to the population a nearly 13 million people that live in the Keystone State. With its population, Pennsylvania will be the largest state to legally offer online poker in the United States, eclipsing that of New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, and adding a welcomed boost to the regulated US online poker market. Whether you're an experienced online poker player or someone that's new to the virtual felt, you likely have questions surrounding what to expect when real-money online poker finally becomes live in Pennsylvania. To help provide you with some answers, PocketFives tapped into the community and spoke to those with experience playing online poker in the new regulated landscape. We spoke with some of the top players from New Jersey, where online poker is legal, regulated, and growing. Here's what Michael 'Gags30' Gagliano, Daniel 'centrfieldr' Lupo, Jon 'itsmejon' Borenstein, and 2012 WSOP Main Event champion Greg Merson had to say. What can Pennsylvania players expect when online poker launches in the state? Michael 'Gags30' Gagliano: "Like others, I'm not positive what we'll see, but I think players can expect a nice mix of cash games and tournaments from the various sites. Players need to remember, though: these sites won't be like you remember them from 2011 - they are going to be much smaller. That means fewer games at off-peak hours and less liquidity when it comes to things like sit-n-gos. But this shouldn't' discourage Pennsylvania players. Just because you can't win $100,000 on a Sunday doesn't mean that there won't be good tournaments. Don't let a ‘small' first-place prize turn you off. A smaller field means you have a much higher chance of winning that tournament. So sure, $10,000 isn't as alluring as $100,000, but having a real shot at winning a tournament instead of buying into what can sometimes feel like a lottery ticket is a positive in my book!" Daniel 'centrfieldr' Lupo: "Based upon experiences with New Jersey's intro and when the Nevada merger came on board, there were some initial hiccups around the launch times. So I would recommend signing up early and preparing yourself for some early bumps in the road, such as potential software or geo-location issues, but not to be deterred by them as they tend to be short-lived. But the initial 'bumpy road period' will have its perks, too. I'm assuming (hoping) there will be a number of welcome bonuses, new-player bonuses, welcome freerolls, as well as some sort of initial online tournament series to celebrate the expansion... so signing up early would definitely be to a player's benefit to take advantage of these timely promotions. "I would also recommend that Pennsylvania players make sure they have viable internet connections, and back-up options like some sort of mobile hotspot option, as well as a strong wifi signal which will help alleviate a lot of the early potential geo-location headaches." Jon 'itsmejon' Borenstein: "Pennsylvania players can expect to have a new poker outlet in addition to the many casinos in the Pennsylvania area, which should only help grow the game and draw new players in that wouldn’t otherwise be able to make it to a casino regularly." Greg Merson: "I think when Pennsylvania launches there will be a decent amount of traffic to start, but unfortunately with only approximately 12 million people, I don’t think it will be all that special in the long run." What are the benefits of regulated online poker and why should players in Pennsylvania be excited about it? Gagliano: "The by far biggest benefit of regulated Pennsylvania online poker is safety and peace of mind in playing online poker again. Legal and regulated sites mean that players won't have to worry about having to deposit using cryptocurrencies, or worrying that a site won't pay out their cash-out. It means that players won't have to worry if a site is ‘rigged’ and can come to expect the same level of game security that they get when they play in Pennsylvania brick-and-mortar casinos." Lupo: "Having a regulated site where your money is safe has been a huge peace of mind for me versus playing on unregulated sites, which always give you a sense of worry. Payouts are fast and secure and there are numerous safe deposit options. But overall, the best thing about online poker in my experience has been the convenience of it. With a family, it allows me to be home more, versus spending time in a casino, and work around my family's schedule so I can have dinner with them every night and put the kids to bed. And if you're playing a cash session and just not feeling it, you can comfortably stop playing and do something else, whereas a casino trip has a lot more overhead and commitment time-wise." Borenstein: "It's nice to play online without worrying about shady practice or the sites getting shut down out of nowhere. You know your money is safe. I think that for anyone who is serious about poker or wants to get serious about poker, regulated online sites are a great tool to have as a way to practice and get in exponentially more hands than you would if you were playing live, and being able to do it all from the comfort of your own home." Merson: "The benefits of playing in a regulated industry mean you know your money is safe, the play is secure, and there are no ways for outside countries to VPN the system." With the anticipation of Pennsylvania online poker being very high, what are you most looking forward to when thinking about having Pennsylvania on board for online poker? Gagliano: "The thing I look most forward to with Pennsylvania poker is just another state coming online, thus giving more players in the Northeast a chance to play online poker again. It also brings the U.S. one state closer to allowing everyone the ability to once again play poker from the comfort of their homes." Lupo: "Being primarily a tournament player, it's always nice when the increased player pools can generate larger prize pools. These larger prize pools are like a domino effect and not only encourage players from Pennsylvania to join the action but will also increase the traffic in other states that previously may have been skipping some tournaments due to smaller guarantees than they would like. "I'm also looking forward to a new influx of players. After playing in a small market like New Jersey for the past 4-5 years, some fresh faces would be a welcomed change." Borenstein: "I'm looking forward to increased prize pools, player traffic, and more multi-table tournaments to play each night. I’m also looking forward to what it means to overall growth of online poker in the US. Hopefully, more and more states will follow suit and begin legalizing online poker." Merson: "I actually don’t think Pennsylvania will join the New Jersey pool anytime soon, if at all. This Wire Act issue may cause Nevada to pull out of New Jersey and if that happens I think the hopes of more states joining in are bleak. If they do join, I gladly welcome the liquidity as volume has dropped a good bit in New Jersey over the years."
  11. A 15-year veteran of the online poker scene, 34-year-old Andrew 'Head218' Carnevale is one of many top-ranked online poker players in Pennsylvania looking forward to the impending launch of legalized and regulated online poker in his home state. Carnevale, who currently works full-time in providing investment products to investment professionals, has been playing long enough to remember the heyday of online poker and the pain of Black Friday. The return of online poker to Pennsylvania represents a big step for the evolution of US online poker as well as the next step in Carnevale's own poker journey. “I guess my first experience was obviously kind of playing at the dinner table with my grandma and grandpa…stupid card games, probably like five card draw and whatever game the old times used to play," Carnevale said when reflecting on his start in poker. “I really didn’t get into Hold’em until I was in college. I went to school in Washington, DC and I was of the age when the World Series of Poker was on TV,” Carnevale recalls. “Watched that. It might’ve been even before Moneymaker won and I just fired up an account on PokerStars. Just kinda…got going.” Like many who took a flyer on the fledgling field of online poker, the game provided him an avenue of entertainment and competition. He played small stakes cash and tournaments, just looking to bink a tournament or two. “I would just fire online and probably didn’t even have any idea what I was doing.” But over time, Carnevale leveled up, taking online poker more seriously and he even thought about taking a shot at going pro. “I had some aspirations [of turning pro]. After I graduated college I was a caddy for a private golf club. I had cash on me and we would go down to Atlantic City and play live. That was when I was 21, 22, 23 and I thought about it. But as much as I loved the winning sessions, I couldn’t stand losing. I didn’t have the right mentality to handle the swings that you need to in order to be a professional,” he said. But those swings didn’t stop him from staying in the game. Not by a long shot. Carnevale has been a member of PocketFives since 2007, playing small-mid stakes tournaments whenever his busy schedule would allow. He currently has over $200,000 in lifetime earnings and sits as the #4-ranked player in Pennsylvania. Nowadays, he continues to play tournaments on off-shore sites like America’s Card Room and he’s been splashing around in PLO cash games. Having spent some time in New Jersey, he’s ready to take the plunge into the soon-to-be alive regulated online sites of PA. “I’ve been waiting for it for quite some time now,” Carnevale said. “To be honest, I would much prefer to play on the regulated sites, such as the New Jersey sites, then the non-regulated sites - just based on my experience there. "But, yea, I’m totally excited. I don’t know if it’ll change my schedule as far as how much time I spend with it, but it will certainly add an option that I’m looking forward to.” Having played on the regulated sites in New Jersey, Carnevale is hoping that not only will online poker in the U.S. continue to grow but the online operators that are currently offering poker in New Jersey and are coming to Pennsylvania will continue to grow as well. “I just hope that these companies, if they decide to get into it, really spend time with the software,” he said, expressing frustration at some of the current options that are currently rolled out in New Jersey. “I also hope it becomes a competitive landscape that does right by the online community that wants to play and offers the best services that they can in order for everybody to have the best capability to log on and enjoy it.” Carnevale has long since put those pro aspirations behind him, but he continues to 'log on and enjoy' online poker. Although he not sure how often he’ll be playing, he still does have ideas of what may be next for him. “I’m really enjoying PLO cash games in general. One thing though, especially in live poker, I’d love to have a big score again…kind of get your name out there. I’d love to take a trip to the World Series of Poker and have the opportunity to play the Main Event."
  12. The inaugural PokerStars Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker is just over a week away, and for the first time ever, online poker players in Pennsylvania will get the chance to go head-to-head over the course of 17 days. The schedule features 50 events and comes with exactly $1 million guaranteed. Players will have choices every day as to which tournaments they want to take a shot in, but PocketFives has identified the five must-play events. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zgone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] Somebody Gets to Be the First Champ Things kick off on November 30 with Event #1, the $100 buy-in NLHE PACOOP Warm-Up, which replaces the regularly scheduled 'Nightly Stars' event. The $20,000 guarantee is 2.66 times higher than the normally scheduled Saturday nightly tournament. This event will need to draw 218 players if PokerStars is hoping to avoid an overlay (before fees). Along with having a shot at the seventh-largest guaranteed prize pool, winning this particular event means you'll forever get to call yourself the first-ever PACOOP Champ. The structure gives players a 10,000-chip starting stack and 10-minute levels, with antes kicking in from the beginning. Players can re-enter up to three times anytime in the first two hours and 50 minutes. Little Buy-in, Big Reward Event #12, the $30 buy-in NLHE Mini Super Tuesday, is a value-seekers dream. This is the lowest buy-in event on the schedule and comes with a $10,000 guarantee. It's likely going to have little trouble hitting that number as it runs 30 minutes after Event #11, the $250 Super Tuesday Special Edition, begins so you can count on a big prize pool for just $30. The levels are 10 minutes long and players get a 20,000 starting stack. There's a maximum of three re-entries available in the first 2.5 hours of play. Mixing It Up Most of the schedule is No Limit Hold'em - 41 events to be exact. So those who like other games might be hard-pressed to find some action. The one event that mixed game players can't afford to pass up is Event #20. It's a $300 buy-in 8-game mixed event with $15,000 guaranteed. The game rotation includes Limit Deuce-to-Seven, Limit Hold'em, Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, Limit Razz, Limit Stud, Limit Stud Hi-Lo, NLHE, and Pot Limit Omaha. Players get a 5,000-chip stack to start and the game changes every eight minutes. Players can re-enter up to a maximum of three times in the first three hours. Possible Overlay Alert If you're looking for a potential overlay to take advantage of, then you may want to brush up on how to play some No Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. Event #33 is a $100 buy-in No Limit Omaha Hi-Lo event with an $8,000 guarantee. It'll need 88 entries to meet that guarantee which might not be possible given that this will be the first NLO8 tournament in Pennsylvania history. The same event drew 71 runners during the 2019 New Jersey Championship of Online Poker. The event features a 10,000 starting stack and 10-minute levels and players can re-enter up to three times during the three-hour late registration window. This Is the Main Event The marquee event on any series schedule should always be the Main Event and PACOOP is no different. It has a $300 buy-in and the largest guaranteed prize pool of the series at $100,000. The NJCOOP Main Event had an identical buy-in, guarantee, and structure and drew 373 runners for a $104,440 total prize pool. There's a good chance a number of the top New Jersey online poker players make the drive into Pennsylvania to jump into this one. Players can re-enter up to five times during the 5.5-hour late registration window.
  13. The soft launch has come and gone, two sets of Sunday Majors have played out, the first major tournament series in the history of regulated online poker in Pennsylvania has been announced. And that's just the first two weeks in the life-cycle of the first regulated poker site in Pennsylvania history. PokerStars PA launched officially on November 6 after working through a two-day soft launch period required by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. While the soft launch was a necessary regulatory hurdle, for Matt Primeaux, President of FOX Bet/PokerStars USA, it offered an opportunity to get real-time feedback from players who haven't been able to play on PokerStars for over eight years. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] "Generally speaking we tend not to soft launch with our full product offering, as was the case in PA. Instead, this is rolled out gradually over the period. So, although we learn a huge amount from a technical perspective, the real lessons from our customers begin once we’ve received full regulatory approval and we’re up and running with all games, stakes, and titles," Primeaux said. "After that, the learning doesn’t stop. We’ll listen very closely to feedback, monitor play, and tweak things like formats, user journeys, structures and software features over time." In all likelihood, PokerStars PA will remain as the only choice for poker players in Pennsylvania through the end of the calendar year. Primeaux knows that being first is an opportunity to grab precious market share but also comes with some pressure to give a poker-thirsty market a top-shelf product right out of the gate. "We know how passionate Pennsylvania poker players are and being first-to-market allows us to feed their passion and set the tone for online poker in the state. We’ve watched the comments on social media and we’ve been asked plenty of questions online and even at live events. When it came to us soft launching, the numbers spoke for themselves. It’s amazing to work with that level of enthusiasm and to be able to live up to our reputation by being the first site to bring online poker to Pennsylvania." The launch of PokerStars PA had a vastly different feeling to it than the launch in New Jersey where six other sites were already operational before PokerStars NJ went live. That presented a set of challenges that were new for Primeaux and the US-based team. "When we arrived in New Jersey with PokerStarsNJ.com we had months of online poker data and observations from other operations to draw upon and use to inform our offer," Primeaux said. "So we had a head-start knowing which games and formats players preferred. For Pennsylvania, it’s a new set of fun challenges that we are tackling as we monitor player behaviour to serve a massive, engaged and avid fan base." With a population of 12.8 million, there are more people living in Pennsylvania than there are in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware - the three states combined their player pools to increase liquidity - have combined. Despite the fact that Pennsylvania and New Jersey share a border, the two states remain in separate player pools, largely because of the delayed opinion on the newest interpretation of the Wire Act, but Primeaux remains hopeful they can convince the necessary parties to combine into one player pool "We have shared our views regarding the benefits of shared liquidity with various levels of government in Pennsylvania and those conversations are ongoing," Primeaux said. Gaming, whether or online or land-based, continues to be an issue for each state to deal with as their lawmakers see fit. Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang recently made it a point to bring up the possible benefits of offering federal legislation for online poker and allow states to opt-in to one larger network. Primeaux is cautious about not wanting to put support behind any one politician or party and would rather focus on furthering the process of educating regulators at all levels about the various benefits widespread regulation would bring. "We support the regulation of online gaming, including licensing and taxation regimes and pooled poker liquidity, which we believe will promote sustainable online gaming markets that are beneficial for consumers, governments and the citizens of the regulating jurisdiction, operators and the gaming industry as a whole," Primeaux said.
  14. Online poker players in Pennsylvania have to wait no longer. Monday, November 4 is Day 1 of the two-day soft launch period for PokerStars PA. This story will be updated throughout the day. Update 10:00 PM: Day 1 of the soft launch is in the books. We'll be back tomorrow for more coverage of Day 2! Update 9:25 PM: Time may be winding down for the night but that's not stopping 'breakfastball' and 'pittfan80' from battling heads up in the $4/$8 Eight Game Mix. Update 9:11 PM: Longtime PocketFiver Gilbert 'YourPokerPastor' Thurston was one of the first players to log on today and he's looking forward to everything that PokerStars PA will bring. Read: Gilbert ‘YourPokerPastor’ Thurston Finds Sheer Joy In PokerStars PA Update 9:04 PM: We enter the last hour of Day 1 of the soft launch with the player pool hovering right around 700. Update 8:40 PM: Registration closed in the $20 Moonlight Express with 173 entries making it the biggest tournament of the first day of the soft launch. With a total prize pool of $3,252.40, it surpassed the Hot $20 from earlier with 147 entries and a $2,675.40 prize pool. Update 8:00 PM: Just before 8:00 PM, PokerStars PA saw 700 concurrent players for the first time. After dipping back down for a minute or two, the number climbed back over the mark at the top of the hour. Update 7:30 PM: Taking another look at the player pool, at 7:30 PM there were more than 665 players battling in real money games. Update 7:16 PM: Registration just closed in one of the two $1,000 guaranteed tournaments on Monday's schedule and the event easily surpassed that number. A total of 147 entries in the Hot $20 Turbo created a total prize pool of $2,675.40. First place will pay $557.51. Update 7:02 PM: 604 players. Update 7:00 PM: There were 590 real money players online at 7 PM. If everything stays the course we should see 600 in a few minutes. Update 6:52 PM: Even in PA, PKO’s are popular. The $10 NLHE Progressive Knockout closed registration with 166 entries (119 players, 47 re-entries) and a $1,510.60 prize pool. Update 6:44 PM: PokerStars ambassador Jennifer Shahade held the chip lead with six players left in the Hot $10. In the end, the Women's Chess Champion settled for a third-place finish collecting $158.56...right from her home outside of Philly. Update 6:37 PM: Just cleared 500 players online. Update 6:30 PM: We are keeping tabs on how many real money players are on the PokerStars PA site during peak hours. At 6:30 PM there were 484 players on the site. Update 6:16 PM: The biggest NLHE game running is the $2.50/$5 game. There are currently two tables going with 'ToddLaxmen' and 'FarWomenTellAll' doing a little multi-tabling and 'TeamVillage' currently sitting with over $1,400 behind. Update 6:08 PM: While we were putting together that last update, the number of players playing real money games soared past 400. Update 6:07 PM: The $5 PLO MTT [Six Max, Turbo] had a total of 46 entries (30 players, 16 re-entries) with the top seven placed getting paid. Players were in the money just before the re-entry period expired. Update 6:00 PM: There are 392 players playing for real money as the clock hit 6pm ET. Update 5:48 PM: In the first PokerStars PA MTT ‘SugarDaddyPA’ and ‘Stonks_Are_Up’ agreed to a deal that saw each player turn their $5 buy-in into at least $110.88. Update 5:40 PM: One of the benefits to the PokerStars client is how many games they offer. While the majority of the action on Day 1 has been in NLHE, PLO or in the MTT's, a heads up battle between ‘veedubs23’ vs. ‘cardfan42’ is taking place at the $3/$6 Limit Stud tables. Update 5:33 PM: It's worth mentioning that PokerStars popular Zoom cash games are not a part of the Day 1 soft launch. Update 5:13 PM: The second tournament of the day was The Hot $10 [Turbo] and it easily smashed its $500 guarantee as 111 players (and 37 re-entries) generated a prize pool of $1,346.80. Update 4:57 PM: Online poker is back in Pennsylvania...and so are those bad beats! Update 2:12 PM: Don't worry, Pennsylvania online poker players. None of the sportsbooks in your state managed to launch right on time either. PokerStars PA will be live soon. Update: 2:00 PM: More than two years after online gaming regulations were passed in Pennsylvania, the first online poker site now has cards in the air. PokerStars PA went live at 2 PM for Day 1 of a two-day soft launch testing period required by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. “We’re excited to launch PokerStars as the first and currently the only online poker option available to players in Pennsylvania,” said Matt Primeaux, President, FOX Bet. “Including today’s launch of our highly rated casino product, which is now available in the FOX Bet and PokerStars apps, we’re proud to say we’re currently the only online provider offering all three forms of regulated gaming in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” PokerStars PA is available Monday, November 4 from 2 PM until 10 PM EST and Tuesday, November 5 from 2 PM until Midnight. Players can download the client from PokerStarsMtAiryCasino.com and it is also available for iOS and Android devices. PokerStars is partnered with Mount Airy Casino Resort and they're excited to be working alongside the world's largest online poker operator on a groundbreaking day for the Keystone State. “We’re constantly investing in our player experience, and in 2019 that means going beyond brick and mortar improvements to bring customers one of the most exciting gaming options available,” said Todd Greenberg, Chief Operating Officer and General Manager at Mount Airy Casino Resort, FOX Bet’s partner in Pennsylvania. “Through strategic partnerships like our affiliation with PokerStars, Mount Airy is committed to offering the most cutting-edge gaming experience possible.” Quite possibly one of the most excited with today's launch is PokerStars Ambassador Jennifer Shadade. The Pennsylvania native is finally able to play legal online poker from the comfort of her own home. “Finally, PokerStars is available in my hometown and I couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Pennsylvanian and PokerStars Ambassador, Jennifer Shahade. “Players in Pennsylvania have been looking forward to this day, and I can’t wait to be a part of all the action. Hope to see many of you on the tables!” Update 1:20 PM: PokerStars PA will be available to all online poker players in Pennsylvania from 2 PM until 10 PM EST.  
  15. Online poker players in Pennsylvania had themselves a busy Sunday for the first time since the state first regulated online gaming just over two years ago. Following the launch of PokerStars PA earlier this week, a brand new set of Sunday Majors gave Keystone State grinders something to look forward. The five marquee events on the schedule came with buy-ins from $10 to $100 and a total of $67,500 guaranteed. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] The main attraction, the $100 buy-in Sunday Special, drew 472 Entries from 322 unique players for total prize pool of $43,329.60. Taking home the lion's share of that was 'Catfur77' who earned $7,712.36 and the first Sunday Special title in Pennsylvania history. Runner-up 'remispjr33' had to settle for $5,652.95 while 'Lerxst027' rounded out the podium finishers and walked away with $4,143.60. Team PokerStars Pro Jennifer Shahade finished 12th for $471.07. The day began with the $30 buy-in Sunday Warm-Up which drew 395 runners. That pushed the total prize pool to $10,783.50, well past the $7,500 guarantee. 'MsPumpernickel' wound up on top, earning $1,955.15 for the win while 'Shortstopmills' pocketed $1,432.89 after outlasting all but one player. Third-place finisher 24COB24 also earned a four-figure score, earning $1,050.30. The $10 Sunday Storm Six Max became the first PA Sunday Major to end up in a chop when 'jace15076' and 'JSell1982' made a heads-up deal that earned them $874 and $873.99 respectively. 'LoveMILFs2' earned $499.83 for finishing third. The biggest buy-in of the five, the $250 Sunday High Roller, had 59 total entries from 45 uniques to build a $13,747 prize pool. 'NeolithicFarmer' won $4,902.78 for winning the event and 'kingkendr1ck' pocketed $3,023.40 for finishing second. 'CleggsOnGG' finished in third, earning $1,864.46. While the first four events all easily cleared their guarantee, the final event of the night fell short. The $50 buy-in Sunday Supersonic Hyper-Turbo brought in 92 entries, creating a $676 overlay on the $5,000 guarantee. '22EPL' picked up $1,187.48 for winning the event while 'youngmoney915' got $873.16 for finishing as the runner-up. Buy-in Name Guarantee Entries Re-Entries Prize Pool Overlay $30.00 Sunday Warm-Up $7,500.00 264 131 $10,783.50 N/A $10.00 Sunday Storm $5,000.00 434 220 $5,951.40 N/A $100.00 Sunday Special $40,000.00 322 150 $43,329.60 N/A $250.00 Sunday High Roller $10,000.00 45 14 $13,747.00 N/A $50.00 Sunday Supersonic (Hyper) $5,000.00 71 21 $5,000.00 $676.00   PokerStars PA $30 Sunday Warm-Up 395 Entries, $10,783.50 Prize Pool MsPumpernickel - $1,955.15 Shortstopmills - $1,432.89 24COB24 - $1,050.30 Since a Duck - $769.87 u_bet_i_raise86 - $564.31 atalmatal22lago - $413.64 MarcTIO $303.19 jvgunner - $222.24 PokerStars PA $10 Sunday Storm Six Max 654 Entries, $5,951.40 Prize Pool jace15076 - $874* JSell1982 - $873.99* LoveMILFs2 - $499.93 direharry503 - $348.34 RyanMcCarroll - $242.71 Coachdk3 - $123.16 PokerStars PA $100 Sunday Special 472 Entries, $43,329.60 Prize Pool Catfur77 - $7,712.36 remispjr33 - $5,652.95 Lerxst027 - $4,143.60 MiracleManDan - $3,037.24 tax0022 - $2,226.29 FrosyTheProsty - $1,631.87 Anosmian Dreams - $1,196.15 MacheteColletti - $876.78 aBlurrr - $642.67 PokerStars PA Sunday High Roller Six Max 59 Entries, $13.747 Prize Pool NeolithicFarmer - $4,902.78 kingkendr1ck - $3,023.40 CleggsOnGG - $1,864.46 mbalasa - $1,149.77 AllinWithAJoff - $709.04 Prixzky7 - $618.26
  16. Just last week, PokerStars NJ announced their fourth annual NJ Championship of Online Poker schedule with $1 million guaranteed through 50 events over a 17-day period in October. By all accounts, PokerStars is the front-runner to become the first online poker site to launch in a Pennsylvania with many speculating Keystone State grinders could be clicking buttons beginning in October. A Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker (PACOOP) - could very well be a key component of what is sure to be a much-hyped launch period. With a population of 12.8 million, Pennsylvania is a larger potential poker market than the current inter-state group of New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Using the 2019 NJCOOP schedule as a template and keeping in mind that PokerStars is only available in New Jersey, online poker players in PA just might find themselves in the middle of a two-week-long festival with nearly $1.5 million in guaranteed prize money in the very near future. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="PokerStars NJ"] [ptable zone="GG Poker"] Guaranteed Prize Pools For the first time in the four-year history of NJCOOP, the total guaranteed amount across all events took a dive in 2019. The inaugural event in 2016 featured 43 different events and a total guarantee of $1.2 million. In 2017 and 2018, the scheduled expanded to 46 events and the prize pool remained at $1.2 million. For 2019 however, the events increased again, this time to 50, but the total guaranteed amount dropped to just $1 million. This shouldn't be any reason for alarm for Pennsylvania online poker players, however. While the number of events on any potential PACOOP schedule is likely to be in the ballpark of 50, the total guaranteed prize pools will need to reflect the population gap between New Jersey and Pennsylvania and the excitement over the launch of online poker in a new state. Those two factors should push the total guaranteed amount of $1.5 million. Individual event guarantees outside of the Main Event will most likely fall in the range of $12,500 for the smaller events and as high as $90,000 for the Sunday Special Special Edition events. Conversely, given that PA operators have been able to launch their online poker verticals since July 15 and haven't yet done so tells you that PokerStars may take a very cautious approach to the schedule. The Main Event A two-week-long festival with 50 events played on PokerStars is sure to get the adrenalin pumping, but the highlight of every COOP schedule around the world is always the Main Event. Again, a quick look across state lines into New Jersey gives us some perspective on just what to expect. The 2019 NJCOOP Main Event has the lowest buy-in and guarantee in NJCOOP history. For the first three years, the buy-in was $500 with guarantees of $200,000 (2016 & 2017) and $150,000 (2018). For 2019, as part of the overall drop in guaranteed prize pools, the Main Event features a $100,000 guarantee and just a $300 buy-in. It's important to note that in the first three years, the guarantee was never met but fell within a few players of hitting the promised amount. The PACOOP Main Event should feature a $150,000 guarantee with a $300 buy-in. Players looking for bigger buy-in events will need to look to the High Roller events which usually include buy-ins of $500 and $1,000. Game Selection Mixed game players in PA are going to need to show a little bit of patience. A majority of the PACOOP schedule is likely going to be No Limit Hold'em with Pot Limit Omaha players having the second-best schedule to choose from. The PokerStars PA client will probably offer 6+ Hold'em (Short Deck), 7 Card Stud and Duece to Seven varieties, but outside of a single Eight Game event, mixed game players will be on the sidelines watching for now.
  17. The second set of Sunday Majors since regulated online poker officially launched in Pennsylvania earlier this month drew slightly lower numbers than the week before in all but one of the five events on PokerStars PA, most notably the $100 Sunday Special which included a small overlay. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zgone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] 'AllinWithAJoff' picked up $7,201.46 for topping the 432 entries in the Sunday Special. Runner-up 'lilholdem952' earned $5,278.38 while 'Jaxrazro88' earned $3,869.04 for coming in third place. The event had a $342.40 overlay (before fees) just one week after passing the same guarantee by $3,329.60. The action began with the $30 Sunday Warm-Up where 369 total entries built the prize pool to $10,073.70, well past the $7,500 guarantee but the tournament had 26 fewer entrants than last week. The winner, 'teddy thc', earned $1,840.93 while the runner-up pocked $1,349.10. Third-place finisher 'thestickonee' just missed out on a four-figure score after earning $988.88. The $10 Sunday Storm had 622 entrants and the final four players all agreed to an even deal. Each of the final four players, 'IdiotSandwich47', 'Duke132421', 'WhyNotZoidberg?', and 'PegLegJim4', pocketed $617.25 with 'IdiotSandwich47 being crowned the champion. This event had 32 fewer entries than last week. 'MarcZumoff' topped the 57-entry field in the $250 Sunday High Roller to win $4,736.60. The last player in his way, 'dbrinker', had to settle for $2,920.91 as the runner-up, while 'BJLUD76' added $1,801.26 to his bankroll for finishing in third position. There were two fewer players in this event than there was in first week. The final even on the docket still had an overlay despite seeing an uptick in attendance. The $50 buy-in Sunday Supersonic had a 101-entry field, up from the 92-entry field of last week. 'Hooligan249' took it down for $1,155.74. Runner-up 'stixwoodphilly' won $855.38 while 'Shortstopmills' wound up with $633.11 for coming in third place. PokerStars PA $30 Sunday Warm-Up 269 entries, 100 re-entries, $10,073.70 prize pool teddy thc - $1,840.93 SmokeYourAces - $1,349.10 thestickonee - $988.88 u_bet_i_raise86 - $724.85 taz0022 - $531.31 Spotty_Pro - $389.45 minnissecret - $285.46 joedig - $209.24 Lachoy14 - $153.37 PokerStars PA Sunday $10 Storm Six Max 420 entries, 202 re-entries, $5,660.20 prize pool IdiotSandwich47 - $617.25* Duke132421 - $617.25* WhyNotZoidberg? - $617.25* PegLegJim4 - $617.25* MeadowsCasino#4 - $230.83 andytief2325 - $160.84 PokerStars PA Sunday $100 Sunday Special 305 entries, 127 re-entries, $40,000 prize pool AllinWithAJoff - $7,201.46 lilholdem952 - $5,278.38 Jaxrazro88 - $3,869.04 Num1HEro - $2,836.00 kiddonkachane - $2,078.78 D@ddy$hark - $1,523.74 mboyland6 - $1,116.89 potatodoug20 - $818.68 HeavyLizard - $600.09 PokerStars PA Sunday $250 Sunday High Roller 43 entries, 14 re-entries, $13,281 prize pool MarcZumoff - $4,736.60 dbrinker - $2,920.910 BJLUD76 - $1,801.26 89chief - $1,110.80 hashtagmtglife - $685.00 king12929 - $597.30 PokerStars PA Sunday $50 Sunday Supersonic 73 entries, 28 re-entries, $5,000 prize pool Hooligan249 - $1,155.74 stixwoodphilly - $855.38 Shortstopmills - $633.11 JSatch22 - $468.59 Schwibbs1 - $346.83 spenoit - $256.70 Phishfan717 - $190.00 SleazyAmishGirl - $140.63 Forever|GN| - $124.34
  18. In December 2013, the Pennsylvania Legislature authorized a study of the condition of the state's gambling industry as well as what may be in store for the future. Econsult Solutions was tasked with this challenge and has now released its report. Of particular interest to the visitors of this website is Section 5 of the report, entitled "New Source of Revenue" and focusing first on internet gaming. After detailing some of the history of internet gambling in the US and discussing what has been happening in New Jersey, the report moved into estimating the potential Pennsylvania market. Two approaches were used: econometric and rule-of-thumb. The econometric approach is much more quantitative and used demographics and regression analysis to draw relationships between revenues in countries where online gambling is regulated and places where it is not. For the rule-of-thumb method, it used countries with "well-developed" internet gambling markets that are seen as the most comparable to the US. The rule-of-thumb method produced higher revenue estimates for US online gambling than the econometric model. Econsult took the average of the two to produce its final numbers. The report predicted $3.577 billion in poker revenue annually if the entire US market opened up, as well as $4.922 billion from casino games. The total: $8.498 billion. The report then narrowed things down to just Pennsylvania. Again, two methods were used to estimate revenues: the first just used Pennsylvania's share of the country's GDP, while the other used the percentage of online poker that was played in Pennsylvania in 2010, according to a University of Hamburg database. Both numbers were very similar and, again, the Econsult took the average, settling on 3.61%. Thus, the report put the potential market for online poker in Pennsylvania at $129 million and, for casino gaming, at $178 million for a total of $307 million. In estimating the first year's revenues in a potential Pennsylvania online gaming market, the study went with 60% of the forecasted level, or $77 million for poker and $107 for casino games. However, in its weekly online poker Scouting Report, PokerScoutbegged to differ with those numbers, as it has always erred on the more conservative side. PokerScout saw the potential poker market for Pennsylvania topping out at $60 million annually and just $45 million in the first year (chart pictured). Also of note in the Econsult report are the firm's thoughts on possible i-gaming cannibalization of land-based casinos' revenues. The company doubted there would be any problems. It saw the online and land-based gaming markets as very different: online players can play for much smaller stakes, can play multiple games at once, and can enjoy the benefits of statistical tracking, whereas brick-and-mortar players enjoy the social aspect of playing live as well as the casino amenities. The report also stated that most internet play takes place in the afternoon or evening, indicating that it is simply replacing other forms of home entertainment rather than a trip to the casino. The report went a step further, arguing that internet gambling would actually help brick-and-mortar casinos by introducing a new market of people to gambling. These people could get comfortable with the games and then try their hand at the casino. As such, Econsult estimated the potential for increased revenues from the "complement effect" seriously outweigh the potential lost revenues for land-based casinos from the "replacement effect" of i-gaming, concluding that internet gambling, on net, would help existing casinos. Visit PocketFives' Pennsylvania poker community for the latest news and discussion from Pennsylvania players. PokerScout's Scouting Report is a daily newsletter for the online poker industry, with in-depth data and analysis of the market. More information can be found by clicking here or contacting support@pokerscout.com. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  19. [caption width="640"] All observers continue to be focused on the Pennsylvania Senate as the Keystone State crawls towards regulating iGaming[/caption] If you’re among the people waiting for another state to legalize online poker your eyes were squarely focused on Pennsylvania in October. Unfortunately, the month came to a close without a definitive answer as to when online gambling will be legalized by the Pennsylvania legislature. Here's a look back at the rapidly evolving legislative landscape in Pennsylvania, and a look ahead to two other states that are expected to resume online gambling legalization before the end of the year, and how a live tournament series in New Jersey could help push gaming bills across the finish line. PennsylvaniaIn one of the few memorable scenes in The Godfather Part III, an aged Michael Corleone says, "just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in!" This is a sentiment that pretty much sums up the legislative situation in Pennsylvania. Over the month of October, online gambling legislation went from being pronounced dead in the Senate, to life support, back to dead, to the House resuscitating it, to … your guess is as good as mine. Needless to say, on the online gambling front, October was a tumultuous month in Pennsylvania, and every time online gambling appeared to be on hold until 2017, the legislature kept pulling us all back in. A flurry of late activity in both chambers had online gambling supporters glued to their computer screens, and in the end, to steal a line from the late Dennis Green, "The Pennsylvania legislature are who we thought they were." Meaning the Pennsylvania Senate seemingly wants nothing to do with online gambling, while the Pennsylvania House of Representatives continues to press the issue. Last week, the Senate tried to kill online gambling by passing a bill that would temporarily fix the state’s most pressing gambling issue, the local tax share to host communities that was ruled unconstitutional by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last month. But in a game of political hot potato, the House amended the bill sent over by the Senate, HB 1887, the very next day. The amendments by the House not only made the tax fix permanent, they legalized online gambling and daily fantasy sports, as well as instituting several land-based gaming reforms. The Senate hasn’t acted on the bill, and isn't expected to for a couple weeks. With both chambers now in recess until mid-November, online gambling is once again in a holding pattern, with little clarity when it comes to the Senate’s desire to legalize online gambling. The situation will likely remain very fluid, or, as PocketFives.com's EIC Lance Bradley puts it; here's a live look at online gambling in Pennsylvania: Online gambling in Michigan: overhyped or a sleeper pick?Michigan may have snuck up on us as a potential candidate for online gambling expansion during the summer, but post-election the Michigan legislature is likely going to feel the heat from online poker supporters. The Michigan Senate is back in session on November 9, and has a total of 14 scheduled session days before the end of the year. The House is also back in session on November 9, and has 11 session days scheduled. According to the sponsor of Michigan’s online gambling, State Senator Mike Kowall, the reason this was put off until after the election is because the entire House of Representatives are up for reelection, and like most politicians, they'd rather avoid controversial issues until after their constituents vote. The turnover in the House could play a role in whether or not online gambling moves through the legislature during the lame duck session, but expect online gambling talks to heat up in Michigan in November. Looking ahead to California 2017The 2017/2018 legislative session won't officially begin until the calendar flips to 2017, but an online poker bill might be introduced before the end of 2016. It seems like a lifetime ago, but in December 2014, California Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced an online poker bill a month before the 2015/2016 legislative session began. Gatto was a new player in the online poker fight, but his bill really got the ball rolling and despite being replaced by Assemblyman Adam Gray's online poker bill, California made a lot of progress during the last legislative session. It will be interesting to see if heading into the 2017/2018 session Gatto steps up again, and tries to lead on this issue; an issue that has stymied the legislature for nearly a decade. 2017 will mark California's ninth crack at passing an online poker bill, but if history is any indicator, don't get your hopes up. Thus far the legalization of online poker has been about as successful as finding the lost city of El Dorado. The good news is a lot of progress was made on key issues in 2016. The bad news is at least one key issue remains: PokerStars. PokerStars hosts first live tournament series in NJWhen of the talking points online gambling supporters have adopted this year is the idea of Poker Tourism. The effect of live poker tournament series hosted in conjunction with an online poker site will be on full display over the next week at Resorts Casino in New Jersey, where PokerStars is hosting its first US-based tournament series in over five years. The success of the PokerStars Festival New Jersey, and the amount of hype and buzz it produces could help sell other legislators around the country who may still harbor concerns that online gambling will cannibalize live casino revenues (this has been proven false but lives on thanks to a misinformation campaign) and won’t generate foot traffic at land-based casinos.
  20. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] Leon Tsoukernik found himself the center of the attention in the high stakes cash game world for all the wrong reasons.[/caption] As the final days of 2017 slowly tick by, it's time to take a look back at the year in poker. Over the last 10 days of the year, PocketFives is taking readers on a trip back in time to recap the last 12 months in a fun and unique way. We'll get things started by looking back at the five biggest off the felt news stories of 2017. #5 - Australian Government Bans Online Poker American poker players know all too well how it feels to have the government step in and take away online poker. In March, the Interactive Gambling Amendment 2016 passed through the Australia Senate and effectively banned online poker Down Under. Over the course of the next six months, PokerStars, 888poker, and partypoker all exited the Australian market, leaving grinders there to play on black market offshore sites, much like most of their American counterparts. There does appear to be some appetite from politicians to regulate online poker or at least carve the game out, but there's no real timeline for either of those options. #4 - The End of the November Nine & Launch of PokerGO A major shift in how poker fans watch the WSOP was announced just a couple of weeks before the 2017 WSOP started. In partnership with ESPN, Poker Central announced they had acquired the global television and digital media rights for the WSOP and would be launching their own subscription-based streaming service, PokerGO. The WSOP Main Event would be broadcast live on a combination of ESPN, ESPN2, and PokerGO, and the final table played out in July, ending the November Nine concept after a ten-year run. While the decision to take the Main Event back to its roots was met with praise from poker fans, one of the major complaints those same fans had was that not all final tables were live streamed, as had been the case in years past when WSOP.com aired them. PokerGO later added the Poker Masters series and brought back Poker After Dark as part of their original programming and signed on the World Poker Tour as part of their streaming coverage. #3 - UB & AbsolutePoker Money Returned to Players Most players who had money on UB.com or AbsolutePoker.com on Black Friday had long given up any hope of getting that money back. So to say the news that the Garden City Group had begun the remissions process for those players was met with delight back in April would be a massive understatement. With little to no fanfare, GCG announced that players could begin filling out the necessary paperwork to potentially get their money back. The process was nearly identical to the one used by GCG to pay Full Tilt Poker players back following the U.S. Department of Justice settlement with PokerStars. Most believe the UB/AP refunds process was only possible because of funds leftover from that settlement after all Full Tilt refunds were processed. #2 - High Stakes Drama: Leon Tsoukernik vs. Matt Kirk It’s rare that poker fans get any sort of reliable information out of the world of nosebleed cash games. So when Matt Kirk sued Kings Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik after he failed to pay back a $3,000,000 loan Kirk gave him, everybody seemed to salivate over the details contained in the court documents. According to Kirk’s suit, the pair were part of a high stakes game at the Aria Hotel & Casino on May 27 when the other players quit the game. Kirk and Tsoukernik both wanted to keep playing allegedly but Tsoukernik had lost his stake earlier and asked Kirk if he could borrow money to continue playing. Over the next hour or so, Kirk loaned Tsoukernik $3,000,000 and quickly beat him for all of it. According to the court documents, just 15 minutes after the two finished playing, Tsoukernik texted Kirk that he had no intention of paying the debt. In October, the Clark County judge overseeing the case agreed with Tsoukernik that under Nevada law a gaming debt between two individuals is unenforceable and threw out eight of Kirk’s 10 counts. However, Kirk is still suing Tsoukernik for “fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment.” #1 - Pennsylvania Legalizes Online Poker In late October online poker players in Pennsylvania were willingly watching the live stream coverage of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as HB 271 came up for vote. The bill, which regulated online poker, casino games and daily fantasy sports in the Keystone State passed by a 109-72 vote. Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law just four days later. While there is still no timeline for when players will be able to play legal online poker in Pennsylvania, some observers believe mid-summer to be a best guess. Those same observers point to 888poker, partypoker and PokerStars as likely candidates to be operating within the state. PokerStars applauded the legislation. "We applaud the Pennsylvania Legislature for taking decisive action to legalize online gaming," said Eric Hollreiser, VP of Corporate Communications for PokerStars. "This is common sense legislation that will protect consumers, help close Pennsylvania’s budget gap, and make the state more competitive within the regional gaming industry. The Stars Group looks forward to working with Pennsylvania and its gaming regulators and competing in the future marketplace."
  21. [caption width="640"] An amendment regulating internet gambling introduced by Rosita Youngblood was tacked onto a bill regulating fantasy sports in Pennsylvania[/caption] Online poker went 2-for-2 on Wednesday. After the California Assembly Appropriations Committee approved a bill regulating online poker out West, attention turned to the other end of the US, where the PennsylvaniaHouse approved an amendment to a bill regulating daily fantasy sports. The significance: that amendment regulates online gaming, including poker. "It's terrific news. We look forward to the full bill passing the House," Poker Players Alliance Vice President Rich Muny said. "We look forward to positive Senate action as well. The bill already has momentum in the House. Next, it'll go to the Senate. Everyone in Pennsylvania should contact their lawmakers so we can get this done." House member Rosita Youngblood introduced the amendment, A08734, after a 45-minute recess around 6:30pm ET on Wednesday night. The rider was approved by a 115-80 vote and is an amendment to House Bill 2150, which would regulate fantasy sports in Pennsylvania. Now, at least in the Keystone State, the fates of online poker and fantasy sports are tied together. "In some states, DFS and poker will be tied," Muny said. "In other states, poker will be tied to other forms of gaming. Every state will be its own thing. We all have to understand the politics of each state." Earlier in the day, an amendment introduced by George Dunbar, A08621, to the same House Bill failed by a 116-79 vote. There was no debate about Youngblood's amendment, which essentially took Dunbar's amendment and eliminated the expansion of video game terminals, or VGTs, a hot-stove issue. In fact, discussion of Dunbar's bill was nearly exclusively about VGTs, namely how they might improve the quality of life in areas where they're located, how many should be allowed, and where they should be placed. There was also talk about how much of a negative impact VGTs would have on a fairly predictable source of revenue in casinos and lottery. It also seemed that a vote on the Dunbar amendment was going to be rather uninformed no matter what the outcome, as House memberSteve Samuelson said the 183-page amendment was not available until 10:00 this morning, leaving House members with little time to review. "Consequently, I have 183 questions," Samuelson said. Samuelson added that there's already internet gambling going on in Pennsylvania. "You have to be concerned about who is going to be doing internet gambling," he said. He also expressed concern over internet gambling safeguards, prohibition on gifts, the age of people working for iGaming sites, and the effects on the lottery and its beneficiaries. There seemed to be a lack of opposition to regulating fantasy sports, which could bode well for the long-term outlook for internet gambling and online poker in Pennsylvania. Take House member William Kortz, who said House Bill 2150 "regulates the fantasy sports industry, which is what we need to do… It's time to make this happen... I don't want to raise broad-base taxes. This would help us raise some much-needed revenue." Specifically, Dunbar explained that the House Bill will raise $1 million to $5 million per year from fantasy sports, while other components of it (not VGTs) would raise $250 million annually. Internet gaming and internet poker would be limited to licensed casinos in Pennsylvania. "I'm pro-gaming," Dunbar said. "For several sessions, I've pushed for legislation for internet gaming and internet poker. I've always viewed the need for this legislation as consumer protection. Internet gaming is going on right now. It's unregulated and un-taxed… We also get the cherry on top in additional revenues." "This is much like prohibition," he added. "If we vote this legislation down, it won't stop illegal gambling. This is just going to go offshore. It already is offshore." He emphasized that it's a bill that's really about consumer protection, echoing other champions of the industry over the years. Now, the online poker community will await a vote on House Bill 2150. No timeline is available.
  22. [caption width="485"] John Pappas, Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance[/caption] December capped off a relatively quiet year on the poker legislation front in the US. However, the month itself was fairly eventful. Let's take a look back at what legislative events happened in December, in case you missed it. RAWA Hearing Failures The most significant development at the Federal level in December was a House Oversight Committee hearing entitled "A Casino in Every Smartphone – Law Enforcement Implications." Organized by Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the hearing could have been a disaster for online poker. Instead, we may have witnessed the end of an anti-iGaming movement on Capitol Hill. During the hearing, Chaffetz's Republican and Democratic colleagues lashed out at the state's rights implications of Restoring America's Wire Act, or RAWA. The bill, which Chaffetz introduced, decrees that the Wire Act of 1961 applies to all forms of online gambling, including poker, even in the three states that have already legalized it. If passed, it would mean an end to iPoker in the US. Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson is the main driver behind the bill. Rather than a hearing full of fear-mongering like we saw last March, December's hearing was largely a victory for proponents of online poker. As Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas told PocketFives, "I can't imagine there is tremendous momentum for RAWA coming out of the hearing, but we know Adelson and the money he has will continue to push the issue. I don't think we can let our guard down. We have done an outstanding job, not just the PPA, but the industry, of educating lawmakers about the failures of RAWA and I think that was exposed during the hearing." [caption width="512"] Online gambling opponent Jason Chaffetz[/caption] At one point during December's tilt, Chaffetz was seen in a heated sidebar with another lawmaker. Did the entire affair catch him off-guard? Pappas explained, "He just assumed everyone was on his side. I think he was a little stunned to hear the opposition, even from his own party, saying it doesn't make sense on Tenth Amendment grounds and logical grounds. There wasn't a lot of enthusiasm for it." Close, But No Cigar in Pennsylvania While we may have witnessed the death of RAWA at the Federal level in December, especially given that 2016 is a Presidential election year, there were some developments on the state level last month. Despite much optimism, efforts to regulate internet poker in Pennsylvaniafell short in December. There, a bill from Representative John Payne, HB 649, was withdrawn for the remainder of 2015 last month. [caption width="468"] Pennsylvania State Representative John Payne[/caption] Pappas pointed out, "Pennsylvania is still very much a live wire. The budget negotiations are ongoing and the failure of the most recent effort is probably good for iPoker. We are going to be watching that closely. They're going to be starting on the new budget in the first two weeks of the New Year." In Pennsylvania, the PPA Executive Director could see a scenario where the state's budget includes an earmark for revenue from expanded online gambling, but no authorizing legislation like HB 649. Then, it'll be up to lawmakers to decide what types of online gaming are permitted and what companies can service the market. HB 649 would have allowed the state's 12 brick-and-mortar casinos to partner with an online gaming operator to offer online poker and online casino games to those inside Pennsylvania. California Gains Momentum Another state where we could see action in 2016 is California, the holy grail of online poker markets in the US due to its size. California lawmakers have been closely monitoring revenue results from New Jersey, which has regulated internet gambling, and have a keen eye on PokerStars' impending launch in the Garden State, according to an ABC San Diego story and others in recent weeks. "California is still very much a hope," Pappas told us. "It has been a struggle with competing factions, but we got close last year to some agreements. One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been PokerStars and the bad actor provisions. However, PokerStars being licensed in New Jersey means that issue in California could come off the table. That would only leave the issue of how you deal with the racetracks. I think there's a sincere effort to include them via a license or revenue share. If that works out, California could happen relatively quickly." [caption width="334" align="alignright"] First-year California online poker revenue projections[/caption] In October, PokerStars received a transactional waiver allowing it to operate in New Jersey. No launch date has been given, but Pappas called the development "positive," saying that PokerStars not being considered a "bad actor," at least in New Jersey, means Amaya, Caesars, and MGMcould all ultimately work towards the same goal. Pappas noted that the trio has "a powerful amount of resources to put behind a lobbying effort." Caesars and MGM have largely been pro-iPoker, while Las Vegas Sands and Wynn have not. In late December, it was announced that the California Assembly could tackle online poker as early as this week, according to Online Poker Report. Four-Year Wire Act Anniversary Finally, it has been four years since the US Department of Justice issued a memo saying that the Wire Act only applies to online sports betting, ushering in regulated intrastate online gambling in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. The opinion, which was released two days before Christmas in 2011 in response to inquiries from the New York and Illinois lotteries, has been a hot-button topic for opponents like Chaffetz. "It's not often that a gaming policy is enacted in a single legislative session," Pappas said of the speed at which US regulation at the state level has proceeded since 2011. "It usually takes multiple legislative sessions for gaming policy to become law. We're hopeful that 2016 is better than 2015 and better than the previous year. Getting bills passed is the ultimate goal, but we have to build to that goal first."
  23. [caption width="640"] Rep. George Dunbar is one of the key figures in pushing online poker regulation forward in Pennsylvania (photo supplied)[/caption] As the Pennsylvania legislature continues to consider the prospects of online gaming, the sponsor of the House bill to legalize iGaming remains confident. Rep. George Dunbar, who has sponsored online gaming legislation in each of the past two years, described the process as being similar to “pushing a rock up a mountain” at times, but the work to legalize online gaming in the Keystone State is almost complete. “I still believe that by the end of May this will be done,” said Dunbar. “I really believe that all things are in place right now. The ball solely rests in the Senate’s hands.” Last year, online gaming legislation passed in the state House of Representatives and Dunbar said he has “no qualms” about it passing again. Pennsylvania has been viewed as more likely than not to pass online gaming legislation this year and a joint hearing on March 7 between the state’s House and Senate committees which oversee gaming was seen as another step in the right direction. The marathon four-hour hearing included testimony from those for and against online gaming and while Dunbar said some of the speakers early in the meeting just wanted to “blow it up”, he believed that after all parties spoke, the meeting ended up being pretty balanced. Among those who testified opposing online gaming were Bob Green and Anthony Ricci, the chairman and CEO of Parx Casino, Pennsylvania’s most profitable casino. In their testimony, Parx argued that online gaming, and the lower tax rate that would be applied to online games would lead to a decline in casino tax revenue. They cite the statistic that two-thirds of Pennsylvanians live within 25 miles of a casino and believe that online gaming would just keep them home instead of visiting their local casino. But Parx is one of the only casinos in the state opposed gaming expansion as a number of casinos, including representatives of Harrah’s, SugarHouse, and Valley Forge, testified in support of it. “The reality is everyone has a motivation for something and you have to look for what that motivation is. They (Parx) already have the largest market share in the state and they don’t want to change that,” Dunbar said. “My fear is that if you don’t change you’re going to end up like Atlantic City.” The Associated Press recently reported that the availability of online gaming in New Jersey has continued to benefit Atlantic City casinos two months into 2017. As Pennsylvania continues to move forward with deliberations on online gaming, the potential sale of Sands Bethlehem is also seen as positive momentum. Sheldon Adelson, owner of Sands Bethlehem, has been the most vocal critic of online gaming expansion across the country. “Everyone is very much aware of what is going on there,” Dunbar said of his fellow legislators. “Squelching Adelson will certainly help pass it.” While there are no hearings or votes on online gaming currently scheduled, expect there to be more action in the coming weeks. Additionally, just prior to March 7 hearing, four senators introduced a bill to legalize online gaming that is identical to Dunbar’s bill in the House. Projections Positive for Pennsylvania As Pennsylvania continues to debate online gaming, two reports have shed light on the projected windfall for the Keystone State. The Innovation Group, who presented their projections at the joint hearing on online gaming, projects Pennsylvania to bring in $413.8 million in 2019, which if approved would be Pennsylvania’s second year in the market. Meanwhile, a report published by Online Poker Report and Play Pennsylvania takes a more cautious approach. They’ve projected Pennsylvania to generate $259 million in revenue in 2019, about $155 million less than the Innovation estimate.
  24. After a successful first day, PokerStars PA is back for Day 2 of its soft launch. Follow along here as Pennsylvania enjoys the second day of regulated online poker play. This story will be updated throughout the day. Update 12:00 AM: That's a wrap on the second and final day of the PokerStars PA soft launch. PocketFives will be back for one more live blog on the first full day of play on PokerStars PA and many believe that day will be Wednesday! Update 11:30 PM: With just 30 minutes to go on Day 2 of the PokerStars PA soft launch, the crowds are beginning to dwindle a little bit. After peaking at around 1,150 players earlier, there are currently just 659 players seated and no more tournaments scheduled to start for the rest of the night. The biggest cash game running is a five-handed $5/$10 No Limit Hold'em game with almost $6,000 on the table. Update 9:38 PM: What's in a name? Well, in Pennsylvania apparently it's the name of the live casino that you've partnered with. While players in New Jersey head to PokerStarsNJ.com to play, their counterparts in Pennsylvania punch in PokerStarsMtAiryCasino.com to download the software. It's not that PokerStars didn't want to use PokerStarsPA.com, they're actually required by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board regulations to use this URL (or something like it). Matt Primeaux, President of FOX Bet/PokerStars NJ/PokerStars Pennsylvania, explained in a Tweet earlier today. Update 9:01 PM: Just before the clock struck nine o'clock, another peak was hit for total number of players with 1,143. This far surpasses the peak of 745 from Day 1 of the soft launch and is a great indicator that the first day of full launch - expected to be Wednesday - could see another significant increase as players come back to online poker. Update 7:57 PM: Looks like we have our first Pennsylvania online poker Twitcher! Nick Amicucci, who is playing on PokerStars under the screen name 'cooooooch', is streaming some multi-table tournament play over at twitch.tv/trixter27. He's already cashed in the first tournament he registered for and has a few other tables up and running. Good way for people from outside of Pennsylvania to check things out. Update 7:50 PM: Behold! Some more firsts for PokerStars PA as the $50 Bounty Builder more than doubled it's $5K guarantee becoming the first MTT with a five-figure prize pool and the first tournament to award more than $1k for first-place. Update 7:45 PM: There it is! PokerStars PA as more than 1K concurrent real money online poker players on Day 2 of the soft launch. Update 7:33 PM: We're keeping an eye on the player stat as at 7:30pm PokerStars PA came within a SNG shy of hitting 1,000 players. Update 7:20 PM: With over 850 players on the site, the largest guaranteed tournament so far had zero problem destroying the guarantee in a hurry. The prize pool for the $50 Bounty Builder with a $5K guarantee continues to soar with an over $7K prize pool...and another 40 minutes of late registration. This tournament could offer the first $1K+ payout when all is said and done. Update 6:48 PM: Earlier in the day it looked like the Sit & Go buy-in range was $1 to $20. Unless we missed it earlier, it looked like some higher buy-in SNGs have been added since this morning with offerings of $30, $50, $100, $200 and $500. The majority of the higher buy-in SNGs are offered as Heads Up Hypers. Update 6:35 PM: The $10/$20 table finally filled up as 'TheOneSelf_111' was joined by '22EPL', 'breakfastball', 'GusRobinson' and 'dabigquk1' to splash around in the highest stakes game running right now. Update 6:17 PM: The $5/$10 has been on an off for most of the afternoon with game starters '22EPL', 'ToddLaxmen' and 'youbestnotmiss' trying to keep it going. Update 5:53 PM: Registration is closed for the first guaranteed tournament of Day 2, The Hot $10 [Turbo]. The tournament, which had a $1K guarantee yesterday, increased that guarantee by $500 for Day 2. Just like yesterday, there was no problem with crushing that number. The tournament had 282 entries (199 players, 83 re-entries) and a prize pool of $2,566.20. The winner, provided there's no deal, will walk away with $488.15 for their $10 investment. Update 5:23 PM: The first multi-table tournament of the day is in the books. 'hefnerrrr' topped a 212-player field in the $5 buy-in No Limit Hold'em event and earned $188.83 for the effort. On Day 1, this event drew 140 players giving Tuesday's event a 50% boost in entrants. While 'SugarDaddyPA' took down Monday's first tournament, 'hefnerrrr' won this one outright. 4:30 PM: WIth 678 players online, there's currently only one $2.50/$5 NLHE game running. However, the $1/$2 game is going strong with four full nine-handed NLHE tables and another four full Six Max tables. Update 4:07 PM: The current PokerStars PA Mixed Game top dog appears to be 'TheOneSelf_111' who is sitting by themselves at two tables - $5/$10 Limit Razz & $5/$10 Limit Stud Hi/Lo - each with $111 in front, ready to take on all challengers. Update 4:00 PM: The first MTT of Day 2 was the $5 NLHE Turbo which ended registration with 212 entries (149 players, 63 re-entries) which generated a $964.60 prize pool. The winner will turn their lunch money into over $188. Want to see how yesterday's slate of MTTs fared? Read: PokerStars PA Soft Launch Day 1 MTT Schedule Gives Grinders Hope Update 3:50 PM: The traffic on PokerStars PA continues to impress and is nearly double that of the traffic on PokerStars NJ. The initial excitement and hype around the PokerStars PA launch probably have something to do with that, but the population of Pennsylvania is roughly 1.5 times larger than New Jersey. Now imagine what happens if these two states ever get liquidity sharing figured out! Update 2:54 PM: The biggest cash game on the board so far (in terms of limits) has 'ToddLaxmen', '22EPL' and 'love2playpoker' battling in a three-handed $10/$20 Limit Hold'em game. Update 2:44 PM: Taking a look at the Sit & Go lobby, there is plenty of action with roughly 28 Six Max SNGs running at a time with buy-ins ranging from $1 to $20. Update 2:15 PM: Day 2 of the soft launch is off to a fast start as 440 players are currently online in the first fifteen minutes of the day. Update 2:12 PM: Good news! You can now add your PokerStars PA screen name to your PocketFives account. It takes just a few moments. Results should start showing up by the end of the week! Here's how: Login to your PocketFives account On the top right, click on your PocketFives username and select ‘Profile’ Choose ‘Edit Poker Names’ From the drop-down menu, select ‘PokerStars PA’ and enter your screen name and click ‘Create New’ Please note: It can take up to 24 hours for your screen name to pop up in your profile. Update 2:00 PM: A day after hosting 12 multi-table tournaments, the PokerStars PA lobby has 14 events scheduled for Tuesday. The Day 1 schedule had no problem blowing past their guarantees and the Day 2 schedule see an increase across the board. The Hot $10 went from a $500 guarantee to a $1,000 guarantee and the Moonlight Express also doubled, going from a $1,000 guarantee to $2,000. The big addition to the schedule is the $50 buy-in Bounty Builder event at 7 PM. With $3,500 guaranteed, it will be the biggest prize pool in pa online poker history (until tomorrow!). Start Time Game Buy-in Name Speed 3:00 PM NLHE $5.00 NLHE Turbo Turbo 4:00 PM NLHE $10.00 The Hot $10 - $1000 GTD Turbo 5:00 PM PLO $5.00 PL Omaha Turbo 6:00 PM NLHE $10.00 Progressive KO 7:00 PM NLHE $50.00 Bounty Builder $50 - $3500 GTD 7:30 PM NLHE $10.00 PL Omaha Turbo 7:30 PM NLHE $3.00 Time Tourney: 45 Minutes Turbo 7:45 PM PLO $10.00 Deep Hyper-Turbo Hyper 8:00 PM NLHE $5.00 NLHE Turbo Turbo 8:30 PM NLHE $3.00 Time Tourney: 45 Minutes Turbo 9:00 PM NLHE $20.00 The Hot $20 - $2,000 GTD Turbo 9:30 PM NLHE $20.00 Moonlight Express - Early Edition - $2,000 GTD Hyper 10:00 PM NLHE $5.00 Four Max NLHE Hyper 11:00 PM NLHE $10.00 Time Tourney: 45 Minutes Turbo Update 11:05 AM: Day 2 of the PokerStars PA soft launch begins at 2 PM and will be available to all Pennsylvania online poker players for two more hours than Day 1 with tables closing at midnight.
  25. Despite seemingly persistent rumors that Pennsylvania is on the verge of finally getting an online poker room, another month has passed without a hand of real money regulated online poker being dealt. It’s been two years since Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law that would allow for legalized online gaming to take place. And it’s been over three months since July 15, the official launch date of online gaming in the state. While citizens of the Keystone State have been able to bet on sports and play in various online casinos, poker is still nowhere to be seen in the market. In fact, Pennsylvania online casinos arrived right away. Parx Casino and Hollywood Casino launched their online casino immediately with SugarHouse Casino rolling out their online site just two days later on July 17. Over the past three months, there have been whispers that online poker was close to arriving. The latest had the industry anticipating online poker giant PokerStars to enter testing as early as the first week of October. But rather than that coming to fruition, the big news regarding PokerStars came in the form of their parent company The Stars Group being acquired by Flutter, Inc. “We’re working with our partners and the authorities to finalize plans and bring our leading brands to PA’s players as soon as possible,” said a PokerStars representative when asked about a launch date. “There’s a lot to look forward to, so rest assured we’ll be in touch with more details as soon as they’re available.” FOX Bet, the online sports betting arm of The Stars Group, has been available to Pennsylvania bettors since the first week of September. "It is a bit surprising that no operator has yet launched online poker in Pennsylvania, especially considering that Parx and SugarHouse have launched iCasino and have leading retail poker rooms in the state," said USBets Senior Reporter Brian Pempus. "Additionally, poker players have been clamoring for regulated Pennsylvania online poker for the better part of this decade. "On the other hand, with the sluggish nature of the Pennsylvania live poker market, coupled with the years-long struggles for New Jersey's online poker market, it's hard to imagine ring-fenced online poker in Pennsylvania being super attractive for any casino at the moment. The hope is that Pennsylvania is currently working behind the scenes on an interactive gaming reciprocal agreement with New Jersey, as authorized by the 2017 law. In the meantime, I still expect online poker to launch in Pennsylvania while the agreement is explored." Time is running out if PokerStars, or any approved online operator for that matter, would like to deal a hand in October. If an online operator already has an online poker presence, as PokerStars does in New Jersey, that company needs to undergo a two-day stress test of their Pennsylvania operations. Would-be online poker operators that do not have an established platform will require an extra day. As for when will that testing begin, the PA Gaming Control Board appears to be standing by. “When an operator is ready to offer online poker, we will schedule testing,” said PA Gaming Control Board Communicators Director Doug Harbach. Harbach will likely be one of the very first people to know when that testing will take place. When pressed for what he does know right now, he’s not giving any specifics but he does seem to be optimistic that online players will have some good news soon. “We expect the first test to occur with at least one operator very soon,” Harbach said.

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