Poker Player Reaction Varies For Regulated Online Poker in Pennsylvania

November 16, 2017
Poker Player Reaction Varies For Regulated Online Poker in Pennsylvania


The reaction from players to the regulation of online poker in Pennsylvania is a net positive in the few weeks since the news broke. There are various factors that temper player enthusiasm and players of all stakes have thoughts on the news.

New Jersey online poker grinder Craig Rubinstein recognizes the anticipation that Pennsylvanians have had waiting for the green light to officially come to their state.

“They’re excited to get into the action. They have seen what New Jersey players have been doing for the last three years and realize there is a $10,000 (guaranteed) tournament every night and $50,000 guarantees on Sunday.”

While those guarantees aren’t as large as what we see with the Global market, they are bound to increase once PA joins the online poker fray.

A new day for PA grinders

The availability of online poker gives new life to players looking to expand their careers. There is a high frequency of live events in the state and the introduction of online poker allows for more volume to be put in during all times of the year.

Take Brian Frasca for instance. The mid-20s working professional consistently plays live tournaments within driving distance from his home in Jenkintown, PA. Frasca is too young to have fully enjoyed the spoils of pre-Black Friday online poker in the United States. Now that he has the option to play online in Pennsylvania, Frasca is excited for the opportunity to grow his own poker career.

“I have dedicated a lot of time during the past few years to work on my game. I’m excited to be able to test myself in today’s online poker world. Having the ability to play online will allow me to play many more hands and allow me to develop my game even further,” Frasca said.

Frasca is a frequent tournament participant in the Philadelphia area and thinks online will keep him occupied to make fewer drives to play live.

“I do prefer playing live over playing online, but sometimes the long drives to casinos to play certain tournaments can be a bit much.”

There are dozens of Brian Frascas in Pennsylvania who will benefit from online poker. The question of whether high stakes cash games will return is a mystery.

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What will happen with high stakes and unregulated sites?

Before he was the 2015 Main Event winner, Joe McKeehen made his bones as an online tournament player. McKeehen grew up in North Wales, PA and has lived in the state his entire life.

Every once in awhile, McKeehen plays on unregulated sites and plans to continue to do so after regulated play starts. McKeehen also plays high limit games at Parx and doesn’t anticipate the regulated online action supplanting his live poker schedule.

“The unregulated sites are way too big and will always be much better to play,” McKeehen said. “If New Jersey was an indicator, Pennsylvania just won’t be that big. I think everything I’ve read so far is overhyping it but all we can do is wait and see anyway.”

Does Pennsylvania have the pull to attract new residents?

Those who live in neighboring states are also impacted by the news are and are considering making the move into Pennsylvania. Sundiata DeVore lives in Brooklyn, NY and like Frasca plays a schedule weighted in East Coast events.

DeVore is on the fence about moving closer to where he plays live. Before making any decisions, DeVore is waiting to see what the online action looks like first.

“I spend so much of my time between the casinos in Atlantic City and Philadelphia, as well as Parx nearby, that it would definitely be convenient to live closer to those venues. If the online games were big enough, it could be a factor,” DeVore said.

DeVore occasionally ventures into Jersey to play online and says limited prize pools make it tough to do so consistently.

46-year-old Satish Surapaneni moved from New York City to New Jersey prior to online poker being regulated in the state. Surapaneni is now interested in the prospect of jumping to Pennsylvania for the culture as well as the poker.

“Philly is a great city. It’s still relatively up and coming and cheap. It’s better than Jersey in terms of what it has to offer. I think the fact that because Philly is such a huge city, for someone like me, it’s more attractive.”

Answers still to come

At the moment we only have a rough projection of when PA will begin dealing online poker hands. That said, we do know the button-clicking will not formally be underway until 2018. At this stage, there have been no formal announcements about which online gaming providers will be operating in Pennsylvania. All players have time to sort out their futures and adjust accordingly when play gets going next year.

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