By Sean Chaffin
Pennsylvania gamblers received some good news on Nov. 4 when the state became the fourth to offer online poker with PokerStars going live.
The company also launched the PokerStars Casino, with both now available in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The launch also comes in conjunction with the FOX Bet sports betting app, which is also available in both states. Stars has a partnership with FOX Sports for a national sports betting app when more states legalize sports betting.
It’s a major effort for the company in moving into the Keystone State.
“We’re excited to launch PokerStars as the first and currently the only online poker option available to players in Pennsylvania,” FOX Bet President Matt Primeaux said. “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.”
As part of the launch, PokerStars promised thousands of dollars in freeroll tournaments and promotions. The site was pleased with the first day of action, and at one point the number of players even topped those on the site in New Jersey.
The company was also pleased with its first day of Sunday major tournaments. More than $140,000 was awarded across the Sunday schedule with many players enjoyed their first Sunday of online poker since Black Friday. PokerStars ambassador Jennifer Shahade is pleased to see online poker live in her home state.
“Finally, PokerStars is available in my hometown and I couldn’t be more thrilled,” she said. “Players in Pennsylvania have been looking forward to this day, and I can’t wait to be a part of all the action.”
PokerStars’ launch in Pennsylvania offers some momentum for online poker. After being stalled with only Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, there is now another player in the mix. Pennsylvania is the fifth most populous state with almost 13 million people. It borders New Jersey and Delaware, becoming a three-state block of legalized jurisdictions.
Some obstacles remain, including the Department of Justice’s opinion reversing an Obama opinion that the Wire Act of 1961 applies only to sports wagering. The issue is now tied up in court, but one federal court has already ruled the act doesn’t apply to other forms of online gambling.
The DOJ efforts put shared liquidity between New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware in jeopardy, and Pennsylvania will remain a closed market until the issue is clear. On the plus side, West Virginia has also legalized online poker and Michigan is attempting to pass online gaming legislation including poker.
WSOP.com and partypoker have also applied for licenses in Pennsylvania and could be coming online soon. The addition of another populous state like New York could grow the market even more. A path toward coast-to-coast online poker isn’t yet a reality, but additional states coming on board now offer players some hope.
Daniel Negreanu Wins, Then Loses Player of the Year Title
The World Series of Poker Europe produced plenty of news among American players in October and November, including a controversy surrounding the series Player of the Year title.
The 15-event WSOPE at Kings Casino in the Czech Republic would bring the second stage for the POY race and when it all wrapped up, it looked as though Daniel Negreanu had the title. That changed four days later when a calculation error was discovered and Australia’s Robert Campbell was named the winner.
After winning two bracelets in Las Vegas, Cambell notched four cashes in Europe. That included an eighth-place finish the €25,500 Platinum High Roller for €59,189. Negreanu is the only multiple POY winner and hoped to separate himself from the pack even more. Despite some disappointment, Negreanu took the setback well.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, but mistakes happen and life goes on,” Negreanu noted on his blog, FullContactPoker.com. “I’m genuinely happy for Robert Campbell because I know how much it meant to him and I also feel he was deserving, having won two bracelets this year.
“He is also a nice guy, which helps. When I got the news, I was oddly not phased by it whatsoever. I surprised myself. Not a single negative emotion or feeling of loss.”
In other news, 15-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth came close to bracelet No. 16. The Poker Brat finished third in the €2,500 Eight-Game Mix for €31,058. He came even closer in the €25,500 Mixed Games Championship – finishing runner-up for €238,509.
Another American made it a nice trip to Europe. Michigan’s Dash Dudley topped a field of 476 to win €51,600 in the €550 Pot Limit Omaha. This marked his second bracelet after winning the $10,000 PLO over the summer in Las Vegas for $1 million.
Poker Gets the Game Show Treatment
A new poker game show recently launched via Poker Central’s popular subscription PokerGO network. The network debuted in 2015 and streams World Series of Poker events as well as other tournaments and poker-related content. It’s also now home to The Big Blind, bringing the strategy of poker to a trivia show format with special guests and contestants betting on their knowledge of poker, gambling, casinos, and everything else Las Vegas.
The show is hosted by PokerGO broadcaster Jeff Platt and debuted on Nov. 25. The Big Blind airs on PokerGO every Monday and Friday through the final on Jan. 6, when the final three players will play for $30,000 in prize money.
Created by Poker Central producer John Bovenizer, the first season of The Big Blind will feature guest contestants including Norm Macdonald, Jeopardy champion and poker player Alex Jacob, music producer Scott Vener, professional poker players Mike Matusow and Chris Moneymaker, and more.
“At Poker Central, we are always thinking outside the box of traditional poker content,” company President Sam Simmons. “The Big Blind and its blend of trivia with poker strategy allows us to bring a fresh form of entertainment to PokerGO subscribers, bringing both new and seasoned poker players to the table for this fun new format.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and senior writer for Casino Player and Strictly Slots magazines. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for story assignments.