Poker players on the East Coast have been waiting for online poker in Pennsylvania to launch since the gambling expansion bill was signed back in 2017.
Now that it is here, all eyes are on PACOOP, the first major online poker tournament series in the Keystone State.
PACOOP: Pennsylvania’s first online poker tournament
PokerStars PA is currently the only online poker room and it wasted no time in bringing its extremely popular Championship of Online Poker series to PA.
Less than two weeks after its Nov. 4 launch, PokerStars announced the tournament. Normally, scheduling a big tournament series when holiday parties and the NFL are dominating weekend plans is a bit risky.
However, it seems to be paying off for PokerStars. We are half-way through the series and every indication points to PACOOP being a success:
- PokerStars boosted guarantees twice to reflect demand
- Players collected over $842,000 in prize money so far
- Only six out of 29 tournaments posted an overlay
And let’s not forget there are still 21 events to go.
Of course, any tournament series is likely to be a success in a poker market that has been waiting as long as PA poker players have.
Are the inaugural PACOOP and online poker in PA doing as well as people think? Let’s take a look.
Want to play poker, casino, and bet on sports in PA from a single account? Sign up for FOX Bet today and get access to all three!
PACOOP vs. the first NJCOOP
The first NJCOOP was held from Oct. 15-31, 2016. PokerStars launched in New Jersey earlier that year in March.
NJCOOP wasn’t PokerStars’ first series in the Garden State; however, NJSCOOP, the spring version of the event was. In that sense, NJCOOP had about a six-month headstart building its customer base.
The inaugural NJCOOP guaranteed $1.2 million over 43 events. On the other hand, PACOOP started with $1 million guaranteed over 50 events. And as mentioned, it boosted its guarantees twice to reflect a total of $1,225,000 in guarantees.
According to Online Poker Report, there were “only a handful of events produced overlays.” Of those that failed to meet the guarantee, they did so by less than 5%.
At the mid-way point, PACOOP has already generated six events with overlays. Three of those were near misses, but three generated overlays that were significant. Also of interest is that four of the six PACOOP overlays so far are from Sunday’s tournaments, a day that typically sees higher registrations.
When all was said and done, NJCOOP ended up awarding over $1.4 million.
PACOOP, to date, has awarded over $800,000 in prize money for 29 events. If each of the remaining events only meets its guarantee, the series will award over $1.3 million.
It seems likely PACOOP will at least match NJCOOP’s prize money. It will, however, be doing so with more events on the calendar.
What about other online poker tournaments
WSOP.com and partypoker NJ both held tournament series in their first few months of operation in New Jersey, as well. And while each was successful, neither were as successful at NJCOOP when looking at:
- Number of events
- Prize pools
Tournament series events in New Jersey have been a key ingredient to positive earnings in the poker market for quite a while now. It would not be surprising as additional poker rooms come online in Pennsylvania to see more tournament series scheduled. Tournaments are attractive to poker players because of the potential for a big win. They are attractive to poker rooms because they bring more customers to the game and often translate to more cash games.
So, how is PACOOP really doing?
There is no doubt there is excitement in the PA poker scene since PokerStars launched. And overall, the first week of PACOOP events proved to bring plenty of players to the virtual felt.
It will certainly be interesting to see the performance of the remaining 21 events, including the $300 NL Hold’em Main Event with a $125,000 guarantee fares.
The one surprise was the lackluster turnout on the second Sunday of events. It’s too early to tell if this means anything. It is fair to say as everyone focuses on PA, that NJ had a strong start, too. Equally as strong, in fact.
This is a warning to PA poker as a standalone market. After several years, it is no secret that the NJ poker market is stagnant. It’s not dying like some are predicting, but it is not growing either.
What PA poker really needs for long-term viability is a combined player pool. It also happens to be what New Jersey poker needs to stimulate growth in its market.
We know shared liquidity in PA is on the horizon. Here’s hoping it arrives sooner rather than later.
PACOOP by the numbers (through event #29)