The first Pennsylvania online poker sites are expected to launch by the end of 2018. More than just the usual slate of cash games and guaranteed prize pool tournaments, these sites should bring with them sponsorship opportunities for some of the state’s best players.
The sites will be doing everything they can to grab market share out of the gate. That’s likely to include partnering with some familiar faces on the PA poker scene.
Looking at the PA poker landscape, here’s a list of five poker pros who should be representing PA online poker rooms soon enough. Plus, the reasons why these players are best suited as ambassadors for the game and online poker sites in the Keystone state.
1. Jake Schindler
As of April 2018, Bryn Mawr, PA’s Jake Schindler has $17,857,964 in career live tournament earnings. That gives him the top spot on the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list.
Back-to-back final table appearances in the final two Poker Masters $50,000 prelims at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada last September gave Schindler the lead over 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Joseph McKeehen.
However, a great start to the year has pushed that lead to over $3 million now.
The 27-year-old professional poker player posted back-to-back runner-up finishes in US Poker Open events at ARIA in February. Plus, in April 2018, he cashed in three partypoker MILLIONS Barcelona events, including a €1,750,000 win in the series’ €100K Super High Roller.
Schindler has enjoyed great success in live high roller events, particularly at ARIA. However, he built his initial bankroll as an online poker player. Playing under the screen name CaLLitARUSH, Schindler won a PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker event in 2013.
He did run into some difficulty online in 2014, when his PokerStars account and a more than $250,000 balance was frozen. Access was cut amid speculation he used a Virtual Private Network to disguise his location and played from inside the United States.
However, Schindler has history of success online and position as the state’s top-earning player live. That still makes him the perfect spokesperson for any online poker site in PA.
He remains the embodiment of the professional poker dream. He’s risen through the ranks online to find tremendous success in the biggest buy-in tournaments in the world.
Schindler’s life is a natural advertisement for the game of poker. And that’s something all PA online poker sites could benefit from being associated with.
2. Matt Glantz
Matt Glantz’ $6,612,118 in career tournament earnings puts him fifth on the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list. However, from a marketing perspective, he’s number one with a bullet.
The tech-stock trader turned poker pro who got rich off of Dell stock before becoming a well respected East Coast mixed game pro, is a family man with a playful and mischievous streak that gives him multi-generational appeal.
He also has enjoys a wealth of experience working as an ambassador for live poker rooms in the state. Glantz started out as an ambassador for the top-grossing poker room at Parx Casino. He traded that in for a position representing Rush Street Gaming poker rooms at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, and a second Rivers property that opened in Schenectady, NY last year.
That position also came with a producer and fixer role with the company’s Poker Night in America TV show and livestream. It was there that Glantz excelled at putting together entertaining lineups for the show and becoming a great promoter of the game and Poker Night itself.
He has since stepped down, presumably to spend more time with his family. He remains an ambassador for the Poker Night in America Poker Room at SugarHouse near his Philadelphia-area home.
Glantz widespread popularity as a player, coupled with his insider knowledge of the industry as a producer and ambassador make him the perfect candidate to represent an online poker room in the state.
Obviously, his existing relationship with Rush Street Gaming would give him the inside track on an endorsement deal with a Rivers or SugarHouse online poker room, should they ultimately open. It’s hard to say what Glantz’ price would be, but considering his history and reputation, he’s likely worth every penny.
3. Daniel Ott
Altoona, PA’s Daniel Ott finished runner-up in the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event. He collected $4,700,000 for the second-place finish. That vaulted him all the way up to sixth on the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list.
PA online poker rooms who believe in striking while the iron is hot would do well to sign Ott. He acquitted himself well in poker’s most-watched event last year. As a result, he is as hot as they get from a marketing perspective right now.
Ott, 26, told members of the media his interest in poker started when he saw the game on TV and he got started playing online poker. His story embodies the rags to riches dream online poker sites have been selling for decades.
Prior to his runner-up finish in the 2017 WSOP Main Event, Ott had just two live tournament cashes on his resume for a total of $3,656. Both were recorded this summer at the 2017 WSOP.
Of course, there are other players above Ott on the PA all-time money list, including hedge fund manager turned high roller Dan Shak and poker legend John Hennigan. But none have the marketability a runner-up finish in poker’s biggest annual tournament can give a player.
As a result, Ott would be a solid candidate for online poker rooms looking to sell players the original poker dream.
4. Matt Berkey
Leechburg, PA’s Matt Berkey had a big month of August in 2017. So big it propelled his career live tournament earnings up over $3.7 million. Plus, it put him into seventh place on the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list.
But its Berkey’s exposure off the felt that makes him one of the most attractive options for online poker sites in PA looking for local representation.
Berkey is primarily a high-stakes cash game pro. He rose to prominence in the live tournament scene making three final table appearances at the 2013 WSOP. Berkey gained even more popularity publishing a blog chronicling his rise. He was the son of a drug addict. He became a college baseball player and ultimately found success as a high-stakes poker pro.
Berkey finished fifth for $1.1 million in the $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl in 2016. He chronicled his preparation and run in the tournament in the PokerGO documentary series Dead Money: A Super High Roller Bowl Story. That series earned him a GPI American Poker Award this year.
Berkey is also a partner in the Solve For Why Academy Advanced Poker Training business. He stays in the public eye producing a video blog for the group.
Additionally, Berkey has close to $1 million in online poker tournament cashes, having played under the screen name Berkey11.
He’s a Pittsburgh guy. Plus, he’s got a popular public persona and success in the game, online and off. As a result, Berkey would be the perfect ambassador for any PA online poker room.
5. Esther “E-Tay” Taylor
Esther Taylor is a well respected East Coast mixed cash game player. She already works as an ambassador for the state’s largest and most successful poker room: Parx Casino just outside Philadelphia.
Cash games can help players earn a living. However, success in tournaments get them the kind of recognition that leads to endorsement deals. Taylor put together a 2017 WSOP that would make her an attractive spokesperson for any PA online poker room.
Taylor strung together eight cashes that included four final table appearances. But the big score came when she finished third in the $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed High Roller for $543,713.
After the summer, Taylor even managed to win a heads-up event at the WPT Borgata Poker Open. That further cemented her status as one of the East Coast’s best grinders.
If Parx goes online, Taylor would be an obvious candidate to represent the site. However, they’re likely going to have to pay up for her endorsement. Because others will surely be interested in this player. Considering she has proved herself one of the best in the region, female or otherwise.