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Top-10 impressions of the Parx poker room

17 June 2013


Pennsylvania has only allowed table games and poker for about three years, so the market is still relatively young. Despite that fact, there's no doubt that poker is booming in Pennsylvania casinos, especially so at the Parx Casino.

The Parx poker room can operate up to 45 cash games, and it hosted a World Poker Tour event that drew 500 players last August. Parx is now running its own tournament series, Parx Big Stax, and is the fourth highest grossing poker room in the country. Not bad for a little startup in the Philadelphia suburbs.

I had the good fortune of visiting Parx a few weeks ago. Here are my top-10 observations from my visit.

10. Location
One of the most notable things about the Parx poker room is its location in Bensalem, Pa., just a short 20-30 minute drive from downtown Philadelphia, and just a quick two-mile jaunt off of I-95. Beyond the location itself, the poker room is located in a separate building from the Parx Casino, out by the horse track. Personally, I loved the separation from the casino floor, and the ability to park close to the poker room is definitely a plus.

9. Red setting
Upon walking into the Parx poker room, the first thing that stood out to me was the rich red color of the carpet, the walls and the rail. I'm not sure why the color selection was made, but it worked. The lighting was soft, but adequate. The overall setting felt welcoming and definitely made an impression on me.

8. Game selection
I only spent an hour at Parx, arriving at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, so there weren't as many games running as there would be on a Friday or Saturday night. But there were quite a few games running at various stake levels. There were, of course, plenty of $1/$2 and $2/$5 no-limit Hold'em games, as well as $4/$8 and $15/$30 limit Hold'em. I sat in on a $6/$12 O.E. game, which runs practically 24/7. In fact, our table was the second one running at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday. Right as I was leaving, Matt Glantz arrived and sat in on a $75/$150 mixed game, and there was a $5 single blind PLO interest list going. I was impressed with the breadth of available games and very happy to see options other than no-limit Hold'em available.

7. High limit games
As I mentioned earlier, there was a $75/$150 game running early on a Tuesday, and when the World Series of Poker isn't going on in Las Vegas, the Parx Poker Room runs lots of high limit games, especially during the week. Games as high as $400/$800 aren't uncommon on the limit side, and there is often a $10/$10 no-limit Hold'em game for those looking for big-bet games at higher limits. The poker room's location makes it a great place for people who work in Philadelphia to come visit for a few hours after work without having to make a long drive. Atlantic City still has (for the most part) the higher stakes games on the weekends, but during the week, Parx has some big games for people looking to play high stakes.

6. Chip carts
Different casinos have different methods for getting chips to players. At Foxwoods, you can either buy chips from the dealer or they ask you to go to the cage. At the Venetian, a chip runner will take your cash to the cage for you and deliver your chips to the table. At Parx, an employee walks around the floor with a cart filled with chips and lets you exchange them for cash. I'd never seen anything like it before, and it seemed like a great, efficient way to get chips to the players. I wonder what extra security measures are in place to distribute chips in this manner, but it's by far the best I've seen.

5. Lots of regulars
Because Parx serves primarily a local/regional audience, a lot of the players know each other well, especially the players who play games like $6/$12 O.E. There was a lot of friendly banter back and forth as the regulars gave each other a hard time. It was a fun atmosphere – and believe me, I've sat at plenty of poker tables in casinos that weren't very much fun.

4. Friendly dealers
One of the benefits of having a lot of regulars is that the dealers get to know the players. I only sat down for an hour so I only saw a few dealers, but each of them called players by name and ran a good game. That's saying something when you're sitting at a non-Hold'em table. The dealers were appropriately involved in the conversation at the table while still moving the game along. It's a real art form to know when it's appropriate to talk at a poker table and when it's not. The dealers at the table where I played were great in that regard.

3. Good relationship between Glantz and staff
I met Matt Glantz for an interview the day before I played at Parx and he told me a little bit about his relationship with the poker room there. I got there about a half an hour before he did and saw him when he came in. He shook a few people's hands and talked to the floor staff for a bit before sitting down in a $75/$150 game. He wore a big smile that day and clearly has a good working relationship with the people running the poker room. Glantz is clearly involved in the decision making process at Parx, and that's a great thing for players at every stake level.

2. Good tournament selection
Parx has now run two Big Stax tournament series, and based on the success of the first two, they are likely to have another one soon, perhaps this fall. There are also daily tournaments available, with $120 buy-ins Monday-Thursday and a $230 deepstack tournament on Saturdays. While I'd love to see more regular mixed game tournaments, the event schedule also isn't too diluted, which allows decent field sizes in the events that are held.

1. Nice bathrooms
Last but not least, the bathrooms at the Parx Poker Room are unbelievably clean. There was no cutting corners in the restroom; stalls, urinals, sinks and floors are all premium materials. And unlike Harrah's Philadelphia, the toilets fill with cold water when you flush them.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.