Live! Casino Philadelphia poker room had us very excited given our excellent experience at its sister site in Maryland. We also had a very positive experience at Rivers Casino Philadelphia the day before. On the Monday morning that we dropped in for a bounty tournament, expectations were running high. Unfortunately, our experience did not meet those expectations.
Setting and Non-Poker Amenities
The Live! Casino Philadelphia is located just off Route 95 as it intersects 76 just south of the main downtown sights of Philadelphia. Our hotel in the center of Philadelphia was only a 15-minute drive away on a Monday morning. Live! Philadelphia is very easy to get to and has a large free parking garage.
The casino is right next to the Philadelphia Sports Complex District. It’s closest to Citizen’s Bank Park where the Phillies play, but Lincoln Financial Field where the Eagles play and the Wells Fargo Center where the Flyers and Sixers play are right next door. So while the area is not stroll-around friendly by any means, you could certainly try to couple your visit with a game from whichever professional team is in season.
Live! Casino Philadelphia is a full-service casino with a large main floor filled with slots and table games. There are also a high-limit slots and table game rooms. There is a Fan Duel sports book across the casino from the poker room. Live! Philadelphia does have its own hotel onsite and it receives generally excellent reviews on Hotels.com. There is a small lobby right outside the casino floor and function rooms on the second floor.
Live! Casino Philadelphia offers a number of dining options with a nice span of price points. The food court (10th Street Market) has Lorenzo and Sons Pizza, which we sampled, and the pepperoni pizza was very good. They sell a huge slice for $6 (about a quarter of the pie). The food court also offers a very good-looking bakery with lots of decadent options. Heather gave thumbs up to the cannoli while I played out the tournament to my bitter end. Morty’s delicatessen and Guy Fieri’s Taco Joint fill out the food court, but both were closed on this Monday afternoon, and apparently have limited hours and days. As with many casinos, there is a high-end steak house and a Chinese restaurant on premises.
Live! Casino Philadelphia Poker Room Comfort
The Live! Casino Philadelphia’s 29-table poker room is on the perimeter of the game floor, in its own space. The entrance is open to the casino, so some noise and smoke bleed in from outside. The poker room itself is of course non-smoking and features high ceilings and decent air quality.
The room is very large and ringed by television screens. It is fairly dark, and the lighting over the tables is variable. From some seats, it is a challenge to see your cards and the community cards. The walls and ceilings are dark colored, which contributes to the overall dim feel. The carpeting, like the casino floor, is very dense, well-padded and attractive.
The tables are well-spaced, and feature auto-shufflers, padded rails, drink cups, and USB ports. The room was clean, as were the felts and rails. The chairs do not have arms, but they are adjustable, have wheels, and are extremely well-padded and comfortable. The felts, cards and chips are all branded. The tournament chips are one of our biggest complaints. They are clean and not worn but the colors chosen all have a washed out look. Most colors are indistinguishable from each other across the table. Literally every player new to the room commented on this aspect of the chips. By far, the worst color selection we have ever seen for tournament chips. A quick peak at the cash tables indicated better distinctness there.
Tournament play was 9-handed, and tables felt large enough to easily accommodate players. Drinks are complimentary in the poker room. We were also big fans of the fact that the poker room sported restrooms in the far corner. No wandering the casino searching for a rest room at break.
Poker Room Staff
The desk staff signed us up for the tournament immediately and were very pleasant. Floor staff during the tournament broke tables in a timely fashion and seemed to communicate with dealers about breaks and rotations. Unfortunately, after a recent string of excellent dealers, The Live! Casino Philadelphia poker room dealers came up short. Not to say they weren’t competent- most had solid skills. But they were far less personable than most other rooms we have visited in the Mid-Atlantic region. A couple of dealers seemed to downright hate their job, and seemed to even question the quality of their own room.
The room also had a couple of odd quirks. Although we played a bounty tournament, no bounties were in our starting stacks. It was explained that the staff feels that players will abandon a low stack and steal the bounty rather than going all in. Thus, bounties are handed out by the floor as they are won. Also, a player at Heather’s table got up to throw out a coffee cup mid-hand and was awarded a 3-hand penalty immediately. No warning, no understanding of his newbie status at the room. Just boom! Penalty. The dealer was not at all sympathetic and seemed almost angry at his mistake.
The wait staff did not circulate as frequently as we have experienced in better rooms. The culture here could not have been more different than what we experienced at Live! Maryland.
Players at Live! Casino Philadelphia Poker Room
The players at Rivers Casino Philadelphia poker room on the Monday we visited were a mix of regulars and tourists. Players were fairly average, some strong players, but many were exploitable. They were certainly not the caliber we ran into at the slightly higher buy-in tournament at Rivers Casino Philadelphia the previous day. Conversely, players here were a bit more friendly and less intense than those at Rivers. There were a few who we saw at both rooms as well.
Cash Play Activity
Live! Casino Philadelphia poker room is a very active room for cash poker. On Sunday through Thursday evenings, they typically offer three to six $1/$3 tables running and generally one or two $2/$5 tables. Friday and Saturday nights, you’ll generally see 9 to 12 $1/$3 tables running. Usually, there are two $2/$5 games on weekend days as well. The Monday we attended, by mid-afternoon there were two $1/$2 tables and one limit table. If you are interested in cash poker play in the region, be sure to check out our Poker Room Cash Activity Map.
Live! Casino Philadelphia typically hosts one or two tournaments most days of the week. Sunday through Thursday there is typically a late morning tournament (11:15am start as of this writing) and an early evening start (6:15 pm or thereabouts). Most of those tournaments get about 40 to 60 entries and buy-ins range from $100 to $200 with 20 minute blind levels. Thursday night gets a few more entries, with around 80 players. Also, our Monday tournament ended up with 78 entries so a bit higher than what we had seen in tracking numbers (Monday had an average of 60 entries).
Friday morning’s tournament offers a slightly bigger buy-in ($250 as of now) and gets around 50 entries. Saturdays tend to have a single rotating event, generally larger buy-ins of $200 to $500. Some of these are even 2-day events with 30-40 minute blind levels.
Most of the structures for the daily lower cost tournaments are pretty solid for the price point. Starting stacks are a decent size, and blind levels go up fairly gradually, not skipping many levels. That said, the tournament that we entered appeared to play fast. For the larger buy-in tournaments, the Live! Casino Philadelphia poker room smartly increases the starting chip levels substantially, and extend the length of blind levels (increasing from 20 to 30/40). Rakes are also pretty reasonable, ranging from around 15% at larger buy-ins to the low 20% range for smaller ones.
Overall Assessment of Live! Casino Philadelphia Poker Room
Live! Casino Philadelphia proved a bit of a disappointment. While a comfortable room overall, the dealers were average in skill and below average in friendliness. The Live! Maryland sister casino was just such an elite experience that we assumed the culture of customer service would extend brand-wide. It did not. Many of the staff did not seem enthusiastic about working here. On the positive side, the room is comfortable but could be a little brighter. And those tournament chips… don’t get me started again. Just please replace them with chips that you can tell apart from a foot away.
Live! Casino Philadelphia proved a bit of a disappointment. While a comfortable room overall, the dealers were average in skill and below average in friendliness. Many of the staff did not seem enthusiastic about working here. On the positive side, the room is comfortable but could be a little brighter. And those tournament chips… don’t get me started again. Just please replace them with chips that you can tell apart from a foot away.