Months into the Covid-19 situation that shook the global economy, live poker is finally making a slow return to the industry’s most prominent scenes. Las Vegas and Atlantic City, mainly known for its wide variety of entertainment offerings, were once booming with crowds prior to the effects of the pandemic. With live poker inevitably put on hold, the majority of the poker community shifted its focus back into the online scene while patiently waiting for live games to be available once again.
Given the general public now has more information on the present health crisis, necessary precautions are being carefully implemented while businesses slowly reopen their doors. Since June, casinos together with poker rooms have begun to host a number of games under limited capacity operations. To date, a total of 20 poker venues are currently running in Las Vegas, while Atlantic City is following closely, reopening its first poker room in the area.
Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood Poker Room reopens
While casinos in the entertainment capital of the world were initially given the green light to open back in June, Planet Hollywood took the later route having only reopened its doors last week. Another addition to the reopened poker rooms in the famed Strip, the Caesars Entertainment Inc. operated card room is now accessible four days a week since it shut down nearly seven months ago. The 11-table venue which offers low stakes cash games and small field local tournaments, is now open from Thursday to Sunday 12 noon to 4 am while gaming floors are set to be open seven days of the week.
Similar to other establishments, Planet Hollywood’s poker games will also be played with a maximum of eight players per table. Multiple hygiene protocols are likewise strictly enforced to protect the overall health and safety of both its guests and staff members. In addition to the commonly required protocols which include social distancing and wearing of face masks, plexiglass dividers have been installed as an extra precaution to combat the spread of the virus.
With the latest reopening, only the Cromwell and the off-Strip Rio remain closed in the casino giant’s family of resorts in Las Vegas.
A total of 20 poker rooms reopened in Vegas
So far, 20 out of the 31 poker locations in Las Vegas have reopened, making enthusiasts hopeful that live poker may be back to normal earlier than expected.
Among the first to open their poker venues were The Venetian, Golden Nugget, Orleans and South Point followed by fellow card rooms located at the Aria, Bally’s, Bellagio, Boulder Station, Caesars Palace, Flamingo, MGM Grand, Poker Palace, Red Rock Resort, Sahara, Santa Fe Station, Silver Sevens, Westgate and Wynn at Encore as the last major poker room on the Strip to reopen. However, recent news dictates that the Wynn poker room, originally located on the Encore side of the property will temporarily move to the Wynn side of the establishment due to low customer demand. The shift nonetheless, will enable the card room to offer its services daily as to only four days a week.
Adapting to new health standards, all reopened venues follow strict measures imposed by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Plexiglass dividers, limited capacity and short handed tables have quickly become the new norm as a response to the ongoing pandemic. While wearing masks is non-negotiable in all casinos, poker players eager to play some live games have accepted the reality this Coronavirus health crisis has brought upon us. Keeping the poker economy going amidst the surrounding uncertainty has many poker fans simply thankful that live poker is available.
First poker room to open in Atlantic City
A big step for Atlantic City is in the works as its largest poker room is set to reopen this Wednesday, October 21st at 10 am. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa’s “The Poker Room” will be the first poker venue out of the five to open in the area. The 77-table poker room will limit table use to only 30 tables, less than 50% of its capacity with only cash games spread seven-handed. While no tournaments have been scheduled for the near future, players can grab a chance to scoop up the Bad Beat Jackpot starting at $100,000.
“We are happy to welcome back our loyal players as we reopen Atlantic City’s market-leading East Coast poker destination,” said Melonie Johnson, Borgata’s chief operating officer.
“We have made some changes to enhance our guests’ experience and are excited to reintroduce live poker and the Borgata Poker brand more safely.”, she added.
Comparable to the health policies practiced by Las Vegas’ poker rooms, Borgata’s card room will similarly implement heightened sanitation protocols as well as mandated social distancing measures and wearing of face masks in all public areas of the casino. Polycarbonate dividers between every person have also been installed in the tables with additional changes such as food and spectators not permitted inside the poker room to be practiced. Considering the careful reopening of live poker in New Jersey, a safe and successful next few weeks of operations will possibly lead the other four poker venues to eventually follow suit.