Ending the year with some good news, the heavily affected Asia-Pacific region is slowly seeing a return of live poker games into the scene. While the past ten months has been definitely a rocky road for most, the recent reopening has the local poker communities filled with excitement as cash games become available once again.
Manila, which has been a popular poker hub within the region, is welcoming its first breakthrough since the pandemic began with PokerStars Live at Okada Manila having resumed operations just yesterday. Additionally, Star Poker Gold Coast located in Queensland, Australia is scheduled to be back with its 7-handed cash game tables this December 11th. Surely a sweet treat for poker enthusiasts right before Christmas, this announcement may hopefully result in other live poker venues eventually following suit.
PokerStars Live reopen at Okada Manila
With the Philippines being one of the hotspots for Covid-19 in recent months, live poker all across the country has been inevitably put on hold. For most of the year, no clear news of any live poker venues reopening has been heard especially with the whole metro set to remain in general lockdown for the rest of 2020. It came as a nice surprise for the local community when PokerStars made the announcement of the reopening of its Manila poker room in Okada, Manila earlier this week.
Opened yesterday, December 8, the PokerStars Live venue is now back with its cash game offerings operating at a maximum of six players per table. Rake remains at a high rate of 10% in comparison to the standard and is set to be reduced to half if only 5 or less players are on the table. Health and safety precautions have also been considered which requires guests to wear their face masks and face shields at all times while in the property, in addition to the glass dividers installed and frequent disinfection practices.
“The PokerStars Live Manila poker room opens once again from 12pm on Tuesday, December 8. Player safety and comfort is our number one priority. As well as the full range of safety measures in place at the Okada Manila hotel, all poker tables will include poker barriers and a UV light chip scanner.”, PokerStars announced on its main Facebook page.
Home to the country’s biggest poker festivals such as the Red Dragon Manila and Asia Pacific Poker Tour, PokerStars made no mention of its tournament schedule resuming anytime soon. Despite the lack of tournament action in the metro, players can snag a chance of winning the venue’s Bad Beat Jackpot valued at PHP 7,577,224.50 (~USD 157,602) back when it temporarily closed down in March. Keeping the same amount on display, even a table share of the claimed prize will award players a minimum of over PHP 750k, making the losing hand and winning hand players instant millionaires!
Cash games back at Star Poker Gold Coast
Two Queensland casinos, Treasury Brisbane and The Star Gold Coast are also scheduled to reopen its cash game poker tables this December 11th as announced by their parent company, Star Entertainment group. The exciting news comes in following of eased restrictions issued by the state government earlier this month.
“We’ve got an early Christmas present for all of you, and no it’s not socks! CASH GAMES are back baby and we can’t wait to see all of your faces again! We will be back from 12pm this Friday 11 December! Then from Saturday 12 December onwards we will be open every day from 10am.”, posted Star Poker Gold Coast on its social media account.
Returning back to the scene, cash games are set to be 7-handed in conjunction with the increased number of people allowed per table from the initial four to seven. A step towards a post-pandemic comeback, players will most likely have to wait a bit more for its popular tournaments to resume.
The cancellation of its live poker events for the year which included the Australia stops for the WPT and WPTDeepStacks festivals brought an unavoidable disappointment for many local and international players. However with a vaccine currently in the works, WPT is optimistic its scheduled WPTDeepStacks Gold Coast series beginning April 23 – May 3, 2021 can possibly ensue. With the new year still remaining somewhat uncertain, players can only hope for the best while operators make sure public health and safety are at their top priority.
The first WPTDeepStacks Australia stop in September 2019 brought a smashing success across its 10-tournament line-up. Its Main Event alone recorded 658 entries which generated a total prize pool of AUD 1,480,500 (~USD 996,212). Local player Hari Varma took home the champion title along with his biggest live cash of AUD 274,247 (~USD 184,537) for the outstanding win.