Will Social Distancing Protocols Work in Live U.S. Poker Room Settings?
It’s been more than a month since the live poker scene went dark as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Public venues, including casinos and poker rooms, all around the world have temporary closed their doors as governments struggle to contain the deadly coronavirus. As a result, major live tournaments have also been postponed or cancelled, including this summer’s biggest poker event, the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
Thankfully, major online poker brands have come to the rescue, hosting massive online poker festivals so that players can still take a shot at huge prizes while on home quarantine. For now, the attention has shifted to online poker, with some of the major live tournaments also being moved to the virtual felts.
The US government for example is considering reopening businesses, including casinos, but strict measures will remain in place to prevent the spread of the virus. In Nevada, the state’s gaming regulator has released guidelines for the potential reopening of casinos, but how would the physical environment look like inside casinos when strict social distancing protocols and table limits are implemented? Will it actually work for live poker?
The health and safety guidelines from the Nevada Gaming Control Board state that each poker table will be limited to a maximum of four players, and proper disinfection and cleanliness should be maintained. This means casinos would need more dealers to facilitate the games and ensure that the tables, chips, and cards are disinfected on a consistent basis. As far as making money is concerned, this set-up will significantly reduce the casinos’ profits.
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Will these social distancing guidelines in land based poker rooms be effective? Will casinos be able to enforce them consistently and will players be comfortable with playing in such a type of environment. This is up for debate.
Players Might Stick To Online Poker
Casinos may need to raise rakes, but this will only push away players. So essentially, the future of live tournaments remains uncertain for now and players will likely stick to playing online from the comfort of their own homes.
There are a number of major online tournaments for those on the hunt for huge winnings – the $100M-guaranteed WSOP Super Circuit Online Series is underway on GGPoker, PokerStars has SCOOP, while partypoker is hosting the WPT Online Series, as well as Poker Central’s Super High Roller Bowl.
Live poker players and fans would need to make some difficult adjustments when the “new normal” takes effect.