Blinds and Antes: Vax Status Mandates in Philly and Nola, Tuberculosis Scare at Sycuan Casino

Willie Nelson’s poker games, a tuberculosis scare in California, and new vaccination status mandates for poker players are just a few of the blinds and antes CardsChat picked up during another orbit around the poker world the past week.

Philadelphia Covid mandate

Philadelphia joined New Orleans in requiring that people show proof of vaccination before taking part in many indoor activities. (Image: City of Philadelphia)

COVID-19 vaccination status mandates to battle the recent spike in positive cases caused by the highly-contagious Omicron manifestation have gone into effect in New Orleans and Philadelphia for many indoor activities, including poker.

Starting Monday, casinos are one of the many places that must ask customers for proof of a COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test in the two cities. Masking is also now mandatory in these places. Poker players at Live! and Rivers casinos in Philadelphia, and Harrah’s in New Orleans, will have to show proof of vaccination. The rule doesn’t apply to the poker room at Boomtown New Orleans, which, despite its name, is located outside of the city in Harvey.

Poker players at Parx Casino, located just outside of Philadelphia’s borders in Bensalem, do not have to show their vaccination status or wear a mask if they are vaccinated. Parx follows Pennsylvania’s guidelines on COVID rules, which don’t require masking for vaccinated individuals or for patrons to show proof of vaccination status. 

Poker players can also show a negative COVID test within 24-hours of visiting casinos in Philadelphia — 72-hours for those in New Orleans.  

The negative test rule is temporary in Philly and will no longer be accepted as of Jan. 17. Neither city has set a date for the mandates to expire. Meanwhile, MGM National Harbor outside of Washington DC recently postponed February’s scheduled 2022 Potomac Winter Poker Open because of the current COVID spike.

Sycuan Casino

Tuberculosis scare at Sycuan Casino

As if worrying about COVID isn’t enough, customers and employees of Sycuan Casino in San Diego are being warned about a potential tuberculosis exposure.

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency began contacting people who may have been exposed to the bacteria-fueled disease between April 1 and Dec. 9, 2021. 

Symptoms of infectious tuberculosis include persistent cough, fever, night sweats, chills, and unexplained weight loss, according to the American Lung Association. Those who would like more information on this potential exposure should contact the San Diego County TB Control Program at (619) 692-8621.

Willie Nelson poker

Willie Nelson’s poker game details promised

A series of documentaries covering the long and wild life of Willie Nelson promises to include poker stories.

According to, Nelson is a longtime poker player who “has won high-stakes games against a slew of celebrities, to the tune of thousands and thousands of dollars.”

The multi-part docuseries called “Willie Nelson and Family” is currently in production and will come out later this year.  

Global Poker Awards

GPI announces categories for 2021 show

Global Poker Index announced the categories for 2021 awards that will take place at the Aria on Feb. 18, and which will be streamed live on PokerGo.

A selected voting panel received their ballots last week. The 26 categories are: 

  • 2021 GPI Poker Player of the Year
  • 2021 GPI Female Player of the Year
  • 2021 GPI Mid-Major Player of the Year
  • PokerGO Tour Player of the Year
  • GPI Breakout Player
  • Final Table Performance
  • Best Event
  • Twitter Personality
  • Industry Person
  • Tournament Director
  • Streamer
  • Vlogger
  • Best Podcast
  • Broadcaster
  • Live Tournament Reporter
  • Media Content: Photo
  • Media Content: Video
  • Media Content: Written
  • Players Choice: Toughest Opponent
  • Best Hand
  • Best Trophy
  • People’s Choice for Poker Personality
  • Poker ICON
  • GPI Award of Merit
  • The Hendon Mob Achievement Award
  • Charitable Initiative

More information about how the votes will be tallied can be found here.

Images courtesy of Steve Carter (, WSOP, GPI, Sycuan Casino, and the City of Philadelphia.

Written by
Bob Pajich
Bob Pajich is a poker news reporter, creative writer, and poker player who never met suited connectors he didn't like. Tips, corrections, complaints and kudos should go to

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