On Tuesday, we told you the poker community didn’t seem fazed by the coronavirus scare. Well, two days later and it appears many in Las Vegas are now more concerned with the threat of this potentially deadly virus.
Las Vegas poker rooms didn’t see a big drop in attendance the past few weeks, despite growing concerns of the coronavirus. But the Strip, home to most of the major casinos in Sin City, is slowly becoming a ghost town. And much of the poker community around town is starting to stay away from brick-and-mortar card rooms.
Earlier this week, Daniel Negreanu emphatically urged all poker rooms to close. Most in Las Vegas haven’t listened to him — though it seems many players are temporarily avoiding the casinos on their own.
Coronavirus Spooks Players
On any given evening, a poker room such as Aria in Las Vegas will have anywhere from 15-20 cash games running. And, most of the time, there’s a fairly sizable wait-list, especially at this time of year with March Madness, Spring Break, and St. Patrick’s Day all on the horizon.
But if you were unaware of the current global health crisis — although we aren’t sure how that would even be possible — and walked around the casinos on the Strip today, you might wonder if poker is dead. It’s not, but many players are starting to steer clear of casinos and other popular public establishments.
Cash games were running on Thursday evening, but most card rooms saw a massive decline in attendance compared to a normal March day. At Bellagio, which boasts one of the most famous poker rooms in the world, only nine cash games were running as of 5 pm, including just two $1/$3 no-limit hold’em games, far fewer than nearly any regular evening.
Some casinos, like Harrah’s, had no cash games running. Even at major poker rooms such as Wynn, Venetian, and Aria, the number of cash games being spread was in the single digits.
The Orleans, curiously, was the busiest poker room in Las Vegas — with 18 games running in the early evening. That seemed a little strange, considering this card room attracts an older demographic that the CDC says is most at risk from COVID-19. Then again, nothing seems quite normal right now.
High-Profile Local Pros Avoiding Casinos
Joey Ingram loves the “great game of pot-limit Omaha” as much as anyone, but he’s more concerned with his health than with playing poker right now. You won’t find him among the few who brave the live poker scene during the coronavirus pandemic.
I will not be playing live poker again for the foreseeable future and I suggest to others that they consider the risk before also doing so.
I love to gamble as much as the next person but this seems like a better spot to sit it out on the sidelines.
— Joey Ingram #passion (@Joeingram1) March 12, 2020
Ingram said on Twitter he’s well-prepared to self-quarantine given his online poker experience. He shared a piece of advice for the live players who may now be forced to transition to the internet poker scene.
“Don’t jack off all day long,” he wrote.
Thanks for the advice, Joey.