Isaac Haxton: Stop Playing Live Poker in Las Vegas Due to COVID-19

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Isaac Haxton is calling for Las Vegas poker players to stop playing live games due to increased COVID-19 cases in Nevada. Nearly 1% of all Nevadans tested positive for the virus in the past week. The high-stakes pro is also pleading with operators to call off upcoming live tournament events.

Isaac Haxton Las Vegas poker
Isaac Haxton is pleading with Las Vegas poker players to stop playing cards for a while. (Image:

Even during a global health pandemic, poker in Las Vegas is booming. Out of the 31 card rooms in town that were open pre-coronavirus, 19 have returned to business. And there’s certainly no shortage of action, despite Governor Steve Sisolak’s recent 25% capacity restrictions.

Even with limits on capacity, the poker tournament scene is ramping up with the upcoming WSOP Main Event final table at the Rio, a series of $10,000 buy-in events at Wynn, and a major-ish series over at Bally’s running until early January. Haxton referred to these events as “irresponsible” on Twitter.

Haxton Looking Out for the Las Vegas Poker Community

Haxton made it clear on Twitter what he thinks about playing poker in Nevada during a health pandemic, especially considering that cases are rising drastically in Nevada. Over the past week, the Silver State has averaged 2,727 new COVID-19 cases per day. Should this trend continue over a full year, 1 million of the state’s 3 million population would contract the potentially deadly virus.

“Poker is ramping up in Vegas, with upcoming WSOP and Wynn 10ks. Meanwhile, despite limited testing, 1% of Nevada residents have tested positive for COVID just in the last 2 weeks. Please stop playing live poker. Please, please don’t travel for poker,” Isaac Haxton wrote on Twitter.

Haxton’s comments were heavily criticized by many poker players. Not everyone shares his views on Las Vegas poker rooms shutting down. In fact, most of poker Twitter doesn’t appear to share those sentiments.

“Give me a break, people need to work … if you live in fear and want to stay home … stay home,” @archangel333777 wrote.

“If you’re over the age of 70, or have T2D/Heart Disease/Obese/etc stay home. Otherwise get out there and play. If you get Covid, you have a 99.95% chance of not dying. Better odds than you get on driving to the casino,” Rob Raede (@RaedeRobert) argues.

“Send me money so i can put food on the table and i will oblige,” @bjornallday commented.

Poker is similar to other industries in that many use the game as a means for earning a living. A wealthy poker player such as Haxton likely can afford to step away from the game until after COVID-19, but there are many lower-stakes grinders who rely on income from live poker to pay their bills.

As a result, many of them are forced to risk their health to keep food on the table. Haxton understands this dilemma and explained his reasoning for calling for Las Vegas poker rooms to pause until COVID-19 cases drastically decline.

“A lot of people are making that choice without as much information or consideration as they could. I hope I can coax a few toward what I think is a better decision,” he wrote.

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