Dark Tuesday: Lights Turned Off on Live Poker in America

We’ll call it Dark Tuesday, the night live poker in the United States unofficially died due to the coronavirus pandemic. But, make no mistake, unlike the online poker scene in America years after Black Friday, the live game will return.

live poker Las Vegas

Las Vegas won’t be shut down forever. One day, it shall return to its glory. (Image: CNN)

From coast to coast, card rooms in the US have closed down in response to the current global health crisis. Some properties, such as MGM Resorts, shut the lights off willingly. Others, like Caesars’-owned properties in Nevada, refused to close until being ordered to do so by the governor.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak directed all casinos in the state to cease operations effective midnight Tuesday. Hundreds of other casinos around the country were directed to do the same by their local and state officials. And with that, the lights were effectively turned out on live poker in America … for the time being.

Live Poker is Down, But Not Out

At 11 pm PT on Tuesday night, there were fewer than 40 total cash games running at the live poker rooms in the US, per the Bravo Poker app. There will be even fewer games spread on Wednesday as more casinos shut down due to the coronavirus scare.

Make no mistake, your health and well-being is more important than a game of poker. There will be a seat open for you at your local card room once this all blows over. Live poker isn’t dead. It never will be, but it’s still a somber day for the pros who spend their lives in casinos, grinding away at the $2/$5 tables to pay rent. Or, the recreational players who use poker as an escape from reality.

There is a bit of positive news for live poker grinders, however. When the Department of Justice effectively shut down online poker in the US on April 15, 2011, no one knew what the future would hold for the industry. That is not the case today.

Live poker most certainly will return to a card room near you at some point in the future. When will that be? We don’t know. It could be a month, two months, or possibly even longer if the coronavirus spreads at an alarming rate in the US. Just know that no virus can keep the poker world down for the full 10-count.

What to Do in the Meantime?

If you’ve become accustomed to playing live poker for 50 hours a week, your life is about to change drastically for a while. With the sports world also shut off, you’ll have to find some other hobbies to pass the time by.

In a recent article, we gave you 10 ways to get by during the self-quarantine period. We strongly recommend you at least consider some of the suggestions.

The top suggestion is to play online poker. You don’t have to go without playing cards for the entire month or however long we’re required to self-quarantine. Even in the US — especially for those of you in Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania — there are some viable online poker options.

Sites such as Global Poker, WSOP.com, or Americas Cardroom might not stack up to the old Full Tilt Poker site, but on this doom and gloom Dark Tuesday, beggars can’t be choosers.

Jon Sofen
Written by
Jon Sofen
LAS VEGAS -- Like many others, Jon began playing poker after Chris Moneymaker’s WSOP victory in 2003. Since then, he's become a prolific writer about the game, offering daily news coverage for the CardsChat community. Away from the table, he's a proud Midwesterner, and possibly the world's biggest Kansas City Royals and Iowa Hawkeyes fan.

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