Live poker rooms in the US are slowly beginning to reopen for the first time since mid-March. But it will take quite some time before the game returns to its pre-coronavirus state.
If you’re looking for a card room to visit this week, your options all depend on what part of the country you live in. Most poker rooms remain closed, but those players looking for a game may find one just a reasonable road trip away from their homes.
Where Can You Play Live Poker in the US?
Las Vegas casinos are permitted to reopen on June 4, although many will still remain closed, at least temporarily. Still, players looking to hit the felt will find a few places to play cards. That’s due to the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s four-handed restrictions. The Venetian is one of the few Las Vegas casinos that will give four-handed poker a shot starting on June 4. South Point is also expected to reopen its card room on or around that date.
Within a five-hour drive from Sin City, you’ll some other card rooms open including Talking Stick, the largest poker room in Phoenix (and all of Arizona), and the Jamul Casino in San Diego.
Commerce, The Bike, and the other Los Angeles poker rooms will remain closed until California Governor Gavin Newsom grants LA County permission to reopen its casinos.
In the Southern Oklahoma town of Durant, the popular Choctaw Casino — home to annual WPT events and WSOP Circuit series tournaments — is open for business. On Monday evening, five low-stakes cash games were in action. The poker room at Choctaw in Pocola, Oklahoma is also open.
The Texas Card House is one of a few card rooms in Texas that is back in business. Other Texas poker options include card rooms in Houston, Rio Grande Valley, and Austin.
Florida has multiple card rooms open, most of which have been busy since reopening. Places to play include Oxford Down (Summerfield), Seminole Hard Rock (Tampa), Orange City Poker (Orange City), Daytona Beach Poker Room (Daytona Beach), and Kings Court Key (Florida City).
Most other poker rooms in the US remain closed, but the live poker scene will soon return.
Poker Room Changes, COVID-19 Complicate Things
Although the live poker scene is starting to return, the game is changing in various ways that may last for quite a while.
Many casinos in Las Vegas, for example, won’t reopen the poker rooms right away due to the stringent four-max restrictions. It’s unlikely the gaming board will relax those restrictions any time soon.
Other states have less stringent guidelines. In Florida, for example, most poker rooms are playing six-handed games. Those are smaller games than what most poker players are accustomed to, but are often more appealing than four-handed poker.
Many card rooms, including the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa, have installed plexiglass dividers to help protect players from catching the coronavirus while at the table. Some poker players on social media have expressed their disdain for this, and argue that it takes away from the social aspect of live poker.
The live poker scene in the US is slowly but surely improving, but it could be months or longer before casinos can again seat nine-handed games. That all depends on the continued spread of COVID-19, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how many card rooms may never reopen in the wake of the pandemic.