MGM National Harbor Delays Potomac Winter Open on COVID Concerns

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The 2022 Potomac Winter Poker Open at MGM National Harbor has been postponed due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in Virginia and Washington, DC. 

MGM National Harbor
MGM National Harbor in Washington DC has canceled its Potomac Winter Poker Open. (Image: MGM National Harbor)

The series was scheduled to run Feb. 9-21 at the 37-table poker room located in the casino south of Washington, DC, and across the Potomac from Alexandria, Va.

The poker room announced the postponement on Twitter. Though some speculated that a poker dealer shortage was to blame. Claude Purches, daytime poker shift manager at MGM National Harbor, said this wasn’t true.  

“Honestly, COVID is hitting everybody hard,” Purches told CardsChat. “Not just this casino, but all the casinos.”

COVID cases have spiked to record numbers in the DC area, as they have elsewhere in the country. As of Dec. 29, the seven-day average was 2,055, according to the New York Times COVID tracker on Google. Washington DC saw a high on Dec. 27, with 9,200 new cases.

New date for Potomac Winter Poker Open TBD 

Purches emphasized that this was a temporary postponement, not a cancellation.

“We were all excited to have the series back,” Purches said. “Obviously, life happens and we got to make adjustments as we go. I guess we’ll see how the country can fight off this virus right now. Hopefully, it will be scheduled sooner than later.”

The last Potomac Winter Poker Open took place in February, 2020.

Players who have already earned entries through satellites can either cash in the value with a shift manager or save them for when the tournament is rescheduled. 

The casino and card room remain open, with all players required to wear masks.  

Competing mask policies

Just up the road in Baltimore, the Maryland State Poker Championship at Live! Casino is scheduled to go on as planned from Jan. 5-17 — without a mask policy. 

The casino defers to Anne Arundel County’s mask policy, which doesn’t require them in casinos. 

Baltimore saw more than 11,500 new COVID cases reported last week, with a seven-day average as of Dec. 29 at 1,878. This spike comes after several months of seven-day averages near 100 or fewer, including a two-week stretch in December with no reported new cases. 

The MSPC is one of many tournaments scheduled for January as COVID numbers continue to break records. 

If only this chart were my investment portfolio and not cases of COVID in Broward County, Fla. (Image: New York Times)

For example, the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open will bring a massive influx of players to Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla. With 46,923 new cases reported on Dec. 29, Florida is the nation’s hotspot for COVID infections. 

Christmas Eve in Broward County, the home of the casino, saw 23,532 new cases. Its seven-day average on Dec. 29. was 3,362. Masking at Seminole Hard Rock is voluntary.

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