Poker Coverage: Poker Legislation Poker Tournaments U.S. Poker Markets Sports Betting

Linda Johnson: Where Is Live Poker Headed In 2020?

Poker Hall Of Famer Gives Some Predictions For Casino Poker After Coronavirus

Print-icon
 

Card Player Magazine, available in print and online, covers poker strategy, poker news, online and casino poker, and poker legislation. Sign up today for a digital subscription to access more than 800 magazine issues and get 26 new issues per year!

Linda JohnsonIt’s actually difficult to write for a poker magazine when pretty much all the cardrooms across the country are shut down due to Covid-19 concerns. This is the longest stretch of time since 1974 that I haven’t been in a brick-and-mortar cardroom, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it will probably be many more months before I am willing to venture back into another casino. I know that many cardrooms in the United States began reopening this past week, but Las Vegas still has its casinos shuttered as I write this column.

I’ve received emails, texts, and phone calls from friends asking me what I think is going to happen regarding the status of poker in the United States through the end of the year. Obviously, I don’t have a crystal ball or any “insider” information, so I can only guess. Here are some of my thoughts on this topic:

I predict that poker rooms in Nevada will not reopen any time soon. (In fact, the Wynn has already stated that the property will reopen without poker.) The Nevada Gaming Commission has approved guidelines recommended by the Nevada Gaming Control Board that limit the number of players at table games to three players for blackjack, six players for craps, four players for roulette, and four players for poker.

It would not be cost effective for any poker room to operate with only four players at a poker table. Many poker rooms were already operating in the red with a ratio of one poker dealer per table of nine or ten players. There’s no way they can afford to have one dealer for four players (it’s actually more than one dealer per table because dealers take breaks).

Also, there’s no way that any significant volume of players would be willing to play four-handed. From my experience, players at a full table often start to panic and get nervous when there are only one or two seats vacant. Cardrooms would not be able to take a full rake with only four players, basically making it impossible for them to justify spreading poker. Add all this up and you will see that reopening Nevada cardrooms won’t work as long as the current restrictions are in place. In other states where poker operators are able to seat six or more players at a table, cardrooms might be able to profitably reopen.

I predict that tournaments will not be offered in Nevada for as long as the Gaming Board restrictions exist. The World Series of Poker announced that it has postponed this year’s series, potentially until the fall. Sadly, my guess is that there won’t be a 2020 WSOP for all the reasons above, unless of course the restrictions for number of players are lifted in the next few months.

I predict that online poker will become much more popular over the next year. The reasons for this are obvious. Hopefully our lawmakers will legalize online poker in many more states as they realize that it is safer for people to be able to play in the safety of their homes, without physical human interaction and without the need to touch the chips and the cards.

I predict that the games will be a lot tougher when they do start again. Many “social” players won’t want to play under the restrictions or at minimum will take a while before venturing back to poker, leaving more serious players to battle it out. Also, people are creatures of habit and if they get used to not playing poker for recreation, they may adopt other pastimes and not be so quick to return to the tables where most of them have been losing players. Furthermore, serious players have had time during the isolation to study and improve their games.

I predict there will be many new home games. Players who love poker but don’t want to play short-handed will figure out that home games are an acceptable option until poker rooms get going again.

Only time will tell how this will play out, but I certainly miss the competition of poker, the social aspects of poker, and the travel associated with poker. I’m eager to hear your thoughts on the future of poker in the short run and the long run.

Please stay safe and healthy!

Linda Johnson is a WSOP bracelet winner and hosts tournaments, seminars, and charity events. In 2011, she was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. She is a partner in Card Player Cruises, and invites you to cruise with her on any of the upcoming Card Player Cruises trips. Please contact her at cardplayercruise@aol.com with questions or comments.

 
 
 
 

Comments

Mike12345678910
11 days ago

Linda, i can concieve of a senerio where poker could be played from the confines of a slot machine, properly socially spaced they could login to cash / tournaments and buy in just like playong VP. Just like play9ng online but in the casino and followong the CDC guidlines.

Jusy a possibilty

Take Care

Howler

 
Reply
 

Joel1234
9 days ago

Forget it! The casinos were not responsible if someone got the FLU or a cold while at a casino. 4 months ago we were playing 9-10 at a table when our Expert Government Medical experts said Millions will die from the Coronavirus.
They were absolutely WRONG! Sure people died, but not from playing poker in a poker room! The lockdown will end, the Coronavirus will be treated, and we will go back to poker as it has been forever!

 
Reply
 

samnelson40
11 days ago

Hi Linda,

Loved the article. I think all casinos could get away with 9 max tables. First the tables would be the same shape as before but much longer. There would be a projection screen to show what the cards are that were dealt on the flop and so on. There will be a light on the action and players still in the hand. There hand would need to be mucked with some sort of suction coming from the player spot on the table to the dealers mucked cards. I believe this would be possible but it take up alot more room.

 
Reply
 

samnelson40
11 days ago

Chips would be digital

 
Reply
 

mustgofishin
11 days ago

Are you gonna take all the "SHORT" tables off their hands? Ain't gonna be cheap! Like Linda mentioned Some Casinos would prefer to close to cut losses!

 
Reply
 

Joel1234
9 days ago

First, the idiocy of the regs in place.
If u feel sick, u stay away. Temperature checks to enter the cardroom.
I have no problem sitting at a full, normal table .
Have hand sanitizer for every player, and be done with it.
This nonsense of 4 players is absurd. I won't play 5 handed, let alone 4.
Poker will die. Period. if we don't set aside the notion that just sitting an extra foot and a half apart somehow eliminates all viruses from the air, is absurd.
Severe flu runs rampant thru the planet every year.
Despite that, we have 100k players flock to WSOP world series every year.
WuHan Virus is NOT a threat to the 98% of the population NOT at risk.
Activing as

 
Reply
 

mustgofishin
11 days ago

Forget it! The casinos were not responsible if someone got the FLU or a cold while at a casino. 4 months ago we were playing 9-10 at a table when our Expert Government Medical experts said Millions will die from the Coronavirus.
They were absolutely WRONG! Sure people died, but not from playing poker in a poker room! The lockdown will end, the Coronavirus will be treated, and we will go back to poker as it has been forever! IMO

 
Reply
 

oliveras19
10 days ago

FOUR ELDERLY POKER PLAYERS IN FLORIDA DIED FROM CORONA AFTER PLAYING POKER TOGETHER.JUST SAYING. ON THE OTHER HAND I SEVERELY MISS PLAYING PLO AT PARX CASINO IN PA.

 
Reply
 

David123456
10 days ago

First, the idiocy of the regs in place.
If u feel sick, u stay away. Temperature checks to enter the cardroom.
I have no problem sitting at a full, normal table .
Have hand sanitizer for every player, and be done with it.
This nonsense of 4 players is absurd. I won't play 5 handed, let alone 4.
Poker will die. Period. if we don't set aside the notion that just sitting an extra foot and a half apart somehow eliminates all viruses from the air, is absurd.
Severe flu runs rampant thru the planet every year.
Despite that, we have 100k players flock to WSOP world series every year.
WuHan Virus is NOT a threat to the 98% of the population NOT at risk.
Activing as

 
Reply
 

David123456
10 days ago

Acting as if a little "distance" or an idiot mask that has ZERO ability to filter jack shit when it comes to viruses, is stupidity of the highest order.
Millions of people have already had, recovered from WuHan Virus, without even knowing the had it.those same Millions come down with regular flu or chest cold , THEY know they had it.
We either stop acting like the plague is upon us, or we can kiss civilized society good bye.
This kind of outbreak will happen again.are we going to do THIS all over again?
That's just nailing out own coffins on our economy shut for good
I sincerely hope people get Fed up, and say it's my choice , bring on the games..
All of them

 
Reply
 

CG
10 days ago

Interesting she predicts Nevada poker rooms won't open "anytime soon", yet the same day this article is posted, the Venetian poker room announces they will open in a couple weeks:
https://www.reviewjournal.com/sports/poker/venetian-poker-room-preparing-to-reopen-june-5-2034337/

 
Reply
 

oliveras19
10 days ago

LIVE POKER AS WE HAVE KNOWN IT IS DEAD FOREVER. THE POLITICIANS AND THE CASINOS WANT TO PREVENT INFECTIONS AND ALL LIABILITY BY 100%.

 
Reply
 

keeentd
9 days ago

I predict all of the currently shuttered states that offer live poker, including Nevada and New Jersey, will be 100% operational across all industries starting Wednesday November 4th, 2020.

 
Reply
 

Joel1234
9 days ago

First, the idiocy of the regs in place.
If u feel sick, u stay away. Temperature checks to enter the cardroom.
I have no problem sitting at a full, normal table .
Have hand sanitizer for every player, and be done with it.
This nonsense of 4 players is absurd. I won't play 5 handed, let alone 4.
Poker will die. Period. if we don't set aside the notion that just sitting an extra foot and a half apart somehow eliminates all viruses from the air, is absurd.
Severe flu runs rampant thru the planet every year.
Despite that, we have 100k players flock to WSOP world series every year.
WuHan Virus is NOT a threat to the 98% of the population NOT at risk.
Activing as

 
Reply
 

PsychSetMiner
9 days ago

It truly boggles my mind that the NGC, in charge of the most robust poker region in the country, is so short-sighted to approve and think 4-handed poker is sustainable and think players and casinos would be happy. I might expect that kind of rationale from an entity that doesn't understand gaming but in Nevada? Home of the WSOP of all things? I get that they need new policy in place for a bit while things calm down, but 4 handed? Even 6-handed would be better and almost feel like a normal game. Some people might line up just because they are eager to play, but I can't see most being happy with that idea. I hope they re-evaluate and see what other states are doing and change to 6 handed...I might actually come to Vegas this summer if they make the change.

 
Reply