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Live Poker Tournaments Are Slowly Returning Around The Globe

More Than A Month After The First Poker Rooms Began To Reopen, Multi-Table Tournaments Are Just Beginning To Run Again In Recent Weeks

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The coronavirus outbreak led to an abrupt halt of live tournament poker action in March of 2020. While the global poker circuit effectively ceased all operations over the course of just a few days, the return of tournament action is likely to be much more gradual.

The first major poker room in the world to reopen its doors was the King’s Casino Rozvadov, which is one of the largest rooms in Europe. It resumed operations on May 11, nearly two months after it first announced a temporary closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cards were in the air in Rozvadov for two weeks before the venue hosted their first live tournament series, called The Big Week, which ran from May 25 – 31. The venue has continued to offer a selection of smaller daily tournaments and short series since resuming tournament action in late May.

Stateside, a number of poker rooms also resumed operations with only cash games available at first. Casinos in Florida began reopening in late May, including Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, and bestbet Jacksonville and bestbet Orange Park.

The Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, which resumed operations on June 12, recently announced that they would resume spreading select daily tournaments on June 23, after having first reopened on May 21. Derby Lane resumed spreading tournament events on June 6. Both venues currently include a maximum number of participants for their events.

“We are going to start offering tournaments again in July,” bestbet Director of Poker Jesse Hollander told Card Player. “We will likely have three tournaments a week in Jacksonville and two a week at Orange Park, no-limit hold’em tournaments with buy-ins of $60 and $150. We will offer those in July, and hopefully will offer more starting in August.”

The Las Vegas strip reopened on June 4, and with it three poker rooms resumed operations: The Venetian Poker Room (pictured above before the outbreak), the Orleans Poker Room and the South Point Poker Room. The Golden Nugget followed suit a couple days later, and three more rooms opened on June 18 at Bellagio, Caesars Palace, and Sahara. The Venetian was the first to announce a return to multi-table tournament action. The room will host two $250 buy-in no-limit hold’em shootout events, with one each on June 19 and June 20, with an eighty-player cap for the field and an 11:00 a.m. start time.

The events will have a maximum of five players per table, and will follow the shootout format that sees each table play down to a winner before moving on to the next round. The second round will shift to four-handed action, with the winners from those tables combining onto the final table of four to play down to a champion.

While these rooms and others around the country, and the world, have just begun to host live poker tournaments again, no major poker tours have yet announced the resumption of their publicly released schedules.

“I believe to have large scale multi-table tournaments [running again], the most important thing is that some restrictions have to be lifted,” said World Poker Tour Executive Tour Director Matt Savage. “Travel restrictions so that players can attend, capacity restrictions so that tournaments don’t have to be capped, and player per table restrictions so that tournaments can be played more than six-handed so that the properties that are open are fine with giving up cash games to run less profitable tournaments while maximizing attendance.”

Savage spoke to Card Player about the Coronavirus’ impact on the live tournament scene back in late April. In that discussion, he highlighted the most important factor for himself and other tournament organizers: the wellbeing of those involved in putting on and playing in potential events.

“The top priorities for us are to make sure that the players are safe and make sure our staff are safe,” said Savage.