For online poker players, #socialdistancing has always been a choice. Presently, this isn’t the case due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The internet has been flooded with virus updates everyday, google alerts and trusted websites like WHO have been constantly pressing upon the severity of the issue! Social media platforms are more viral than the virus itself, it seems. Indeed, this has impacted several industries and niches like that of global trade, stock exchange, tourism and the people as well on a more local level. In many countries, panic buying has become a problem, borders have been closed and travel bans have been imposed to curb this entire situation. With this sudden, widespread occurrence of an undesirable phenomenon before us, let’s take a moment to discuss the impacts on the gaming industry, majorly poker.

Popular Tournaments Are Being Cancelled

Many tournaments and events have been postponed or cancelled due to the very situation.

The WSOP hasn’t yet released a statement on the same, which is scheduled to commence on 26th May. As of 14th March, here’s the list of poker tournaments that have been officially cancelled or postponed. Check back for more details on the same.

  • WSOP Circuit (Hard Rock Tulsa)
  • Heartland Poker Tour (Cincinnati)
  • WSOP Circuit (Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles)
  • WSOP Circuit (Harrah’s in Atlantic City)
  • WSOP Circuit (King’s Resort in Rozvadov, Czech Republic)
  • WPT Deepstacks Amsterdam (Holland Casino)
  • WPT Deepstacks Maryland (Maryland Live Casino)
  • WPT Deepstacks Jacksonville (Bestbet Casino)
  • WPT Deepstacks Championship (Thunder Valley Resort in Lincoln, California)
  • WPT Deepstacks European Championship (Casino Barrière Deauville in France)
  • WPT Main Tour (Venetian in Las Vegas)
  • WPT Main Tour (Casino Barcelona in Spain)
  • WPT Main Tour (Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in Hollywood, Florida)
  • WPT 500 (Casino Barcelona in Spain)
  • Heartland Poker Tour Mini Series (Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio)
  • Mid-States Poker Tour (Meskwaki Casino in Tama, Iowa)
  • Colorado Poker Championship (Golden Gates Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado)
  • Wynn Spring Poker Classic Main Event (Wynn Resort in Las Vegas)
  • US Poker Open (PokerGo Studio in Las Vegas)

What’s Happening With Macau Casinos?

If you know how this all began, this wouldn’t be news to you. The first COVID-19 case was recorded in Wuhan, China. Most parts of China are in complete lockdown and now might be re-opening for business. Of course, China doesn’t allow the likes of poker to be played, being a communist country; but there’s Macau which has more than 75% of its casino patrons coming from China. This led to all of the Macau casinos to shut down for almost 2 weeks, which came at a cost of billions of dollars!

Even after the reopening of Macau’s casinos, it is being said that they’re still suffering major losses with Chinese citizens still in lockdown. Then there are tourists and travelers from other countries who can’t come due to travel bans and regulations, and the fear of catching the virus. This is just the case of Macau, we all know it’s now happening with almost every live poker room and casino operating in different parts of the world.

Coronavirus Testing at Ongoing Events

The Asian Poker Tour (APT) series landed in Taiwan recently, and the following statement was made on social media last week:

“As we welcome everyone, we also make sure that proper precautionary measures are being taken during the event.

To ensure the safety of the players and staff, APT and CTP are taking daily practice of preventive actions like temperature checking and also provide complete prevention supplies like hand sanitizers, tissues, disposable masks, and hypochlorous acid water generator that serves as room antibacterial sterilizer and deodorizer”.

The statement also included pictures of a tournament play in action. These pictures tell us just how terrifying the thought of entering into a highly affected country’s poker room would be. Pressing times call for pressing measures, don’t they?

Image Source: Asian Poker Tour

Online Gaming Platforms To The Rescue

No need to panic when we have online poker playing sites right at the comfort of our own home! Infact, this situation offers another good reason to advocate for the complete globalized legalization of online gaming.

Increased online play showed its first signs coming from Europe. In Italy, where it’s a complete lockdown for many, it’s evident that online traffic would be increased drastically!

PokerStars peaked at more than 2700 cash game players last week, according to data provided by PokerScout. Combined with other sites, there were around 5,000 players at the tables in Italy during peak hours, just about double the regular traffic level.

With such a dramatic rise in online trends, several poker sites have added more events for tournament players. WPT launched an online series, with Partypoker that has 10 featured events offering $30 million in guaranteed prize money this May. The Irish Poker Open also shifted its festival online through Partypoker.

In the US, WSOP announced an Online Super Circuit Series to replace the live WSOP Circuit, which was postponed amongst many tournaments. The Online Super Series which commenced on 14th March, will award 18 gold rings to players and is currently underway for players in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

In India, live poker tournaments have also been postponed with dates being altered. The state governments are putting a halt on public gatherings of more than 20 people including live poker rooms, movie halls and theatres that will remain shut for the time being. PokerBaazi Live has also postponed its live tournaments aboard the Casino Pride 2 Vessel in Goa this season. The PokerBaazi Premier League’s (PPL) HighRoller and MoneyMaker FT which had to commence on the 13th and 14th of April 2020 will now be conducted online on the same dates. India’s biggest ever poker tournament, the National Poker Series (NPS) now stands postponed as well.

What Now?

If there is a silver lining in this crisis, it may be that the virus is pushing us to use the internet as it was always meant to be used – to connect with one another digitally, share useful information and resources and come up with collective solutions to resolve a problem. After all, social distancing and quarantining yourself and at the same time maintaining personal hygiene is one of the few things we could do to save ourselves and everyone else around us. So, sit comfortably and play online on your favorite poker portals! Leave it to us to bring the best of poker from around the world right to your smartphone screens.