Live Poker in A Post-Pandemic World

Image Source - newsweek

Almost two months have passed since the covid-19 outbreak forced live poker to shut down in almost every territory around the world. Yet online poker has stayed afloat with players continuing with the grind from their own homes. Online tournaments have welcomed players who might usually have ventured outside into their virtual lobbies and several Indian and International poker brands have hosted huge events in the past few weeks.

Recent news regarding Las Vegas Casinos to reopen in order to maintain an economy in a city built on mostly their entertainment resources, has made us question whether live poker will come back sooner rather than later? If so, how and when?

This is indeed a troubling issue for many countries because how do you keep players from transmitting the virus when the cards, poker chips, and other items are all potentially contaminated?

Take a glimpse of what Phil Galfond of Run It Once talked about through his social media, a visual for what would be an incredibly complicated physical set-up to which many players commented that playing online would be much fun, much easier than resorting to this sort of table sitting in your local casino.

Its evident that the very future of live poker would be different. But can you really imagine this type of set-up for a tournament?

With poker likely to return in a post-pandemic world with a maximum of four poker players to every table, there are huge logistical and financial implications of such restrictions. Casinos are in the talks of having to employ one dealer to shuffle up and deal and another to sanitize the currency and surrounding elements of a game. Of course, incorporating this process will take a long time. Imagine the hours, given a long tournament play!

Coming to the financial aspect, poker rooms and casinos aren’t really making any money at present. Considering the fact that two dealers per table with only four players playing rake would double the outlay and half the income at each table, essentially cutting down the money these places make to 25% of pre-Covid margins.

As of now, live tournament poker would, essentially, still be in quarantine, Cash games would need to be a very high level for poker to turn a profit, unless rake is raised, which would in turn ward off players anyway. In any case, there have been, and will be many more big events from poker brands to keep the online action afloat and to maintain the rhythm of players without leaving the safety of their own abodes.

Things aren’t going to be as simple in the post-corona world for casinos, throwing open their doors and welcoming poker players. Before even thinking about reopening, any establishment has to submit a plan outlining how they’ll comply with the new rules and regulations. Then they’ll have to wait about a week before they can let anyone into their building. From personal protective equipment (PPE) to face masks, regular sanitizing schedules, the efforts to be made in reopening poker rooms will be huge.