Live poker may take many years to bounce back from the Coronavirus crisis of 2020, although by the tail-end of this year, we might be saying ‘of this decade’. Let’s face it; no-one know when the pandemic will end, and poker players running models or batting back political rhetoric know only as much or as little as anyone.
We may, however, find out a little more about the state of live poker by monitoring live poker tournaments. Cash games are a guide to how well casinos have prepared their poker rooms, sterilised chips, or bought up on plexiglass screens.
Tournaments are quite a different operation, often involving players from out of state, and one such event takes place in September at The Venetian resort in Las Vegas.
The Venetian re-opened for business almost exactly three months ago, and since then has made sure to let its players know that certain safety measures have been put in place and need to be followed.
In compliance with the direction from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, all players and spectators must wear a mask or face covering while at table and card games. We also ask that guests refrain from smoking or vaping at these games. More info here: : https://t.co/DNzFZGgk5Y pic.twitter.com/HjgmG7GBio— Venetian Poker Room (@VenetianPoker) June 20, 2020
If The Venetian’s big multi-table tournament (MTT) is to be successful, how many players does it need and will it be successful?
Announcing the safety measures, the ‘Venetian Clean Commitment’ put forward various safety measures to restrict the spread of COVID-19, boasting almost 800 health and safety initiatives.
Speaking to Card Player, the room put out the following statement about the measures taken.
“In the poker room, we require all players to sanitize their hands before sitting down at a table, so players will find hand sanitizer stations throughout the room. In addition, we are frequently wiping down the tables, chairs, plexiglass dividers, hard surfaces, and sanitizing the chips and cards. We continue to make changes that enhance our protocols to ensure compliance and accountability. We look forward to hosting players back for one of our DeepStack Poker Series when the time is right for them. Players can continue to expect the experience they have always known and loved at The Venetian Poker Room, with the added Venetian Clean Commitment, which is a resort-wide initiative for all of our guests and team members.”
A powerful message that The Venetian believes in COVID-19 fully and expects its players to show the same care and attention to safety protocols as they do. Not surprising, you might think, but not every casino in every state has been the same. ‘COVIDIOTS’ is a nickname give on social media to those who have been christened as such for not believing in the deadly nature of the disease, despite several of their number suffering major health complications, and in some cases, death.
The DeepStack Showdown Poker Series takes place between September 7th – 27th, with over $400,000 in guarantees spread across 32 events. Having put single-day events on for around seven weeks, The Venetian will be hoping for enough players to cover the guarantees, but like they told Card Player, those guarantees have been roughly halved, but as Tommy LaRosa told Card Player, attendances have been strong since one-day events began and hopes are high for the MTT season to restart.
“We have seen tremendous support from the poker tournament community,” LaRosa said. “We’re excited to be able to provide this event to our players in an adjusted setting with health and safety in mind. Our priority from the start was making sure we could provide a safe avenue for our players to play poker.”
With the additions of plexiglass screens, eight-handed play rather than nine and stringent cleaning schedules, everything is in place for a successful tournament series.
All The Venetian needs now is players.