The coronavirus pandemic has influenced almost every aspect of private and professional life, and of course the live poker scene certainly wasn’t spared from it either. All casinos and poker rooms had to close their doors, at least temporarily. For these businesses, industry employees, and the people who make living playing live poker, this was a big blow.
However, things weren’t all bad as far as poker is concerned. If you look at things from a slightly different angle, there are quite a few silver linings that came out of this unfortunate situation. Moving forward, live poker may be different to what it used to be but some changes are quite welcome.
1. Poker players will take hygiene more seriously
As basic a thing as this might be, the COVID-19 outbreak made people much more aware of how important it is to regularly wash their hands. This has always been a big issue in poker rooms and, in the past, some players even resorted to public naming and shaming of those who refused to wash their hands after visiting the toilets during the WSOP.
This might finally start to change with people realizing there is a real threat out there and one of the best ways to protect themselves and others is by regularly washing their hands. With a bit of luck and peer pressure, this will become a common practice that will stick around even long after the Coronavirus crisis is behind us.
2. Poker rooms will do more to maintain a clean environment
It isn’t just the players who sometimes don’t take the personal hygiene seriously. Some rooms also used to be quite sloppy about it, rarely washing their chips and properly cleaning the tables. However, moving forward these measures will be mandatory for those who wish to stay in business. Leading poker rooms, like the Bicycle Casino in Southern California, are setting an example for how to do it right.
We are meticulously spraying down all areas with EPA approved Hospital-grade Disinfectant to sanitize our facility. #bicyclecasino #disinfectionandprotection #wecare #coronatime #lapoker #pokerworld pic.twitter.com/uBOZe2UR2e
— Bicycle Hotel Casino (@BicycleCasino) May 22, 2020
This means no more sticky cards and dirty chips that almost make you think twice about whether you want to win a pot or not. If something like this had to happen for certain rooms to finally take this important issue to heart, so be it.
With our inhouse chip washing machine’s capacity to wash 26k chips an hour, we are flying through our stacks! If you need to get your Bike Chips washed, please drop them off at our main Cage Cashier on Tuesdays 10AM-4PM. Music: Golden Days by Philip E Morris.
— Bicycle Hotel Casino (@BicycleCasino) April 14, 2020
3. Players will become better at respecting your personal space
Poker rooms can be very crowded places as is. However, some players make it even worse by almost insisting on staying as close as possible to others while waiting in a line to register for a tournament or just hanging around. New rules about social distancing might change some of these habits and create more breathing room for everyone.
This also applies to those people who tend to get in your face while playing. Table banter is fine and all but there is absolutely no reason one can’t do it from where they’re sitting without violating your personal space at the table.
4. Remote tournament registration might become more popular
Many events offer players the chance to register remotely without having to wait in line and pay in cash. Post-pandemic, in the light of the new situation, more of those who can actually register online will probably do so to avoid having to wait in the line with other people. This will speed things up for those who have no other option to register for an event and those waiting in the line to receive their winnings.
5. More online satellites to live events
Many large online poker rooms already offer a variety of satellites for major live tournaments. However, these numbers could increase significantly in the weeks and months to come. Big live tournaments will return eventually but there will likely be more online opportunities to win a seat into these events. And with online poker experiencing a big surge in popularity due to the crisis, this could result in improved number of players in live events as well, at least once more restrictions are lifted.
Unibet Open Tallinn won’t be cancelled, won’t be postponed – keeping the dates exactly as they are – but now online! We are going #IRLtoURL. Join us? pic.twitter.com/hc5ZNPwdO5
— Unibet Open (@unibetopen) March 13, 2020
6. More casinos banning smoking
Although smoking isn’t nearly as common in casinos these days as it was 10 or 20 years ago, there are still many venues that permit people who play baccarat, blackjack, and other casino table games to smoke, as well as allowing it in slot machine areas and even poker rooms.
Due to increased health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many operators are considering stricter measures with regards to the smoking policy on their properties. This means that many poker rooms that currently allow smoking at the tables might finally put their foot down to create a cleaner, healthier and more enjoyable environment for everyone.
7. Shorter tables for more action
Since local laws now often mandate that casinos and poker rooms have to respect certain social distancing rules, many of them are reducing the number of players they’re allowing per poker table. Most players prefer full ring games, and very few prefer three- or four-handed games, but many action-seekers prefer the middle ground of short-handed six-player games.
This means that you’ll be able to find a lot of six-max action moving forward. This isn’t a usual setup as most venues prefer to maximize their profits by having as many people at a table as possible. The new setup will likely be temporary, but in the meantime it will definitely yield more action and will be great for those who prefer seeing more hands and who have a more aggressive style.
In progress: New table arrangements to facilitate #socialdistancing. A new reality for us all. More details to be announced soon! #bicyclecasino #weareallinthistogether #lapoker #pokerworld pic.twitter.com/iXBgyYtrsj
— Bicycle Hotel Casino (@BicycleCasino) May 9, 2020