Poker Tourneys Return after Covid Pause
While many may think that poker has seen its hay day pass, that is not entirely accurate. Yes, the game is not at the level it was during the mid-2000s.
However, according to statistics shared by the World Poker Tour, there are over one hundred million active card gambling fanatics across the globe enjoying this game at brick-and-mortar establishments and online.
The main enticement of poker has always been that unlike casino table games like blackjack, skill affects its gameplay. That is why it faces different legal regulations than casino-style gambling. Its social aspect and the fact that players can pit their expertise against other card enthusiasts have also contributed dramatically to its popularity. US and Canada poker tournaments have been a thing since the late 1970s, but they blew up during the past twenty years. Before the worldwide pandemic hit, tables were still red hot across North America, welcoming millions of players.
That said, once the novel COVID-19 virus began to spread in early March 2020, casinos and card rooms across the continent had to shut down until mid to late summer that year. That dealt a massive blow to the gambling industry that saw its growth suddenly hit an unexpected roadblock. Now, expectations are that it will get back on track in 2023.
As with most annual live events, the World Series of Poker also had to cancel all of its live tournaments in 2020 altogether. The identical path that all poker event organizers followed. No one could hold any competitions due to government-imposed health safety measures. Now that COVID restrictions have eased up, tournaments are making their comeback in North America.
World Series of Poker Returns to Live Events
In early April 2021, news broke that the World Series of Poker hopes to resume its live tournament schedule in the fall of 2021. A few days later, this rumor got confirmed via an official WSOP announcement. It stated that its first set of tournaments would begin at the end of September in Las Vegas, at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. They did so as scheduled. The series’ No-Limit Hold ‘Em Main Event should occur on December 30th at the Rio Casino, featuring a $10,000 buy-in. The Rio is a gaming venue just off the Las Vegas Strip on 3700 West Flamingo Road, operated by Caesars Entertainment. It also hosted the World Series of Poker in 2005. That was the first time this competition did not occur at the Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel.
Live poker made a return to Canada, in August 2021, for the first time following the November lockdowns. The Summer Super Stack series at the Deerfoot Inn & Casino in Calgary has long been a sizeable attraction. On August 4th, 2021, it got underway again, boasting a massive turnout. The Deerfoot Inn & Casino has penciled itself in as the site for a World Series of Poker Circuit event in January of 2022. The venue’s schedule states that thirteen WSOP competitions will run at the Deerfoot from January 12th to January 24th. Naturally, other live poker tournaments will be active throughout Canada as the year draws to a close.
Online Poker Made Substantial Strides in 2020
While live tables went into hibernation last year, online poker announced that it could be on the cusp of a second boom period. In April, most internet card room operators reported a dramatic spike in user numbers up to 40%. Flutter Entertainment posted that their PokerStars brand grew by 25% in 2020. The exciting thing about online poker’s resurgence is that despite the lockdowns expiring and life pretty much returning to normal, the number of online players has maintained above pre-pandemic levels, no matter the in play interruptions or other advantages of live poker against playing online.