Many old-school poker players live and breathe for in-person games. While they can find the joy in online gaming, these poker enthusiasts want to feel the felt under their fingertips and gauge every flicker and twitch from their rival throughout the highs and lows of the game. You simply can’t get that through a screen! 

Why Did Poker Rooms Close?

The idea of an in-person poker room is often romanticised in film and television. Picture it - a lavish room engulfed by a smoky smog, dotted with colourful poker characters set on winning big. In truth, the majority of poker rooms are relatively low stakes - both in the excitement and pot department. This means you don’t typically find high-profile players drawn to them. Instead, these players set up shop at iconic poker rooms like the Bellagio or Venetian. Unsurprisingly given their iconic status in Vegas, these casinos sit among the top tier of poker rooms. Not only do they offer rousing and tempting tournaments but they do it with decadent style and utmost professionalism. There’s no question as to why smaller, less glamourous poker rooms can’t compete and why they may be squashed out of the industry.

Of course, not to avoid the elephant in the room, the key reason why so many poker rooms closed in recent years was due to the pandemic. Global lockdowns aimed at curbing the deadly virus meant that in-person poker became impossible. Thus, in 2020 poker rooms reluctantly shut their doors without any clear idea of whether or not they’d ever reopen. 

Are They Opened in the US?

Happily, most poker rooms across the US had opened up by earlier this year. That said, there were a few casualties. Fortunately, the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, reopen in June of 2020, the first casino to do so. Yet, changes were made to comply with Covid regulations and make players feel comfortable. This included the inclusion of masks, plexiglass dividers on the tables and hand sanitiser scattered around the casino. Still, what about the most famous (and popular) poker rooms in las Vegas? Thankfully, these poker rooms opened in 2021 and all signs point to them staying that way for the foreseeable future. These include the Aria, Bellagio, Venetian and Wynn.

Today, Covid restrictions in poker rooms have eased significantly. Now, poker players in Nevada are no longer required to wear a face-covering while seated at a poker table. That said, we predict that many players will continue to utilise their masks - be it for health reasons or for the edge it gives their game. To read more about how a mask can help your game at the tables, click here.

Are They Opened in Europe?

Nearing the end of 2021, it looked doubtful about whether or not poker rooms and tournaments would return to Europe. After all, December of that year witnessed locations like Netherlands and Austria go into lockdown once again - hardly promising. Fast-forward to August 2022 and we’re happy to relay a wildly more positive report. 

Given the bleak outlook at the close of 2021, it may surprise people to know that Europe has also experienced similar success with their poker rooms. Since opening, covid restrictions have been eased and over time, lifted entirely in these environments. 

Since the return of live poker, 2022 witnessed a record-smashing year for the global brand, World Series of Poker. In response to this, the company has since announced the return of their European tour. The live poker tournament is set to take place again at the King’s Resort in Rozvadov near the border with Germany. With Europe opened and ready for in-person poker once again, the World Series of Poker could have more records to break in 2022.