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Live Poker Returns to Casinos from Sydney to Queensland
Australians did the hard work and nearly eradicated Covid-19 from its nation. While the pandemic cannot be over until vaccinations become readily available, the number of positive cases has decreased significantly, enough to allow most businesses to reopen. And that not only includes casinos but the poker rooms that have been closed for much of 2020.
The Star Gold Coast
Just before the pandemic, the Star Gold Coast introduced an expanded and updated poker room. Closing it due to pandemic restrictions was all the more difficult but, of course, necessary. After many stops and starts since March – reopening announcements and reclosing notices – the room did reopen this week.
The Star Gold Coast opened its poker room again on Friday, 11 December.
Cash games returned at noon that day and now offer action from 10am every day of the week. Play is limited to 7-handed cash games at this time. But that was enough to bring a lot of players back to the tables, including Lynn Gilmartin of the World Poker Tour.
Treasury Brisbane (Star)
Another Star Entertainment venue, Treasury Brisbane, also opened its poker room on Friday, 11 December. As of 12 December, the room was open seven days per week for cash games.
Cash games will remain 7-handed for the foreseeable future. Dealers spread Hold’em but will add Pot Limit Omaha upon request. The buy-information for basic NLHE cash games is as follows:
- $1/$3 = $80 minimum to $300 maximum
- $2/$5 = $100 min to $500 max
- $5/$15 = $200 min to $1K max
- $5/$10 = $1K min to $3K max
APT to Brisbane 19-24 January
The Australian Poker Tour was the first to host a major series since the pandemic took hold of Australia. With much communication with venues and government officials, not to mention a lot of support from players, the APT hosted a series in Brisbane in October.
The Eatons Hill Hotel hosted the APT Brisbane 7-11 October, complete with 14 tournaments and an abundance of safety protocols. And as players scrambled to get back to the tables, they made the event very successful. There were 4,555 entries in the tournaments from 972 unique players. And the events awarded $749,405 in prize pools.
With that, APT Brisbane is now on the calendar for 19-24 January at Eatons.
Over the course of the six days, the schedule shows 24 tournaments estimated to produce about $1 million in prize pools. The $200 buy-in Main Event will be a repechage tournament with four starting flights 20-23 January with Day 2 set for 24 January. Other features of the series will include a tag team event, ladies’ championship, and high roller. And players will find Hold’em and PLO, even Pineapple, in a variety of formats like shootouts, bounties, and shock locks. Players can also choose from freezeouts, some reentries, or unlimited reentries.
All tables will play 8-max to abide by government recommendations.
APL to Queensland 4-7 February
The Australian Poker League was shut down for most of 2020, as were most tour operators, but the APL is planning for a comeback in 2021.
The group’s FB page posted a teaser for an APLPT Queensland event at Southport Sharks with a $150K prize pool for the series. The short video hints of a $150 buy-in Main Event with multiple starting flights, which will serve as the centerpiece of the 16-event series schedule for four days (4-7 February).
APL will release more information, including the full schedule of tournaments, before the end of December.
WPT League Quarterly Championship 24-28 February
Regular events from the World Poker Tour – in the form of WPT League Australia – are now playing regularly in the Sydney and Brisbane areas.
The WPT League did join with St. Johns Park Bowling Club and cSports to offer a December 13 Xmas Cash event with $200K guaranteed.
It is also planning for the WPT League Quarterly Poker Championship at the Gold Coast Turf Club & Event Centre in Queensland. The series will offer $550K guaranteed overall from 24-28 February, 2021.
Southern Poker Tour Tanunda Thunder 5-7 January
On a bit of a smaller scale, the Southern Poker Tour is on the move. The tour focuses on Southern Australia (obviously), and hosted a Riverland Ruble series in November. The seven events culminated in Rob Keszler winning the Main Event for $4,500.
The tour already set up the next one, which is set for the Lambert Estate Winery in Barossa Valley. Organizers expect the 5-7 January series prize pool to exceed $60K.
More to Come as Covid Clears
Poker players are anxious to return to the tables, the live ones with other people. Each event hosted in the past few weeks and months, as documented in more detail by Poker Media Australia, delivered solid numbers and showed the desire to resurrect live poker.
The number of positive Covid-19 cases in Australia declined substantially in August and September. By the start of October, there were barely a dozen new cases reported throughout the entire country. Through November, the numbers remained very low.
As of 12 December, the entirety of Australia reported only 6 new cases, three in NSW and one each in NT, VIC, and WA. And the approximately 50 cases that remain active from past weeks are contained in hotel quarantines.
With vaccines now in final stages of approval around the world, combined with Australia’s coordinated efforts to eradicate it, the country may return to normal – or close enough – within the coming months. Meanwhile, poker entities seem ready to step back into the waters and bring the players together.