Isaac Haxton pleads for a stop to live poker in Las Vegas

Geoff Fisk
Published by:
Posted on 12/17/2020

High stakes pro urges players to stop playing live amid surging COVID-19 numbers in Las Vegas

Live poker in Las Vegas keeps rolling on during the COVID-19 pandemic. The complications of the pandemic haven’t stopped Las Vegas poker rooms from offering large field tournaments in the latter half of 2020.

High stakes fixture Isaac Haxton called for players to stop traveling for poker, and to halt playing the game live altogether.

Haxton’s plea to the poker community began with a series of tweets on Dec. 9:

“Poker is ramping up in Vegas, with upcoming WSOP and Wynn 10ks. Meanwhile, despite limited testing, 1% of Nevada residents have tested positive for COVID just in the last 2 weeks. Please stop playing live poker. Please, please don’t travel for poker,” Haxton tweeted.

That tweet comes in a month of multiple live series running in Las Vegas. The Bally’s Main Event Mania series runs Dec. 10 through Jan. 13 and kicked off with multiple satellite tournaments offering entry into the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event on WSOP.com.

The Wynn High Rollers series and the MSPT Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza also run throughout December. 

While Las Vegas takes its usual place as the main hub for live poker in the western U.S., COVID-19 cases in Nevada are at an all-time high. 

Haxton’s post links to an interactive map provided by COVID Act Now, showing Nevada at the “Severe Outbreak” level. That COVID-19 risk level represents the highest of a five-tier system of risk assessment used by the website.

As of Dec. 16, COVID Act Now cites a 20.9% positive test rate and 83.8 new daily cases per 100,000 ratio.

Haxton puts the impetus on players to shut down the live poker scene

Haxton continued that live poker rooms can’t realistically be expected to shut down operations:

“I’d plead with operators not to run these irresponsible events, but we’re well past the point of imagining they might care,” Haxton wrote.

Haxton went on to contend that the nature of live poker makes it impossible to stop the spread of COVID-19 in a poker room:

“1% have tested pos but with a >20% pos rate per test, it’s clear most cases are going undetected. More like 3-5% had it in last 2 weeks. In a poker room with 100 people, it’s virtually a lock that a few are contagious. No amount of masks and plexiglass makes that appealing,” Haxton tweeted.

The responses to the series of tweets mostly favored Haxton’s view that live poker needs to go on hold for the foreseeable future. 

Some did not, however, including Twitter user “Art of the Deal.”

“Easy to say for someone who likely has a bankroll of hundreds of thousands (if not millions) that you can easily live off of for years,” read the response from “Art of the Deal.” 

“No one is forcing you or anyone else to go to the casino. Remember the word “freedom”? Or are we too far gone?”

Featured image source: Flickr/World Poker Tour