Most of the country now has live poker except two hot spots - Los Angeles and Atlantic City

Caesars Atlantic City
Jon Sofen
Posted on: September 15, 2020 10:15 PDT

All across the country, from Las Vegas to South Florida and many places in between, live poker has returned. But the same can't be said for two of the top poker hot spots in the U.S., Atlantic City and Los Angeles.

When the global health pandemic struck, most businesses around the country were forced to close in mid-March. That included every casino in the 50 states. As a result, live poker was non-existent for nearly two months. Slowly but surely, poker rooms across the U.S. began reopening in early May, one by one.

On June 4, Las Vegas reopened its casinos, four of which reopened the poker rooms. That number has since grown to 16 out of the 31 card rooms in town. You can drive to San Diego and find a few poker rooms open, visit the Midwest to get some action just about anywhere, or head to the Northwest or Southwest to play cards. But you won't find any action at the numerous popular poker rooms in Los Angeles or Atlantic City. And it's unclear when that will change.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) remains concerned with the spread of COVID-19 in his state, especially its largest city, Los Angeles. The state of California has over 765,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and 254,000 were recorded in Los Angeles County.

As a result, Newsom is refusing to allow poker rooms to reopen. He did, however, permit the card rooms to reopen briefly in June, but then forced them to all close again two weeks later when COVID-19 got out of hand.

No poker in Atlantic City or Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to some of the largest and most popular poker rooms in the world, including Commerce Casino and Bicycle Casino ("The Bike"). Commerce has more card tables - 210 - than any other spot in the world. Given that online poker is illegal in California, many poker players in the area have been driving down to San Diego or east to Las Vegas to play cards.

Poker players in the Atlantic City area are also faced with a similar predicament. Although casinos reopened in July, New Jersey's five poker rooms - all in Atlantic City - remain closed. However, New Jersey players have an advantage over those who live in Los Angeles. Online poker is legal in the Garden State, so that's one option. And there are quite a few open card rooms nearby outside the state in Philadelphia.

Atlantic City has two major poker rooms - Borgata and Harrah's. The top tournaments in the area take place at Borgata, an MGM Resorts owned property. Harrah's is more known for its 45 cash game tables. Some players also enjoy playing in the smaller rooms at Golden Nugget, Tropicana, and the WSOP Poker Room at Bally's.

Live poker will one day return to these poker hot spots. When that day will occur is unknown. It's all dependent on the state's governors — Phil Murphy (NJ) and Gavin Newsom (CA) — giving the casinos the nod to reopen the poker rooms. It appears poker players in these areas may be waiting a while.

Featured image source: Flickr