The Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB) granted permission to the popular Venetian Poker Room in Las Vegas to increase the number of players per table.
Sin City’s poker scene is continuing to rebound since COVID-19 caused casino closures in March. On June 4, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) granted the casinos permission to reopen. Many reopened that first weekend and most other major properties have since followed suit.
But most of the 31 poker rooms in town have remained closed, although the number of card rooms now open is increasing by the week. Only Venetian, Golden Nugget, Orleans, and South Point had poker rooms in operation that first weekend. And the original GCB health restrictions allowed for a maximum of four players per table.
That’s all since changed, and the Las Vegas poker scene is starting to more resemble its old self, at least in some ways.
Vegas poker scene on the rise
The Venetian poker room recently went from six-handed play to eight-handed, the first card room in town to do so. On Monday, three Station Casinos—Boulder, Red Rock, and Santa Fe—will reopen their poker rooms for the first time. They’re also permitted to spread eight-handed games.
None of the Las Vegas poker rooms have yet been granted permission by the GCB to fill up the tables and play nine- and 10-handed. But that may happen in the near future if the coronavirus cases traced to poker games remain low.
With the reopening of poker at a few Station Casinos properties, there are now 14 operating card rooms in Las Vegas. Of those, seven are located on the Strip—Aria, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Flamingo, MGM Grand, Sahara, and Venetian.
However, numerous popular poker rooms remain closed for the time being. They includes Green Valley Ranch (Henderson), Wynn (Strip), Rio (West of Strip), and The Mirage (Strip). There is no set date for the return of any of the 17 card rooms that are yet to reopen.
Precautionary measures in place
If you’re heading to a Las Vegas poker room for the first time since COVID-19, you may notice some changes. Most rooms look and feel a bit different due to new health guidelines.
All Las Vegas businesses, including casinos, require face masks. Unless a patron is smoking, eating, or drinking, face coverings must be worn at all times. Additional health safety measures are in place in some poker rooms, including the Venetian, which has plexiglass dividers are every poker table.
You will also notice numerous hand sanitizer stations around the card rooms. The poker scene in Southern Nevada hasn’t quite returned to its pre-coronavirus days. Many poker rooms remain closed and likely will be for quite some time. Some may never return. But with nearly half of the rooms back in action and short-handed play no longer an issue, the naysayers on social media who claimed live poker is dead were off base.