Poker rooms across Florida were packed as many rooms in the state started to reopen over the last two days.

The Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa was the largest of the reopened rooms as it opened last night at 50 percent capacity with six-handed tables and plexiglass dividers between players. The 46-table room, which only had 20 in use for opening night, drew an absolutely massive crowd.

There were more than 100 players on the waitlist for games ranging from $1-$2 no-limit hold’em up to $2-$5 pot-limit Omaha with a rock (a rock acts as a constant straddle from the player who won the previous pot).

The night has been a busy one to say the least! Currently 20 games with lists!!! Congrats to @SHRTampa on what has been a successful opening thus far! #PokerIsBack

— Tony Burns (@MDTonyB) May 22, 2020

Located about an hour south of the Tampa Hard Rock, the Sarasota Kennel Club also opened its poker room yesterday. It also used dividers in between players but played eight-handed instead of six.

That property announced Friday morning that it would be hosting a $220 no-limit hold’em tournament Saturday afternoon. It is one of the first live poker tournaments to be held since casinos nationwide closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the other side of the state, bestbet Jacksonville was open for business Friday morning. According to a tweet from World Poker Tour executive tour director Matt Savage, there were 19 six-handed games running at the start of the day.

Both the Jacksonville and Orange Park locations of bestbet opted to reopen without dividers, but has enhanced cleaning policies in place, along with the short-handed requirement.

The @BestBet_Jax Poker Room open at 10am today now has 19-6 handed games and no plexiglass

Here are the requirements for:

Temperature checks
Hand sanitized
Chair and rails cleaned as players leave

Temp checks
Sanitize hands every hour

— Matt Savage (@SavagePoker) May 22, 2020

Florida’s poker turnout reflected similar gambling demand around the country. There were long lines at Arizona casinos when they opened earlier this month and in Deadwood, casinos experienced a big turnout as well as the city was the first to open commercial casinos in the first week of May.

Several casinos in Arizona returned without the use of the poker room, but Florida’s gaming return brought poker back immediately.

Yesterday, the CDC announced that the virus “does not spread easily” from contaminated surfaces, which bodes well for a safe return of poker as one of the main concerns was the touching of cards and chips that are passed from player to player.

Texas also brought poker back yesterday as Texas Card House in Austin reopened and produced the first live streamed cash game since the shutdown. It streamed a $1-$3 no-limit hold’em cash game for four hours on YouTube.




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