Live Poker Tournaments Go Online After Covid-19 Closures

The coronavirus pandemic spread across Canada in March and left quite a lot of damage in its wake. Not only did COVID-19 take lives and impart illness on the masses, it closed businesses across the country.

Casinos and card rooms were a part of the damage, as they were forced to close. And they remain closed for the foreseeable future, as government officials and health experts continue to assess the situation on a daily basis. It seems that businesses will remain closed and people will remain in self-isolation through April and possibly into May.

Many in the poker community, some of whom make their living through the game, faced a challenge. And they met it by taking their games online.

Playground Leads the Way

Playground Poker Club in Quebec was the first to act and used its longtime affiliation with PartyPoker to provide a solution.

Players were able to sign up on PartyPoker to compete in the “Playground Network” in private cash games, similar to those to which they were accustomed at Playground. They signed up with their real names in order to identify each other as Playground players.

Further, Playground players received 20% rakeback on a weekly basis.

Playground Takes it Further

On April 2, the popular poker club took another step to give Playground players more options. They added tournaments.

As Playground provided at its land-based establishment, online players in the network on PartyPoker will be able to choose from two daily tournaments, offered every day of the week. The first one will be at noon EDT and the second at 7pm.

Mondays offer a bounty and deepstack, Tuesday brings another deepstack and a PLO, and on through the week. Some events are single reentries, one offers unlimited reentries, and most days offer one freezeout. All tournaments are six-max or eight-max and range from $25 buy-ins to $40 and $50 options with one $70 buy-in each week.

The schedule is listed on this Playground web page.

WPT and WPTDS Take it Online

As the month of March continued to bring more casino restrictions and closures, large poker tour operators had to cancel many of their stops. The World Poker Tour was greatly affected.

What started as a few tournaments cancelled snowballed into nearly everything through April and parts of May being cancelled as well. The WPT Main Tour cancelled (or postponed, in some cases) stops in Las Vegas, Barcelona, Florida, and Oklahoma.

On March 13, the WPT took its main tour online in partnership with PartyPoker. It was something the two planned for some time, but with casino closures in place, they fast-tracked it. The inaugural WPT Online Series is set for May 10 through May 26 on PartyPoker, complete with 10 WPT-branded events and $15 million in guarantees among them.

The main tournaments will be the WPT Online Main Event, a $3,200 buy-in with a $5 million guarantee; a $530 WPT500 event with numerous starting days and a $1 million guarantee; and a WPTDeepStacks event, a $1,600 buy-in with $1 million guaranteed.

The full schedule for the WPT Online Series is on the WPT website.

WPTDeepStacks had several European stops planned, so it, too, partnered with PartyPoker to offer something for players in Spain and France. The first WPTDeepStacks Online Series just started this weekend, on April 5, and will run through April 20. France will find 47 tournaments with €2.8 million in guarantees, and Spanish players can choose from 44 tournaments and €2.5 million in guarantees.

The schedule for that WPTDS Online Series is listed on the PartyPoker website.

Poker Central Goes Online with High Stakes

For years now, Poker Central has used its PokerGO platform online to livestream its high-stakes live poker events. Most of them take place in Las Vegas, in the PokerGO Studio. That is the case for high-roller poker series like the Poker Masters.

When Las Vegas shut down last month, Poker Central also struck a deal with PartyPoker to host the first-ever Poker Masters Online. The 30-event series will run from April 12-26 with a total of $15.25 million in guarantees. Buy-ins range from $10K to $50K, and a leaderboard will track points for the players to award one overall winner $50K in cash and the Poker Masters purple jacket.

A full listing of the high buy-in events is on the Poker Central website.

Irish Poker Open in Play Online

The Irish Poker Open is a once-a-year event that is also Europe’s oldest poker festival. This year was its 40th anniversary scheduled for April 6-13.

Guess who rescued this series? PartyPoker, yet again. The Irish Poker Open partnered with PartyPoker to offer the first Irish Open online, set with the same dates and the same €1 million guarantee on the Main Event.

Action kicked off today with 22 tournaments to run over the next seven days. Every event offers a guarantee, most significantly the Main Event with €1 million guaranteed. And the entire series schedule is listed on the Irish Poker Open website.

WSOP Circuit Went Online

When the World Series of Poker Circuit events were cancelled in April and through much of May, organizers made a snap decision to offer a Online Super Circuit Series, a massive offering of 18 gold ring events. The only issue was that the WSOP online poker site is only available to US players in the states of Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Even so, the series was huge. The 18 events originally guaranteed $1.24 million in prize money but garnered such big fields that the series ended up paying out more than $3.9 million.

The WSOP does use 888poker as its platform provider for online poker in the United States, and 888poker is the official online poker sponsor of the WSOP. As of yet, though, neither company has announced any WSOP Circuit online tournaments for the global poker community.

WSOP 2020 Summer Series?

This is the biggest unknown in poker right now. Will the 2020 WSOP happen?

The latest statement from the WSOP is that its executives are “monitoring COVID-19 developments very carefully.” As it stands on Monday, April 6, “it is scheduled to be held as planned.

The 2020 WSOP is currently scheduled to kick off on May 26 for cash games and May 27 for its first gold bracelet tournaments. The 101-event schedule is set for eight weeks at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, a venue that is currently closed, as is every other casino in Las Vegas…and America…and Canada.

Poker pros have been weighing in for weeks. The most recent Twitter and forum polls show mixed feelings, with most people that had originally planned on attending saying they will not attend. However, not far behind is the group of people saying they definitely will attend. The majority is noncommittal at this point.

Stay tuned.


Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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