Playground Poker Takes It Online Amid Coronavirus Closure

As coronavirus concerns spread across Canada over the past few weeks, public places began closing. It was inevitable as the government required these types of action to prevent further spread of the pandemic called COVID-19. Playground Poker was one of the many establishments to close. But in an attempt to save its business, the poker club is taking its action online.

Tough Decision to Close

Every business that closes, even indefinitely and even under corporate care, must make tough decisions. Who is paid during the shutdown? How long can employees be paid?

For a business like Playground Poker, one that is private and independently owned, those decisions are tougher. There was likely no contingency plan in place in case of a pandemic. There is likely not a mass of funds available through which employees can be paid when the company is not generating any revenue.

Playground Poker tried to mitigate the damage by implementing the strictest of sanitary regimens, complete with chip cleaning, rotating chips and cards, and disinfectant wipes for all. Very quickly, however, it became apparent that there was really no way to ensure the safety of its employees and customers from a pandemic.

On March 13, Playground Poker announced its decision to shut its doors indefinitely. It will remain closed “until further notice.” Most other gambling establishments followed in subsequent days.

Relationship with PartyPoker Comes in Handy

It has been no secret that Playground Poker has had a close business relationship with PartyPoker. Many of the live tournaments held at the card room are affiliated with PartyPoker or the World Poker Tour, the latter another partner of PartyPoker.

Less than one week after Playground closed, the poker room announced it would offer cash games online via PartyPoker. And the games will be restricted to Playground players only, an effort to allow people who are missing their friends with whom they were accustomed to playing at the club.

Game Details

PartyPoker is offering a range of limits and buy-ins, all familiar to Playground players. And they will be listed in the cash game lobby on PartyPoker with the Playground logo and club name for easy identification. All of the stakes and buy-ins that players typically found at Playground on any given day are now available online at PartyPoker.

Even more, player will sign up with their real names, so competitors can identify each other at the online tables as they would live.

Further, players in the “Playground Network” will be able to set up private games that will require invitations to play. Those setting up the private games can invite specific players or open it up to any Playground players. They can also restrict the games to six, eight, or 10 players. Playground will facilitate these games with the help of PartyPoker, so players must send an email to in order to set them up.

For a minimum of one month, all Playground players on PartyPoker will also receive 20% rakeback in addition to the 20%-40% that PartyPoker already offers. The special Playground rakeback will be depositing into the players’ accounts each morning. (PartyPoker deposits rakeback on a weekly basis.)

All of these features, including rakeback, will be available for one month and then reevaluated per the quarantine orders from government and health officials.

How to Get Started

PartyPoker and Playground Poker Club have worked out a system so that the club’s players can opt in to a particular network. That will allow them to sign up with their own names and play alongside people they may recognize from the live tables.

Playground put a Google Doc online, a short form for players to complete. They must provide:

  • First and last name
  • PartyPoker user name
  • Date of birth
  • Email address

After the form submittal, Playground can then verify the player’s identity and the email address, and further instructions to play will follow.

Future of Live Play Uncertain

The trajectory of the coronavirus is not predictable. If the spread of COVID-19 in Canada mimics that which happened in Italy or Spain, the orders to self-quarantine and stay at home may continue for weeks – perhaps even months.

Playground launched its online cash game offerings on March 21, and they will continue indefinitely.

When live poker resumes at Playground in the future, the online games could end. The success of those games, local laws, and the decisions of management will all play a role in determining the future.

Meanwhile, Playground is anxious to reopen and reschedule events like the WPTDeepStacks series originally scheduled for next month, the series dedicated to seniors and women, and numerous other live series that Playground had looked forward to hosting.


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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