We are in an unprecedented time in the history of this country, if not the world. Everyday life has pretty much ground to a halt and those pastimes that we used to turn to for a respite – be it sports, casino gaming or poker – have been taken away as well. With the breakout of COVID-19 around the world, it seems that the poker world has come pretty much to a stop.

The major two tours, the World Poker Tour and the European Poker Tour, both have shuttered their tournaments schedules in the States of America and Europe. In Las Vegas, major casinos are COMPLETELY SHUTTING DOWN their operations, which has never occurred in the history of the city. It does leave poker players (and sports gamblers as well) with a sense of bewilderment as to what to do when the poker world shuts down.

Here’s three things that you can do if you are facing the prospects of having absolutely nothing to do because of the coronavirus shutdown:

Play Online Poker…Or How About a Home Game?

With casinos shutting down for at least two weeks around the globe, you’re going to have to jump into the online arena if you want to take care of your poker Jones. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a state (or country) that offers online poker, this is a great time to go about putting your toes in the water. The World Poker Tour and partypoker are teaming up for an 18-tournament online schedule called the WPT Online Series. It will take place from May 10-26 and features a $3200 Main Event with a $5 million guarantee. Not bad if you’re in an area where you can take part of the partypoker product.

Now let’s say you’re not in one of the regulated states or a foreign land that doesn’t look kindly on gambling. It is going to get a bit tougher for you, but there are the unregulated sites that have some action going on. I personally am not going to advocate for them or suggest any because they are unregulated – it is completely caveat emptor when it comes to this arena, but it is an option that is available for some.

Now there are some areas that do NOT have the freedom of playing online (**COUGH** Australia, I feel for you **COUGH**). This is the time to get back to the roots of the game with a good, old fashioned home game. Gather up as many friends as you can pack in your den (or, if you’re fortunate enough, that special “poker room” that you created in your Man Cave or She Shed!) and start things with a $10 tournament. After that is completed, then you can move on to the cash game. It’s a small enough gathering that you won’t get noticed and you can scratch that poker itch.

Time To Hit the Books or the Videos

For some, the coronavirus “time out” couldn’t have come at a better time. Perhaps that player is having a bit of a bad streak at the game and could use a break. This is that opportunity! It’s time to hit the books, or the videos, and see if you can cure what ails you.

D&B Publishing is pretty much the only outlet anymore that does poker books on a wide scale and they certainly have some jewels on their roster. They can cover everything from modern poker theory to mixed game strategy to even the effect of popular culture on the game (or the effect the game has had on popular culture – YMMV). If you need to look over some of their works, you can head to Amazon.com or you can go straight to the D&B Poker page on their website.

Some people are just visual learners, so there’s something for that. The Master Class series, which has featured very well-done lessons from author James Patterson, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, has a couple of poker players on their roster to help you learn the game. Poker Hall of Famers Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey both have poker strategy and theory classes on the site. Then there is the plethora of online poker training sites that you could check out…find the one that is right for you!

Maybe Just Shut it Down for a Bit

Even with these two options, there is a third one that might be the best of them all. Perhaps you should use the couple of weeks off to clear your mind? Get outside and shoot some hoops, read a book, enjoy a television series you’ve been wanting to binge on. Maybe you could start writing or painting, if you’re looking for an artistic or creative expression, or maybe it is time to catch up with your kids – they’re off too, in most areas! Maybe by not thinking about the game of poker, you can come back with a new appreciation for the game.

Whatever approach you’re going to take, you’ve got a couple of weeks to take them. The poker world will come back – eventually – and the players will return also. But trying to force the issue or getting irritated over the lack of the game in your life is only going to make the time go slower. Try to accept the interruption and make the best of it – because there’s not much else you can do!


  1. Cheryl Spencer says:

    Hey Earl, Thanks for the great article with good information. The poker rooms in Austin have not shut down with lots of options for playing as well as home games and bar leagues. Everyone is taking extra precautions with wiping down everything daily to include tables, food trays, chips, door knobs and bathrooms. Some have even posted that clients with any sign of a cough or other flu like systems will be asked to leave. Many have also gone to 8 handed tables vs. 10. Everyone is watching this very closely and hoping with the warmer temperatures, the virus will slow down. I hope you and your family are safe and well!

  2. Earl Burton says:

    Hello Cheryl!

    Doing well, but those games may be shutting down too. There is discussion about enacting curfews in many cities to prevent peoples movements and gathering. So, while the rooms in Austin may still be open, they might not be much longer.

    Thanks for reading!


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