The COVID-19 outbreak and resulting shutdown of society has resulted in changes across the board. Poker, on a live basis in a casino or card room, has been closed for the last two months. Now, as rooms and casinos are beginning to open, one segment of the game – tournament poker – is slowly beginning to emerge from its slumber at Florida’s Derby Lane Poker Room.

$150 Tournament Set for Sunday Afternoon

Derby Lane, located in St. Petersburg, FL, has been running cash games for the past week with precautions for its players. They are enforcing a mask rule on both the employees and the players and play is limited to six handed across the floor, but there are no partitions between the players to separate them into cubicles. These rules will also be in place as they get ready to have their first multi-table poker tournament since the COVID-19 outbreak.

The tournament is a $150 buy in event that will be limited to 80 players. $135 of the entry fee will go into the prize pool and, for an additional $5, players can get a 5K top-off to their initial 20,000 chip starting stack. Levels for the tournament will be 20 minutes, meaning that the action should wrap sometime in the early evening on Sunday night. At 80 players and $135 players per pop, the prize pool would be $10,800, presumably with the six handed final table divvying up that booty.

Because the tournament is limiting the number of players that can come to the felt, there is going to probably be a rush to hitting the cage to register. To combat this, Derby Lane will be opening the registration for the tournament at 9AM on Sunday morning, with the tournament kicking off at 1PM. What isn’t clear at this point is what Derby Lane will do if they don’t get enough players to support the tournament or, on the good side, what will happen if they have more player support than the 80-player limit allows.

Tournament Poker Slowly Coming Back?

Derby Lane is moving forward with tournament poker, something that many thought would be a long way off with the rules being enforced on poker across the States of America. The limited players at the tables – as low as four players in Las Vegas and six players in most locations – plus the extra distance between tables (limits multi-table usage) doesn’t exactly lend itself well to multi-table tournament poker. But some are trying to bring back the format of poker in some manner.

One of Derby Lane’s competitors in Florida, One-Eyed Jacks Poker Room at the Sarasota Kennel Club, has had tournaments scheduled since they reopened on May 22. There is no indicator on their website that these tournaments have been conducted, however.

The news in Las Vegas has not been quite as good. Still closed nearly three months after Governor Steve Sisolak shut down the entirety of Nevada’s casino system, the poker rooms have some stringent rules being put on them before they can reopen. Under the current system, which will have casinos reopening next week, poker rooms can only have four players per table, putting a tough decision to the rooms throughout Sin City.

Will the poker rooms open if they can have only four players per table and fewer tables in action? Only one room has committed to opening at this point, The Venetian, which has said it will offer both cash games and single table tournaments. These single table tournaments have been rumored to have a $100 buy in, making it a pricey way to get your tournament fix.

The 800-pound gorilla in the room is the running of the WSOP, however. Poker’s most prestigious event has been on hold since it was postponed in April and no indication has been given that Caesars – or, perhaps more importantly, health officials in Nevada – will allow for the large throngs of people that the WSOP brings. While an 80-player tournament in Florida may not seem important, it is a creeping return to tournament poker that might be the impetus to see what the WSOP can do.

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