Hundreds of poker players in one room might be a bad idea

With coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading quickly across the globe, PokerStars announced on Sunday that it has postponed all of its PokerStars LIVE events until April 10th, 2020.

The three events that will no longer be held as scheduled are:

Road to PSPC – Hamburg
Road to PSPC – La Grand Motte
Road to PSPC – Madrid Gran Via

That the term “postponed” was used implies that these events will be rescheduled, as opposed to cancelled. Clearly things are up in the air right now and no decisions will be made for quite some time.

According to the PokerStars blog, players who qualified online for those events have been contacted to help transfer their seats to another tournament.

Events outside of Europe are still on, as scheduled. These include Okada Manila Millions, BSOP Sao Paulo, and European Poker Tour (EPT) Sochi. PokerStars said that extra precautions are being made at those venues to try to keep everyone safe. Hand sanitizers will be readily available, all poker equipment will be sanitized daily, and decks of cards will be replaced frequently.

Severin Rasset added in the blog post:

The situation is highly dynamic and live tournaments are a big part of what we do. So we are endeavouring to strike a balance of catering to our players’ wants while also protecting attendees, and ensuring we act responsibly.

We are reviewing every event on a case-by-case basis, and keeping up to speed on the latest developments alongside our casino partners.

He also said that any players that feel uncomfortable attending PokerStars LIVE events can contact Stars. This would imply that PokerStars will try to make accommodations for those players.

Coronavirus spreading rapidly

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the COVID-19 is officially classified as a pandemic, meaning is a virus that without a doubt is affecting the entire world. As of Wednesday afternoon, the WHO is reporting 118,381 confirmed cases worldwide and 4,292 deaths. 114 different countries have confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19.

China is by far the most affected, as the virus originated there, with 80,955 confirmed cases. Italy is next with 10,149 and reports out of that country are dire, as the hospital systems in the country have been overwhelmed with patients. Iran has 8,042 cases and South Korea has 7,775.

The United States has had nearly 700 confirmed cases, but testing for COVID-19 is so sparse that there are likely many, many more infected people than have been reported.

COVID-19 presents a dangerous combination of contagiousness and mortality rate. The confirmed numbers right now show a death rate of 3.6 percent, which is extremely high. The real death rate is likely lower, perhaps closer to 1 percent, as there are probably many more unconfirmed cases, but even then, it’s 10-times higher than the seasonal flu.

One difficulty in containing the spread of the virus is that many people who contract it will either have no symptoms or mild symptoms and might spread it to others, not knowing they are sick. The vast majority of people who catch COVID-19 will be fine, even if they do feel terrible for a while. Senior citizens, those that are immunocompromised, and those with existing serious health conditions are particularly vulnerable, which is why it important for everyone to try to slow the spread and protect them. The slower the virus spreads, the better hospitals can handle people who need medical treatment.

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