South Australia leading the way for Oz poker comeback

As the downward trend in coronavirus cases continues across the nation and restrictions begin to ease, so too is the poker industry steadily working to rebuild.

With the SkyCity Adelaide casino in the final stages of its $330 million extension and refurbishment, private poker clubs and pub leagues throughout South Australia have been able to take full advantage and seize greater control of the player market.

As well as a plethora of regular games across the state, there are two major series scheduled for the end of the month, beginning with the Southern Poker Tour’s Riverland Rumble, to be held at the Barmera Club (approximately 2.5 hours’ drive north-east of Adelaide) from 30 October to 1 November.

In addition to an estimated $40,000 in total prize pools, the Riverland Rumble is offering its Player of the Series a Main Event entry, flights and accommodation package into the next Australian Poker Tour (APT) series, which as PokerMedia Australia reported last week is slated to take place in Brisbane from 19 to 24 January 2021.

For SPT Tournament Director Todd Rivers and his team, it’s both an extremely busy and exciting time; not only is this one of the first poker tournament series to be held since the easing of lockdown restrictions, but it’s also the league’s debut marquee tournament series, with the company having only been established late last year.

“There’s no question that 2020 has been difficult for all of us, but as Albert Einstein once said, in the midst of difficulty lies opportunity,” Rivers observed. “As far as numbers go, we’re well and truly over halfway full for most of our events, accommodation around the venue is almost fully booked out and social media this week has been going nuts.

“We have a lot of people and businesses throughout the Riverland region that are keen to host 300 to 400 people over the course of three days; they truly understand what an event like this means for not only for us and our players, but also poker’s economic contribution to the local community.”

Back in the CBD, Matchroom Poker is gearing up for its upcoming Big Stack Poker Festival, also commencing on 30 October and running through until 8 November.  Everything about this schedule is big, including the $2,000 buy-in Main Event, which offers a guaranteed prize pool of $100,000.

That said, event ambassador and Australian Poker Hall of Famer Jonathan Karamalikis hinted at even greater action being taken over the course of the series.

“We’re actually trying to run a $5K buy-in this year, either on the first or the last Sunday of the schedule,” Karamalikis said. “I had never considered running it, but we’ve had a few people say that they were interested and there’s easily enough demand for it, which is awesome!”

And just a few blocks away, the Royal Poker Club is continuing to spread its range of cash games, as well as commencing satellites into its inaugural Royal High Roller Series, to take place from 6 to 10 January next year, in the hopes that they can attract crowds normally bound for Melbourne.

RPC Marketing & Media Consultant Gigi Fab confirmed with PMA that the three major tournaments on the schedule – the $550 Opening Event, the $1,150 Main Event and the $3,000 High Roller – are currently capped at 45 entries apiece, however there is a likelihood of that changing should the borders open up further.

“There’ll also be cash games running on demand, plus we hope to have our own RFID feature table up and running by then, which will allow us to live stream the events,” Fab explained.  “The Royal Poker Club is at the forefront of the game’s progression in South Australia and it’s our hope that our state will be once again widely recognised as the traditional home of poker in this country.”

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