OZ POKER REPORT: Listening to the winds of change

Despite the logistical challenges presented by the latest COVID outbreak, it appears the Australian poker industry is becoming increasingly adept at negotiating through the constant state of flux.

In turn, there has been a renewed push by players and operators alike in working towards strengthening and securing the longevity of the game in this country, as demonstrated in PokerMedia Australia’s latest edition of the Oz Poker Report.

NEW SOUTH WALES & QUEENSLAND

As the state hardest hit by the Delta strain, poker providers in NSW have taken a drastic hit to their bottom line as case numbers continue to trend upward and restrictions tighten.

However, there are signs of life in some regional areas, particularly in Newcastle where local players were given the royal treatment at last night’s soft opening of The Kingdom, a brand-new poker room at The Blackbutt Hotel headed up by Aussie poker industry magnate Rob Dzurovski.

Dzurovski, who is also the director of PokerShop.com.au and founder of the Australian Poker Tour (APT), is particularly excited about his latest venture and is looking forward to the official Grand Opening Gala at the end of August.

But although it will be some time before we see the major card rooms in the Greater Sydney area re-open, PMA has learned that the team behind the Poker Palace have been working on some other major poker-related projects, which will be revealed in due course – watch this space.

Up in the Sunshine State, the team behind the APT are now gearing up for an epic comeback with their Season IV Grand Final after the shutdown in Campbelltown rocked the nation’s poker industry to its core last month.

Taking place at the Eatons Hill Hotel in Brisbane’s north-west from September 20-26, the seven-day schedule will once again feature 31 title events, including many of the high-stakes staples such as the Dracakis Players Championship, The Grind, The Goliath and a $5,000 buy-in Extreme High Roller (XHR) tournament.

And just this morning, the WPT League announced that the Quarterly Poker Championship (QPC) will be returning to the Gold Coast Turf Club from October 6-10; assuming that interstate borders re-open by that time, there is a chance that these events could come close to the record numbers witnessed earlier in the year.

TASMANIA & VICTORIA

As lockdown restrictions have eased (albeit slightly), poker is making a slow but steady return throughout Victoria.  Although there have been some regular pub poker venues across multiple leagues that have resumed regular weekly tournaments, including the Australian Poker League (APL), they have done so under strict COVID Safe guidelines.

PMA understands that the implementation of the Garden State’s fifth lockdown was a contributing factor in the postponement of the inaugural APLPT Tasmania series at the Granada Tavern in Berriedale, due to begin today.

In a press release posted on social media, APL Tasmania representatives stated that with most of the Major Events Team located interstate, entry into Tasmania before this weekend would not have been possible.

“Much of the equipment, including the live streaming [table], that will bring you [action from] the biggest and most impressive poker event in Tasmanian history, is also located in Victoria creating further challenges in delivering what we have promised to players.”

APL Tasmania – official statement

In lieu of the APLPT schedule, which has been moved to the first weekend of October, APL Tasmania have catered to their player base by bringing in a special two-day Winter Series schedule starting tomorrow.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA & WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Even with the harshest COVID border restrictions in the country, the whole of Western Australia continues to thrive and the state’s poker industry is no exception.

Having already run two successful series throughout the last six months, Shark Poker are now gearing up for their Winter Championship Festival, taking place across multiple locations from August 7-23.

The Opening Event will coincide with the launch of the league’s newest venue, Top Dog in Town in Wanneroo, leading into a total of 20 events with almost $150,000 in guaranteed prize pools over the 17-day schedule.

Meanwhile, organisers at the Southern Poker Tour (SPT) have been given the green light to proceed with the “Havoc in the Hills” series in Hahndorf next week, continuing South Australia’s run of impeccable timing after the successful execution of the APLPT series at SkyCity Adelaide prior to the state’s seven-day lockdown.

The four-day schedule, running from August 5-8, has been slightly reduced in order to accommodate strict player capacity limits, however SPT representatives have hinted that these could be subject to change depending on the latest SA Government health directives.

More information about these events can be viewed below or on our YouTube channel in our latest episode of the PMA Podcast, featuring Shark Poker’s Brooke Seidel, along with SPT’s Matty Elson and Mick Sparrow.

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