The return of live poker across all of Australia is now well and truly in sight, with vaccination rates on the rise as the nation plans ahead for the post-pandemic era, as PokerMedia Australia reveals in the latest edition of the Oz Poker Report.
There is no doubt the run of donut days has made things all that much sweeter up in the Sunshine State, but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, particularly for organisers of marquee poker events leading up to the end of the year.
After the wayward travels of a TV crew member last month triggered another lockdown throughout the NSW/QLD border regions, the WPT League was forced to postpone the Gold Coast QPC at Aquis Park.
The APT Season IV Grand Final also experienced a close shave after it was confirmed that the local Woolworths, located directly across from the Eatons Hill Hotel, was listed as an exposure site.
That said, there is still plenty of optimism shared amongst many in the industry, as numbers at regular weekly tournaments across the state are still holding strong, especially with Brisbane’s two biggest poker associations: the Cyprus Poker Club at the Normanby Hotel and Brisbane Poker United at the QA Hotel.
Sources close to PMA are “quietly confident” that the APL Ville 600, which kicks off this coming Sunday, will still attract plenty of big names up from the Big Smoke, as well as potentially record-breaking viewership numbers through not one but two feature table live streams.
PMA will be crossing live to Townsville later in the week to chat exclusively with Tournament Executive Allan McLauchlan and Janet Wyvil from JDub Poker and preview the upcoming series.
And in a further boost for both the collective morale of the poker industry and the economy, The Star Gold Coast, which earlier this year hosted the highly successful WPTDeepStacks, hinted on social media last week at another major series to be held from November 26 to December 6, laying the foundations for what could be a gargantuan year for Queensland poker in 2022.
DIARY DATES 2021-22
|October 17 to 24||APL Ville 600||The Ville Resort-Casino, Townsville|
|November 24 to 28||Check Raise Poker Championships||Acacia Ridge Hotel, Brisbane|
|November 26 to December 6||Star Poker Gold Coast Summer Series||The Star Gold Coast|
|January 6 to 9||APLPT Queensland III||Southport Sharks|
|January 17 to 2||APT Brisbane Season V||Eatons Hill Hotel|
NEW SOUTH WALES
An ambitious plan out of lockdown from the Berejiklian (now Perrottet) government, coupled with rapid rates of vaccination, has resulted in many licensed venues across New South Wales throwing open their doors for the double-jabbed.
Major poker operators across the state are working tirelessly to prepare for their return, including Kings Poker, who are re-launching the first of their live games this week at the Easts Leagues Club in Bondi Junction and Manly Leagues Club.
Kings Poker Managing Director Natan Meylakh spoke with PMA in the lead-up to “freedom day” on October 11.
“We’re very excited to have poker come back,” Meylakh said. “There’s been a strong indication that venues will let poker back in; everyone’s been cautiously optimistic and incredibly supportive.”
“Operating on the advice of NSW Health, our priority is to operate in an environment where everyone is safe. Caution is going to be the aim of the game … we don’t want to put the venues, our players and ourselves at risk.”
Safe to say that these sentiments are also shared by two of the biggest independent card rooms in Sydney – the Poker Palace, who last week revealed their schedule for the second rendition of the Marconi Christmas Cup, as well as the Pavilion Poker Room at St Johns Park Bowling Club, which is gearing up for its QPC carnival in the New Year.
DIARY DATES 2021-22
|December 5 to 20||Marconi Christmas Cup||Poker Palace, Bossley Park|
|February 10 to 20||WPT League Sydney QPC||Pavilion Poker Room, St Johns Park Bowling Club|
SOUTH AUSTRALIA, TASMANIA, VICTORIA & WESTERN AUSTRALIA
By comparison, the road out of lockdown for Victoria almost seems never-ending, with the Andrews government taking a more conservative path when it comes to easing restrictions.
However, based on information from Victoria’s Roadmap and data from CovidBaseAU, live poker would most likely return to venues across the state after November 2, when 80% of the population aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated – three days ahead of the original indicative date.
A surge in vaccinations is also being seen across the Bass Strait, where Tasmanians are expected to hit the 70% mark by this time next week. With reports that the Gutwein government won’t fully reopen borders until 90% of the eligible population (16+) has been vaccinated, it will be some time before interstate travel is possible, but once it does there’ll be a wave of new talent coming through, as showcased in the inaugural APLPT Tasmania series.
Meanwhile, it’s still business as usual for South Australia and Western Australia, with the Shark Poker Spring Championship now in full swing and running through until October 25. That’s followed by the second edition of the SPT Riverland Rumble before Stacked Social’s championship series next month, featuring a Main Event with a $100,000 guaranteed prize pool.
DIARY DATES 2021-22
|October 9 to 25||Shark Poker Spring Championship||Various, Perth (WA)|
|October 28 to 31||SPT Riverland Rumble II||Berri Hotel (SA)|
|November 12 to 22||Stacked Poker Championship||Stacked Social, North Adelaide (SA)|
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