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Open bright and early
The Palm Beach Kennel Club is set to reopen its popular poker room, implementing a raft of safety precautions. The West Palm Beach gambling venue will get its poker games underway at 9am each day beginning Friday, May 22. All other areas of the property will open at 11:30am.
The policies in place around the entire facility are in line with what the gaming industry is seeing as casinos reopen around the country. Markers have been installed on the floor to guide patrons to proper social distancing, the number of betting windows has been reduced, and signs will be posted to help customers understand how to keep each other safe.
nobody will be allowed to enter the building without a face covering
The property will operate at 50% capacity, per local guidelines, and nobody will be allowed to enter the building without a face covering. Staff will take the temperature of guests via a contactless thermometer at every entrance.
Player with hand sanitizer acts last
It is the poker room, home to a WSOP Circuit stop until the past couple years, that has piqued the interest of gamblers. While poker players have wondered what live poker will look like as the country tries to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, the Palm Beach Kennel Club’s rules have been praised by many. Everything revolves around reducing the possible movement of the virus around the poker room.
Players are required to buy their chips from the cashier. When chips are at a table, they will remain at the table unless they leave via a drop box, dealer tip box, or are exchanged back at the cage. Players will also be required to remain at the same table all day. Dealers will be assigned to just one table.
Players will be seated upon arrival and nobody will be permitted to stay in the usual waiting area.
During games, no food is allowed. Drinks are permitted, but will be served with tabletop drink holders, rather than ones built into the table. Drink holders will be sanitized after each use. Chips will be sanitized when they are removed from play; cards will be thrown out and replaced frequently.
a bottle of hand sanitizer will rotate around the table to indicate who is on the button
Perhaps most interesting is a change in one aspect of the game mechanic. Instead of the dealer puck, a bottle of hand sanitizer will rotate around the table to indicate who is on the button. Players will be encouraged to use the sanitizer when it reaches their seat. Regardless of where the “button” is, dealers and players must sanitize their hands when arriving at the table.
Plastic dividers at Hard Rock Tampa
Across the state, the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room opened Thursday, May 21. Like the Palm Beach Kennel Club, it will operate at 50% capacity, with 23 of 46 tables available for use, and games will be six-max. Players and dealers are required to wear facemasks.
What has really attracted attention to the Hard Rock Tampa poker room, though, is what the poker tables themselves look like. As depicted in a photo on social media, plexiglass barriers have been installed around the table to separate players from the dealer. Additional shields are in place between each player, effectively putting each customer in their own cubicle.
There are, of course, gaps under the plexiglass to facilitate the transfer of cards and chips. The setup has largely drawn criticism from potential patrons on Twitter. Some can’t see themselves playing in what they view as an unnatural poker environment. Others believe the constant passing of chips and cards will defeat the purpose of the other precautions.
The Palm Beach Kennel Club Poker Room in West Palm Beach, Florida has been closed since March 16. Now, over two months later, they’re slated to reopen on Friday, May 22 with procedures that have elicited praise from many in the poker community.
Starting at 9 a.m., the poker room will spread cash games, while the rest of the property will open up at 11:30 a.m. Upon entering the premises, which will operate at 50 percent capacity, guests will be required to sign a waiver and have their temperature checked.
In addition, they will need to adhere to the following poker room procedures:
- Games will be played with a designated number of players to be determined by management
The waiting area will not be utilized. Players will be seated upon arrival and games will commence when the designated number of players is achieved.
- Players will not be granted table transfers. The table you are seated will be your table for the duration of the day.
- Players will be required to purchase their initial and buy-ins at the cage.
- Dealers will not rotate from table to table. Dealers will be assigned to one table only.
- Chips will be isolated to a specific table. Once chips have been introduced to a game, they can only exit in the following manners: Drop Boxes, Dealer tip boxes, Cashed out at the cashier.
- Once chips are removed from play, they will not be recirculated until after they are sanitized.
- Paper cards will be utilized and discarded at regular intervals.
- Eating food at the tables will be prohibited.
- Drinks will be served with tabletop cup holders; cup holders will be sanitized prior to being issued to a new customer.
- Hand sanitizer will be used in lieu of a dealer button. When a player has the sanitizer, they are encouraged to use it.
- Dealers will sanitize their hands after arriving at the table.
- All players will be required to sanitize their hands upon initially or subsequently arriving at the table.
When word of the procedures hit Twitter, users seemed receptive.
“Interesting, sounds functional, especially that hand sanitizer will be used as the dealer button,” said Michael Miller.
Bar Poker West Palm Beach
Joe Hebda added: “If these rules tay permanent I may play live poker again.”
Director of Poker Weighs In
In addition, PBKC has established a “PBKC Clean Team' to ensure the frequent cleaning and sanitization of all public spaces.
“PBKC was one of the first properties in Florida to close its doors due to the Corona Virus. It was a pretty rapid decision, but times like these require companies to react fluidly,” Director of Poker Noah Carbone told PokerNews. “PBKC held off as long as feasible before having to furlough over 400 employees. Employees were paid for six weeks and their medical benefits were continued prior to the furlough. We are currently in the process of bringing back our employees.”
He continued: “We held weekly Facebook live meetings to keep everyone in the loop during the pandemic. This was our most valuable tool as we were able to openly communicate with the employees and see if they had any needs or concerns to address during this time. It also reassured the employees that they were still part of the PBKC family.”
West Palm Beach Poker
Regarding the poker chips, Carbone added: “Each and every one of our chips have been cleaned and sanitized. Moving forward, we will be sterilizing all our chips prior to being reintroduced into play. Basically, our chips are now one-use chips. Once they enter a game they cannot enter another game or circulated prior to being sanitized.”
Kennel Club Poker
Finally, Carbone weighed in on the recent introduction of tables utilizing plexiglass dividers — such as the Hard Rock Tampa that is also reopening — something PBKC doesn’t plan to do.
“PBKC did take a close look at plexiglass dividers. However, we determined that game containment was the best way to provide the most sanitary environment for the group as a whole. Game containment is defined as isolating each and every person and object in one game from another game.”
The PBKC is prepared to amend its rules as necessary and will announce any changes on its website and various social media channels.
*Images courtesy of PBKC.
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