It’s been a horrid 12 months, but finally, the light at the end of the tunnel appears to be shining brighter. The UK Government received a fair amount of criticism for its initial handling of the coronavirus COVID-19; however, it’s got its act together now and is among the leading countries with its vaccination program.
This positive news has led to Boris Johnson’s government releasing a 4-stage ‘roadmap for lifting lowdown’ in the UK. Stage 1 - which includes the reopening of schools and colleges - is set to commence on the 8th March 2021. Following that, many Britons have circled the 12th of April on their calendars as that’s when the pubs (outside sitting only), gyms, spas and hairdressers are penciled in to reopen.
If things go to plan, and the number of positive cases does not start to rise again, the 17th of May (not before) is when Stage 3 should happen. It’s this date that indoor entertainment venues, such as casinos, cinemas and theatres can reopen although still with restrictions on capacity for the time being. And finally, the 21st of June (at the earliest) is when the Government hopes to remove all limits on social contact and nightclubs can spring back into life.
Bringing back face-to-face poker
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, many casinos, up and down the country, hosted regular poker tournaments. Naturally, like many other activities, these shifted into the online arena, which is why the top UK poker sites have witnessed an uptick in players over the past 12 months.
While online poker offers many advantages to players, it dilutes the psychological aspect of the game. Many poker legends are experts at the game because of their ability to read other players. This could be from their mannerisms at the table to the different bets they place at certain points in a hand.
By removing such a crucial aspect of the game, it weakens the elite players’ advantages. Some may say that this is a good thing as it creates a more open field of contenders, the purists would disagree.
This discussion can hopefully be put to bed by the end of June if that’s when all current social distancing restrictions are lifted. Face to face tournament poker will be back - ten players huddled around a table with the dealer keeping order and moving the game along. After a year’s absence, it will be a welcome sight for us all.
Yet, this does not mean online poker will suffer. Thousands of recreational and professional players enjoy the convenience of playing on the internet. There’s a wider variety of games on offer and the buy-ins for single-table tournaments, multi-table tournaments and cash games are typically less. What avid players crave is the choice between playing online and at a land-based venue. A choice that COVID-19 has denied them. We may now live in the new normal, but there’s increased hope that things may get back to what we once knew before summer.