Florida’s Palm Beach Kennel Club Poker Room Opens With Unique Safety Measures

  • All people entering the Palm Beach Kennel Club must wear masks and have their temperature taken before being admitted
  • Poker players cannot switch tables and dealers are assigned to a single table
  • Dealer button is replaced by a bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Hard Rock Tampa has installed plexiglass barriers at its poker tables
Table-level view of poker table with chip stacks and cards
The new safety measures in place at Florida’s Palm Beach Kennel Club poker room as it reopens on May 22 have caused poker players to take notice. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

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.