Major live poker tournaments are returning to Australia, although grinders must wait until September for the Australian Poker Tour (APT). The APT unveiled plans for its first festival since COVID-19 shut down casinos and it has created a significant buzz.

Australian casinos are slowly reopening after being closed since mid-March. Pokies and table games generate the most revenue for casinos so it’s unsurprising to see these games to return first. Furthermore, these games are easier to keep hygienic and maintain social distancing. APT, however, want poker to return and do so sooner rather than later.

A teaser post appeared on the APT Facebook page promising a major announcement on June 27. APT delivered on its promise by telling fans about its first even since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Southport Sharks on the Gold Coast is the place to be if you want some live poker tournament action. The complex began its reopening procedure on June 11, starting with its hotel and meeting rooms. Gaming returns this weekend, albeit with reduced capacity. Everything should, in theory, be back to normal by the time the APT runs its tournament series on September 4-6.

David Miles, the CEO of APT, spoke candidly in an interview with Australian website Poker Media. Miles revealed there’s plenty of excitement surrounding the festival at Southport Sharks. The event has enjoyed more than 8,000 views and several dozen players confirmed they will play.

APT Southport Sharks Schedule Is A Work In Progress

The promotional video for the upcoming APT festival reveals a handful of key facts. It takes place over three days, September 4-6 being that trio. Eleven events take place during those three days, including bounty tournaments, freezeouts, and the Main Event. An estimated $300,000 will be paid out with $100,000 of that coming from the Main Event.

None of the tournaments have guaranteed prize pools, which isn’t surprising in the current climate. Players understand the lack of guarantees with the current state of the economy and unemployment rates rising, said Miles.

Miles told Poker Media seating poker players is similar to seating restaurant customers. Up to 10 people can sit at a table so long as the tables are 1.5 metres apart. Southport Sharks will implement this for the APT series. Doing so reduces table capacity from 50 to 40, which sees each Main Event Day 1 capped at 200 players.

Previous APT Gold Coast Events

Southport Sharks has previously hosted three APT events. The first took place in October 2018 and saw Dianna Shehadeh outlast 746-opponents to secure a $19,260 prize. Kalan Roberts won in February 2019 when 1,002-players bought in for $175. He walked away with $26,500 after the $85,000 guarantee was blitzed by $62,300.

Habib Javi won last time APT stopped off at Southport Sharks. He banked $33,000 after coming out on top of a 780-strong field.

The initial response on APT’s Facebook pages suggests players are looking forward to event. Approximately 90 people have said they are down to play with another 200 stating they’re interested. It’s unlikely the figures of previous APT will be reached, but any live poker is better than none right now.

Time To Regulate Online Poker

Having regulated online poker sites in Australia would have been perfect right now. Major tours, including the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour, took their festivals online. Having an online partner takes away the need to play live poker during these difficult times.

Online poker has been unavailable in Australia since August 2016 thanks to the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016. Aussie wanting to play on sites such as partypoker and PokerStars had to relocate out of Australia to continue their careers.

Michael Addamo is one such superstar who emigrated from Oz to keep grinding online. Others either gave up the game entirely or switched to offshore operators where they have less protection.