Right now, hundreds of poker players are making their way to the Bay 101 casino in San Jose, California to play in the annual Bay 101 Shooting Star event, one of the favorite and most fun events on tour, and one that many in the poker world look forward to each year. At a time when most large gatherings are being canceled around the world, management at Bay 101 has decided to spit in the face of science and logic and run their event anyway. I think this is an incredibly irresponsible decision.
Already in the city of San Jose, gatherings of 1000 people or more are banned, and Bay 101 expects their numbers will be well below that, even counting staff, observers, and other casino patrons.
But just because you can legally do something doesn’t mean that you should.
Just up the road in San Francisco, gatherings of just 250 or more people are banned. What’s the difference between San Francisco and San Jose? Well, about fifty miles and apparently decision makers who are much more proactive. Banning gatherings of 1000 people or more is a good start, but kind of a joke if our desire is to slow the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Having hundreds of people gathered together right now is more than just irresponsible; its negligence, denial, and selfishness.
I understand that cancelling an event that is going to bring a lot of money to your company is a tough decision. It’s a decision that many companies have already had to make and one that many, many more will be making in the near future. Caesars hasn’t yet spoken about what’s going to happen to the World Series of Poker, but there’s no way it’s going to play out as scheduled. And that is going to cost a lot of money to a lot of people. If Bay 101 cancels this tournament there will be financial ramifications to more than just the casino. Dealers, staff, cooks, valets, maids, janitors, waitresses, and many more will all suffer. That’s unfortunate, but that’s the decision that should have been made.
A poker table is a virus’s wet dream. At a time when Harvard has canceled all classes because their original decision, to cancel lectures of 150 or more students, was not aggressive enough, Bay 101 is going to have hundreds of people sitting shoulder to shoulder and passing little, round, clay petri dishes and small, rectangular, plastic virus condominiums back and forth between them for 10 hours straight. They’ll be coughing, sneezing, eating at the table, licking their fingers, and spraying microbes directly into their neighbors faces with every conversation.
This is utter lunacy.
To completely ignore what’s happening in the world right now, this PANDEMIC that is spreading unchecked in this country, is pure negligence. Harvard doesn’t think 150 people should sit in the same room for 45 minutes, but Bay 101 thinks it’s fine to jam hundreds together playing pass-the-germ-frisbees for 10 hours a day for several days straight.
Extrapolating on some numbers here: Last year there were 440 entrants in the main event. Assuming this year will be lower because at least some people out there aren’t stupid enough to go to a poker tournament right now, there will nonetheless be hundreds of players, dealers, waitstaff, other gamblers, observers (it’s the most popular tournament on the tour for observers too) and others in the room. If there is only a 1 in 10,000 chance that any one person in this country has the virus, then there is about a 10% chance that somebody in that room right now is carrying the coronavirus. If someone in there has the virus, they will infect many others. And if it’s one of the players or dealers who has it, they will infect dozens if not scores of others. There’s no getting around it.
This is a novel virus. If you come into contact with it, you catch it. There’s no, “Oh, I’m healthy and my immune system is tops, bro,” with a novel virus. Nobody has immunity, everybody gets it. 100%. A lot of older people are poker players and dealers, wait staff, etc. If this virus spreads to just a dozen people in that casino, those dozen will spread it to scores, those scores will spread it to hundreds, then to thousands, etc.
There’s a real chance that people will die because this tournament runs for the next few days.
It’s time to wake up, people. This is happening and it is real. It’s time for some real tough decisions to be made. This is not one of those tough decisions. This should have been an easy one.
Bay 101 should have been cancelled.