The live Virginia poker industry will get a much-needed boost as four Las Vegas-style casinos in Virginia begin opening later this year.
Virginia-based grinders are currently in a rough spot. The lack of a regulated online poker market and the sheer distance to the nearest cardroom make it tough to find a regular game.
However, they will get that chance very soon. Hard Rock Casino and Resort Bristol will open a temporary gaming floor later this year, becoming the first brick-and-mortar casino in Old Dominion.
Caesars Entertainment, Rush Street Gaming and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe will open properties in Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth, respectively, next year.
Additionally, there could be a fifth casino in the state at some point. But the drama for the proposed Richmond casino still needs to clear up before a potential timeline is established.
Most of these casinos are still more than a year away from opening their doors. Therefore, the finalized plans for the live poker rooms are still in flux. But let’s take a look at what we do know and project what live poker in the commonwealth will look like in the coming months and years.
Live Virginia poker: Hard Rock Bristol up first?
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. The first VA casino to open will not have a poker room.
A representative from the public relations firm representing the Hard Rock Bristol told PlayVirginia that the facility will not have a poker room.
It’s a disappointing development on multiple levels. Firstly, every poker player in the state would rather not wait before a room opens.
Secondly, the Seminole Tribe, which purchased Hard Rock International for $965 million in 2006, has a reputation for running first-class poker rooms.
The Florida-based tribe has the largest poker rooms in the Sunshine State in Tampa and Hollywood, both of which are home to major poker tournament stops. However, outside of their Florida casinos, only a handful of Hard Rock casinos have a functional poker room.
Seminole-owned casinos with a poker room
- Hard Rock Tampa
- Hard Rock Hollywood
- Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
- Hard Rock Cincinnati
- Hard Rock Tulsa
- Hard Rock Punta Cana
Seminole-owned casinos without a poker room
- Seminole Casino Immokalee
- Seminole Casino Brighton
- Hard Rock Atlantic City
- Hard Rock Vancouver
- Hard Rock Biloxi
- Hard Rock Sioux City
- Hard Rock Sacramento
- Rockford Casino (IL)
- Hard Rock Northern Indiana
Caesars Virginia poker room
Now that we have the bad news out of the way, I’ll drop a bit of a live Virginia poker spoiler on you: The other three casinos confirmed that there will be poker at those properties.
Officials for Caesars Casino Resort Danville announced that the south-Virginia resort would have a World Series of Poker-branded poker room. CardsChat, a poker-centric news site, reported in September that it would be a 25-table room.
We couldn’t confirm any specific details with a representative from Caesars. However, we know for certain that there will be a room on site.
Unlike Hard Rock, most Caesars’ properties have poker options for their guests. Additionally, Caesars owns the WSOP brand and runs the WSOP tournament series every year. It’s clear the company is invested in poker and will have a high-quality room.
The lone poker room in North Carolina, which is located in Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino, is consistently one of the largest stops on the WSOP Circuit schedule. Since it’s just a 4.5-hour ride from Cherokee, I’d bet Caesars brings a Circuit stop to Danville at some point.
I’ll also venture a guess that the daily cash game selection is on par with what Caesars offers in Cherokee. After all, even with the 278 miles separating the two cities, it’s one of the closest poker rooms to Danville.
If that prediction holds true, you’ll be able to find $1-$2 no-limit Hold ’em and $2-$5 no-limit Hold ’em spread on a regular basis. There could be some bigger games running on the weekends too, not to mention a healthy dose of small-stakes pot-limit Omaha.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth poker room
Rush Street Gaming was awarded the gaming license for Portsmouth and will open its fifth Rivers Casino in the city.
Tommy Bates, the former manager of poker operations at Rivers Casino Philadelphia, is now a poker/gaming consultant for Rush Street Gaming. He confirmed to PlayVirginia that Rivers Portsmouth Casino Resort will have a poker room.
Bates also said that the room’s specifics will be ironed out in the coming weeks. However, we can look at the other Rivers-owned poker rooms to gauge what could be coming to Portsmouth.
Rivers owns one casino in Illinois that is devoid of a poker room. On the other hand, the two Pennsylvania properties in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, as well as its Albany, NY location all have one.
Based on what those three rooms typically offer, you can expect a healthy offering of small and mid-stakes no-limit Hold ’em.
Those rooms consistently spread both $1-$2 and $2-$5 no-limit Hold ’em. But there could be a regional difference in the player pool that slightly changes which games are offered.
On the tournament front, the World Poker Tour brought its DeepStacks product to Rivers Casino Pittsburgh and New York in 2019. Especially if the WSOP Circuit heads to Danville, Rivers could bring a WPT stop to Virginia.
Headwaters Casino poker room
From a poker perspective, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe-owned HeadWaters Resort & Casino in Norfolk is a wild card.
A representative from the casino confirmed that the property will have a room. However, the rep said they “haven’t released any additional information beyond that.” Unlike the two other rooms in the states, we have no data to go off.
The Pamunkey Indian Tribe doesn’t own a casino anywhere else in the country. As a result, any prediction about the room is a complete guess.
Robert Gray, Chief of the Pamunkey Tribe, told a local ABC affiliate last April that the casino will be the “destination choice for gaming in Virginia.” Based on his remarks, and the casino’s $500 million price tag, it’s easy to assume the room will be upscale.
However, we have no idea what type of games will be spread. Or how it will compete with Rivers Casino just three miles away in Norfolk.
Timeline for VA casinos
Here are the latest timelines for Virginia casinos to open:
|City||Casino||Projected Opening Date|
|Bristol||Hard Rock Casino and Resort Bristol||Mid-2022 (temporary casino), 2023 (full casino)|
|Danville||Caesars Casino Resort Danville||Q4, 2023|
|Norfolk||HeadWaters Resort & Casino||Q4, 2023|
|Portsmouth||Rivers Portsmouth Casino Resort||Early 2023|