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Shuffle up and deal: MGM Grand Detroit reopens poker room Friday

Tony Paul   | The Detroit News

For the first time in more than nine months, poker appears to finally be in the cards at Detroit's three casinos.

MGM Grand Detroit sent out an email to customers Wednesday, saying it will reopen its poker room Friday, with capacity restrictions amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This comes as the Michigan Gaming Control Board has approved provisions for Detroit's casinos to reopen poker rooms.

"It is my pleasure to announce the reopening of the MGM Grand Detroit Poker Room," Keith Frankel, manager of poker operations, wrote in the email. 

"We're keeping the health and safety of our guests and employees at the forefront of all we do."

Among the restrictions MGM Grand Detroit plans with its return to poker: There will be a maximum of five available tables, properly spaced out; up to eight players per table, down from the usual nine; and each player's seat will be separated by a plexiglass divider.

Detroit's casinos were shut down in mid-March amid the early stages of the pandemic, and reopened briefly in August, but with no poker. Poker also was shut out of the latest reopening, in December.

The shutdowns have left Detroit's robust poker community seeking opportunities to play. Online poker isn't yet legal in Michigan, but is expected to go live later this month or early next month.

In September, MotorCity Casino announced to customers it was opening poker back up, and Greektown said at the time it was making similar plans. But that news caught by total surprise the Michigan Gaming Control Board, which hadn't yet approved poker safety plans. The casinos eventually scrapped the plans.

They now have the official go-ahead.

A representative for Greektown said it plans to reopen its poker room in the next "few weeks," while a representative for MotorCity, which has the most popular room in Detroit among avid players, didn't immediately return a message from The News seeking comment.

MGM Grand Detroit said its poker room will be open 24-7, but its food and beverage counter will not be available amid state regulations forbidding the consumption of food and beverage indoors. Masks must be worn at all times, and the Plexiglas dividers are set to be sanitized frequently, as are the cards and chips. There will only be cash games, no tournaments. MGM Grand's bad-beat jackpot is $106,000.

Only four poker rooms reopened in Las Vegas shortly after the city rebooted in early June, and more than a dozen have since followed.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984