Michigan Poker Rooms: Where You Can Play Right Now And What To Know Before You Go

Written By Derek Helling on January 8, 2021 - Last Updated on May 12, 2021

While Michiganders wait for the launch of legal online poker, some might not be able to tolerate that wait. The reason? Some poker rooms at Michigan casinos are still temporarily unavailable.

Additionally, there are some restrictions in place to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic that poker players should be ready to abide by in order to play at the facilities when they do open.

Which Michigan poker rooms are open right now?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, poker rooms have been some of the last gambling areas to spring back to life. It’s considered a high-risk activity. Players touch cards. Chips change hands. Players sit very near to each other. Essentially, it’s a hotbed for viral transmission.

As a matter of fact, when the three Detroit commercial casinos reopened in a limited fashion in August and then December, all of them kept their poker rooms closed. In Las Vegas, poker rooms reduced the number of players at each table, installed plexiglass barriers, and refreshed chips more frequently when they reopened.

However, MGM Grand Detroit reopened its poker room on Jan. 15. The room is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week with up to five tables spaced apart, according to an emailed announcement. Each table will have a maximum of eight players with plexiglass dividing each player and the dealer. Odawa Casino in Petoskey reopened its poker room on Jan. 15 as well.

As of Feb. 15, the Greektown Casino poker room in Detroit is now open. MotorCity Casino reopened their poker room on March 6.

Island Resort Casino in Harris announced it is reopening the poker room on Feb. 26.

FireKeepers Casino reopened its poker room on May 1.

So which Michigan poker rooms are open right now? The following is a breakdown by the facility:

CasinoLocationPoker Room Open?Days/HoursSeats/Tables Available
MGM Grand DetroitDetroitYes (Jan. 15)24/78 seats per table; 5 tables
Odawa CasinoPetoskeyYes (Jan. 15)Friday-Sunday/4 p.m.-midnight6 seats per table; 2 tables
Bay Mills Resort & CasinoBrimleyNo--
FireKeepers CasinoBattle CreekYes (May 1)24/76 seats per table; 13 tables; no tournaments
Greektown CasinoDetroitYes (mid-February)Daily/10 a.m.-2 a.m. (until 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday)4 tables
Gun Lake CasinoWaylandNo--
Island Resort CasinoHarrisNo (Feb. 26)Friday-Saturday/11 a.m.-3 a.m.Cash games only
Kewadin CasinoSault Ste. MarieNo--
MotorCity Casino HotelDetroitYes (March 6)24/7N/A
Soaring Eagle Casino ResortMt. PleasantNo--

What to expect when Michigan poker rooms reopen

Not every casino in Michigan has a poker room. For example, the three Four Winds properties only offer three-card poker as a table game. Some of the facilities in the table above do offer video poker on their gaming floors right now, but there are safety protocols you must follow in order to play.

These include:

  • Abiding by social distancing measures
  • Wearing face masks properly while playing
  • Temperature checks before entering the playing floor
  • Capacity limits and table/seat limits

Beverage and dining options are limited at casinos as well.

Unfortunately, there’s no telling when any of these poker rooms may reopen. When they do so, it’s likely they will see some of the same limitations ongoing within poker rooms in other gambling jurisdictions. It also doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon.

COVID-19 pandemic not slowing in Michigan

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the virus is not slowing in the Great Lakes State. As a matter of fact, the number of cumulative confirmed cases and deaths among confirmed cases are both higher than ever.

Protecting employees and guests from the virus is the primary reason the casinos have closed these areas. Because 10 of the 13 casinos on this list are run by tribal communities, they have their own set of rules and are ungoverned by the state’s pandemic guidelines or the Michigan Gaming Control Board. That means tribal casino poker rooms could reopen first.

They may not do so in concert with each other. Right now, there’s no indication that’s imminent at any of them. The best way to know for sure is to contact the casino directly. However, as they are just as concerned about the pandemic as the state government, it may be months yet.

Real money online poker sites launched at the end of January and PokerStars Michigan was first out of the gate. Many of the elements of playing poker in-person can’t be replicated, though. When it’s safe to do so again, Michigan poker rooms will undoubtedly welcome players back happily.

Photo by Dreamstime stock
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago, IL. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law. Recently, he has written about the expanded gambling industry in Michigan, including online sports betting, online casinos, and the cornerstone land-based casino market.

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