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Poker players talk about their home games, including how some have moved the games online in EsquireThe Los Angeles Times, and The Times of Northwest Indiana.

Since mid-March much of the world has been in some form of “lockdown” or another as part of the effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The weekly or monthly poker home game has been understandably affected, with social distancing and the need to remain safe making it hard for most to gather around tables together just now.

Following the path taken by businesses going “remote” by teleworking and making use of various online helpers, home game players have been doing the same by moving their games online.

Over the past several weeks there have been several entertaining accounts of players trading physical chips and cards for virtual ones as they’ve moved their games online.

Poker players have been moving their home games online (Alexandra_Koch/Pixabay).

Esquire writer Mark Jannot recently shared the story of his home game as well, first explaining how he launched in three-and-a-half years ago, then how he successfully moved it online.

A round of emails starting with an announcement that the home game needed to be suspended ended happily with everyone around their laptops and smart phones soon playing again.

As Jannot puts it, the game “has been a succor to the soul in this time of separation and insanity.” There has been another side benefit familiar to all of us who play online poker — they’re playing twice as many hands online as they did live.

READ: “There Are Still Pockets of Sanity Left in This World. My Weekly Poker Game is One of Them”

Jannot discusses PokerStars Home Games as one available option players can use to move their home games online.


With PokerStars Home Games you can start your own private poker club, play cash games and tournaments (in just about any poker variant you can think of), and even keep track of club standings.

Here’s what you need to know to start your own online poker club on PokerStars:

READ: “Start Your Own Poker Club with PokerStars Home Games”

Jannot’s story reminds us of a similar one told a short while back by Andy Bellin. The screenwriter, director, and author of Poker Nation shared the story of moving the home game he plays with Hank Azaria and others online for The Los Angeles Times.

READ: “How a Hollywood poker game keeps the camaraderie — and trash talk — going on Zoom”

That game, as you might recall, led to something much bigger, the “Stars CALL For Action” celebrity charity tournament that saw PokerStars donate $1 million to numerous charities.

READ: “‘Stars CALL For Action’ raises $1 million for charity, David Costabile wins”

By the way, Costabile talked about the tournament, his chosen charity World Central Kitchen, being on The Wire, Breaking Bad, Billions and other shows, and more on a recent episode of “Poker in the Ears.”

LISTEN: “Poker in the Ears, Episode 183 – 22/05/2020 – David Costabile”

Bellin tells shares how being able to restart the game online while sharing humorous banter, jokes, and put downs over Zoom helped highlight the important place the game has in the players’ lives.

“I don’t want to say that suddenly all the strife and tragedy in the world disappeared for the briefest of seconds — it didn’t — the Earth is still a plague-riddled disaster area, but for the first time in many weeks, we were all thinking about something else.”

The Bellin-Azaria home game evolved into the $1 million charity event, “Stars CALL For Action”

Speaking of charity work, poker player, comedian, and actor Brad Garrett has been similarly involved, including taking part in a livestreamed variety show from Las Vegas in April that raised money for cast members and those working on shows that were shut down in Sin City.

Garrett is also known for playing in a long-running home game whose participants have included his Everyone Loves Raymond co-star Ray Romano.

Blast from the past: Brad Garrett at another charity poker tournament, the Ante Up for Africa event at the 2009 WSOP (Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive)

Last week The Times of Northwest Indiana shared an interview with Garrett in which he talked about another charity that is important to him, the Maximum Hope Foundation he co-founded that helps with the financial burdens of families with terminally ill children.

Garrett also talked a lot about poker in the article, including about the once-a-month home game he plays with Romano.

READ: “Actor Garrett delivers ‘Maximum Hope’ through love of poker”

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