Back when Covid hit, our area casinos were some of the first local businesses to shut things down, and rightfully so.  Staying open wasn't a choice; relatively sedentary guests side by side or even socially distanced in somewhat confined spaces had Covid-spreader potential written all over it.

In the middle of March 2020, the staff at Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady had no choice but to comply with Cuomo's mandate at the time to cease operations knowing full well that with each passing day that tables weren't filled and slots weren't ringing, the revenue loss would be substantial. That was nearly a year-and-a-half ago...hard to believe.

When other casinos like Turning Stone in Rome, NY as well as Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in Mystic, CT reopened in mid-July of 2020,  Capital Region residents waited patiently on  Rivers who couldn't allow gaming enthusiasts back inside until last September.

And when they did reopen a year ago, the beautiful, bountiful Poker room (which I am personally fond of -  as are other players when I sit down at a table) wasn't part of Rivers' plans.  A bummer for local card players who saw their home away from home turned into a slot player's paradise.

But it made sense to shelve poker for the time being.

Poker rooms inside casinos generate about as much money for the house as someone who orders lemon water and an appetizer for dinner at a 5-star steakhouse.  Slot machines are a lot more profitable, and they require fewer employees to operate.

While area poker players either stopped playing or found "house games" to play at,  the question became, "would Rivers ever reopen the poker room?"

Photo: Rivers Casino and Resort Schenectady
Photo: Rivers Casino and Resort Schenectady

A few weeks back, while at one of these bustling poker "home games" in the Capital Region, I heard some grumblings throughout the community that plans were in place to bring it back, which Rivers confirmed in a press release yesterday stating:

"Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady has reopened its poker room effective Wednesday, September 1, 2021...It joins the casino’s gaming floor, with slots and live table games, and the Rivers Sportsbook, in offering guests a complete gaming entertainment experience. The Rivers Casino poker room includes 16 tables and offers a variety of poker games. The poker room’s daily hours of operation are from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m."

Covid Rules: Masks are optional for fully vaccinated guests. Guests who are not vaccinated, or only partially vaccinated, from COVID-19 must continue to wear a mask. 

Today marked the return of poker at Rivers in Schenectady and according to the press release, over one hundred players lined up to get in and they packed the house.  Welcome back, players!

Photo: Rivers Casino and Resort Schenectady
Photo: Rivers Casino and Resort Schenectady

50 Most Popular Chain Restaurants in America

YouGov investigated the most popular dining brands in the country, and Stacker compiled the list to give readers context on the findings. Read on to look through America's vast and divergent variety of restaurants—maybe you'll even find a favorite or two.

More From 104.5 THE TEAM