Despite Surging Virus Variant, WSOP Announces Schedule For Fall Events

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After much anticipation and clamoring from poker players, the World Series of Poker on Tuesday announced more details about its upcoming in-person tournaments in Las Vegas.

The WSOP said that the poker festival will kick off Sept. 30 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, a property long home to the annual event. The WSOP didn’t run in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A dangerous so-called Delta variant is making its way across the U.S., but the 2021 WSOP for now is a go.

“Make no mistake, the 2021 WSOP will be the real deal and we’re preparing for a full house,” Ty Stewart, the WSOP’s executive director, said. “Throughout the storied history of the WSOP, this year will be particularly memorable and we’re preparing for a poker reunion all players can celebrate. We’re beyond thrilled to offer a complete schedule of can’t-miss events including all our flagships and the variety players deserve.”

“We could not be more excited to welcome everyone back to Las Vegas and the Rio,” said WSOP Vice President and Tournament Director Jack Effel. “The entire WSOP team is hard at work to ensure players have the absolute best experience possible.”

The 2021 WSOP will wrap up on Nov. 23.

On tap is the prestigious $10,000 no-limit hold’em Main Event. The tournament kicks off on Nov. 4, with the final table to be played Nov. 16-17. The WSOP stated that its new broadcast partner is CBS Sports. For many years the tournament had aired via ESPN.

WSOP expecting a big turnout

One of the first events of the 88-event series is dubbed “The Reunion,” and it seeks to draw more than 10,000 players. The prize pool for the $500 buy-in tournament is a guaranteed $5 million. A seven-figure prize could await the winner, depending on participation numbers.

“Anticipation and expectations are high for the 2021 WSOP, following a 26-month absence,” the WSOP stated in the presser. “The 2019 WSOP set marks for tournament entries and prize pool with 187,298 entries and $293,183,345 in prize money awarded. The average WSOP gold bracelet event in 2019 featured a $3,257,592 prize pool with $533,613 going to the event’s winner. The 2019 Main Event attracted 8,569 players … and the total prize pool was $80,548,600 with $10,000,000 going to the winner.”

Other highlights of the schedule include a $25,000 buy-in high-stakes heads-up tournament and a $250,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event. Poker legend Phil Ivey has stated he’ll play this year.

Online and in-person registration for the tournaments opens in August.

The WSOP hopes to send a lot of players into live events through its online poker site, which is live in both Nevada and New Jersey. Caesars, owner of the WSOP, could launch in both Pennsylvania and Michigan this summer ahead of the in-person Las Vegas series.

Satellites for bracelet events have already kicked off. Outside the U.S., the WSOP has “deepened” its partnership with GGPoker. The WSOP gave GGPoker the exclusivity to run satellites in overseas markets.

Virus concerns?

The presser Tuesday didn’t mention masks, so it looks like those will be optional unless anything changes between now and the fall. There will also not be any Plexiglas dividers between players, which has been common in poker rooms across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There’s also nothing in the presser about vaccines or about any limitations on unvaccinated players participating.

According to the latest figures, about 44% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Among Americans 18 years and older, 54.4% are fully vaccinated, according to government figures. Individuals must be 21 years of age to play at the WSOP.

Recent research from the UK found that the Pfizer vaccine is 96% effective against hospitalization from the Delta variant, which reportedly is more easily transmissible.

Photo by Bill Roque / Shutterstock.com



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