The World Series of Poker, or WSOP, is an annual series of poker tournaments held in Las Vegas, recognized as the largest and most prestigious poker event in the world, with its origins dating back to 1970. Currently, the WSOP consists of over 100 events, featuring most of the major poker variants, but especially Texas hold ‘em tournaments. In 2019, the WSOP broke several records, accounting for 187,298 participants from 118 countries, and awarding almost $300 million in prize money.
In June, the World Series of Poker finally announced its schedule for 2021, disclosing the return of live, in-person competitions and events, including the renowned Main Event, which is the $10,000 No-Limit Hold ‘em World Championship. The 2021 WSOP is scheduled to start on September 30, in Las Vegas, Nevada, with a number of bracelet events. The series will conclude with the Main Event, which is projected to be held on November 4 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.
Last year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, cities under lockdowns, land-based venues closed, and social distancing measures in place, the WSOP was forced to adjust to a hybrid format, and several tournaments and bracelet events were held online. Record-breaking audiences in these online tournaments led the WSOP to introduce a number of Gold Bracelet online tournaments in the 2021 season.
Unfortunately, one of the most successful players in poker history and an exponent of online poker, Chris Moneymaker has announced that he won’t be attending the 2021 World Series of Poker. The Poker Hall of Famer referred to his nine-year-old child being unable to be vaccinated as the main reason for his decision.
“I decided to skip the WSOP Main Event when I learned that even vaccinated people could shed the virus. If I go to the WSOP, I will most certainly be exposed to the virus,” said Moneymaker. “I was looking forward to live poker in general. Before the Delta variant, I started to play live locally again and added some stops live to my schedule. That is all gone for the foreseeable future.”
Curiously, the first player to qualify for the 2021 Main Event was former NBA star and San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker, who, after retiring from the NBA in 2019, turned his focus to professional poker.
After one year of playing in the best US poker sites, players and poker enthusiasts can finally celebrate the return of live, in-person action in 2021. The season is scheduled to begin on September 30, with the opening weekend featuring several charity events to aid frontline health workers, including a $5 million GTD No-Limit Hold’em.
The Main Event is set to begin on November 4, with the final table expected to take place on November 17. Players will be allowed to choose from for starting dates, and the WSOP expects all play to be concluded on November 23. There will be several COVID-19 safety and health protocols in place, and the WSOP already stated that it will comply with any directives issued by the state of Nevada, including capacity limits.
“It wouldn’t be summer without WSOP,” said Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the World Series of Poker. “We are thrilled to be reopening our venues and optimistic about future offline events. […] In 2021, the theme is get vaccinated and get back to Vegas.”
Last year, the WSOP online domestic series featured 31 events, and its main event broke the Guinness Book world record for largest online poker tournament, with a $27.5 million prize pool. It also marked the largest online tournament series in the history of American regulated poker.
In 2021, as the partnership with GGPoker continues to improve, the WSOP announced a comprehensive schedule of online events, which includes the WSOP Online 2021 International tournament on the GGPoker app, from August 1 through September 12. Online satellite tournaments and bracelet events awarding entries to the live Main Event will be held on GGPoker as well as WSOP.com online platform.
“With over $100 million in guarantees during the WSOPC Super Series and more than $134 million in awarded prizes, it’s clear that GGPoker and the WSOP make a good pair,” said Steve Preiss, Head of Poker Operations for GGPoker. “We’re excited to introduce bracelet events that the worldwide poker community will embrace, as well as innovative programming with PokerGo.”