WSOP Brings Players Back Together From September to November

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The world is inching back toward normalcy. That includes the World Series of Poker.

Like everything else about life, the poker world was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The pandemic caused the 2020 WSOP and the year-end Main Event to be conducted largely online with a hybrid format that ended in a heads-up championship match at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

In 2021, the WSOP is returning to the familiar live-action festival that the poker world cherished. But this year, instead of being played from late May through mid-July, the WSOP will be held Sept. 30 through Nov. 23. The calendar shift was to create some breathing room for the world to further recover from the pandemic and allow the public to feel safe in the close confines of a large-scale tournament environment.

“Make no mistake, the 2021 WSOP will be the real deal and we’re preparing for a full house. 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,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said in a news release. “We’re beyond thrilled to offer a complete schedule of can’t-miss events including all our flagships and the variety players deserve.”

This year’s WSOP will include 88 bracelet events. During the summer, there will also be bracelet events conducted entirely via top online poker sites. Some poker traditionalists might consider only a live tournament to be worth a bracelet – but that’s a discussion for another time.

Concerning the live-action WSOP festival in the fall, it will again be in the familiar setting of the Rio with much of the action playing out in the Amazon Room.

For the last live-action WSOP back in 2019, there were more than 8,000 players in the Main Event, which was second only in attendance to the record-setting year of 2006 at the poker boom’s zenith. That was before online satellites were hamstrung by the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Since UIGEA and the subsequent shutdown of online poker in 2011 on Black Friday, poker has been slowly making its way back with a handful of states having legalized Internet poker in recent years. New Jersey online poker sites and Pennsylvania’s top poker sites in particular have seen a great deal of success.

The pandemic was another blow to poker (after all, what casino game is more social distance-adverse) and consequently, the traditional WSOP revival this fall is an important re-boot for the game.

The Main Event is Nov. 4 (four starting days) through Nov. 16-17 (final table). See for a full list of events. Online and in-person registration for all events will begin in August.

The Main Event is still in its traditional format with a $10,000 buy-in and no re-entry. The Main Event starting days are Nov. 4-7.

Indicative of the theme of this year’s WSOP will be a massive early event called “The Reunion” starting Oct. 1. That event has a relatively modest buy-in of $500. There are three starting flights (Oct. 1-3) and a re-entry is allowed for each flight, which will obviously help the tournament make the $5 million prize pool guarantee.

Following is a list of highlights (this is a dealer’s choice of interesting events).

  • Oct. 5: $25,000 Heads Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship. For elite players, this is a $25,000 buy-in with a cap of 64 players.
  • Oct. 10: $1,000 Flip and Go Presented by GG Poker. Imported from the online world, this tournament features a format in which each player will be all-in preflop on the first hand. Players are dealt three cards and will select two. One player will win the table and immediately fast forward into the money, where the tournament will then play out under a traditional structure.
  • Oct. 11: Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship. One re-entry here. A few years ago, the buy-in was made to be technically $10,000, but the ladies’ discount price is $1,000. The tiered buy-in effectively discourages male gate-crashers.
  • Oct. 27-28: $1,000 Seniors Doubles Up. For the first time, the Seniors event will have two starting days and a re-entry for each flight.
  • Oct. 29-30: The Colossus. Come one, come all. This is the Everyman’s tournament. Buy-in is just $400. Two starting flights. Payouts each flight.
  • Oct. 31: Tag Team No-Limit Hold’em. Two-person team and each team must register together. Buy-in is $1,000 and no re-entry. You’d think there be a discount for married folks but there’s no mention of that.
  • Nov. 17: For players who want a decent shot at playing a poker legend, there’s the Poker Hall of Fame Bounty. The buy-in is $1,979 (1979 is the year the Poker Hall of Fame started) but living Hall of Fame members will be invited to freeroll so that should draw some big names. Each participating Hall of Famer will have a bounty corresponding to the year they were inducted into the Hall. As an aside, the 2021 PHOF inductee will be announced.
  • Nov 18: Super High Roller No-Limit Hold’em. This should be called the Yikes! Tournament. The buy-in is $250,000 – and there’s even a re-entry.

As a TV note, this year’s WSOP is being broadcast by CBS after having a long run on ESPN. Under new TV management, 18 different bracelet events are supposed to be televised with a minimum of 15 hours of coverage of the 2021 Main Event, which is being produced by Poker Central.

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