2020 WSOP Main Event will run in December, coincides with Rio Las Vegas reopening

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on 11/13/2020

At long last, we finally have a date set for the 2020 WSOP Main Event. But this year’s world championship of poker will have a different look and feel to it.

When Hossein Ensan wrapped up the $10,000 Main Event in July 2019, no one expected him to hold onto that title for so long. Then COVID-19 struck and the 2020 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas was canceled and replaced with an 84-event online bracelet series on WSOP.com (in the U.S.) and GGPoker (globally).

Ensan, who won $10 million 16 months ago, is still the defending champ. But, unless he repeats, he’ll give up that crown on December 30. That is the day of the finale to what is going to be a unique and interesting world championship event, the 51st annual WSOP Main Event.

The Rio in Las Vegas, home to the WSOP since 2005, has remained closed due to COVID-19 since mid-March. On December 22, the resort will reopen to the public. Comedians Penn and Teller, regular performers at the Rio, announced the casino’s reopening in a brief Twitter video.

With the Rio reopening next month, that gives the WSOP a spot to host its annual Main Event. But it won’t be the location where most of the tournament will be held.

2020 WSOP Main Event played online?

This year’s Main Event, the only pseudo-live bracelet event. will be a hybrid online-live poker tournament. How it works is GGPoker (starting November 29) and WSOP.com (starting December 13) will each host an online Main Event with a $10,000 buy-in.

Those who compete on GGPoker will play down to the final table of nine and then complete play at King’s Casino in the Czech Republic, site of the annual WSOP Europe series, on December 15. Players in the U.S. however will instead compete in a separate $10,000 Main Event on WSOP.com (only available in Nevada and New Jersey). That final table will be hosted at the Rio on December 28.

This format was selected so that players from all around the world will have an opportunity to compete. With COVID-19 making international travel difficult, the WSOP decided to set up separate tournaments so that all poker players with $10,000 lying around can take a shot at poker glory.

“There must be a World Champion in 2020,” said Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the World Series of Poker in a press release. “Poker’s history is too important.  It’s a unique format for the Main Event, but this is a unique year. We want to keep players’ health and safety top of mind and still deliver a great televised showcase for the game we love.”

So, who will be the true 2020 world champion? The overall Main Event winner, which will be decided December 30. The winners of both the Rio and King’s Casino final tables will compete heads-up at the Rio on that day to determine the 2020 WSOP Main Event champion.

As they do every year, ESPN will televise live coverage of the Main Event in Las Vegas once play begins offline. Commentators Norman Chad and Lon McEachern will be back in the ESPN broadcast booth for the 17th straight year.

Featured image source: Flickr