The 2021 WSOP in Las Vegas will take place, and I think I have a good idea about the how and when. But I should preface this by saying this is merely my opinion and no official plans have been released from the World Series of Poker.
On Tuesday, Kevin “Kevmath” Mathers reported on Twitter that he had spoken with a “high-ranking WSOP executive” and was told the WSOP is definitely on for 2021 later in the year than normal.
That claim hasn’t been confirmed by anyone within the WSOP publicly. But I tend to believe “Kevmath,” mostly because he’s one of the most trusted sources of poker information.
With that said, it’s hard to imagine he’s completely accurate, only because I find it difficult to believe the WSOP has a definitive plan in place. I say that for the simple reason that too much can change over the coming months with COVID-19 for the WSOP to stick to a set plan.
But I’m also confident we’re going to have a series at some point. I just don’t expect it to run during its normal June/July time period, much like Mathers said. It’s already early March and COVID-19 is still a major issue in the U.S. and most Americans still don’t have access to the vaccine.
When will the 2021 WSOP take place?
With June likely out of the question, we must now figure out when the series will be hosted, something Mathers didn’t share in his tweet. There are a few options for it. Many have speculated a fall WSOP in Las Vegas would be the best option. I happen to disagree.
If the World Series of Poker runs in the fall (or winter), there won’t be many recreational players in attendance. Most of those players have families back home and can’t just get up and travel across the country during the school year like they can during the summer.
So, I predict the 2021 WSOP will start in the middle of July, or sometime shortly after the Fourth of July, and run until the middle of August. By that time, the vaccine should be readily available for all Americans.
How it’s going to happen
Now that we have a timeframe in which to start the WSOP, let’s talk about all the logistics. I cannot foresee any scenario in which this year’s WSOP is similar to the past 15-20 years.
You shouldn’t expect 70-plus bracelet events at the Rio and dozens of tournaments with 1,000 or more players, which “Kevmath” hinted at. That’s not going to happen even with a vaccine because the coronavirus won’t be completely eradicated. So, packing the Rio halls simply won’t be feasible, and given the short amount of time for everyone to plan their trip to Vegas, it would be difficult for the WSOP to draw in massive crowds even if they wanted to.
I don’t think the 2021 WSOP will only be $10,000 buy-in and above tournaments. But I predict those events will represent a significant portion of the series. The higher buy-in tournaments attract much smaller fields than other events and don’t require a large chunk of recreational players to be successful.
Tournaments such as the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship, $50,000 Poker Players Championship, and of course the $10,000 Main Event will most certainly be on the schedule.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if the WSOP staff decides to move some events to other Caesars properties in Las Vegas so that the crowds are lighter at the Rio.
Changes are going to happen due to COVID-19. Players and spectators will likely be required to wear face masks this year. But I’d gladly take that over a second straight year without a live WSOP.
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