Will the Delta variant impact the 2021 World Series of Poker?

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on 07/16/2021

Houston, we might have a problem. The 2021 World Series of Poker could be impacted by the state of COVID-19 in Europe, and things aren’t looking great on that front.

Each year, thousands of players from Canada and European nations travel to Las Vegas to compete in the most prestigious series in poker. This year, however, could be different unless coronavirus cases begin to decline between now and September 30, the first WSOP bracelet event. But there is some potentially positive news up ahead.

Current situation in Europe

At present, flights from Europe and Canada to the United States are limited to essential travel. That means those coming to the U.S. simply to play poker are likely out of luck. There is one loophole in that restriction, and that is for European travelers to first make a 14-day pit stop in Mexico to quarantine before flying into the U.S. But that isn’t appealing to most visitors.

With that said, according to CNN, President Joe Biden is set to announce, “in the next several days,” an update on when the European travel ban that has been in place since March 2020 will be lifted. The U.S. leader, however, didn’t make any promises about lifting the ban.

Europe eased travel restrictions coming from America last month as more of the U.S. population has become fully vaccinated. The move hasn’t been reciprocated by President Biden, and there’s a reason for that. COVID-19 cases around many parts of Europe have continued to climb as the new Delta variant is beginning to spread uncontrollably.

France, the Netherlands, Greece, and Spain all increased COVID-19 restrictions on Monday in hopes of combating the Delta variant.

What this means for the WSOP

The 2021 WSOP Main Event, which starts November 4, will have four Day 1 starting flights for the first time, one more than in year’s past. The reason for the extra starting flight, according to WSOP Vice President Jack Effel, is due to expected increased demand. Many poker players expect the upcoming world championship event to set a 52-year record for entries, beating the 8,773-player field in 2006.

The odds of this year’s Main Event setting a record for participants is slim to none without the international crowd. And the same can be said about attendance in every other bracelet event.

With that said, the fall World Series of Poker will likely be one of the biggest ever, with or without President Biden eliminating European and Canada travel restrictions. It just might not be as huge as it would if the international players can easily travel to Las Vegas.

Featured image source: Flickr