Months later than anyone could have expected a year ago, the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event final table will soon finally reach ESPN — ESPN2, to be exact. The show starts at 5 pm PT on Sunday evening on the most popular sports network in the world.
Many poker fans may not have even realized there was a 2020 Main Event. The tournament didn’t receive its normal international attention for various reasons, mostly because it wasn’t played over the summer and the bulk of the event took place online at WSOP.com and GGPoker.
In the end, Damian Salas beat out Joseph Hebert heads-up to become the 2020 world champion. He earned a total of $2.5 million for his efforts while Hebert took home $1.5.
Each player earned their way to the heads-up finale by defeating a final table. Salas, who finished 7th in 2017, won the GGPoker bracket and took down the live final table at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. Hebert beat out the WSOP.com field online, and then the final table at the Rio in Las Vegas, the same spot he lost heads-up to Salas.
The Main Event wasn’t live-streamed or televised anywhere when it took place back in December and January. Poker fans who have long been waiting to see all the action will get that opportunity on Sunday. ESPN2, starting at 5 pm PT, will air four hours of play from the Rio final table and the heads-up match between Salas and Hebert.
Lon McEachern and Jamie Kerstetter will handle the broadcast duties. Norman Chad, who has partnered with McEachern on ESPN since 2003, told Poker.org he’s still battling COVID-19 health issues, so he decided it was in his best interest to sit it out and let Kerstetter take his place. McEachern has been the lead WSOP announcer on ESPN since 2002.
What about the 2021 WSOP?
Now that the 2020 WSOP will officially be completely behind us by Sunday, it’s time to look ahead to 2021. More specifically, will there even be a live WSOP this summer, or will it take place exclusively online like in 2020?
Poker players all around the world sure hope they’ll get an opportunity to come to Las Vegas to compete for bracelets. But there are no guarantees given we’re still battling through a global health pandemic.
There are some positive signs that the 2021 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas will take place, however. COVID-19 cases in Nevada are down significantly over the past few weeks, and millions of Americans have already been vaccinated. So, it’s quite likely that health restrictions will soon be lifted in places such as Las Vegas.
At present, it wouldn’t be possible for the WSOP to happen in Sin City given casinos are only permitted to operate with 35 percent of the maximum building capacity. But with the rapid decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths all around the country, including in Nevada, there’s a good chance those restrictions will be lifted by summer.
But it may be too late for the WSOP to plan a summer series by the time that occurs. If so, the series planners may look to hosting the event in the fall.
Featured image source: Flickr