It’s official: A live WSOP will run in 2021

Geoff Fisk
Published by:
Posted on 04/01/2021

WSOP announces 2021 series at the Rio Sept. 30 through Nov. 23

Will there be a live World Series of Poker in 2021? One of poker’s most pertinent questions was answered Thursday, as the WSOP announced dates for a proper 2021 World Series of Poker.

The 2021 WSOP will emanate from its familiar home at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Sep. 30-Nov.23. The schedule of events will be released this summer, but a WSOP press release did provide a few details about what poker players can expect from the series this fall.

The $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship, aka the Main Event, will run Nov. 4-17. The 2021 Main Event features four Day 1 flights, with one running each day from Nov. 4-7.

Day 2 is split into two flights, one each day Nov. 8-9. From there, the surviving players come back as a combined pool on Wednesday, Nov. 10, and play out to the tournament’s conclusion on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

The WSOP press release states that COVID-19 safety protocols will be hammered out by the WSOP and Nevada gaming regulators as the event gets closer.

“This year, more than ever, we embrace our role at the WSOP to deliver memorable experiences and bring this community of poker lovers back together,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said in the press release. “In 2021, the theme is, get vaccinated and get back to Vegas.”

Live WSOP will return after two-year-plus hiatus

We haven’t seen the World Series of Poker run in its traditional form since the 2019 series. The 2019 WSOP marked the 50th annual running of poker’s biggest and most recognizable event.

Hossein Ensan capped off the 2019 WSOP with a Main Event win and $10 million payday. At that time, we didn’t know the next proper WSOP stood more than two years away.

Barring future complications from COVID-19, that hiatus ends this fall. Tuesday’s press release also announced the resumption of the WSOP Europe, set to run Nov. 19-Dec. 8 at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic.

Is the poker community hyped for the return of the WSOP?

The World Series of Poker persists as the world’s most attended and recognizable poker event. A normal running of the WSOP draws thousands of players from around the world, with the Rio as the longtime home for the series in Las Vegas.

COVID-19 considerations move the 2021 WSOP into the fall, but poker players around the world at least enjoy the opportunity to attend the series if they wish.

Americas Cardroom team Pro Vanessa Kade stands among the contingent of poker pros looking forward to this year’s WSOP revival.

“I’m so excited for the WSOP to return in the fall, it’s my favorite series of the year and always feels a bit like going to summer camp. I’ve missed live poker in general but the WSOP in particular,” Kade told Poker.org.

Fresh off her recent $1.5 million win in the PokerStars 15th Anniversary Sunday Million, Kade expects big attendance for the 2021 WSOP this fall.

“It looks like they have put a lot of thought into making sure it will be as safe as possible for everyone, which is great,” Kade said.

“I suspect international participation might be down as people from other countries may still be hesitant to play into the fall, but American numbers will likely be quite high as it seems many live events going on now are already setting attendance records – locals are ready to get back in the game for sure.”

Back to normalcy for the WSOP

The 2020 chapter in the lineage of the WSOP stands as the most unusual in the 51-year history of the series. Initially scheduled for its usual summer run at the Rio, the 2020 series was postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

WSOP responded by putting together the WSOP Online Bracelet Events series. The U.S. side of that festival ran on WSOP.com, while international players participated on GGPoker.

https://twitter.com/WSOP/status/1377637706021265410

The two festivals combined awarded 85 WSOP bracelets, including a tournament that, at the time, seemed like an official online replacement for the Main Event. Stoyan Madanzhiev took down the WSOP $5,000 Online Main Event, winning the biggest first-place prize in the history of online poker at $3,904,685.

Later in the year, however, the WSOP announced that the official 2020 Main Event would run with its traditional $10,000 buy-in. The tournament ran in online format, once again splitting the U.S. and ROW player bases between WSOP.com and GGPoker.

Each side of the Main Event played through to the final table, with the final nine on each side reconvening to play out the final two tables in a live setting. Damian Salas emerged as the winner from the GGPoker side of the event, outlasting the competition at the final table that played out from King’s Casino in Rozvadov.

Salas then traveled to the states to play U.S. winner Joseph Hebert at the Rio in a heads-up match for the title. Salas won that match, and his likeness will presumably adorn the 2020 championship banner that will hang at the Rio for the 2021 series.

Is the return of a live WSOP good for poker? Poker.org author Jon Pill says bring it on, while colleague Jon Sofen contends that it’s time for a break.

Check back with Poker.org for continuing updates on the 2021 World Series of Poker.

Featured image source: Twitter