Moneymaker cancels WSOP attendance over COVID concerns

Jon Pill
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Posted on August 6, 2021 8:29 pm EDT

Chris Moneymaker has decided not to attend the WSOP this year over COVID concerns. He will also be passing up on a trip to Texas.

“REALLY hate it but canceled my trip to El Paso and Vegas for the @WSOP,” he wrote on Twitter. “My 9-year-old can’t be vaccinated and I do not want to bring the virus home to him.”

Every year at the live WSOP, the flu runs rampant. Given how much more infectious COVID and its variants are, anyone going to the WSOP — vaccinated or not — is likely to encounter the coronavirus.

The COVID that results, if any, is widely variable and much less likely to be severe if you’re vaxxed. Even so, you have to be comfortable going all-in against a player whose range runs from a hacking cough to coma and death.

Moneymaker has a far more compelling reason than personal safety for passing up on this gamble: his nine-year-old, asthmatic son.

He also cites several personal tragedies inflicted by the Delta variant. “Neighbor died, uncle about to die, kids friend in hospital, poker player I know died, know of about 10 people in my circle battling it,” he wrote. “I am living my life, just away from others”

Moneymaker has assessed the risk for him and his family and has decided to pass on the event.

The strange place COVID occupies in our minds made his decision controversial to his many Twitter followers.

Personal reasons

Some commenters suggest that because the risk of complications is low, Moneymaker is being alarmist.

“The risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 in kids ages 5 to17 is 0.3 per million,” Jonathan Hales wrote in an attempt to lure Moneymaker out to Vegas. Somehow Moneymaker didn’t go for the runner-runner-quads-puts-your-kind-in-the-ER bet.

Others suggest that spending a week quarantining in a hotel room is well worth the hassle to play in the tournament.

“Just get tested before you come back home…are the tests not free in the US?” wrote Mike G, trying to find a solution.

Moneymaker isn’t budging though. It looks like we won’t be seeing him taking down his second ME this year.

Risks, rights, responsibilities

With views on COVID so politicized, it looks unlikely that any choice will satisfy everyone.

Matt Glantz suggested the WSOP should only be for the vaccinated. Polk and Witteles have decided no power on earth will get them into a mask for the 11-hour days of play at the WSOP. Kitty Kuo just wants masks and 8-handed play. Then there is the entire section of society think the virus, the vaccine, or both are products of conspiracies.

Moneymaker is the man to whom the WSOP arguably owes its current success. Without a clear plan in place for player safety, Moneymaker is not the only person worried about the event.

K. L. Cleeton—whose spinal muscular atrophy makes him high risk for complications from COVID—tweeted at the WSOP looking for clarity on this. This was going to be his first WSOP in years. Now that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

“What about it @JackEffel and @wsop?” K. L. wrote. Are you planning to prioritize safety and require vaccination?”

The WSOP remains silent on the topic of safety protocols so far.

With Nevada’s state mandates likely to change at a moment’s notice, the WSOP may be struggling to put together a plan that has a chance of surviving contact with the enemy.

The result is that for the second year running we may not get a live WSOP. If we do, it is likely to be sparsely attended. We certainly won’t see Moneymaker playing.

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