Rio opens doors to WSOP 2021 action; satellites and casino employees event underway

WSOP satellites line
Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: September 30, 2021 12:09 PDT

The 2021 World Series of Poker is officially underway at the Rio Convention Center in Las Vegas, with hundreds of players arriving early and the series’ extra COVID-19 protocols in place. Moderate-to-lengthy lines dominated the Rio’s morning scene, though action began as scheduled.

By noon, play had begun in the WSOP’s opening event, the $500 Casino Employees NLH tourney. Play in the employees event got underway at 11 am, with over 300 players seated within the first 90 minutes of action.

The employees’ event, however, was not the day’s first official WSOP action. That honor instead went to a $180 turbo mega satellite, which drew two tables’ worth of early-arriving players. The mega sattie paid out $1,500 in tourney lammers for each 10 players who entered and wrapped up action by noon. 

By then, the WSOP’s more traditional satellite fare had picked up steam, with the first few $125 and $175 single-table SNGs also underway. Like all satellites at the WSOP, these also pay out winnings in tourney lammers worth $500 each. 

Early action was limited to these smaller buy-in NLH tables, however, with special $70 feeders into this weekend’s “Reunion” event also available. PLO players started with an early waiting list, while the more expensive SNGs, ranging into the four-figures, were unlikely to draw many early players. Those SNGs run far more often on the nights and weekends, especially early in any live WSOP.

Double-line whammy plagues some arrivals

As always, waiting in line to play is one of the uniquely WSOP experiences. That issue was expected to be compounded this year with the WSOP’s vaccination requirements. All arriving players, vendors, media and other outside parties must show proof of vaccination before being allowed to register to play or conduct other business.

Besides the lengthy lines always in place for event registration, the added vaccination-proving process posed the potential for more delays. To some extent that happened: By 10 am, the waiting line to enter the Belize Room and complete the process had stretched some 75 people deep, with a 30-minute wait involved.

Belize Room waiting line WSOP 2021 Day 1 (Image: Haley Hintze) Belize Room waiting line WSOP 2021 Day 1 (Image: Haley Hintze)

That wait quickly shrank, however, as WSOP staff quickly learned the methods for verifying and entering a player’s vaccination info. The Belize line had shrunk to a very manageable 10-minute wait by noon.

The longer wait, however, developed in the lines to register the day’s main event, the Casino Employees tourney. One player reported hearing there was a three-hour wait to register and that it was caused by a severe cashier employee shortage.

Such claims were likely exaggerated to some extent. While the registration cage may have been short-staffed, security guards helping coordinate the lines reckoned the wait, at its longest, was more like an hour and a half. That’s not an unusual WSOP experience, especially early in the series, when proper staffing levels require continuous monitoring and adjustment.

As with all WSOPs, however, the usual admonition applies. Especially for big-field events, such as Friday’s “Reunion," one should arrive early. Way early. Registering online or through the WSOP’s FasTrak kiosks can also save large chunks of time. Yet the lines, as always, persist.

Featured image source: Haley Hintze