Sisolak praises WSOP’s COVID rules as an example of “leading” the vaccination effort

Jon Pill
Published by:
Posted on 09/08/2021

Caesars Entertainment’s controversial rules for COVID safety were the subject of Steve Sisolak’s praise yesterday. The governor gave the WSOP a shout-out as “leading [the] effort” to get Nevadans vaccinated and the economy up and running again.

“The more Nevadans vaccinated, the quicker our economy can recover,” Sisolak wrote on Twitter. “I continue to be encouraged by the businesses and organizations leading this effort, including @WSOP.”

The governor’s tweet was in response to the WSOP’s announcement that the 2021 WSOP would be taking advantage of the state’s mask exception.

“The 2021 WSOP will operate under the mask exception set forth in NV Emergency Directive 050, released by Gov. Sisolak on 9/2. With all attendees required to be fully vaccinated, players will be able to remove their masks while seated at poker tables.”

In previous years, face coverings have been outlawed at the WSOP. Ostensibly, this was to keep players from hiding tells. In practice, it probably had a lot more to do with better camera coverage and preventing players from swapping stacks while dressed incognito. This year, in contrast, once seated at your table, your mask becomes optional. (Masks will be completely mandatory when you’re not at your table, though.)

The dealers don’t have to be vaccinated. Plus, the efficacy of the vaccine is limited when it comes to preventing the spread of the Delta variant. So a mask is probably still advisable if you can stomach wearing one for fifteen hours a day. That is, assuming that the event goes forward as planned.

Mask mandate muddles

Caesars Entertainment’s stance on COVID safety for the WSOP has been a bit chaotic.

Initially, the WSOP reserved the right to disqualify anyone who came down with COVID. They followed this up with a baffling “clarification.” But, when the DQ rule appeared untenable in practice, they made a hard left-turn and instated the vaccine mandate.

The decision to require vaccine certificates from all participants garnered everything from broad approbation to damning opprobrium. The requirement put the WSOP in the crosshairs of the pseudo-libertarian arm of the anti-vax movement while placating the pro-vax majority.

Although the vaccination certificate requirement was broadly popular with the poker community, it took a hit after the announcement that dealers would not be required to vaccinate. The decision to make masks optional has reinforced the increasingly widespread view that the WSOP is engaged in security theatre.

The majority of responders to Sisolak’s message have been similarly brutal. At one end are people comparing Sisolak to the Nazis and at the other those who are calling for violent revolution.

As always, your safety in this pandemic is in part down to personal choices. If you do opt to attend the WSOP, wear a mask if you can bear to and wash your hands early and often. For the sake of your tablemates’ noses, maybe give the rest of yourself a wash occasionally too.

Featured image source: Flickr by Department of Labor—Ronda Churchill; used under Creative Commons license