The WSOP’s decision to require players to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate in 2021 WSOP events has clearly had an effect on player turnout. It’s impossible to quantify exactly how much and to what extent this rule has impacted turnout, however. Obviously it has prevented unvaccinated players from playing, but it has also made COVID-19-conscious players who might have otherwise skipped the series feel safe coming out to play. One factor that has negatively affected player turnout in a far more obvious and less ambiguous sense is the United States’ current slate of international travel restrictions.
The COVID-19 travel restrictions in place today have banned non-citizens from a list of 33 different countries from entering the United States. This list includes China, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, India, and poker hotbed Brazil. It’s no wonder that the World Series of Poker hasn’t felt quite as worldly in 2021.
The White House announced on Friday that starting on November 8, fully vaccinated foreign travelers will be allowed into the country. In a cruel tease to international poker players, this change would go into effect one day after the WSOP Main Event’s final day to register on November 7.
The WSOP adds two more days to the schedule
Understanding how massive the global interest in the 2021 WSOP Event #67 $10,000 Main Event is, the WSOP announced on Friday night that it would be adding two additional opening flights to this year’s Main Event. On top of the previously scheduled Day 1A through Day 1D that run from November 4-7, players will now be able to enter on Day 1E at 11am PST on November 8 and Day 1F at noon on November 9.
This change will have a ripple effect throughout the tournament. Before the change, Day 2A-2B (merging the remaining players from Day 1A and Day 1B) was scheduled for November 8. Day 2C-2D (merging the remaining players from Day 1C and Day 1D) was scheduled for November 9.
Now Day 2A-2B-2D will merge the remaining players from those three opening days’ runs on November 9 and Day 2C-2E-2F runs’ on November 10. Day 3 will start on Thursday, November 11, and Days 4-7 will each be played one day later than previously scheduled. November 15 was originally scheduled to be a day off ahead of the final table, but that day off has been canceled to allow the Main Event’s final table to start on its originally scheduled day, November 16.
The current record for the biggest field in WSOP Main Event history is 8,773 players, set back in 2006. The 2019 WSOP Main Event had 8,569 runners for the second biggest turnout in the tournament’s history. With a staggering six opening flights and thousands of international players chomping at the bit to get in the mix, this year’s Main Event could very well be a record-breaker.
Featured Image Credit: Haley Hintze