Slow vaccine rollout in U.S. bad for WSOP’s chances

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on 01/06/2021

The COVID-19 vaccine is in the U.S., but the distribution of the shot has been slow, which isn’t good news for live poker tournament grinders, especially those hoping for a WSOP in Las Vegas next summer.

As we opined last month, the fate of live poker largely hinges on a successful vaccine rollout. The reason for that claim is there’s simply very little chance that social distancing restrictions will be lifted while the coronavirus remains a serious public health concern.

That is especially true for the World Series of Poker, which attracts large, packed crowds to the Rio in Las Vegas. Until most of society is immune to COVID-19, social distancing and business capacity restrictions will remain in place. And even if the local governments ditch the restrictions, many poker players will still avoid large gatherings such as the WSOP or other major poker events.

So, unless the recently released COVID-19 vaccine truly is helpful in preventing illness, you shouldn’t expect a return to normalcy in poker. And if the vaccine is effective, we’ll eventually see the normalcy we all desire.

Problems arise distributing vaccine

Prior to the U.S. injecting its first patient with a vaccine, the government anticipated 20 million receiving the shot by the end of 2020. But far less than expected have been vaccinated, and it could have significant consequences for the 2021 World Series of Poker.

Here’s the issue at stake: the start of the WSOP is less than five months away. For the poker world to have any shot at its most prestigious annual event taking place, the U.S. will need to reach herd immunity, and other countries will need to begin lowering travel restrictions to the United States, because the WSOP attracts an international crowd.

Of the 12 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines that have been shipped to the U.S. medical facilities, only 3 million Americans have taken the shot.

Good news on the horizon?

Despite the slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., it appears improvements will soon be made. Nancy Messonnier, a top federal health official, told STATnews.com that she has great optimism for the vaccine rollout up ahead.

“I really expect the pace of administration to go up pretty massively in the next couple weeks,” Messonnier said in an interview.

Messonnier is the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She said the task of distributing a new vaccine on a national level is complicated. But she believes medical professionals have learned from trial and error and anticipates millions of Americans will get vaccinated in the coming weeks.

That could potentially be good news for the World Series of Poker and other major live poker tournaments in the U.S. later in the year.

Featured image source: Flickr