Will there be a live WSOP in 2021? Our WSOP odds projections

Dave Consolazio
Published by:
Posted on 09/01/2021

Up until Friday, August 27, the status of the 2021 World Series of Poker live series at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino was very much up in the air. Events around the nation were being canceled due to a new COVID-19 outbreak, and the WSOP was in jeopardy of needing to follow suit. Instead, the World Series of Poker made the decision to require full proof of COVID-19 vaccination to play in these events, effectively ending speculation on whether or not the series would be able to move forward.

2021 live WSOP odds

But what are the odds that the tournament series runs smoothly from start to finish? That all 88 bracelet events currently scheduled run without being canceled? We obviously don’t know for certain. We can take some educated guesses, however. The WSOP odds listed in this article are exactly that; our best guesses, which we will update in the weeks leading up to the series as new information comes in. Consider them to be a frame of reference or a conversation starter as opposed to actual data. And with that disclaimer stated, let’s get started.

(All odds currently listed are our best guesses as of August 31, 2021. We will update these odds as the WSOP draws closer and new information is revealed.)

Will there be a live WSOP in 2021?

Odds: 99.9% Chance, Yes

In early August, the odds of a live WSOP might have been closer to 50/50. It felt as though the WSOP was going to press forward no matter what, but as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to rise around the nation due to the delta variant and vaccination resistance, running a live event with so many people in close quarters for months on end was going to be a tricky proposition.

Requiring vaccinations was a controversial decision in the poker community, but it was the right one to make this live event possible. Even though people who have been vaccinated can still get and spread COVID-19, the odds of serious cases and hospitalizations are substantially lower. The WSOP starting on September 30 with the Casino Employees event as scheduled is a virtual lock with the safety measure of required vaccinations in place.

Will all of the scheduled bracelet events take place?

Odds: 50% Chance, Even

The WSOP is a virtual lock to start as scheduled. Finishing as scheduled may be an entirely different story. While serious cases and breakouts are reduced by the vaccine, they aren’t eliminated. It isn’t out of the question that a breakthrough strain among players could force a handful of events to be canceled.

But that scenario is unlikely. The far more likely and worrisome scenario is that early reports indicate that the WSOP will not require dealers to be vaccinated. Even if only a small percentage of dealers isn’t vaccinated, all it would take is a small outbreak forcing a handful of dealers out of commission to create a dealer shortage and the requirement to cancel some events. All told, this could easily go either way.

Will there be a partial or full move to online in 2021?

Odds: 5% Chance, No

The odds of a full move to online for this series is a true 0% as WSOP.com’s software does not have the capacity to deal mixed games. Even a partial move seems extremely unlikely. It’s a great idea in theory to take some of the load off of the live dealers, to have some of the No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-limit Omaha day ones online.

In practice, however, this does not seem likely at all. The WSOP has not made any indication that this strategy was under consideration, and trying to adjust to it on the fly (while also enforcing vaccination rules on entries and overcoming WSOP.com’s technical limitations) is not a realistic option. This is a major long shot.

Will any players at the final table of an event be forced to withdraw due to COVID-19?

Odds: 40% Chance, No

This odds of a WSOP player withdrawal in 2021 is really tough to predict and will depend on how the WSOP chooses to enforce its rules. The original rule that stated that any positive test or COVID-19 symptoms would result in disqualification have seemingly given way to the honor system under the new vaccination rules as the WSOP asks players to report themselves if they aren’t feeling well.

We lean slightly towards this scenario not playing out among fully vaccinated players. If the WSOP ramps up its testing requirements even with vaccinations, however, the odds on COVID-19 based disqualifications will skyrocket as even asymptomatic players will be at risk.

Will there be a scandal involving a faked vaccination card?

Odds: 95% Chance, Yes

Make no mistake about it, forging a COVID-19 vaccination card is illegal. Forging a government seal like the CDC and Health and Human Services seals often found on real vaccine cards is punishable by up to five years in prison.

But that isn’t stopping many unvaccinated Americans from buying or making forged cards so that they can continue to do the things they want to do while ignoring vaccination requirements. It’s hard to imagine that there won’t be one single instance of someone being caught doing exactly that at the 2021 WSOP.

Will the WSOP Main Event draw over 5,000 runners?

Odds: 65% Chance, Yes

The live World Series of Poker Main Event has not fallen below 5,000 runners since Greg Raymer won the tournament in a field of 2,576 players in 2004. The 2005 Main Event drew 5,619 players, and the 2006 Main Event drew a record 8,773 runners. Since then, the Main Event has generated at least 6,352 players every year, and it drew over 7,000 in 2017 (7,221), 2018 (7,874), and 2019 (8,569).

Poker players are starving for live poker after all of the cancellations in 2020. And this is going to be a special series too as it will be the last WSOP ever held at the Rio. Yes, American players refusing to get vaccinated and international players who won’t be able to make it due to travel restrictions will take their toll. But we still anticipate that this year’s Main Event will break the 5,000-player barrier.

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