Is running a live World Series of Poker in 2021 a good idea? Motley Fool op-ed sparks Twitter debate

Geoff Fisk
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Posted on: December 23, 2020 9:30 pm EST

Jeff Hwang contends that Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has done “absolutely nothing” to contain COIVD-19 spread

Poker players around the world are hopeful for the 2021 World Series of Poker to run live and on schedule from Las Vegas next summer. An op-ed from Motley Fool writer Jeff Hwang threw shade at Nevada’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Hwang criticizing Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s leadership amid rising coronavirus numbers in Nevada.

The article, titled Las Vegas: COVID Winter, featured the following sub-heading.

“Amidst an unchecked surge that has left Nevada with the highest per capita COVID hospitalizations in the nation, Governor Steve Sisolak (D) has chosen a novel approach to containing the spread of the virus: Do absolutely nothing,” wrote Hwang.

The piece goes on to produce a timeline of COVID-19 case numbers and Las Vegas business re-openings.

Hwang’s op-ed sparks debate in the poker community on Nevada COVID-19 response

PokerNews Chief Editor Will Shillibier tweeted a link to Hwang’s piece Wednesday, along with his own commentary on hopes for a 2021 WSOP running in traditional fashion in Las Vegas next year:

“For anyone looking forward to the WSOP in 2021…,” read Shillibier’s tweet. Las Vegas resident Garry Gates quickly responded, disputing the credentials of Hwang in writing the piece.

Gates, a longtime PokerStars employee and current DraftKings executive, knows the WSOP well. Gates finished fourth in the 2019 WSOP Main Event, which is the last time any WSOP tournament ran in normal fashion.

“Consider the source, Will,” Gates tweeted in response to Shillibier. “I live here, and I can tell you that we had testing widely available early on. 

“People who lost employment were able to seek financial assistance from the state. The response wasn’t perfect, but to say he did absolutely nothing is ridiculous.”

Global Poker Index President Eric Danis agreed with Gates’ assessment of Hwang’s piece.

“Agree with Garry here, that article (especially the headline) is straight-up garbage,” Danis tweeted. “The man is stuck between a rock and a hard place – I’m not happy with some of his decisions, but it’s a no-win in a city/State that lives off of tourists coming in and spending their money.”

Will the current surge in Nevada COVID-19 cases lead to 2021 WSOP cancellation?

Poker.org author Jon Sofen outlined his predictions on what will happen with the 2021 WSOP last Saturday. Sofen contends that by next summer, the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines will allow the WSOP to return as a live event, albeit with lower attendance than usual.

“…I’m predicting the WSOP will run next summer, but it will have the lowest turnout in years,” Sofen wrote. “I say that because no matter how effective the vaccine is, there will still be many who aren’t quite ready for large gatherings by the summer.”

“I also anticipate a decline in number of bracelet events as the result of expected lower turnout. And, as I suggested, I have a sneaking suspicion the WSOP staff will opt to hold off on starting the series until at least the middle of June.”

Featured image source: Flickr