WSOP 2021: Big-field ‘Reunion’ begins as tech issues lengthen lines

Haley Hintze
Published by:
Posted on 10/01/2021

The first big-field event of the 2021 World Series of Poker, the $500 ‘Reunion’ tourney, drew a huge turnout on the series’ second day of bracelet-event action. On the first of two starting days, nearly 2,000 entrants filled seats during the event’s first three hours.

The crush of waiting players quickly filled the Brasilia Room and most of the Pavilion Room, which is the Rio’s largest hall. The crush to the waiting seats occurred despite a recurrence of technical issues during various registration processes that in some worst-case instances caused more than a two-hour wait for players.

An overnight tech issue again plagued the WSOP’s new CLEAR Health Pass verification process, though that was resolved early in the day. A larger and ongoing issue, as of midday, was a system problem with the WSOP’s FasTrac system, a series of on-site kiosks through which players can sign up electronically for events or print out seating tickets for prepaid entries. With that system knocked offline, prepaid entrants still needed to do a manual check-in. The WSOP did alleviate at some of the crush by repurposing one of its priority sign-up lines to help with the extra manual processing.

Players’ spirits remain high

Lines and delays, however, have become something of an early-series tradition at the WSOP. The extra challenges caused by the new pandemic-related protocols, plus labor shortages that have affected the entire world and not just the WSOP, virtually guaranteed some early-series delays. Most players expected the delays. Most players, if not all, also planned ahead to take care of in advance whatever steps they could.

Actor and frequent WSOP player James Woods photobombs Bob Mather during Day 1A action in the “Reunion” event on Thursday. Woods wasn’t in the Reunion tourney, but was just visiting a few friends before playing in the WSOP’s first PLO event. (Image: Haley Hintze)

California semi-pro player Bob Mather, for example, reckoned that paying for seats with cash would be easier than working with the new payment-registration systems. Early on, his reckoning proved correct. Being prepared with his identification and vaccine ticket — and paying for his seat in cash — proved the fastest option. “My signup experience was very good,” Mather told Poker.org. “It was no problem whatsoever. I have a safety deposit box. So that’s kind of a pro tip. You can get a safety deposit box and go to it.”

14-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Maurice Hawkins endured an hour-and-a-half wait before being seated in the Pavilion Room. He remained upbeat, knowing it was the same for everyone. “It’s not really that bad,” Hawkins told Poker.org. “You just have to be patient and know that they’re working with a lot of variables like vaccine registration and printing out tickets, and the [FasTrac] thing wasn’t working. So at the end of the day it’s all about just getting in the tournament and having the best experience and staying positive.”

Hawkins then quipped, “One o’clock am registration will be optimal!” He’s still in search of that long-sought first bracelet, which has eluded him despite his phenomenal Circuit record.

Some players even altered their plans to accommodate the early-series lines and delays. Local pro Jeff Boski, for example, planned late registration into the Reunion’s Day 1A. After learning of the hours-long waits, he changed his schedule. Boski opted for a Wynn Summer Classic event instead. He’ll still play the Reunion, but barring an early Wynn exit, that’s more likely to be on the event’s Day 1B.

Featured image source: Haley Hintze