WSOP Circuit Series returns to U.S. soil after 17-month hiatus.

Kat Martin
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Posted on: August 12, 2021 1:59 am EDT

In March 2020, the WSOP Circuit (WSOPC) series was boasting a packed schedule. Three overlapping events at The Bike in Los Angeles, Harrah’s in Atlantic City, and the Hard Rock in Tulsa provided an impressive U.S. coast-to-coast coverage.

And none of the series reached their main events.

The rolling updates on the situation from WSOP are a jolting reminder of the early days of the COVID pandemic. First the events in L.A. and Atlantic City were terminated on March 13th. The Tulsa series met the same fate two days later, along with series postponements for a couple of months ahead.

WSOP reacted rapidly to the destruction of their live series schedule by expanding online. The WSOP.com Online Super Circuit Series filled the immediate void on the calendar in the second half of March.

In March 2020, some gloomier members of the poker community predicted that COVID would put the kibosh on the WSOPC until August. But they meant August 2020, not 2021.

The honor of recommencing the long-running series goes to Harrah’s Cherokee, North Carolina. Billed as a “WSOP Satellite Event,” the series runs until August 23rd and features 13 open events and two seniors tournaments. There is a dizzying array of satellites into most of these tournaments, and a “mega satellite” that guarantees at least one seat into the $10k WSOP Main Event scheduled for Las Vegas in November.

As a multi-day series run by WSOP, the next two weeks in Cherokee will provide important insights into the viability of the fall series in Las Vegas. If things go well and no COVID disruption occurs, the rising jitters over the 52nd annual WSOP will be calmed. On the other hand, a canceled tournament will send shock waves west.

The current health and safety guidelines at Harrah’s Cherokee include a recommendation for frequent hand washing, as well as a mask mandate for both guests and employees. The request that guests “do not congregate in groups” seems more difficult to meet for the WSOPC, since even gaming novices recognize that a poker table hosts a group of people. Photographs of the tournament area immediately after setup show no Plexiglas dividers. Tables do appear to be spaced at approximately six-foot intervals.

Poker.org reached out to Harrah’s Cherokee poker room and WSOP to see if any other health precautions were being implemented. Specifically, we asked if the notorious Rule 115 announced for the WSOP in Las Vegas would be in effect. At the time of publication we had received no response.

Featured image source: Twitter