This autumn’s 2021 World Series of Poker marks the first time in more than two years that poker’s most famed live festival will be held. The 2021 WSOP begins on September 30 and runs through November 23. The series will fill Las Vegas’s expansive Rio Convention Center with cash games, daily tourneys, satellites, and above all, 88 separate multi-day, bracelet-awarding events
As in previous years, the WSOP will draw tens of thousands of the world’s best players over its seven-week run. The series’ largest highlight, of course, is the crowning of the winner of the WSOP’s World Championship, the $10,000 buy-in Main Event, in mid-November. Yet there’s so much more to the WSOP. Whether you’re a participant or a fan, here’s a brief guide to understanding and enjoying the WSOP 2021.
Table Of Contents
- What are the odds the WSOP will happen in 2021?
- 88 bracelet events highlight WSOP schedule
- How to enter the 2021 WSOP
- 2021 WSOP schedule highlights
- How to enter the 2021 WSOP Main Event
- 2021 WSOP hotels and housing
- Satellite entries to WSOP events
- Seniors and Super Seniors Championships
- Colossus event returns
- 2021 WSOP frequently asked questions (FAQ)
What are the odds the WSOP will happen in 2021?
The odds are very good; the 2021 WSOP will almost certainly run as scheduled. Despite a recent furor over the WSOP’s first take at introducing new rules governing coronavirus-related disqualifications, the series remains a near-certain go.
In late 2020, the situation was far less clear. When we offered our earlier take on whether the 2021 WSOP would run as planned, the pandemic surged unchecked and vaccines had yet to be made available. The resulting uncertainty led the WSOP and Caesars Entertainment to push the series back from its normal June-July window.
The four-month delay was designed to allow the poker-playing community the chance to be vaccinated in time to attend the WSOP. However, the pandemic itself changed gears with the emergence of the more-virulent “Delta” and other variants. But instead of smoother sailing, and in the face of continuing uproar from the “anti-vax” community, the WSOP has entered a reactive phase in its COVID-19 planning.
The final set of rules governing pandemic-related situations is likely to undergo further changes. Whether the WSOP will mandate that participating players be vaccinated is unclear. The nature of any testing protocols to be done at the Rio is also unknown. Much uncertainty remains. Yet the series will almost certainly run as currently scheduled.
2021 WSOP schedule highlights
Any talk about the most significant WSOP events begins with the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em World Championship, otherwise known as the Main Event. Argentina’s Damian Salas will return to defend his title. The Main Event’s first of four Day 1 starting flights takes place on Thursday, November 4. The next World Champion won’t be decided until two weeks later, on Wednesday, November 17.
Other events carry added prestige as well. The $50,000 Poker Players Championship is an elite mixed-games event designed to honor the game’s best player across multiple poker variants. The winner receives the coveted Chip Reese trophy in addition to a special bracelet. This year’s PPC begins on Sunday, October 31.
The WSOP also pointed to several other “new and noteworthy” events on the 2021 slate. These include a “Reunion” tourney on the series’ opening weekend that offers a guaranteed $5 million prize pool. The WSOP’s major big-field events, the Millionaire Maker, Monster Stack, Double Stack, Colossus, and The Closer, all return as well.
Then there’s the elite Heads-Up Players Championship. The 2021 edition of the heads-up tourney has an increased buy-in ($25,000) and a 64-player cap. The field is “certain to be a roster of the world’s elite,” according to the WSOP.
You can find more info on any of this year’s 88 bracelet events here.
How to enter the 2021 WSOP
If you’re planning on playing in one or more WSOP events, you can enter either in person or online. Live registration for events at the Rio opens on September 30, near the Tropicana Room. The WSOP’s live-registration process at times produces notoriously long lines, though any reduction in player attendance may alleviate that.
Online registration is also available for all events, as it has been since 2016. The WSOP will use the Bravo Live app to accept online registrants, and the app is already in place. Once registered, players can pick up their seating tickets in the Belize Room an hour before any given event.
The WSOP will accept three methods of online payment. Credit cards and ACH transfers can be used for events with buy-ins of $10,000 or less, while wire transfers can be used for any buy-in amount, but require at least 14 days lead time. Some additional processing fees also apply to online registration.
How to enter the 2021 WSOP Main Event
Main Event entrants may use any of the three online payment methods, or they can choose to register in person at the Rio. Four separate starting days – November 4 through November 7 – are available.
2021 WSOP hotels and housing
Lodging can be a challenge during any WSOP, and 2021 will be no exception. One advantage the WSOP used to have by running in June and July was that it was Las Vegas’s slowest season. This year’s four-month delay to mid-autumn translates into higher lodging rates.
Rio corporate parent Caesars Entertainment offers some WSOP-related promotions for its entire family of Vegas casino properties. Rates vary widely and are especially high on weekends. Visit https://www.wsop.com/reservations/ to learn more. These and other Vegas casino hotel offers may also include resort fees and other surcharges not included in the top-level price.
Other alternatives exist and are becoming increasingly popular. These include extended-stay properties, non-casino hotels and motels, AirBNB and similar services, and apartment and home rentals.
Satellite entries to WSOP events
Participating WSOP players need not buy into a bracelet event directly. Satellite tournaments run non-stop at the Rio, typically in the Miranda Room, where players can play 10-seat, winner-take-all sit-‘n’-gos. Winners of each SNG are paid in special chips, called lammers, which can then be used to buy into any other event.
The WSOP’s satellite sit-‘n’-gos typically run with buy-ins of $125, $175, $275, $525 or $1,030. Note that any lammers won are non-refundable. Winners must use them by the end of the 2021 series. They can be used only for event buy-ins.
Online qualifiers to this autumn’s live WSOP events may be available on the WSOP.com sites where the WSOP is available for online, real-money play. Those states currently include Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Players in those states should check for satellites on their respective state-based sites.
Seniors and Super Seniors Championships
Two of the WSOP’s tradition-laden events, the Seniors and Super Seniors Championships, return in 2021. They’ll be bigger than ever. The Seniors Championship, which is open to players 50 and over, will feature two starting days for the first time in the event’s history. Day 1A of the Seniors event begins at 10am on Wednesday, October 27. Day 1B starts at the same time on Thursday, September 28.
The Super Seniors Championship is one of the fastest-growing of all WSOP bracelet events. The Super Seniors is open to players 60 and up and begins on Sunday, October 31, the same day the regular Seniors tourney concludes. Both the Seniors and Super Seniors championships have $1,000 buy-ins.
Colossus event returns
A newer event that turned out to be a massive hit with players returns as well. That’s the Colossus, a four-day event (with two separate starting days) that runs roughly in conjunction with the two Seniors events.
The Colossus is a hyper-paced, low-buy-in tourney that offers the chance of a life-changing payday for a very affordable $400 entry fee. It’s an unlimited-entry, no-limit hold’em event, and some entrants will fire bullet after bullet hoping to build a big stack early and then make a deep run.
Other entrants view the Colossus as a chance to live that WSOP bracelet dream for that very affordable $400 price. The event’s 40-minute levels guarantee plenty of poker fireworks and a nonstop stream of players being sent to the rail. Still, a few skilled and fortunate souls make deep runs. 2019’s Colossus winner, Sejin Park, earned over $450,000. The first flight of the Colossus begins at 10am on Friday, October 29.
Should you take down a big score, like Sejin Park did in the 2019 Colossus, don’t forget that Uncle Sam will be there to take his share. Poker winnings are taxed at a 30% rate. U.S. citizens with proper ID and tax information don’t have to pay that immediately but may opt for withholding. Many pros from the U.S. also amass significant losses over a calendar year’s play and can offset those losses against their winnings.
International players who cash big at the WSOP may have a slice of their winnings withheld immediately. This is true whether or not poker winnings are taxable income in their home countries, since the poker takes place on U.S. soil, where the IRS’s tax mandates apply.
Most players don’t realize the sheer volume of staff it takes to put on a poker series as massive as the WSOP. Dealers, floor staff and tournament directors, wait staff, cashiers, food-service workers, security, and maintenance and cleaning staff are all part of the mix.
Lesser-skilled positions are usually filled by Caesars through local hires or bonus hours given to staff from other Caesars properties. Poker-specific jobs generally require advance training, and the WSOP recruits from several dealer schools in the Vegas area. Despite that, and due to pandemic-related employment issues, dealer shortages may impact the 2021 WSOP, particularly on busy days with big-field events.
2021 WSOP frequently asked questions (FAQ)
When is the WSOP in 2021?
The WSOP bracelet-event schedule runs from September 30 through November 23, 2021. Cash-game and satellite action generally begins one day earlier (on September 29) than the first bracelet events.
How much does it cost to attend the WSOP in 2021?
This varies widely. Established “grinder” pros may play 40 or more events and dedicate several hundred thousand dollars to playing at the WSOP and living in Vegas for the series. Amateur players who enter only a few events can count on spending a few thousand dollars. In addition to the entry fees, travel, accommodations, food and drink, and other incidental expenses all add to the trip’s price.
Will I need to be vaccinated?
Whether there will be a WSOP vaccination mandate remains unclear as this page is being published. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak mandated in mid-August that attendees at large venues of more than 4,000 capacity need not where masks if they’ve been vaccinated. That category includes the massive Rio Convention Center, which hosts the WSOP.
The WSOP’s rules for possible COVID-related disqualifications are already likely to have a larger impact on unvaccinated players. Being vaccinated thus provides extra EV (expected value) benefit to any player. Whether the WSOP ultimately mandates that all players be vaccinated, however, remains a possible future decision.
How can I watch the 2021 WSOP on TV?
In April, the WSOP and CBS Sports jointly announced that the series would be moving to CBS Sports, following the WSOP’s long run on ESPN for 19 consecutive years. The WSOP is actually returning to CBS after a long, long, hiatus. Brief episodes of WSOP action aired on CBS’s old “CBS Sports Spectacular” program as far back as the 1970s.
The WSOP’s deal with CBS calls for 15 hours of broadcasting for the WSOP Main Event, plus 36 hours of coverage from 18 other bracelet events. The coverage will likely be spread over multiple CBS channels and streaming services. A detailed breakdown of air dates and times has yet to be announced.