The past year has been unlike any other with the whole global health situation having greatly affected the sport and gaming industry. 2020 has seen its fair share of disrupted live poker tournament schedules with the new year now relying on the hopeful side of things. Last year’s action, however, remained eventful with major brand names refocusing their operations in the online scene. The most anticipated festival for the past 50 years, World Series of Poker’s annual summer stop in Las Vegas had unfortunately made the decision to postpone its events and take on an online-live hybrid before the year ended.
This 2021, it appears the situation has significantly improved for the better with authorities worldwide gaining more control and knowledge on the current crisis. An aggressive rollout of vaccines and a gradual easing of travel restrictions are carefully being implemented to manage public health and safety concerns. While the threat of the novel coronavirus still hangs in the air, talks in the industry have been hinting on a possible live WSOP series in Las Vegas later this fall. Poker icon Daniel Negreanu and WSOP Twitter czar Kevin Mathers have also recently revealed the likelihood of the exciting festival up ahead.
Negreanu hints on annual live WSOP series’ return
If 2020’s WSOP action wasn’t enough, poker players are in for some good news with plans of a live WSOP series returning by year-end is said to be currently in the works. Six-time bracelet champion Daniel Negreanu touched on the subject in last week’s episode of the DAT Poker podcast, strongly hinting at a good chance the WSOP will feature a full schedule in Las Vegas between September and November.
“I know exactly what’s going to happen. I know everything. I do. I will tell you guys this. Expect the World Series of Poker this year – live. Some online as well. Expect no live during the normal slot of June or July, as we are typically used to. But expect a slot may be in the realm of what you said, and before that, maybe have some online or whatever.”, Negreanu commented.
“I think we’re going to have a pretty normal World Series of Poker, I just think … pushing it back makes sense because June is really pushing it.”
Expecting a possibility of 90 bracelet events to be on schedule, Negreanu remains optimistic that the country’s aggressive vaccination drive can lead to a normal gaming experience by fall. The nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci estimates more than half of the population to be vaccinated by July.
“There’s plenty of time. I don’t think there’s going to be any roadblocks, I imagine, by then. If you need the plexiglass at the World Series of Poker, that won’t work. It would be too much to plexiglass every table”, Negreanu added.
Kevin Mathers also hints at 2021 live edition
Earlier this month, information guru Kevin Mathers also revealed on Twitter that “a LIVE edition of the WSOP will happen in 2021” and that “the dates of the live WSOP will NOT be during the usual timeframe (late May-mid July).” While this suggestion may be true given Mathers’ previous work experience on being WSOP’s Twitter handler, players are advised to hold off on making concrete plans to avoid any issues.
Spoke with a high-ranking WSOP executive last night
To answer two frequently asked questions*:
A LIVE edition of the WSOP will happen in 2021
The dates of the live WSOP will NOT be during the usual timeframe (late May-mid July)
*Assuming conditions continue improving
— Kevin Mathers (@Kevmath) March 2, 2021
WSOP Executive Director, Ty Stewart believed it was still too early to make any official comment saying, “Everyone is trying to predict when broad vaccination will occur, and many feel comfortable that is toward the back half of the year. Safety and comfort of our players will be the primary determination for 2021.”
If the brand does push through with a live edition later this year, an official announcement will likely be disclosed a couple more months from now. Helping WSOP’s case, recent developments in the state of Nevada are working right on track towards the community’s expectations. Governor Steve Sisolak recently paved the way for casinos in his jurisdiction to operate at an increased 50% capacity with local governments to begin determining their own necessary Covid-19 restrictions by May 1st. A big step forward for a possible live WSOP series, the situation still has a long way to go assuming conditions continue improving.
Online site begins to offer package promotions
An other possible sign of a 2021 WSOP live edition? The brand’s online site has started offering a juicy package promotion covering not only buy-in expenses but also travel costs.
The Las Vegas Ultimate Poker Champion Experience Sweepstakes will award its lucky winner and a guest to travel and stay completely free in addition to the $10,000 Main Event seat. The promotion is currently open and accepting entries up until April 30, 2021, with the official drawing to be finalized on May 6.
The package includes:
• $10K seat at the 2021 WSOP Main Event
• Round-trip airfare to Las Vegas (from any point in the United States)
• 3-night stay in a suite at Caesars Palace
• Dinner at Celebrity Chef’s restaurant
• Whiskey and cigar pairing at Montecristo Cigar Bar
• $1,000 in spending money
All in all, the package is valued at $14,000 in total. Entries however, are limited to United States residents and are open to anyone over 21 years of age, with the exception of employees and family of Caesars Interactive Entertainment, Inc or Caesars Entertainment Services, LLC. To join, simply fill out the form on the site and make sure you are eligible to qualify for the promotion.
Regardless if the rumors are true, the 52nd WSOP series will still definitely award a Main Event champion this year whether it be via live or online or a mix of both. Last year’s online-live hybrid Main Event winner, Damian Salas, bagged the coveted title for a whopping $1.55 million payout. Four players reportedly hit the millionaire mark in the 2020 event and posted a combined prize pool of $14.23 million, making the festivities just as exciting and worthwhile despite today’s uncertainty.