Poker players taking wagers on potential WSOP cancellation

To date 85,000 cases of COVID-19 “Coronavirus” have been reported of which almost 3,000 ended deadly and 40,000 have recovered.

The situation in Asia is more severe, but the virus also spreads to other parts of the world. Several Asian governments have set travel bans and cancellation of major sporting events and festivals in order to try contain the virus.

This also caused many poker event organizers to postpone or cancel their events. Most notably the WPT Vietnam, Triton Jeju and J88PT Philippines have been postponed and the APL Da Nang been cancelled.

The World Series of Poker, the world’s biggest, most prestigious and most anticipated poker event each year is still three months away, but concerns are becoming more and more prominent.

WSOP at risk?

Some poker industry people took it to Twitter to kick off the conversation if the WSOP could indeed be cancelled due to the virus spreading further until May/June. We did see a full closure of all Macau casinos recently, so an assumption that Vegas could be hit by closures isn’t completely out of the question.

On 26th February Kevin “KevMath” Mathers, also called the Poker Oracle, did a poll on Twitter, asking “Due to COVID-19, how likely will you attend this years WSOP?”

Three days later almost 1,500 people voted with 18% saying they will not come, 39% saying they’ll still be there and 42% saying “Ask me in a few weeks!”.

The latter is basically what many casino operators in Vegas answer as well. The WSOP tweeted

“We’ve been monitoring the situation and will continue to lean on the experts in this field for guidance,” said Seth Palansky, Vice President of Corporate Communication for the WSOP. “At this time, all our events and schedules remain intact and are planned to go on without interruption. We would be prepared to expand measures to ensure the safety of our guests and employees, again leaning on the experts.”

Wynn Las Vegas for example started installing more hand sanitizers and agreed with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) in waiting to follow any directions from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and public health officials.

What are the odds?

And of course, while the world watches the virus nearing a pandemic status, poker players don’t wait around and rather place bets on the possible outcomes.

Leading the conversation was Doug Polk who tweeted that he was looking for action, wanting 20:1 that all live WSOP events will be cancelled this year. Mike McDonald, poker pro and owner of the betting site PokerShares immediately jumped into action saying he’ll take 16:1.

Since then a lively conversation around this topic kicked off. High roller Dan Smith replied to Doug’s offer:

Jamie Kerstetter got in the mix with her usual Twitter wittiness, replying to Norman Chad’s outrage on poker players betting on the virus:

The “viral” WSOP

If you have attended the WSOP in the past you probably have been sick. It is an unfortunate fact that the so-called “Rio flu” gets most of the visitors every year. Short breaks, long lines at the bathrooms, no time for washing hands, general degeneracy, dirty chips, cards and of course money – how can a virus NOT spread under these conditions?

Less than 30% of players in the Main Event last year were non-US citizens. With travel bans in place, this could affect participation numbers this year in any case. If a cancellation would really be an option for the WSOP remains to be seen and is probably dependent on government rulings.

As most people in KevMath’s survey replied, “ask me again in a few weeks”, we all need to wait how things develop and in the meantime make sure we do our part by properly washing our hands and generally keeping hygiene at a high level.

WSOP 2020 Schedule

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Louis Hartwell

Graduated in Media Communication at the University of Lausanne, Louis Hartman is a co-founder of He began his career in Cambodia as freelance journalist. In same time he was making his living by playing poker every night at that time. Intense learner, he read dozens of poker strategy books to improve his skills during many years. With a strong interest about poker "behind the scene" in Asia and his communication skills, Louis launched Somuchpoker in 2014.

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