After being mostly relegated to the internet in 2020, the World Series of Poker will return to the live tables at the Rio this fall. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Pushed back on the calendar
In what does not appear to be an April Fool’s joke, Caesars Entertainment has announced that the World Series of Poker will return with a full length, live schedule at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino this year. Rather than taking place in late spring/early summer, however, the WSOP is being pushed to the fall, September 30 through November 23.
The $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship, best known as the Main Event, is slated for November 4 through November 17. There will be four starting flights this year instead of the three that has become the norm for the Main Event.
The 2021 World Series of Poker’s opening weekend will feature a number of special events, including $25,000 H.O.R.S.E., a $5m guaranteed No-Limit Hold’em tournament called “The Reunion,” and a charity event in which the proceeds will benefit frontline healthcare workers. Caesars will release the complete schedule this summer; all plans are pending regulatory approval, especially regarding COVID-19 safety protocols.
we embrace our role at the WSOP to deliver memorable experiences”
In Thursday’s news release, WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said: “This year, more than ever, we embrace our role at the WSOP to deliver memorable experiences and bring this community of poker lovers back together. In 2021, the theme is, get vaccinated and get back to Vegas.”
Online bracelet events fill the summer
With live poker on pause for the bulk of 2020, the WSOP, like many live poker brands, moved events online. The WSOP was split between WSOP.com and GGPoker, the latter for players in Nevada and New Jersey, the former for international players. The 31 US events – one per day in July – awarded almost $27m in prizes. The 45 events on GGPoker generated nearly $150m in prize pools, including $27.5m for the WSOP Online Main Event, a Guinness World Record for the largest online poker tournament prize pool of all time.
Partly because of that success and partly as a summer substitute for the traditional World Series of Poker, Caesars will once again award bracelets during the WSOP Online. Beginning July 1, the WSOP Online will only be available for those with access to the All-American Poker Network (AAPN) in the United States. The AAPN technically includes WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey as well as the three 888poker-powered sites in Delaware, but it sounds like the WSOP Online will only be open to players on the actual WSOP.com sites.
The WSOP also held a separate hybrid World Series of Poker Main Event last year, with two separate branches starting online on WSOP.com and GGPoker. When they got down to their final tables, they switched to live play, the former at the Rio and the latter at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. The winner of each played heads-up at the Rio for the bracelet and an extra $1m; Damian Salas defeated Joseph Hebert for the title.
WSOP Europe revived, as well
The World Series of Poker Europe was also a casualty of the pandemic last year and like the traditional WSOP, it is back for 2021. It is penciled in for November 19 through December 8 at King’s Casino, though as with everything right now, it is subject to regulatory approval and the COVID-19 situation.
WSOP Europe will feature 15 gold bracelet events, highlighted by the €10,000 ($11,776) Main Event and €50,000 ($58,881) High Roller Event.
“We hope and anticipate travel restrictions will ease by the fall,” Stewart noted. “It’s important to us that we have an excellent tournament schedule available to our European players.”