The WSOP, via Twitter, gave poker fans some clarity on the controversial Rule 115, which permits staff to remove players from bracelet events who are found to have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. But they cleared up the air on how they’ll handle fully vaccinated players who were exposed to the virus, and it should put some at ease.
On August 9, poker information guru Kevin “kevmath” Mathers shared a screenshot of the exact wording for Rule 115. In it, the text reads: “In accordance with guidelines promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control, [Rio] reserves the right to remove any Participant from any WSOP Event at any time prior to or during the WSOP Event.”
What that means is, for example, if a player buys into a bracelet event, sits down at the table, begins to play the event, and then the WSOP staff determines that player was exposed to the virus the day before, the individual will be disqualified from the tournament and required to leave.
Mathers’ tweet has over 150 comments, many of whom expressed dissatisfaction with the rule. Some even went so far as to say Rule 115 will keep them away from the 2021 World Series of Poker. Others were confused by the policy and sought clarification.
What’s Up with the Rule?
On Friday afternoon, the WSOP attempted to clear up some confusion with a public statement about Rule 115 on Twitter. In that message to the poker community, they made it clear that the purpose isn’t to punish anti-vaxxers, but to ensure the “health and safety of our World Series of Poker participants and Team Members” remains a top priority heading into the fall poker extravaganza.
The 2021 WSOP is set to begin September 30 at the Rio in Las Vegas. In total, 88 gold bracelet events are scheduled, including the $10,000 Main Event, which kicks off November 4.
As it stands, face masks are required inside all Las Vegas businesses, including casinos and poker rooms. So, if the mandate isn’t lifted by September 30, poker players will have to cover their faces during the WSOP. Rumors have been swirling around social media that further restrictions will be implemented in the coming weeks. But at this point, they are just rumors and we haven’t found any concrete evidence to suggest additional restrictions are on the horizon in Nevada.
The WSOP has given every indication they are planning to go forward with the full 88-event schedule in what is rumored to be the final year the series will take place at the Rio. But they must take some health precautions to ensure the series is a success, even if that means creating some controversy on poker Twitter.
“Consistent with CDC guidelines, participants who are known to have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 will not be required to leave the tournament and quarantine if they are fully vaccinated within the appropriate timing parameters and remain asymptomatic since the time of exposure,” Friday’s WSOP statement reads.
It takes 14 days following the last shot to be considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19. So, if a player who was exposed to the virus received their second dose three days prior to the start of the tournament, they would still be subject to removal from the Rio. But if the second dose was three weeks prior, even if they were exposed to the virus, they won’t be removed.