On Tuesday, officials released the long-awaited schedule for the 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP), which will run this Fall from September 30-November 23 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The schedule, which you can read about here, is comprised of 88 gold bracelet events with buy-ins as low as $400 up to $250,000.
Expectations are high for this year’s WSOP, with many projecting it to be the biggest ever given tournament poker turnouts across the country. Early reactions to the schedule seem to be positive, though questions exist among the poker-playing community.
WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart was kind enough to answer some of those questions for PokerNews.
Why Reveal the Schedule Now?
“Positive developments regarding health and safety protocols in Nevada which gave us more clarity on the operating environment, capacity and general ability to organize the WSOP to the expectation of the players,” Stewart said when asked why now was the right time to reveal the schedule. “We developed various scenarios in trying to predict where health and safety guidelines would be by the fall. We have been pleasantly surprised by the speed of a return to relative normalcy.”
While the schedule itself is a return to normalcy, operations will be impacted by pandemic concerns.
“Avoiding registration queues is one of the most important initiatives of 2021,” said Stewart, no doubt to many players’ delight. “We hope players will join us in this effort. We need more players to take advantage of the electronic registration and entry system. It’s much easier than players think and will make the experience better for all.”
In 2019, the WSOP was plagued by long lines, especially in premier events like the “Big 50.” Speaking of which, that event is not returning for the 2021 WSOP.
“The Big 50 was conceived simply as a special event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. It simply has been replaced by ‘The Reunion,’ which seems more accurate to how poker players will feel getting the community back together,” Stewart explained. “To make the guarantee we will need more than 10,000 entrants, hence we have no concerns about accommodating field sizes.”
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Where are the Online and Mystery Bounty Events?
While the 2021 WSOP schedule contained many great events, there were some glaring omissions. One was the absence of Fall online events.
“We have an exciting series of online bracelet events about to kick off in two weeks,” Stewart said referring to the full Summer online bracelet schedule. “We hope that festival even exceeds last year’s record-setting participation.”
Another missing tournament was the Mystery Bounty originally announced for the 2020 WSOP.
“We have a sponsor already willing to step up and freeroll all the living PHOF members into the tournament.”
“Upon further review, we simply feel that event has a number of operational challenges, and we want to be laser-focused on offering a superior customer experience in 2021 given anticipation we may see record attendance,” Stewart explained.
While the Mystery Bounty is off the schedule, a different bounty event has been added in the $1,979 buy-in Poker Hall of Fame Bounty on November 17. That tournament honors the Poker Hall of Fame by offering fans the chance to play against legends of the game. Each participating player will have a bounty corresponding to the year they were inducted into poker’s most exclusive club.
“The event should be fun. We have a sponsor already willing to step up and freeroll all the living PHOF members into the tournament and provide a ‘last longest’ prize, so hopefully, we’ll see high participation from the legends and a very special event for the fans,” said Stewart.
During that tournament, the WSOP will reveal the Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2021, and Stewart said for the second year in a row, “the plan is one person” will be inducted. Huck Seed was the lone inductee in 2020.
WSOP Final Table Shortened
Those eagle-eyed players will notice that the WSOP Main Event final table usually played out over three days, but this year it has been cut back to two. Stewart offered an explanation as to why, and it’s rooted in their new television deal with CBS Sports.
“We never truly needed three days. We did that in the past to accommodate three distinct programming windows on ESPN. CBS has a different programming format which will only require two days of play. It’s also better for the players. We don’t want to dilute the unprecedented deep stack nature of the Main Event to determine a World Champion, but we want to keep the duration manageable. We already needed to go to four starting days anticipating the field size.”
For more information on the Fall series, check out the PokerNews 2021 WSOP hub here.
The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino and all Caesars Entertainment resorts in Las Vegas will offer reduced hotel room rates for entrants of WSOP bracelet events using the special advanced booking code “WSOPM” when they book early. The Rio offers players rates on select dates as low as $47. Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Paris Las Vegas, Flamingo Las Vegas, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Bally’s Las Vegas and The Linq Hotel + Experience will also provide discounted WSOP player rates. To view a complete list of rates across all Caesars Entertainment properties, visit the Reservations page here.