The World Series of Poker (WSOP), the world’s longest-running and most prestigious poker festival, has become the latest high-profile event to be postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Widespread speculation about the postponement of the massive online series was finally put to an end this week, after organizers announced they are targeting a fall schedule for the festival.
The 51st WSOP was originally slated to kick off on May 26 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, but the poker community already anticipated it would not take place as scheduled, with casinos in Nevada temporarily closed since March as a measure to curb the spread of the virus. The US currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths around the world.
WSOP Rescheduled For Fall
WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said the health and well-being of their guests and staff remains their top priority during this global health crisis, though he also mentioned WSOP’s commitment to holding the festival this year, with the event now targeted for fall.
As a result of the postponement, organizers will now revisit the schedule for the 51st WSOP, with changes expected to be introduced. This year’s festival, originally planned to feature over 70 events, could be reduced in size, but it would still include the flagship events, such as the $10,000 buy-in Main Event.
In the interim, Stewart said official WSOP competitions will now take place online this summer, and they will come up with an expanded schedule for tournaments to be played on and their partner operators worldwide, the details of which will be announced soon. This will give players the opportunity to still chase WSOP glory while on home quarantine.
The schedule for the remaining events on the WSOP calendar remains as is, with the Global Casino Championship still slated to take place on August 11-13 at Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina. WSOP Europe, which will take place at King’s Resort in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, will also be accommodated in the fall schedule.
As early as January, numerous events have been cancelled worldwide as the virus began to travel from China to other countries around the globe. During that time, organizers have started pulling the plug on their scheduled festivals. Among the first to be cancelled are events sponsored by Triton Poker and the World Poker Tour.
With the virus continuing to spread, there was strong anticipation that this summer’s WSOP will be cancelled, but a familiar response from organizers was that they would continue to “monitor the situation”, and the schedule “remains intact”. It remained that way for a number of weeks, until an unsurprising news finally broke out on Monday.
First Time In WSOP History
Since 1971, the WSOP has been held between the months of May and July, making the fall rescheduling a first in the tournament’s 50-year history.
Last year, the festival celebrated its 50th year by achieving record numbers. Its gold bracelet events each awarded an average of $3.3 million in prize money, while the Main Event attracted a massive field of 8,569 players – the second-biggest WSOP Main Event field of all time. It was taken down by German poker pro Hossein Ensan for $10 million.
The Rio in Las Vegas has temporarily shut its doors since March, following orders from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. It remains unclear when the Vegas casino and all the other casinos in the state will reopen. Last year, there were rumors that the WSOP might move to another venue after Caesars sold the casino to New York-based Dreamscape Companies under a $516 million deal. The Rio is WSOP’s official venue for more than a decade.
All speculations were clarified after Caesars Interactive VP of Communications Seth Palansky stated that The Rio will continue to host the WSOP in the years ahead.
The WSOP will release further announcements as soon as dates and events are sorted out, so stay tuned!