The 51st annual running of the World Series of Poker was officially postponed on April 20, 2020 due to safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. The largest, richest live poker tournament series in the world was set to award a record number of WSOP gold bracelets this year, with 101 events originally planned to run from late May through the middle of July, but was indefinitely put on hold along with the rest the live poker scene during the early months of the pandemic.
When the postponement of the series was first announced, organizers indicated that they were hoping to reschedule it, although likely with an amended schedule, for sometime in the fall.
“We are committed to running the World Series of Poker this year but need additional time to proceed on our traditional scale while prioritizing guest and staff well-being,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart at the time.
More than six months later, there has been no official update on if and when a live 2020 WSOP might take place.
Card Player reached out to Stewart and a WSOP media contact about an update on Oct. 26, but there has been no response. Several key media staff for the WSOP were furloughed during the early months of the pandemic, and many have since been officially laid off.
The WSOP is a division of Caesars Entertainment, which recently struck a $17.3 billion deal with Eldorado Resorts that resulted in a merger of two of the largest companies in the market. The newly-merged company owns more than 50 properties in 16 states and several internationally. The merger received approval from New Jersey regulators in late July, the final box to be checked before moving forward, and the transition process could very well put additional obstacles in the way of WSOP organizers.
While a live WSOP is seeming less likely to take place in 2020 with each passing day, the WSOP joined a number of other high-profile poker tournaments and series in hosting an online version of their events during the spring and summer months.
The WSOP Online awarded 85 gold bracelets from the start of July through early September, with events spread across two separate online poker platforms. A total of 283,983 entries were made throughout the series, with $174.5 million in prize money awarded along the way. A number of WSOP records were set during the series, including the $50 buy-in ‘Big 50’ event which attracted a staggering 44,576 entries.
Live poker began to return around the world in the late spring, with one of the largest rooms in Europe, King’s Casino Rozvadov, officially resuming operations on May 11. More brick-and-mortar poker rooms reopened around the world throughout the summer, but many did so without their typical tournament offerings. The new-look live tournament scene featured limits on the total number of players allowed per event, fewer players allowed per table, a mask requirement, and many other safety precautions.
The Venetian® Resort Las Vegas reopened on June 5. Just over three months after resuming operations, the cardroom hosted Las Vegas’ first live poker tournament series since the shutdown began. The DeepStack Showdown Poker Series ran from Sept. 7-27, and featured more than $400,000 in guaranteed prize money across a 32-event schedule. The demand for live tournaments proved to be strong, with every single event beating its guarantee, and most doing so by a considerable margin.
Bigger buy-in live tournaments began to crop up again during the fall, with the Mid-States Poker Tour hosting the first live ‘mid-major’ main event since the start of the pandemic. The MSPT Grand Falls Casino $1,100 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event attracted 518 total entries to blow away the $150,000 guarantee, creating a final prize pool of $500,960. Mark Collins took home $107,706 after coming out on top.
The first of the major live tours to host a festival was the European Poker Tour. The EPT Sochi 175,000 RUB no-limit hold’em main event attracted a total of 637 entries to Casino Sochi. Ruslan Bogdanov earned 15,984,500 RUB ($212,914 USD) as the eventual champion of this event.
The World Poker Tour has not yet announced new dates for their events, but the tour does have three delayed final tables that were set in the early months of the year that appear likely to be played out in 2020. Two-time bracelet winner Chance Kornuth, who is the chip leader with six remaining in the WPT Gardens Poker Championship, tweeted in late October, “… just got the call that the Gardens WPT final table will be held at the PokerGO studio Dec. 3.”
The WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table is expected to play out that same week, with the dates for the third final table, from the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open, yet to be determined. The WPTDeepStacks tour has upcoming stops in Taiwan and Johannesburg planned for later this year.