WSOP will aim for fall for poker tournament series

It’s Official: 2020 World Series Of Poker Is Postponed

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The 2020 World Series of Poker will not take place until the fall, at the earliest, in a move that seemed increasingly necessary given the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus and the potential reopening of Las Vegas.

The organization postponed the event, not canceled, with a target of holding the biggest poker tournament series in the world this fall. The WSOP was originally scheduled to start May 26 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Vegas.

“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 Ty Stewart, the executive director of the World Series of Poker. “In the interim, official WSOP competitions are expected to be played online this summer, and we will soon announce details of an expanded series of tournaments to be played on and through partnership with international operators, which will allow players to chase WSOP glory from their homes.”

There had been speculation of trying to move the event entirely online or making other modifications to the schedule. Still, the WSOP decided that holding off on the poker tournament was the best decision for now.

Difficult to see how WSOP could have happened

The logistics of the WSOP provided a cloudy outlook of the event taking place any time soon:

  • Las Vegas has shut down its casinos and much of the city, with no concrete plans to reopen.
  • The mechanics of the WSOP — with people cramming into convention space and being in close contact — is not ideal during the pandemic.
  • The WSOP requires people to travel from all over the country and the world. This would likely increase the potential for the virus to spread.

What will the fall WSOP look like?

That’s not at all clear.

The amount of space it takes to run the WSOP over a month and a half is considerable, so it’s unknown whether it could run the same length of time or be the same size as the usual event. The WSOP, however, apparently hopes to achieve its “traditional scale, per Stewart.

So if the goal appears to be a large-scale tournament series, the possibility exists that it will be scaled-down.

It will still include the $10,000 buy-in main event when it does take place, according to the WSOP.

Other WSOP events are still on schedule

Currently, this is the only WSOP event impacted:

  • The Global Casino Championship will take place at Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina in August. The event is invitation-only.
  • This development did not affect the WSOP Europe, already scheduled for the fall, according to the WSOP. That takes place in Rozvadov, Czech Republic.

Online poker is booming

The cancellation of the live poker tournament series comes as interest in online poker is booming. Gambling options have been few and far between amid the pandemic.

Online poker has seen record numbers of players and revenue in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. WSOP operates in Nevada and New Jersey, and as part of a partnership with 888 Poker in Delaware.

The WSOP has found success with its online bracelet events, but even that success is predicated upon the influx of poker players in Vegas for the land-based poker tournaments.

The WSOP also just announced a partnership with GGPoker for online WSOP Circuit events for the international community. It hasn’t yet said exactly what its plans are for online summer events. However, Stewart told OPR that potential partnerships in that regard might not be limited to just GGPoker or 888, its usual partner.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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