Coronavirus forces more changes to WSOP calendar

WSOP Moves 2020 Global Casino Championship Online

The World Series of Poker last week announced that this year’s invite-only Global Casino Championship (GCC) will be held online due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The season-ending WSOP Circuit event was originally scheduled to take place in August at Harrah’s Cherokee. Instead, it will run on WSOP NJ and WSOP NV on Sept. 13.

Additionally, WSOP will host a separate online series that will award jewelry this summer. The Season Finale Online Circuit will take place from June 3-14 and feature a total of 12 ring events.

A curveball for WSOP GCC qualifiers

The GCC is now an annual tradition that arose out of the WSOPC National Championship.

WSOP first introduced the idea of ending each circuit season with such an invitational tournament in the 2010-11 season. The name change came with the introduction of the first international stops in 2015-16.

Aside from the title, the GCC has remained much the same.

A minimum of 100 players each year receive an entry to the tournament, which depends on their season-long circuit performance. The championship has a minimum $1 million prize pool and awards a WSOP gold bracelet to the winner.

Players can typically earn entry in several ways:

  • Winning the main event at any circuit stop.
  • Accumulating the most WSOPC points across all events at any single stop.
  • Placing in the top 50 cumulative points earners for all US circuit stops combined.

Anyone who won a ring during the current season or placed in the top 100 for WSOP Player of the Year last year can buy their way in for $10,000, though, few players do so in practice.

Season finale provides new path to championship

Part of the reason for the upcoming season finale is to provide players with a new way to qualify for the GCC.

The current WSOPC season originally consisted of 52 events: 35 in the US and 17 abroad. With two qualifiers per stop plus 50 from the points leaderboard, there were supposed to be 154 entries handed out.

Unfortunately, several of the late-season circuit stops had to be postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus and related casino closures.

WSOP has already organized two previous online Super Circuit series to compensate for the changes partially. One was held on the WSOP/888 network for US players and the other on GGNetwork for international players.

Both were resounding successes in terms of attendance, with many of the US events doubling and tripling their guarantee. They did not, however, award seats for the GCC.

Now that it looks unlikely that the remainder of the circuit can be played out, WSOP needed a new way to award the remaining seats, and the Season Finale is the solution it settled on. Each of its 12 events will award one entry worth $10,000.

That’s a full 10% of the guaranteed prize pool for many of the events, which should mean huge turnouts — perhaps even larger than the Super Circuit.

Success no guarantee for online GCC

Although the Super Circuit was a smashing success, players may be less thrilled about an online GCC.

The WSOP/888 network serves only three states: Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. What’s more, folks in Delaware can play the season finale events but can’t qualify for the GCC — nor will those who’ve won GCC seats be able to play from Delaware.

WSOP is, however, apparently drawing closer to launch in Pennsylvania. According to a report from USPoker, the company is working through the process of obtaining approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Even if a WSOP site launches before August, PA online poker regulations don’t currently allow for interstate play. Competing in the GCC from Pennsylvania is therefore not on the table.

An imperfect solution to an impossible problem

In the case of the Super Circuit, participation was voluntary and no one outside those states was financially penalized for not doing so. A good number of US poker players live in New Jersey and Nevada, in any case, and players from most other states are accustomed to being left out.

In the case of the GCC, however, players are pre-committed to playing and were expecting it to be a live event. They’re now put in the position of having to choose between forfeiting a $10,000 seat or traveling to another state — or, in case of international qualifiers, another country — to play in an online poker tournament.

Some are understandably unhappy about that, especially given the health risks involved with flying at this time. GCC entries are nonrefundable and nontransferable, and the equity they represent is very real.

WSOP online bracelet events in flux

Meanwhile, it’s still unclear what will ultimately happen with the actual 2020 WSOP itself.

In April, the company made the inevitable announcement that it was postponing the series. Rescheduling an event of that magnitude in Las Vegas is no easy task, however, and poker is a particularly high-risk game from a contagion standpoint.

The original schedule for this summer’s series included an unprecedented 14 online bracelet events — five more than last year.

While the rest of the series is up in the air, those online events pose less of a logistical problem and will likely go forward at a later date.

Like so many things, though, when exactly that might happen is still unclear.

- Alex is a journalist from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Now site runner for Online Poker Report, he has been writing about poker and the online gambling industry in various capacities since 2014.
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