Is Now the Time to Book Your Trip to the WSOP? (Op-Ed)

7 min read

The 2020 WSOP may or may not take place this summer. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s anyone’s guess. But despite the strong potential that the series will be canceled, or possibly postponed, a case can be made that now is the best time to book that Vegas trip for what we hope will be the 51st annual World Series of Poker.

2020 WSOP poker Vegas
With our without the 2020 WSOP, Las Vegas will always shine bright. (Image:

There is a bit of a caveat to my suggestion. If you’ve been laid off work or are worried about the viability of your job because of the coronavirus, please consider sitting this one out. I’d hate for anyone to get evicted or not have enough money for food and other necessities because they want to play poker. The current global health crisis is already causing many to stress about finances, understandably.

That said, if your bills are covered for the next couple of months without worry and you want to travel to Las Vegas for the 2020 WSOP, now is the time to book your trip … seriously.

What are the Odds of a 2020 WSOP Cancellation?

There’s certainly a good chance the 2020 WSOP won’t take place. And even if it does, it’s possible the series will be condensed or postponed. As of now, the plan is for the series to run as scheduled, beginning May 26.

But there are some obstacles the WSOP must overcome for that to happen. First off, Las Vegas casinos are closed down until at least mid-April. And many health experts and locals anticipate the closures to extend far beyond April 17. If the US isn’t able to contain the coronavirus by May, hosting a massive poker series with players crammed together in the Rio convention center wouldn’t be plausible or responsible.

Additionally, the series operators must take into consideration the financial aspect of hosting the series. With so many in the US out of work due to coronavirus, who’s to say the recreational players will have enough disposable income this summer to compete in poker tournaments and travel to Las Vegas? Without the recreational players, the series would lose a huge chunk of its player pool.

It’s Still Time to Book Your Trip

These uncertain times certainly don’t make things easy for poker players who want to compete at the 2020 WSOP. There’s simply no way for anyone to know if the series will take place at this point. But if you’re financially secure, you should consider taking a gamble and start planning for Summer Camp in Sin City.

Flight prices from just about anywhere in the US to Las Vegas are down, and hotel rates are dirt cheap. If, and this is a big if, the coronavirus is contained come May, you can expect those prices to rise should you wait to book.

However, I wouldn’t recommend booking anything non-refundable. Although I encourage you to take advantage of cheap travel rates, I’d be surprised if the 2020 WSOP runs as scheduled. Most health experts anticipate the virus lingering for months and, potentially, over a year.

ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said recently that he doesn’t expect to have a 2020 NFL or College Football season. Granted, I’m more likely to seek pandemic advice from the fry guy at McDonald’s than a football announcer, but I’m guessing a football commentator of his stature wouldn’t make such a bold statement without having spoken with an actual expert.

So, if the NFL and College Football seasons this fall are in jeopardy, this summer’s WSOP is even more likely to be canceled. But if you have money put aside for your summer vacation, you should take advantage of the cheap travel rates. And if the series is canceled, as many anticipate, you can get your money back, assuming you’ve taken my advice.

Tips for Booking Travel During Uncertain Times

I’m an avid traveler and my go-to travel booking site is Orbitz, although I occasionally use, Hotwire, Expedia, or Priceline. Honestly, they all have similar prices and customer service quality. I just happen to book most of my trips through Orbitz.

Whichever site you choose, be sure you’re booking a refundable hotel room. On Orbitz, for example, you’ll know it’s refundable if the “Free Cancellation” note in green appears in the hotel features.

2020 WSOP Las Vegas
These hotels, and many others, offer free cancellation. (Image: Orbitz)

Things become a bit trickier for flights because most are non-refundable. And the flights that are refundable are usually quite expensive. That’s why I’d suggest booking through Southwest Airlines. Not only do they offer free baggage — a huge perk these days — but they have some dirt cheap flights to Vegas in June from airports all over the country.

For example, you can get a one-way flight on June 1 from LaGuardia (New York) for as low as $95 with the Southwest “Wanna Get Away” option. It’s non-refundable, which is a bummer, but you’ll receive a credit toward a future flight, so long as you book it within 12 months. So, it’s not like you’ll just be throwing your money away if the 2020 WSOP is canceled.

If you aren’t a fan of Southwest, United Airlines has a great promotion going on right now. If you book a flight between now and March 31, you can change your flight for free in the event the 2020 WSOP is canceled. A flight from Chicago to Las Vegas on May 31 on United is currently available for as low as $77 round-trip. There are cheap summer flights from many other airports on United right now, as well.

Where to Stay in Las Vegas

The 2020 WSOP, if it happens, will take place at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino for the 16th straight year. The hotel is about one mile west of the Strip. Although many poker players choose to stay at the Rio, you can find cheaper and better options. I’d recommend staying within a few miles of the Strip, but if you’re comfortable driving 20-30 minutes to play poker each day, that’s your choice.

Before selecting a hotel, make sure you’re aware of the total cost you’ll pay. At most Vegas hotels, especially the casinos, a daily resort fee will often be applied upon check-in.

2020 WSOP Venetian Vegas

In the above photo, you’ll notice the total cost for seven nights at the Palazzo on the Strip is $1,482.13. But you’d only pay $1,124.99 of that when booking the hotel. Another $357.14 ($51 per day) will be charged upon check-in. Many travelers are unaware of these expensive resort fees and are in for a rude awakening when they arrive at their hotel.

If you want to avoid resort fees and stay within a reasonable distance to the Rio, the Four Queens on Fremont Street would be a decent option. According to Orbitz, rooms at the Four Queens are just $57 per day from June 1-8.

Best Places to Stay for Poker Players in the Summer

  • AirBNB House/Condo (no resort fees)
  • Four Queens on Fremont Street (no resort fees)
  • Rio west of Strip ($40 daily resort fee)
  • The Orleans west of Strip ($27 daily resort fee)

If money isn’t a concern, then book a room at one of the fancy resorts on the Strip such as Aria, Bellagio, Wynn, or Caesars Palace. Just make sure your room is refundable because the odds certainly aren’t in favor of the 2020 WSOP taking place.

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