Unibet International Poker Open Will Return to Dublin, Come What May

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Unibet will, once again, be the headline sponsor of the International Poker Open (IPO) as it makes a welcome, but logistically tricky, return to the live arena.

IPO Dublin
The International Poker Open will return to Dublin’s Bonnington Hotel after COVID restrictions kept it away last year. (Image: YouTube/International Poker Open)

With COVID-19 restrictions easing, the annual event will take place at Dublin’s Bonnington Hotel in October. However, the organizers are banking on the Irish government doing its bit before the first hand is dealt. As it stands, the Irish government is planning to remove all remaining COVID-19 restrictions on Oct. 22.

With that being the case, Unibet and the IPO have poker tables, cards, chips, and dealers ready to go on that day.

International Poker Open ready to roll regardless of restrictions

There’s also the possibility that certain restrictions will be removed before Oct. 22, which would allow indoor events to resume in a limited capacity. If that’s the case, Unibet and the IPO will react accordingly and start their live event on Oct. 20. Should the early lifting of restrictions not take place or, the Irish government decides to delay a full unlocking, the IPO will take place online as it did in 2020.

So, in summary, the organizers are eager to get back out there as soon as restrictions are eased but, if they can’t, Unibet will step into the breach.

2021 International Poker Open Schedule

  • Oct. 17 – Day 1 Online
  • *Oct. 20 to Oct. 21 – Additional side events and live qualifiers will take place at the Bonnington Hotel if local restrictions allow.
  • Oct. 22 to Oct. 25 – The €300 main event and side events will take place at the Bonnington Hotel.

If all goes to plan and the IPO returns to Dublin’s Bonnington Hotel in October, there will be plenty of safety precautions in place. Along with an enhanced cleaning regime, everyone attending the IPO will have to comply with the following rules:

  • Players must show a COVID pass, or proof of a negative test taken with 48 hours of visiting the venue. Players who do this will receive a green wristband, and only those players with a wristband will be allowed into the poker room.
  • Players will have their temperature checked each day before they enter the poker room. If their temperature test is accepted, they’ll receive a second wristband. This must be worn in conjunction with their green wristband. The temperature check wristbands will be a different color every day.
  • Players must sanitize their hands every time they enter the poker room and sit at a table. Dealer buttons will be bottles of sanitizer and players will be expected to use it each time they’re on the button.
  • All staff members will follow the same rules, but no decisions have been made regarding face masks. The organizers are waiting for guidance from the Irish government and will update the rules in due course.

Unibet and IPO to ensure everyone gets fairly paid

The final logistical hurdle to clear is the rules regarding players who test positive for COVID-19. The WSOP made its position clear on this issue last month. Anyone who tests positive while they’re in a WSOP tournament will be asked to leave.

If they’re not in the money, they don’t receive a refund. If they’re in the money, they’ll receive the payout due at the time of their exit.

The IPO is taking a different approach to the issue. Instead of removing a COVID-positive player and their chips, the organizers will give them two options:

  • They can leave their stack in play and let it ladder up
  • They can receive a refund based on the size of their stack and the tournament’s buy-in

Players start with 30,000 chips in the €300 IPO Main Event so, if they have 30,000 chips or more when they test positive, they’ll receive €300 (100%) refund. If they have 15,000 chips (50% of their starting stack), they’ll receive a €150 (50%) refund. If they have 10,000 chips (33% of their starting stack), they’ll receive a €100 (33%) refund.

Any refunds will be removed from that tournament’s total prize pool and the remaining payouts will be adjusted accordingly.

Taking the International Poker Open back to Dublin’s Bonnington Hotel won’t be easy, and with local restrictions, players traveling to Ireland may have to quarantine, depending on their vaccination status and country of departure. These rules are constantly changing and can be viewed here.

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