You can start planning your trip to Las Vegas because, yes, there is going to be a 2021 World Series of Poker, and not just an online version. But this year’s poker extravaganza won’t take place over the summer. For the first time since the pre-Moneymaker era, the WSOP will host the series at the Rio beginning on Sept. 30.
Last year’s summer poker festival was canceled due to COVID-19 and replaced with a WSOP Online Bracelet Series. The 85-bracelet event series was split between GGPoker and WSOP.com.
The global health pandemic is still an issue around the world, including in Nevada, but millions of Americans have already been vaccinated and many more will be fully vaccinated come fall. Hosting the series in the summer wasn’t feasible due to current local health guidelines and only a portion of the population having been vaccinated.
So, the 2021 World Series of Poker is planned to begin Sept. 30 and will run until Nov. 23. These plans hinge upon local regulatory approval, but it’s unlikely COVID-19 restrictions will be an issue come fall. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak said last month that he will permit local governments to begin determining COVID-19 restrictions effective May 1. Most experts in Las Vegas expect Clark County to begin easing restrictions soon after.
Sisolak has already begun relaxing some capacity restrictions statewide. As of March 15, restaurants and casinos are permitted to operate at 50% of capacity, up from the 25% in the previous few months. Many shows and conventions in Las Vegas are expected to resume in the coming months. The city is getting close to resembling its old self, and will seem even more normal to poker players in the fall when the WSOP runs.
Return of the ‘November Nine’
The “November Nine” is back for the first time in five years. From 2009-2016, the WSOP Main Event played down to a final table in July before holding off play until November. This year’s $10,000 championship event, poker’s most prestigious annual tournament, is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 4, according to a Caesars Entertainment press release, with a Nov. 17 conclusion.
The WSOP is also tentatively planning a huge opening weekend, with a $25,000 HORSE tournament and a $5 million guaranteed special bracelet event dubbed “The Reunion” on the schedule. As for additional bracelet events, we’ll all have to wait a few months for the full schedule to be released.
Las Vegas and the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino won’t be the only spot for 2021 World Series of Poker action. The WSOP is also planning another online series and, for the first time since 2019, a WSOP Europe series at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic two days after the conclusion of the Main Event.
WSOP Europe is expected to include 15 bracelet events up until Dec. 8. The online bracelet series will take place this summer, filling a void left from the postponed live WSOP. Details on the online series aren’t yet available.
Las Vegas’ live poker tournament scene won’t be non-existent this summer, however. Even without the WSOP, the Venetian has announced plans to bring back its popular DeepStack Championship Series beginning in late May, and other casinos will likely follow suit.