Unless you live in a bunker and have no access to the internet (which would be impossible, considering you’re reading this article), you know all about the damage COVID-19 has done to the live poker industry. In 2020, COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 51st annual World Series of Poker, a heartbreaker for the poker community.
Each summer, thousands of poker players from around the world travel to Las Vegas to compete in prestigious and juicy tournaments, and to earn coveted gold WSOP bracelets. But that didn’t happen this year.
Summer for poker players isn’t just about chasing poker dreams and winning money. It’s also about catching up with old friends you don’t get to see the rest of the year. This past summer, however, was quite different. There wasn’t a reason to travel to Las Vegas as the WSOP was canceled and replaced with an online bracelet series on WSOP.com and GGPoker.
What We All Missed Out On
By mid-March, most professional sports leagues in the US had already been shut down or postponed. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, one of the biggest annual sporting events, was canceled. The NBA, NHL, and MLB seasons were all put on hold for a few months due to COVID-19. But, Caesars held off until late April before calling off the 2020 World Series of Poker.
The 51st annual WSOP had all the makings of being the biggest and best ever. With over 80 bracelet events scheduled for the Rio, Las Vegas was sure to be hopping during the summer. CardsChat even projected the 2020 WSOP Main Event to set a 51-year attendance record.
Instead, all we got was an online bracelet series that few cared about. There wasn’t much buzz for the 85-bracelet event series split between GGPoker and WSOP.com. Most of the interest in the series stemmed from Daniel Negreanu’s multiple meltdowns while live-streaming his play. Or, Ryan Depaulo winning a bracelet from his car outside a Whole Foods in New Jersey.
The Rio in Las Vegas was empty this past summer. Let’s all hope that COVID-19 fades in 2021 so that we don’t have to write this same story at this time next year.