Summer in Vegas Without the World Series of Poker; What to Expect

There are many juicy tournaments available for poker players in Las Vegas this coming summer, even without the World Series of Poker, which is temporarily moving to the fall. But your visit to Sin City will be a tad different compared to previous summers, and not only because the WSOP won’t be in town.

2021 wsop las vegas

Las Vegas is changing, but that gorgeous sign remains the same. (Image: vegas.com)

Wynn and Venetian have already disclosed plans for major poker events during the summer. Venetian’s DeepStack Championship Series is already underway. Over at Wynn, a neighboring casino on the Las Vegas Strip, a historic $10 million guaranteed tourney will take place in late June.

So, summer in Southern Nevada will feel mostly normal to poker players in certain ways, even if they’ll have to wait until the fall to chase gold bracelets. But it’s also going to feel a tad different, at least to those who make the annual trek to Las Vegas to play cards in the summer.

Cover that face

Face masks are currently still required in Nevada businesses. While that might seem like a nuisance, especially if you’re vaccinated against COVID-19, those are the rules, and there isn’t anything you can do about it. Wearing a face mask is required while playing poker or to enter any business.

When will poker players in Las Vegas be able to remove their face masks at the poker tables? That’s still anyone’s guess, but don’t count on it happening before the end of the summer, at the earliest. There’s a reasonable chance face masks will still be required in the fall at the World Series of Poker.

Restaurants still closed

Las Vegas is bouncing back from COVID-19. Card rooms are reopening, restaurants and casinos are almost back to operating at full capacity, the strip clubs are starting to reopen, and this adult playground often referred to as “Sin City” is beginning to look like its pre-pandemic self. But some of the things you enjoy about Las Vegas remain closed, and likely will stay that way come summertime.

Those include most buffets (Caesars plans to reopen its buffet on May 20), many restaurants on the Strip, and many popular shows remain dark. When you go out to dinner, even if you’re just grabbing a bite at a run-of-the-mill diner, booking a reservation in advance would be a smart play. Due to the lack of dining options, the restaurants that are open are busier than normal, and many of them are understaffed.

Fewer poker rooms

Before COVID-19 struck, Las Vegas had 31 open card rooms. Within a few months after the casinos reopened on June 4, 2020, more than half of those rooms had reopened. But there are still quite a few poker rooms that remain closed, including some popular establishments.

That list includes Green Valley Ranch, Mirage, Harrah’s, and The Strat (formerly Stratosphere), along with a few others. On a positive front, without the WSOP around this summer, it’s likely the poker rooms won’t be quite as packed as in years past. But you should be aware that some of your favorite places may not be dealing games during your upcoming visit.

What is back?

On June 1, assuming 60% of Clark County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, casinos will be permitted to operate at full capacity. Wynn, because most of its staff is vaccinated, has already been granted approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) to eliminate capacity restrictions and remove plexiglass dividers at table games.

With restrictions slowly being lifted, the old Las Vegas feeling is beginning to return. Some casinos have already made it clear that they’ll soon be reopening the buffets. Pools everywhere are open, the 20 open poker rooms are jam-packed, and tourists are flocking to town in droves. There’s clearly some pent-up demand to visit Las Vegas after a rough pandemic year.

Poker players will have numerous options for cash games and tournaments this summer. Millions of dollars will be awarded at Venetian and Wynn throughout the summer, and you can expect most card rooms to be packed with overflow tables set up to accommodate all of the cash game players.

Written by
Jon Sofen
Semi-pro poker player with 17 years experience on the felt and more than five years working as professional poker media.

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