The World Poker Tour has enjoyed a successful year by switching things up and going digital but, with 2021 on the horizon, it’s looking to head out on the road again.
Although the shockwaves of COVID-19 will reverberate for the foreseeable future, the WPT is planning to resume normal service in February.
A year on from the first wave of lockdowns, WPT Russia will take place inside Casino Sochi. The festival, which is still listed as provisional by the WPT, will be run in conjunction with Partypoker Live and feature a $3,300 main event.
Casino Sochi Becomes Post-COVID Tournament Hotspot
As planned, WPT Russia will also offer a variety of side events and run from Feb. 19 to 28. Qualifiers are already running on Partypoker and start at $0.04.
The organizers have also confirmed that WPTDeepStacks Russia will take place at Casino Sochi in July. The team hopes to add stops in other countries when COVID-19 restrictions allow.
With many countries still in a state of flux, predicting when and where tournaments can happen in 2021 is almost impossible. However, Russia has offered a degree of stability throughout the pandemic.
Casino Sochi has been open for business since the summer, and resumed running poker tournaments in August. PokerStars held a European Poker Tour event there in October.
COVID-19 related deaths in Russia have increased to an average of 400 per day in recent weeks. Despite that, the recovery rate is 98%, which is why many businesses remain open across the country.
That’s something the WPT is banking on. Coupled with the news that COVID vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are close to being rolled out, has given the WPT confidence it can safely host events in Russia next year.
WPT to Mix Live and Online Events
The return of live tournaments doesn’t mean the demise of the WPT’s recent online innovations. Owing to the success of this year’s events, the WPT Online Series will return in May ahead of the WPT World Online Championships in September.
“Despite ongoing uncertainly with regards to live events, we can promise players a schedule packed full of WPT festivals in 2021. We are looking forward to working with the WPT team to produce schedules of the highest quality, both live and online,” said Partypoker managing director Tom Waters.
News that tournament poker will return to some semblance of normality is a welcome change of tone. After a year of tarnished plans and postponements, we can start to look forward to at least a few live events in 2021.