Back to live action

The World Series of Poker has announced the schedule for its live tournaments this fall, running September 30 through November 23, just in time for Thanksgiving. As always, the $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em event will kick things off.

The WSOP traditionally spans late spring and early summer, usually going from late May into the middle of July. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, officials decided to move it later this year as a precautionary measure. Vaccines have greatly reduced case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States, where things are starting to get back to “normal,” but moving the tournaments to the fall buys the WSOP more time to make sure all safety protocols are in place and gives players more time to get vaccinated and make travel plans.

The $10,000 WSOP Main Event will begin November 4 with the first of four starting flights and will run through the final table, which will be split into two days: November 16 and November 17.

The pandemic shut down most live poker last year, though the WSOP still managed to cobble together a series complete with bracelet events on both WSOP.com in the United States and GGPoker internationally. Late in the year, the hybrid online/live “Main Event” took place, with Damian Salas eventually claiming the Main Event title during the first week of 2021.

“Make no mistake, the 2021 WSOP will be the real deal and we’re preparing for a full house. Throughout the storied history of the WSOP, this year will be particularly memorable and we’re preparing for a poker reunion all players can celebrate,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart in Tuesday’s press release. “We’re beyond thrilled to offer a complete schedule of can’t-miss events including all our flagships and the variety players deserve.”

Getting creative

Of the 88 tournaments, some of the first will be related to everything that happened in the past year-plus. On opening day will be the $1,000 COVID-19 Relief No-Limit Hold’em Charity Event to benefit front line health workers. October 1 will see the what is sure to be a massive event, the $500 Reunion No-Limit Holdem tournament with a $5 million prize pool. It requires 10,000 entries to hit the guarantee and it will probably happen: players can enter all three starting flights if they would like and each flight allows for one re-entry.

Other unique events include the $1,000 Flip and Go Presented by GG Poker, which puts every player all-in immediately. There is a tiny bit of decision making to be done, though, as everyone gets dealt three hole cards, but must discard one. The winner of each table makes the money and moves on to play the rest of the tournament in the usual way.

Near the end of the WSOP is a new event to celebrate the Poker Hall of Famers called the Poker Hall of Fame Bounty No-Limit Hold’em tournament. The freezeout event costs $1,979 enter, an homage to the first year of the Hall. All Poker Hall of Fame members get to play for free and each has a bounty on his or her head equal to the year they were inducted. The newest member to the Hall will be announced during the tournament.

The complete 2021 World Series of Poker schedule can be found at WSOP.com.

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