New home(s) on the Strip

Today is the day that poker players and fans have circled on the calendar every year: the start of the World Series of Poker. This will be the first year since 2019 that the WSOP is back to “normal,” as the 2020 WSOP was canceled (save for a last-minute online/live hybrid Main Event) because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the novel coronavirus still affected last year’s Series with vaccination and mask requirements, a change in schedule, and travel restrictions coming from outside the US. But this year, the World Series of Poker is back in its spring/summer slot, so everything is back how it was. Back how it was, that is, except for one major change….

The 2022 World Series of Poker is on the Las Vegas Strip for the first time. From its inception until 2005, the WSOP was held at the venerable Binion’s Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas. Because it had exploded in popularity, the Series moved to the Rio off the Strip in 2005 (except for the final three tables that year, which were back at Binion’s), which is where it stayed through 2021. Now, with the Rio under new ownership, the World Series of Poker is being held jointly at Paris and Bally’s Las Vegas.

Because of the size of the venue(s), the central location on the Strip, and the excitement of players to finally not be under the shadow of COVID-19 (though we are still in a pandemic, so don’t let your guard down) it is thought that the 2022 WSOP could set records. As my friend Earl Burton pointed out the other day, the 2019 Main Event fielded 8,569 runners, nearly breaking 2006’s record of 8,773. And even with the international travel restrictions, last year saw a field of 6,650.

Over 100 total events

The 2022 World Series of Poker kicks off today with two tournaments. The first is the one that has been in the pole position for years: $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em. The second is on the opposite end of the buy-in spectrum, the $100,000 High Roller Bounty No-Limit Hold’em event. In this bounty tourney, players will receive $25,000 from the prize pool for every opponent they eliminate. The Casino Employees event will last two days, the High Roller Bounty is slated for three.

The $10,000 Main Event begins with the first of four starting flights on July 3. Days 2A and 2B – for those who made it through Days 1A and 1B – are on July 7, while Days 2C and 2D are on July 8. All remaining players will combine for Day 3 on July 9 and continue from there the rest of the way. The nine-handed final table will be determined on July 13, after which the remaining players will have an off day. They will begin the final table on July 15 and play down to four. The champion will be determined on July 16.

In all there, 88 live gold bracelet events this year plus another baker’s dozen online bracelet events. As of now, the online bracelet events are just for players in Nevada and New Jersey on (there is actually a 14th online event, just for Pennsylvania players). It is possible, however, that Michigan players could join them, as has launched there and the state joined the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement. Michigan games have not merged with those of Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware yet, but if they do so soon, online bracelet events could get bigger.

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