There are a tremendous number of people who are looking forward to the November/December period for tournament poker in Europe. That is, they “were” looking forward to the events; as new COVID variants emerge, it is leading to the altering of the tournament poker schedule across Europe, including the abbreviation of the 2021 World Series of Poker Europe at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov and the postponement of two other major tournaments on the roster.
2021 WSOP-E Sees Altered Tournaments, Capped Fields
The 2021 WSOP-E was expected to deliver the WSOP experience for those international players who could not make it over to the U. S. for the fun in Las Vegas. Alas, the tournament schedule in Rozvadov has been altered by Czech Republic government officials who have announced significant restrictions due to an uptick in COVID infections. These new restrictions were seen foremost in what was expected to be the biggest event of the WSOP-E, “The Colossus.”
After over 27,000 new cases of COVID were announced countrywide on Friday, Czech officials announced a “state of emergency” and enacted several public guidelines as to curb mass gatherings. Drinking in public (bars) is, for the next 30 days, prohibited, and all restaurants, nightclubs, and bars must shut down by 10PM local time. This also applies to sporting events, which is where the WSOP-E would be affected.
In addition to the shutdown at 10PM, the King’s Casino staff and officials also had to implement a new quota on the number of participants in the events. Part of the new regulations is that no more than 1000 people can gather for a sporting event, meaning that “The Colossus” was going to be severely cut. WSOP-E and King’s Casino officials conferred and were able to produce a plan that would allow for the event to continue.
First, two days were eliminated from the original six Day One schedule, so as to allow the other tournaments on the WSOP-E schedule to be played. The four Day Ones of the “The Colossus” saw Friday and Saturday action capped at 1000 players to abide by Czech health guidelines. Finally, play in all events in Rozvadov are starting at 10AM, to give the tournaments enough time to be able to play down to their target numbers each day.
So far, these guidelines seem to be working. 2478 entries were received for “The Colossus,” which continues Day 2 action on Sunday with 308 players still in contention. WSOP-E and King’s Casino officials will continue to monitor the situation with future events on the schedule, including the €10,000 WSOP-E Main Event, which has a €5 million guaranteed prize pool; it is possible that the guarantee may be altered because of the restrictions placed on public gatherings.
EPT Prague, partypokerLIVE Irish Tournaments Postponed
At least the WSOP-E was able to get out of the gate. Two other events, one sponsored by PokerStars and the other by partypoker, will not be held as scheduled due to the resurgence of COVID on the European continent.
The European Poker Tour Prague was scheduled to start on December 8, the first time the PokerStars-sponsored tour has been in action in more than two years. After the introduction of the new COVID restrictions by the Czech government, however, PokerStars chose to postpone their comeback in Prague. “We understand that this will be disappointing news to our players,” the EPT and PokerStars stated over the PokerStars blog. “But we must follow the government guidance given to us. The health and safety of our staff and players is a top priority and we will look to run EPT Prague at a later date when we are safe and able to do so.”
Ireland is another country that has instituted tougher COVID restrictions due to the resurgence of the virus and partypokerLIVE is feeling the brunt of that move. One of the comeback events for their tour, their stop for the Grand Prix Dublin in January 2022, has been postponed. The reasons? The new regulations instituted by the Irish government.
“Last week, the Irish government introduced new restrictions surrounding COVID in Ireland,” the communique from partypokerLIVE began. “Unfortunately, it has left us with no choice but to postpone this event until further notice.” In Ireland, there will be a midnight curfew put in place, with all public activities (bars, restaurants, other events) shuttered also. According to partypokerLIVE, there is also the chance that further restrictions putting more of cap on activities could take place, thus their reasoning for postponing the event.
“It is very disheartening that we have had to make this decision again at a time where we believed the Irish poker industry was just getting back on its feet,” partypokerLIVE officials stated. However, it is more important to take the precautions to protect players and their own staff, much like PokerStars, WSOP-E and King’s Casino officials have done.