The pandemic isn’t over

Two years after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the in-person version of the World Series of Poker (along with most other live activities for months), the deadly virus is still having an impact on the WSOP. Things are “back to normal” at the Series, now located at Paris and Bally’s Las Vegas on the Strip, but some of the game’s biggest stars have either had to or have decided to bow out because of COVID-19. The latest is the most legendary player in poker history, Doyle Brunson, who announced over the weekend he, at least for now, is going to skip WSOP events he might have otherwise played in as a precautionary measure.

No numbers have been confirmed, but there have been widespread reports from those attending the 2022 World Series of Poker that COVID-19, which has mutated yet again, is spreading throughout the massive Paris and Bally’s poker facilities. It isn’t surprising; with little to no safety measures in place anywhere in the United States anymore, rooms packed with thousands of people in close contact for hours at a time are easy places for the virus to spread.

Brunson staying safe

And because of this, Doyle Brunson has decided that it isn’t a good idea for him to take part, not just for his own health, but for the health of his wife, Louise, who has had her own health issues the last few years. Whether or not it is just for a while or for the entirety of the Series remains to be seen.

“looks like covid is everywhere at the WSOP. I’m gonna have to miss some tournaments I wanted to play but there are 2 unvaccinated in my house,” Brunson tweeted on Saturday.

Brunson, who will turn 89 in August, decided a few years ago that he was probably done at the World Series of Poker; the long days are just too tough physically. He last cashed in 2018, making the final table and finishing sixth in the $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw Championship. Most thought that was going to be the final time Doyle Brunson would tip his cowboy hat to the crowd at the WSOP, but he showed up for the $1,000 Super Seniors No-Limit Hold’em event last year, hitting the rail early. It certainly sounds like he had every intention of playing multiple events this year.

The most notable player to have a confirmed positive test for COVID-19 during the 2022 World Series of Poker is 16-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, who announced he tested positive on June 7. It appears that since then, he has been holed up in a hotel room in Las Vegas, waiting for a negative test. He tested positive again on Saturday and yesterday played in the $400 No-Limit Hold’em Ultra Deepstack event online, finishing 1,153rd out of 1,641 entrants.

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