The confetti has been swept up, the noisemakers…oh, wait a second. There were no big gatherings for New Year’s Eve this year. It was quite odd looking at an empty Times Square on New Year’s Eve, but it has become the situation we face under the current COVID-19 pandemic. And, especially after the massive cluster…(my Marine background would say it, but we’re a family page here!) that has been the “hybrid” WSOP “World Championship,” it must leave you wondering what – or whether – the 2021 World Series of Poker will be held?

Relax – It Will Happen

First off, everyone needs to relax. There will be a 2021 WSOP, but it isn’t going to be anything like what we’ve seen previously on the stage in Las Vegas. Even with the summertime fun of the series and the embarrassment that was the “hybrid” in December, Caesars and WSOP officials have now probably learned that they have to hold the biggest event in poker in a live setting or don’t have it at all (and do you really think they’re going to do that?). Thus, the “powers that be” at the WSOP are strategizing right now to making the 2021 event go off in May.

The rollout of several vaccines to combat the COVID-19 outbreak are a welcome sign for anyone who is a fan of mass gatherings. Whether it is a rock concert, sporting event or a poker tournament, these vaccines were necessary to allow for the return of large-scale events around the world. Thus, the December rollout of these valuable medical tools will give everyone a bit of relief when it comes to large gatherings later in the year.

This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s just going to go back to “the way it was.”

The tables themselves will probably remain with the Plexiglas and eight-handed. It is also conceivable that, if the Plexiglas is taken away, that the players at the table will have to all wear masks while playing – no exceptions. That way all players are protected from each other and the personnel working the tournament – the floor staff, dealers, and waitresses (if they’re allowed to work) – are also taken into consideration.

There is the one thing that many might have a problem with, however, and it isn’t the masks. I can easily see the WSOP requiring that you have a valid COVID-19 vaccination and must present the evidence of this vaccination upon registering for events. If you cannot provide this information, you don’t play the events.

What Would Be the Ramifications?

Other than the “not playing” part for not having been vaccinated, the WSOP can go further. The officials with the WSOP held firm to their COVID rule at the “hybrid” WSOP final table here in the States regarding Upeshka DeSilva. For those of you who might not have heard this, DeSilva was at the final table of the U. S. segment of the WSOP but tested positive for the virus. He was summarily disqualified from the tournament and given the ninth-place finish.

There were many who didn’t like this outcome, but it was what the WSOP said would happen, the players understood that they ran this risk, and it wasn’t “a surprise” when the WSOP put their rule into motion. The same thing could very well happen this summer at the 2021 WSOP when, more than likely, the WSOP will test players before final table play and, should anyone pop positive for COVID, would be removed from the event and banned from playing in any other WSOP action for a week (the CDC guideline for quarantine). If you’re one of those people who say, “I’m not wearing a mask” or “I’m not getting a vaccine” or “There’s no way they’re testing me,” guess who isn’t going to be playing at the 2021 WSOP?

The COVID-19 virus is serious. By the time that the WSOP rolls around, it is possible that the virus may have killed more than a half million people in the U. S. (and we’re already at 350K), WAY more than the average “flu bug” that goes around. The WSOP isn’t going to want to take any chances in providing a “super spreader” for the virus, thus it will take whatever tactics it feels is necessary to provide a safe event.

Even with all these preparations in place, there still is the potential that many countries will not allow their citizens to fly to the U. S. (you know, because we’ve done such a fantastic job in controlling it) or vice versa – the U. S. may not allow people in from other countries. It is a grim reality of our current world, but there may not be a “normal” WSOP event until well into 2022…or potentially further. So, if you’re looking to play poker this year, mask up, get jabbed in the arm and take care of yourself and you should be ready to play at the 2021 WSOP, because it is going to be held…how it looks may be a whole other matter.


  1. Randy Ferguson says:

    Thank you Earl. A very well written editorial! Dealing the WSOP for five years, it looks like the end of the road for me. I’m not taking the jab, ergo not participating in this economy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yah…I’m lucky getting vaccinated fri

  3. RA says:

    I think the availability of a vaccine for everyone who wants to play in the WSOP is going to be an issue, unless they move back the WSOP by at least a few months.

  4. Howie says:

    Should at least move the WSOP to the beginning of July. Give everyone a chance to get vaccinated.

  5. Poker player says:


  6. Anonymous says:

    I am a dealer and am looking forward to dealing the most exciting poker event in the world. Jab me.

  7. Robb says:

    At this time, I am hopeful. New administration that will take a more active roll in combating the virus, more than two vaccines in circulation by summer, better mitigation strategies, and safe playing environment that includes hand washing stations and plexiglass shields….

  8. Gregory Chaly says:

    WSOP purchases vaccine.
    Every entry includes a jab plus one more jab.
    WSOP helps stamp out virus and bring back Poker.

  9. Cheryl Spencer says:

    Thanks Earl, good article. I am also a dealer and deal “on the front line” at the the largest poker room in Texas. We are 9 handed with no-plexi glass, mask & temperatures are required. Poker is alive & well in Texas!

    I am ready to take the vaccine but do not fall in the eligibility categories. At this time, only healthcare workers, Police, fireman & EMT have been able to take the vaccines. Currently people 65 are eligible. This means that a high % of most poker players are not yet eligible to get that shot.

    It will likely be closer to March or April. I think May, 2021 is too soon. I agree about pushing the WSOP back to July instead of May to give players a chance to get vaccinated.
    It would be great if large casino like the RIO were able to set up stations to vaccinate players but that is unlikely and there is also a 2nd shot required for the vaccine to be at full strength. Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2021!

  10. Keith Mize says:

    I would not care if they held all of the sub $1,000 buy in events online again this year since they have the bigger fields. Maybe just play live events over $1,000 or $1,500?

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