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?

  11. Frank says:

    I missed the 2020 Vegas WSOP. I will only play in 2021 Vegas WSOP if we have live games. I so looked forward traveling to Vegas to play in the WSOP for the last 20 years. Please move the date to August so people like me from all over the world will come and play and help all those in Vegas and let the world know we have started a COVID heeling process for the world.

  12. Donna Owens says:

    Great article. Thanks for keeping us updated!! I think moving the event back to August/Sept. might be a good idea! Otherwise, we might be looking at only senior events! Things aren’t rolling out as fast as expected. As soon as I can get my shot, I’m leaving on a jet plane! Hope it all works out.

  13. Mateo says:

    I don’t believe that Covid is that big of a deal, or that vaccinations should be required. I say let everyone play in May, at their own risk.
    Offer dealers and other workers bonus incentives, and vaccinations, if called for… but that’s it 😎

  14. Ed says:

    I’m a senior who lives in the Phoenix area. I am getting my vaccination on Feb 23rd. Making my annual drive to Vegas to play a couple of WSOP events is something I keenly look forward to. I didn’t bother doing that to play online events. I hope what you are saying about it going off comes true.

  15. Dax says:

    It’s obvious that most people under 65 will not be vaccinated in time to acquire immunity for the normal start date. Postponing to a later date will allow for something closer to a typical WSOP experience. They should target August or September. Finding adequate space and enough dealers will be a challenge. Require vaccines, eliminate buy-ins under $1500, cut the schedule back to 40 events spread over 4 weeks. 8 handed, no plexiglass, masks not required.

  16. DSmack says:

    If I can get vaccinated before May, I will head out and play in 2 events (PLO and Seniors). Hope they don’t eliminate smaller buy-ins but maybe reduce the # of offerings for games below $1500. Maybe COVID’s silver (pun!) lining is that better hygiene practices will be mandatory and evident. Super psyched for moving beyond the pandemic. I hope they institute some rules to enforce proper mask wearing and to limit excessive, loud talking. I see this at a local card room and wonder if they realize how that contributes to the viral spread.

  17. Anonymous says:

    i hope they have it october and main in november then we can bring back the november 9….looking forward to live poker again

  18. REFAEL says:

    why do you hear nothing from wsop managers ?

  19. joe paletta says:

    if masks work then why do we need to require vaccination???
    I’m not getting a vaccine – ever… so wsop can kiss my yearly donations goodbye.

  20. giorgio logrezzio says:

    Soon GGpoker and others will be regulated in the US and the WSOP is cutting their own throats by these ridiculous requirements. The criminals are already preparing to make fake vaccination documents for the millions that will never get vaccinated. Masks dont work since the states with the most restrictions have the most cases. Texas plays 10 handed with masks and people are flocking there to play. Florida the same thing. Amazing…no cases. The plexiglass is the biggest joke in the industry. Without live play Las Vegas is finished.

  21. DC Watts says:

    Open it up. Play at your own risk. No vaccines or masks required!

  22. Stevied54 says:

    WHERE is it going to be held? The Rio was sold and Caesars is managing it (at present but for how long?). Is that still up in the air or is it going to be held at the Rio if it is going to be held?

  23. Earl Burton says:

    Hello DC,

    As much as you might not like it, nearly a half million people have died. The vaccine is necessary and so are the masks. They’re not going anywhere, unfortunately. Sooner people get used to this fact, the better it will be.

    Thanks for reading!


  24. Frank says:

    Frightening the number of COVID deniers here, which just emphasizes how important it is to take ALL the possible precautions — Require 1) Proof of vaccine, 2) Recent negative COVID tests, 3) Masks and 4) Plexiglass. Only negative is this will weed out the dumbest players but so be it.

  25. Michael Bienenstock says:

    If you have been vaccinated and show proof the staff should be able to provide a “bracelet to wear” and show people at your table you were vaccinated. Since people are moved from table to table it is imperative that you can show you have an approved vaccination . But vaccinations don’t mean you cannot be positive. It just means you will prolly not die if you get it. So masks for all.

  26. Randy R Griffin says:

    Many of you guys and gals forget, the Governor of Nevada has the final say on what happens in Nevada not the WSOP.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Criminal if the try to make people have a vaccine, if you are worried about it get one if not fine. If they try to require a vaccine they will be accountable for the health risks of the poor people force to get one.

  28. robert says:

    think this is over kill of fear ,,, once vaccied no other requirement is needed !!!!if not vaccied then temp./mask reguired is enought !! also june start will give more time for vaccing to be completed !!

  29. Tommy Jacobs says:

    I can’t wait!

  30. Milloie Karl ( Skip ) says:

    Hey , we all want things back to the way they were .. You have live poker WSOP with restrictions if necessary or no live poker this year .. Play or not to play that is the question … For me I will abide by the restrictions and play LIVE , next year all will be Good ( we hope ) . I’m with the guy that said those that won’t get a shot don’t go , which is a bummer because that’s the dumbasses you want to be there , fish ..

  31. Ancnt Sandman says:

    One of the items on my bucket list is playing in the Super Senior and last year, my 75th, was my year to be there.
    COVID-19 had other ideas, however, so I just postponed aging for a year. Both vaccine injections, check. Masks, you bet. Testing, as much as you want. Hold the event and I will be there!

  32. dealeranon says:

    I’m a WSOP dealer, and I will NOT work if masks and vaccines are required. Thankfully i’ll still get unemployment insurance due to the unsafe work conditions i’ll be able to claim

  33. Earl Burton says:

    Hello Anon…

    I believe most states do have a law that states if you can work, you do it. Therefore, your refusal to abide by the rules of your employer would result in your unemployment being stopped because YOU are refusing to abide by the conditions of employment.

    But, sure…check with an employment lawyer in Nevada to double-check this. We’ll make sure to hold onto this as premeditation of your intentions.

  34. Huble says:

    Hopefully WSOP in September. If so, I will be there!

  35. Clovus says:

    By the end of May there should be enough vaccines for all. If your worried about the Second shot get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. You wont die or get hospitalized and has efficacy vs South Africa and Brazil variants.
    I think the hotels should require proof of vaccinations after May 30th for all and this way you limit the spread in the hotels. Masks till they tell us there is herd immunity is a must.
    If you refuse the vaccines then find another profession other than poker. Its obvious you are not in touch with reality other than allergies no excuse not to get one.
    We need to get vaccines now to all that we can. Even Trump got one in secret at the White house in January so if that is a reason you don’t want one then even the biggest hoax instigator got his even though he had a 3 day Corona Virus??? Still wonder if he really had it and got out so soon.
    Go to the clinics that treat people with lung disease and see the intubated patients and maybe that will change your mind.
    Thank god we have the vaccines that work 85% to 95% of the time.

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