McEachern and Kerstetter
It won’t be quite the same as in previous years – nothing in the past twelve-ish months has been – but the World Series of Poker Main Event will once again be on ESPN a few days from now. ESPN announced on Wednesday that it will air 2020 WSOP Main Event coverage on Sunday, February 28 at 8:00pm ET on ESPN2. The show will go for four hours and include portions of both the international and domestic final tables, as well as, of course, the heads-up match for the title between Damian Salas and Joseph Hebert.
Lon McEachern will return to his usual post behind the commentator’s microphone, but his announcing partner will be different this time around. Replacing the legendary Norman Chad is poker pro Jamie Kerstetter. Kerstetter has made a name for herself the last few years at the announcer’s desk herself, as she has spent many hours providing insight during World Series of Poker broadcasts.
We have not seen any reason why Norm Chad is not working the WSOP this go-around, but it being pandemic-related would not be surprising. Chad himself battled COVID-19 over the summer, though the oddball 2020 WSOP Main Event took place in late December/early January. It has been a strange year, so none of us should be surprised when things aren’t exactly what we’re used to.
A WSOP unlike any other
And the 2020 World Series of Poker was certainly not what we were used to. With casinos shutdown in the spring because of the pandemic, live poker naturally disappeared. World Series of Poker officials held out as long as they could, but finally postponed the live Series in mid-April.
Shortly thereafter, they announced a new World Series of Poker Online, featuring 85 bracelet events. Part of the WSOP Online was on WSOP.com for players in Nevada and New Jersey and part was on GGPoker for players in the rest of the world.
That ran through the beginning of September, but then, in November, the WSOP made the surprise announcement of a hybrid live/online Main Event. This was to be the “official” Main Event, despite the 85 bracelets from the summer and the existence of a tournament called the “Main Event.” The winner of that tourney on GGPoker, Stoyan Madanzhiev, was not happy at all that the WSOP was going to consider somebody else to be the Main Event champion.
In December, players on GGPoker ponied up $10,000 for this new Main Event and when the tournament was down to the final table, the remaining players traveled to King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic to play down to a winner. That same month, players in the United States competed on WSOP.com in the same structure, meeting at the Rio in Las Vegas to play down to a champ.
The two winners, Salas from the international side and Hebert from the US side, then squared off at the Rio for the championship bracelet and an extra million dollars, in addition to the prize money they had already won.