Amid the current worldwide outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, many countries, cities and even individual businesses have announced how they are handling the situation. The world of poker is feeling the effects of these shutdowns, with casinos in Las Vegas shutting down sports books and poker rooms and individual tournaments coming to a standstill. One of the “top dogs” in the tournament poker world has taken a proactive approach on some of their events but are letting other tournaments proceed as scheduled.

World Poker Tour Postpones U. S. Events, Allows Others to Continue

In a brief announcement on their website, the World Poker Tour has taken steps to shut down the next event on their Season XVIII schedule, the WPT Venetian. Set to begin on Friday, the tournament is postponed until a later date. “The COVID-19 outbreak is impacting WPT events around the globe,” the WPT stated in their announcement. “As the status of Season XVIII WPT global events change, WPT would like to provide its players and fans with an ongoing list of the status of events. This list will be updated as needed.”

Two other upcoming Season XVIII tournaments will be postponed until further notice also. The WPT Barcelona, to be held at Casino Barcelona from March 31 to April 6, has been suspended until further notice. So has one of the “big events” on the WPT circuit, the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, which would have been held from May 1 to May 5.

Also falling under the postponement banner were WPTDeepStacks tournaments. The WPTDeepStacks Maryland (March 20-23), the WPT DeepStacks Jacksonville (March 27-30), the WPTDeepStacks Championship at Thunder Valley in California (April 4-7) and the WPTDeepStacks European Championship (April 10-13) will all be postponed until a future date. Canceled outright were the WPTDeepStacks Vietnam and the WPTDeepStacks Amsterdam.

There are some events that are CURRENTLY still scheduled to be held by the WPT. The two final tables from earlier in 2020 – the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open and the WPT L. A. Poker Classic – that were suspended for play at the HyperX eSports Arena at the Luxor in Las Vegas are still being held AT THIS TIME on March 31 and April 1. The third event in that mix, the WPT Choctaw that is scheduled for May 15-18, is still scheduled to play and will be a part of the mix on April 2. WPTDeepStacks Events in Johannesburg, South Africa, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Taiwan and Australia are also still on the live roster.

As For The WSOP?

Poker players worldwide have been trying to read the tea leaves regarding the upcoming World Series of Poker. Scheduled to begin on May 27, the WSOP’s spokesman Seth Palansky has announced postponements of several WSOP Circuit events but, so far, the actual WSOP has stayed on schedule. There are plenty, however, who have questioned why the WSOP is waiting so long.

Deadspin.com’s Chris Baud asked this question in a lengthy article entitled “The World Series of Poker Is a Petri Dish for Disease – Why the Hell Hasn’t it Been Canceled Yet?” Baud questions the logic of having tens of thousands of people stream through the halls of the Rio’s convention arena, playing at all tables and then circulating through the Rio and Las Vegas, recalling a Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak in 2017 that saw seven people contract the disease at the Rio. After making his case, Baud says, “Will they (the WSOP) be smart? Judging by their complete silence and the inaction of most other casinos and poker rooms, I wouldn’t bet on it.”

The easy reason to say would be the money aspect. The Rio – and, by extension, Caesars Entertainment and the WSOP – make hundreds of millions of dollars from the WSOP. Calling it off now – or even a slight postponement – would send the tournament poker schedule into a tizzy as trying to find a spot to put the WSOP in at (with its 101-bracelet schedule…but that’s for another time) would be virtually impossible.

But there’s another perhaps more logical reason for the delay. Caesars Entertainment is hoping that the situation will clear up within the next 30 days and there will be no reason to shut the doors. The more time that goes on, however, and the more major events that are shuttered or postponed – the Kentucky Derby is a key event; if that is canceled or postponed from its traditional first weekend in May date, the WSOP definitely will have to act – then it becomes very difficult for the WSOP to avoid some sort of decision.

The WPT has made its decisions and they continue to watch developments as they unfold, much like the WSOP. For now, however, the COVID-19 outbreak has shut down the poker world and, perhaps more importantly, most of civilized life as we know it.

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