To say the COVID pandemic has had an effect on our lives would be akin to saying that water is wet. With a recent decision from the U. S. government, the world of poker will be directly affected and is changing as a result of the decision. The 2021 World Series of Poker announced on Friday night that there would be changes made to the $10,000 Championship Event for this year, a change that was not expected to occur this year.

Federal Government Allows for International Travel

With improving conditions regarding infection rates from the COVID virus and the strengthening vaccination process, the U. S. government started examining the possibility of relaxing travel restrictions to the States. On September 21, the Biden Administration announced that travel restrictions from foreign countries, which has been closed since the early part of 2020, would resume beginning November 1. There are a few caveats to that rule change, however.

First off, people must be thoroughly vaccinated against the COVID virus. As of this moment, the federal government has not made any indications of what vaccinations would be counted towards this policy, but there is still some time to get that issue worked out. The new policy affects as many as 33 countries, allowing people to fly directly to any city in the U. S. from their homes. Some of those countries who will benefit from these changes include China, India, Brazil, and virtually all of Europe.

There was only one problem with this, at least for poker players looking to get in on the WSOP. The schedule set for the $10,000 Championship Event had the final Day One scheduled for November 6, not exactly enough time for international players to comfortably get to the States, get to the Rio, and get in the WSOP. That was before the “powers that be” at the WSOP changed the game, however.

Two Day Ones Added to Championship Event

In a bold announcement over their Twitter account, the WSOP told the world of the changes to the Championship Event:

The added days to the schedule do make for some changes to how the rest of the schedule will be played out. These two new flights were scheduled to take place on the days that Day 2A/B will be going on (November 8) and Day 2C/D (November 9). Presumably if that is to hold true, then there will be the need for a Day 2E/F, which would be held on November 10. Day Three, the first day that the entire field would be together, would be pushed back to a November 11 start. Final schedule information from the WSOP has yet to be released.

Unfortunately, the announcement that the Internationals are coming makes the rest of the poker playing community less than appreciative. Many comments in the announcement of the expanded WSOP Championship Event lament (understandably) the change because people already had travel plans in place for the way the schedule had been established. There is also the issue of changing the schedule so close to the start of the Championship Event, although that is not a severe as some people are making it sound (nearly three weeks is plenty of time to adjust). Others yet make snide commentary about the stance taken by the WSOP regarding mandatory vaccination proof at the event.

There are also those who are ecstatic about the change. “Fantastic news!” was the reply from one member of the Twitterverse. Others, logically, looked at the potential for the WSOP to expand their usual satellite system to allow for players to win their way into the Championship Event “on the cheap” for the new Days 1E and 1F.

The addition of the two new Day Ones should have an effect on the overall numbers. While it is highly unlikely that the 2019 numbers will be challenged (8569 players, the second largest of all time), it will probably allow for the Championship Event to get into the 6000-7000 player numbers, highly respectable in the post-COVID world. While it might be an inconvenience for some, it is a wonderful day for many international players as they get their shot, at the minimum, at the 2021 World Championship.

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