While the 2020 COVID pandemic was a boon for the online poker industry, it was understandably horrible for live poker. A key indicator of some return to normalcy on that front came on April 1 when the World Series of Poker announced two live WSOP events planned for the end of 2021 and the return of the coveted Main Event.
The ambitious schedule starts in Las Vegas on September 30, and runs through November 23, a marked departure from the usual start in late May. That leads into WSOP Europe 2021, starting November 19 and running through December 8.
The main series returns to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino for seven weeks of Gold Bracelet grinds, and King’s Casino in Rozvadov will play host to the European Series for another two weeks.
As if that were not enough WSOP action for the year, there is also a full online series planned. The domestic schedule is already released with 33 Bracelet events on tap for WSOP.com players in New Jersey or Nevada.
Players do not have to be resident on those states to play, but they do have to be physically located in one of those two locations in order to play the games. While WSOP has plans to expand into other US markets in the first half of 2021, it is unclear if those new markets will have access to the Bracelet events.
WSOP 2021 at a Glance
|Series||Location||Start Date||End Date||Bracelet Events Planned|
|WSOP 2021||Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino||September 30||November 23||TBA|
|2021 Main Event||Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino||November 4||November 17||1|
|WSOPE 2021||King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic||November 19||December 8||15|
|WSOP Online Domestic||WSOP.com||July 1||August 1||33|
|WSOP Online International||GGPoker||TBA||TBA||TBA|
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The Big Show in Vegas
The World Series of Poker plans to come back in a big way to live poker in 2021 with almost eight weeks of live action planned at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The series gets underway on September 30, and is expected to end November 23.
Opening weekend events are expected to include a charity event for frontline workers, a $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament, and “The Reunion“, a $5 million GTD No-Limit Hold’em event.
The Main Event is the game on everyone’s mind, and WSOP has announced that it will run four day 1s starting on November 4. That indicates a full Main Event, similar to pre-pandemic years.
And while this is purely coincidental, with the Main Event scheduled to play the final day on November 17, 2021, it will mark the return of the “November 9” for the first time since 2016, albeit without a months-long break beforehand.
WSOP 2021 Preliminary Main Event Schedule
|Day 1A||Thursday||November 4|
|Day 1B||Friday||November 5|
|Day 1C||Saturday||November 6|
|Day 1D||Sunday||November 7|
|Day 2A (for flights 1A and 1B)||Monday||November 8|
|Day 2B (for flights 1C and 1D)||Tuesday||November 9|
|Day 3||Wednesday||November 10|
|Final Table||Wednesday||November 17|
WSOP to be Broadcast on CBS Sports
There is big news from the WSOP off the felt as well, with the beginning of a new broadcast deal with CBS Sports The new deal replaces the old deal with ESPN that ends an era of WSOP broadcasting that followed the meteoric rise of the WSOP on the back of the Moneymaker phenomenon.
Fans can expect some solid coverage. The announcement detailed plans for more than 50 hours of live poker action from the WSOP, including 15 hours of Main Event coverage.
The new deal isn’t entirely new. CBS Sports was the originator of poker on television in the US, with the first national broadcasts of the WSOP Main Event in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Those early broadcasts featured legends of the game like Puggy Pearson, Doyle Brunson, Stu Unger, and Billy Baldwin, and while they were vastly different from what viewers should expect from the modern version, they give CBS a solid foundation to build on.
Other details of the new deal are yet to be finalized, though there is hope that the new broadcast may have a familiar feel to it. No firm plans have been announced, but veteran WSOP commentator Lon McEachern seems confident the team will remain intact.
WSOP Online 2021
In 2020, as a result of the pandemic, the whole series was moved online, a move that was immensely popular: Both domestically in the USA, and internationally, the WSOP Online 2020 was a huge success.
In partnership with WSOP.com and 888 in the US, and GGPoker in the international sphere, the online series in 2020 gave away well over $150 million in prizes. The international Online Main Event in 2020 set a world record for the largest online tournament ever with $27.5 million in prizes.
- TOP BONUS — $600 deposit matched or up to $100 in rewards
- TOP FOR MTTs — GGMasters freezeout guarantees $2.5 million a week
- TRUSTED Holds a License from the UK Gambling Commission and the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. Available in many countries in Europe, South America, and Asia
There are already plans in place for the online version in 2021, at least for the US market. Domestic US action for the WSOP online kicks off on July 1 this year and will culminate with a $1,000 championship event, with qualifiers available for as little as $1.
There are 33 event planned for WSOP.com across the month long online poker extravaganza, including a huge Grand Finale on August 1 with $1,000,000 guaranteed for just $500.
The series is mostly no limit hold’em, but there are a few pot limit Omaha games sprinkled in as well, including the PLO Championship on July 26 with a buy-in of $1,000. There are no details on the international component of the online WSOP for this year yet, but given the huge success of 2020 at GGPoker, an even bigger repeat seems likely.
WSOP Online 2021 Domestic Schedule
|Premiere Week||1||The Big 500 Kick-Off||NLH||July 1||$500|
|2||Monster Stack||NLH||July 2||$600|
|3||DeepStack Turbo||NLH||July 3||$500|
|4||Super Turbo||NLH||July 4||$500|
|7||Lucky 7’s||NLH||July 7||$777|
|8||Crazy Eights||NLH||July 8||$888|
|Micro Madness||9||6-Max||NLH||July 9||$400|
|10||Event #10||NLH||July 10||$333|
|11||Ultra Deepstack||NLH||July 11||$400|
|PLO Week||12||Turbo Deepstack||NLH||July 12||$500|
|14||Event #14||NLH||July 14||$500|
|15||High Roller Freezeoout||NLH||July 15||$5,300|
|18||North American Open||NLH||July 18||$1,000|
|19||Crazy Eights||PLO||July 19||$888|
|20||High Roller||NLH||July 20||$3,200|
|Double Bracelet Day||25||Lucky 7’s High Roller||NLH||July 25||$7,777|
|26||The Big 500 Encore||NLH||July 25||$500|
|Championship Week||27||Championship||PLO||July 26||$1,000|
|28||High Roller Championship||NLH||July 27||$3,200|
|29||8-Max Turbo Deepstack Championship||NLH||July 28||$800|
|30||6-Max Championship||NLH||July 29||$600|
|31||Summer Saver||NLH||July 30||$500|
|$1 Million Guaranteed||33||Grand Finale||NLH||August 1||$500|
Live Bracelets in Europe
If nearly eight weeks of poker, including a full-size Main Event, at the Rio in Las Vegas isn’t enough of a return to normalcy, the international side of the series is also slated to return. King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic has been tapped to host the WSOP Europe 2021 starting November 19.
“We hope and anticipate travel restrictions will ease by the fall,” said Ty Stewart, WSOP Executive Director. “It’s important to us that we have an excellent tournament schedule available to our European players.”
The current plan is to have a European Series that gives away 15 bracelets, including a €50,000 High Roller, and a €10,000 WSOP Europe Main Event.
Proceed with Caution
Given the past 13 months, it’s important to recognize all plans could be subject to change. WSOP cautions that all live events are subject to applicable state and/or regulatory approvals, including all relevant health and public safety guidelines and restrictions.
There is every reason to believe that conditions in many parts of the world will be improved by the end of 2021, and WSOP is putting a bet on it. The proposed live schedule is ambitious, and if it goes forward as planned, would signal the return of live poker in force. Stay tuned on April 15 for more information on the upcoming plans, and let’s hope the WSOP wins their bet against COVID.