Nothing comes close to the anticipation for this year’s Main Event and the buzz of whether it can be the biggest ever.After its cancellation last year due to the coronavirus, the World Series of Poker is set to make its triumphant return this year. And despite some lingering concerns with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, organizers are planning a complete spread of events.
As revealed earlier this week, WSOP 2021 will have 88 gold bracelet events in Las Vegas, one more than was planned in 2020 and only two shy of 2019. The schedule is packed with variety, from marquee brands, eye-popping high-rollers and some curious new niche variants.
Normally, the festival would be in full swing by now/ However, in part to allow for more international players, WSOP is scheduling the series in a later fall slot, starting on September 30 and running for approximately eight weeks. In the interim, the operator will host 33 bracelet events online on WSOP.com and 33 more for international players on GGPoker.com, with events getting underway from August 1.
This makes for a total of 154 bracelet events total across the three platforms—making it by far the most WSOP bracelet events given away in history.
It will have been 26 months since we bagged up the last chips and we’ve missed it.On the announcement of the official online schedule, pokerfuse spoke with Ty Stewart, WSOP Executive Director, to find out his thoughts on the upcoming festival, safety protocols, his hopes for Main Event and international turnout—and expectations for WSOP.com launches in Pennsylvania and Michigan.
What events are you most excited about apart from the Main Event?
We try not to do that at the WSOP, it’s like picking a favorite child. But if we must, I think we’re particularly excited to see the return of mixed games right out the gate and the new 50k PLO towards the end. We think The Reunion has potential to break the record of the Big 50 given same price point and position in the schedule.
We think there are positive developments regarding international travel and expect it to continue to improve by October/November.The Hall of Fame bounty tournament should be a special way for fans to connect with the legends of the game. But there is nothing that comes close to the anticipation for this year’s Main Event and the buzz of whether it can be the biggest ever.
What else has you excited about the fall?
Everything. It will have been 26 months since we bagged up the last chips and we’ve missed it. Fall is also the very best time of the year in Las Vegas with the weather cooling off so will be fun to see many of our players experience that for the first time and just enjoy being there.
The city is buzzing with announcements almost daily and should be an opportunity to showcase a fully restored Las Vegas. [You] can literally play in the WSOP and take in a Raiders or VGK game the same day, what [could] be better than that?
Do players have to be vaccinated to participate in the WSOP series? What players need to keep in mind when playing in the series?
We will follow the same health and safety protocols as other forms of casino gaming in Nevada.
While many of the social distancing mandates have relaxed with today’s higher vaccination rates, we’re very aware of people’s changing emotions regarding crowds. Avoiding registration lines is one of our biggest focal areas. We are imploring all players to use the online registration available through Bravo Poker Live when it opens in a few weeks’ time.
Do you think this year’s edition will see fewer players from outside the US? How many international players are you expecting?
We think there are positive developments regarding international travel and expect it to continue to improve by October/November. This is one of the primary reasons we waited until fall instead of trying to rush the series for now which would have made it primarily domestic players.
With almost every major live poker event in the US seeing a record turnout, do you expect the WSOP Main Event to break all-time records?
Once we are live [in Pennsylvania and Michigan] we will give WSOP.com players the exclusive opportunity to win bracelets onlineWe know 2019 was the second highest of all time. We know we have a committed online partner in GGPoker set to qualify a large number of their players for the first time this year. The house doesn’t bet on the props but it will be quite a sweat. We did feel four entry dates was required if that answers the question.
How will this year’s WSOP be different from any other year? Do you have any plans to celebrate the return of the live series?
We like the Reunion theme. We think the entire community will be happy to see old friends and get back to doing what they love, that’s why we wanted to put a big $5 million guarantee on the first $500 event when we normally don’t do guarantees. At the WSOP we primarily like to put poker first and see the product speak for itself. We’re going to celebrate watching tens of thousands of players cash in some tournaments.
Will this be the last time the WSOP live series will be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino?
No comment at this time. We are thrilled to be back there in 2021 at a venue players and staff know well.
The Mystery Bounty event that was originally announced for the WSOP 2020—will that event be running this year?
No. We left it off the schedule this year and will revisit in the future. We need to keep operational challenges to a minimum in 2021. Plus we already have some new fun and different events like the Flip and Go and the Hall of Fame bounty.
WSOP.com is anticipated to go live for real money in Pennsylvania and Michigan in the summer. Do you expect players from these states will be able to participate in the online bracelet events this year or next year? What about online satellites to the WSOP events in these two states?
We will have more news on WSOP.com promotions once we receive regulator approval in each state. For certain once we are live we will give WSOP.com players the exclusive opportunity to win bracelets online and qualify for the WSOP.