WSOP Announces 2020 Main Event in US and Globally

WSOP Announces 2020 Main Event in US and Globally

The World Series of Poker seems to be trying to make the best of a tough year. The coronavirus pandemic preempted most of its live poker schedules for the entirety of 2020.

The WSOP Circuit did host a few events in the US and internationally at the beginning of the year. The US did better with nearly a dozen live events before the March casino shutdowns. On the other hand, the international WSOPC squeezed in Marrakech in January and about half of its King’s Casino stop in the Czech Republic in March before the forced stop.

It quickly became apparent that the WSOP summer festival in Las Vegas needed to be cancelled. And as the year progressed, WSOP executives realized that the WSOP Europe at King’s was not feasible, either.

Now, it seems that WSOP executives are planning to try a mix of live and online tournaments in a 2020 Main Event. The thousands of players who competed in the one that took place this summer thought that was the Main Event, but now there is another one…or something like that.

Adapting Quickly Online

The WSOP was no stranger to online poker action prior to the pandemic.

Since its launch in Nevada years prior and New Jersey a few years later, the WSOP knew how to host an online series. After quickly setting up some WSOP Circuit events on WSOP.com in NV and NJ for US players and on GGPoker for international players, they saw that it was a viable alternative.

Was it an ideal alternative? No. Nothing replaces the feel and action of a live series, especially the summer WSOP at the Rio in Las Vegas.

Did it work? Yes. Not only did it offer a way to reach out to players, it actually paved the way for many new players to participate. Without having to pay for the airfare, hotel, and other accommodations of traveling to the United States, more players could compete online without additional expenses.

So, the WSOP transformed its 101-event live WSOP summer schedule into an 85-event schedule for online players. WSOP.com hosted 31 of those events in Nevada and New Jersey with solid results.

The other 54 events took place on GGPoker for players outside of the United States. Those did well, too. And it all culminated in a massive “WSOP Main Event” that offered 23 starting flights, several reentries, a half-price buy-in of $5K, and a $25 million guarantee. In the end, that one tournament garnered 5,802 entries and a $27,559,500 prize pool, one that set a Guinness World Record.

2020 Main Event (For Real This Time)

It seems that the WSOP still wanted something else in 2020. Despite setting a Guinness record for what they previously deemed the Main Event, the World Series of Poker announced this week that there will be another Main Event.

This one is officially called the WSOP 2020 Main Event and will combine online and live poker in the US and internationally. It will be a more traditional event, more closely mimicking the one in Las Vegas each year. It will require a $10K buy-in ($9,600 + $400) and offer no reentries. Players will receive 60K chips and play 30-minute levels.

The announcement dictated this schedule for players in the United States, who must be in located in Nevada or New Jersey at the time of the tournament on WSOP.com.

–Sunday, December 13, noon PST:  Day 1 with 20 levels of play (6 hours of late registration)

–Monday, December 14, noon PST:  Day 2 to play down to 9 final tablists

–Monday, December 28:  Final table play to a winner

The US final table will play out at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. However, if any player tests positive for Covid-19 prior to play, it will disqualify that person from competing at the final table. That person will receive ninth-place money.

Presumably, all players traveling to Las Vegas for the US final table will receive complimentary travel and hotel accommodations.

International players will play on GGPoker in much the same fashion, except there will be three starting flights to accommodate larger player fields. Starting times will presumably be announced at a later date.

–Sunday, November 29:  Day 1A

–Saturday, December 5:  Day 1B

–Sunday, December 6:  Day 1C

–Monday, December 7:  Day 2 to play down to 9 final tablists

–Tuesday, December 15:  Final table play to a winner

The international final table will play out at King’s Casino in the Czech Republic.

All final table players will have the option of accepting ninth-place prize money and foregoing the travel to the respective casinos, since it is very likely that the pandemic will be presenting dangers next month. If governments implement travel restrictions or mandate live casino closures prior to the final tables, the WSOP may decide to reschedule or play the final tables online.

But Wait, There’s More

There will be two winners by the end of December 15, probably.

It seems that the two tournament winners will then meet at the Rio in Las Vegas on Wednesday, December 30 to play a heads-up match for television. ESPN will film the match that will award $1 million – contributed by the WSOP and GGPoker – to the winner. That winner will also receive the championship bracelet and the title of 2020 WSOP Main Event World Champion.

It is unclear, however, if the ESPN coverage will be aired live in the United States and if those in any other countries will be able to view it.

WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart noted, “There must be a world champion in 2020. Poker’s history is too important. It’s a unique format for the Main Event, but this is a unique year. We want to keep players’ health and safety top of mind and still deliver a great televised showcase for the game we love.”

Again, presumably, the WSOP will handle flight and hotel accommodations for the international player.

There are potential problems.

The obvious problem is the chance of coronavirus restrictions that prevent a person from finding a flight to the United States or flying due to a positive Covid-19 test.

Another issue is that GGPoker allows players to compete at the age of 18, but the US requires players to be 21 to gamble. Should the winner of the international tournament at King’s be less than 21 years old, the WSOP will need to find an alternative location.

Both of these possible scenarios would change the date of the final heads-up match.

The World Series of Poker hopes to bypass those possible hurdles and declare a 2020 champion in person at the Rio and on ESPN.

Information is likely to be released in the coming days and weeks regarding satellites. The WSOP website notes that WSOP.com will offer freerolls to the Main Event and satellites for as little as $1, but details are not yet available on the website. GGPoker does not have a landing page for the tournament yet, so satellite information will likely be forthcoming there, too.

 

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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