More WSOP Circuit Changes and WSOP Summer Update

More WSOP Circuit Changes and WSOP Summer Update

The coronavirus pandemic hit the World Series of Poker hard in March and April. And the situation has only gotten worse, as the latest announcements cancelled even more WSOP Circuit events on the US-based and international schedules.

Meanwhile, the biggest question in poker looms large. Will there be a World Series of Poker in Las Vegas this summer?

The 51st Annual WSOP hangs in the balance as all casinos in Las Vegas – across the entire United States and Canada as well – remain closed. For now, most casinos are ordered to remain closed, at least those in Nevada, through the end of April. The trajectory of the COVID-19 spread in the coming weeks will dictate whether or not that date will be extended.

This is not the spring anticipation for poker for which the WSOP hoped.

More WSOP Circuit Cancellations

When the WSOP Circuit had to cancel its first stops in March, they were done with the caveat that they would be rescheduled. At that time, the WSOP Circuit merely postponed those tour stops.

It started with changes to the WSOP-C international stop at King’s Casino in Rozvadov. Organizers and casino management decided to remove the guarantees on the prize pool, as the casino banned players from Italy.

Days later, the changes came more swiftly. King’s Casino events had to stop midway through the series due to government restrictions on group gatherings.

The WSOP also cancelled the April stop at Casino Barriere le Croisette in Cannes and the St. Maarten island series. On the US side, the WSOP cancelled its Harah’s Atlantic City, Bicycle Casino Los Angeles, and Hard Rock Tulsa series before they concluded. And they cancelled the March stops at Bally’s Las Vegas, April action at Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina.

Another few days later, the WSOP was forced to cancel the Horseshoe Council Bluffs.

The latest round of cancellations came over the past week as Nevada and other states – and other countries – continued their shutdowns through April as the coronavirus continued to spread. The latest came with a caveat, “Should new dates be established, they will be announced.” This replaced the former statements of events expected to resume or simply postponed.

Those on the new list included the international stops at Deerfoot Inn in Calgary and Club Pierre Charron in Paris, both previously scheduled to start in May. And on the US side, the WSOP axed the Horseshoe Tunica stop for late April.

As of April 4, these stops remain:

–May 7-18 at Harrah’s New Orleans in Louisiana

–May 30-June 7 at Casino de Marrakech in Morocco

–June 11-21 at Casino Barcelona in Spain

The Louisiana stop is in jeopardy due to the recent rise in coronavirus cases in New Orleans. It is unclear if the disease spread will diminish enough by May to warrant the casino opening or the tournament happening.

Status of WSOP in Las Vegas

The biggest question in most poker players’ minds pertains to the probability of the 2020 World Series of Poker moving forward in Las Vegas.

The WSOP had revealed all 101 events of the summer schedule by the end of February, and organizers were then releasing information about the daily non-bracelet tournaments. Announcements likely waiting in the wings were ones regarding various leaderboards for the summer Player of the Year races, the opening of online registration for bracelet events, and the ultimate final schedule with structures.

But as the virus spread and casinos closed, the WSOP had more important announcements.

The WSOP’s official statement on the 2020 WSOP was at the bottom of the WSOP Circuit cancellation notice. It read:

“As it relates to the summer WSOP in Las Vegas, we are monitoring COVID-19 developments very carefully, and it is scheduled to be held as planned. With this situation continuing to evolve, we will provide further updates on any additional changes to our scheduled tournaments on WSOP.com. Thank you.”

CardPlayer interviewed WSOP VP of Corporate Communications Seth Palansky this week about the subject in more detail. His initial statement reflects the aforementioned notice, as he told CardPlayer, “Everyone’s health and safety is paramount in the decision making, and there is no need to make a decision today.”

Palansky noted that WSOP officials are relying on health experts and regulatory leaders to make an ultimate decision. He also said that they will make a decision next month at the earliest, though it is unclear if he meant April or May, since the article was published on April 3.

While he insisted that the health and safety of all players is the sole consideration, Palansky also said that there is no way to “pick up and move the event and find an eight-week hole in the convention center calendar.” In addition, he said the desire to keep the 2,000-plus employees of the WSOP working this summer is also a key decision and spurs their optimism.

And of course, Palansky did note the “potentially huge financial implications” of cancelling or trying to reschedule the 51st Annual World Series of Poker.

Palansky made it clear that he will not announce any decisions quickly or without massive considerations.

Poker Player Feelings

The poker community seems quite divided as to whether the WSOP should be held this summer or not. At the end of March, this Twitter post and the resulting comments indicate that many players are still willing to go to the WSOP in Las Vegas, but many others believe it is much too dangerous.

An ongoing poll on the Two Plus Two forum in the thread regarding coronavirus and the WSOP, more than 530 players already voted:

–32.96% never planned to attend

–20.41% definitely won’t attend

–17.04% probably won’t attend

–12.92% probably will attend

–16.67% definitely will attend.

Of the players who planned to attend, more of them are unlikely to attend if the schedule remains the same, but the margin is still closer than one may think.

There are multiple other factors in play, both for the WSOP and its players. For the WSOP, a lot depends upon the reopening date for the Rio and the CDC guidelines for travel and life in general. For players, there are a lot more considerations, including the availability of flights and hotel rooms, the option of taking time off from work to play poker after months of work-at-home situations or complete shutdowns, safety measures implemented at the Rio and other hotels, and the option of having or using discretionary income in a time of great economic uncertainty.

Logically, the WSOP doesn’t need to make a decision until late April or early May. With consideration to players, though, sooner would be better.

All professional sports leagues have cancelled their seasons, and most don’t anticipate any opportunity to restart until July or August, perhaps September. However, most poker tours cancelled their tour stops only through April and most of May. They are waiting on further guidance for bigger decisions.

The WSOP will do the same.

 

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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