One of the major debates this year has been the cancellation of the world’s richest poker festival, the World Series of Poker (WSOP). The series stands out on the poker calendar, with hundreds and thousands of players flocking to the middle of the Nevada desert hoping to grab the gold bracelet.
However, with the global spread of coronavirus that has the potential to cancel the event as most of the participant will have to fly in from across the globe. As we look around, some of the major tournament series marked in our 2020 calendars have been called off. Even the prestigious and one of the oldest brands, World Poker Tour (WPT) postponed their events.
A few months ago, professional poker players like Doug Polk, Mike McDonald and Josh Reichard were betting on how COVID-19 would impact on WSOP 2020. Slated to start on 26 May at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Right now, the series is expected to run but things could change as the virus is spreading at an alarming rate.
The latest out of the WSOP camp was last week’s, “We keep our heads down, keep planning in place. We don’t need to make a decision now,” from Seth Palansky, the VP of corporate communications for the WSOP who further said, “Things are changing not just daily but hourly now. We’ll continue to monitor everything.”
The poker community seems to be quite split about whether the 51st annual WSOP should go ahead or not. Zachery Elwood tweeted asking, “If WSOP were held in May would you still go.” And surprisingly it turns out, several diehard players willing to play regardless of the current situation.
Three weeks ago, even six-time WSOP bracelet winner, Daniel Negreanu doubted if the series will go ahead. And in the recent interview he explained, “Personally, I don’t see a WSOP happening this summer. Maybe it happens in the fall, but I would be really surprised if all this blows over by then. There really isn’t much you can do to safeguard a poker tournament from the spread of germs.”
The 2018 champion John Cynn tweeted asking why people are pressuring events that are 2-3 months away.
However, there are plenty of things to be considered. Many poker player players must have already booked their travel plans for summer in Vegas and if the situation calms by May and social distancing is no longer necessary the WSOP might happen.
Last year’s festival saw 8,569 entries in the Main Event alone, with 87 countries represented as well as every state of the USA, and California topping the list with 1,057 entrants. Numbers for the 6-week festival rise well above 100k players, without including dealers, organising staff, TV crews and so on.
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