2020 World Series of Poker Postponed Because of COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Caesars hopes to run the WSOP in the fall with an adjusted schedule
  • Will expand online tournament schedule on WSOP.com and with international partners
  • Live poker schedule will depend on ability to keep guests and staff safe
  • Daniel Negreanu one of many poker players who expected, approve of postponement
Red, white, and blue WSOP poker chips
Caesars Entertainment has postponed the 2020 World Series of Poker because of the COVID-19 pandemic. [Image: Logan Ingalls via Flickr.com]

WSOP looking toward fall 2020

As the United States and the world continue to reel from the COVID-19 pandemic, Caesars Entertainment announced that the 2020 World Series of Poker has been postponed. There are no confirmed dates yet, but the hope is to ramp things back up in the fall.

the schedule will be “revisited” and “changes are anticipated”

The World Series of Poker said the schedule will be “revisited” and “changes are anticipated.” Conventional wisdom is that this implies that the number of tournaments will be reduced. There are currently 101 events on the schedule, which was originally slated to run May 27 through July 14.

The World Series of Poker is effectively the last major sporting event to be postponed, canceled, or suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. No major professional sports leagues in the U.S. are playing games, March Madness was canceled, the Tokyo Olympics and the Tour de France were postponed, Wimbledon was canceled, and European soccer leagues and events like Euro 2020 are on hold.

Expanded online offerings being planned

In Monday’s press release, World Series of Poker executive director Ty Stewart said there will still be official WSOP events this summer. These will take place just online instead of at the Rio in Las Vegas. An “expanded series of tournaments” will be on WSOP.com as well as “through partnership with international operators” so that players around the world can compete.

There have been official gold bracelet events on WSOP.com for several years now. 14 WSOP.com bracelet events were scheduled for this summer. They would have only been open to players located in Nevada or New Jersey, as those are the only two states with access to WSOP.com.

With WSOP Circuit events canceled and casinos closed around the country, players in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware were able to play in the WSOP.com Online Super Circuit Series in March. It was a massive success, especially as people are largely staying at home during the pandemic. Thus, the WSOP Super Circuit Online Series on GGPoker in May was recently announced for players outside the U.S.

committed to running the World Series of Poker this year but need additional time”

Regardless of whether the tournaments will be live or online once things get settled, Ty Stewart said safety is paramount. He added: “We are committed to running the World Series of Poker this year but need additional time to proceed on our traditional scale while prioritizing guest and staff well-being.”

It is entirely possible that the decision would have been out of Caesars’ hands, as Nevada’s casinos have all been closed since mid-March by executive order from Governor Steve Sisolak. The order was extended through the end of April and could go longer.

Daniel Negreanu weighs in

Most in the poker community, while disappointed that it had to come to this, approve of the decision to put off the WSOP. Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu, who has always been one to speak his mind, doubted that the series would run as planned back in early March. As such, he was not surprised with the WSOP’s announcement on Monday.

There’s no social distancing in poker”

“At this point, it wasn’t a question of if, it was a question of when,” Negreanu told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “There’s no social distancing in poker. You’re using the same cards and chips, sitting around a table for 10, 12 hours a day.”

For his part, Negreanu thinks having a portion of the events online is a good idea so that there could be at least some WSOP activity, but he doesn’t want the entire series to head to the internet. “I think it would be sort of illegitimate if they did it that way,” he said. “I can’t imagine having bracelets that are only available to Nevada residents.”

Though he himself resides in Nevada, Negreanu is also a brand ambassador for GGPoker, which may end up being one of the international partners to host WSOP events.