2021 World Series of Poker $10,000 Main Event Kicks Off

  • With US travel restrictions lightened, the WSOP added two more Day 1s
  • The 2021 WSOP Main Event final table will span November 16-17
  • PokerGO is providing most of the broadcast coverage via live stream
  • Hossein Ensan won the 2019 Main Event, while Damian Salas won the 2020 hybrid Main Event
Pavilion Room at the WSOP
It is a busy weekend at the 2021 World Series of Poker, as the $10,000 Main Event has begun. [Image: PokerGO.com]

Extra starting flights

Two years after what most poker players consider the last “real” Main Event, the 2021 World Series of Poker $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em World Championship is underway. The two-week marathon tournament began yesterday, November 4, and will run through November 17.

the WSOP added Days 1E and 1F to the previously scheduled Days 1A-1D

This year’s WSOP Main Event features six starting flights, up from the original four. Just a few weeks ago, the US eased inbound travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means international players suddenly had an easier time getting to Las Vegas. As such, the WSOP added Days 1E and 1F to the previously scheduled Days 1A-1D to give players from outside the US a better chance to play in the Main Event.

There is one opening flight each day November 4-9. The survivors from Days 1A, 1B, and 1D will play in their respective Day 2s next Tuesday, November 9, the same day as the last starting flight. Days 2C, 2E, and 2F will be on November 10. Day 3 is on November 11 and is the first day of the Main Event where all remaining players will be combined into a single, unified field.

From there, the action keeps going every day. The nine-handed final table will be determined on November 15. The final table will then begin on November 16 and play down to four players, with a champion crowned on November 17.

The WSOP expects that the field will hit the money early on Day 4, around Level 17.

Coverage primarily on the internet

This year, PokerGO is live streaming the WSOP Main Event every day except, coincidentally, today. The poker streaming network is not broadcasting the tournament in its entirety, opting to begin coverage at 4:30pm PT most days, likely because those are the hours it can maximize eyeballs.

Coverage begins at 2pm PT on Saturday, November 13 and Sunday, November 14, and at 12:30pm PT on Monday, November 15, which is the day the tournament will get down to the final table.

ESPN had broadcast the World Series of Poker since 1987, including the last 19 consecutive years, but in April, the WSOP it switched its television partner to the CBS Sports Network. CBS Sports is producing 15 hours of Main Event coverage plus 36 hours of other WSOP events.

How the final table will be covered remains to be seen. For many years, ESPN aired every hand of the Main Event final table on a 30-minute delay (to obey Nevada regulations), no matter how long the days lasted. On its schedule, PokerGO is showing that it is not starting its coverage until 4:30pm PT each day of the final table, even though the official WSOP schedule says the days will begin at 1:30pm PT. CBS Sports does not seem to be covering any of it, unless the network’s listings simply have not been updated yet.

A rocky couple years

The last World Series of Poker Main Event winner in pre-pandemic times was Hossein Ensan in 2019, who bested a field of 8,569 to win $10m. It was the second-largest Main Event after the 2006 edition, which had 8,773 entrants and was won by Jamie Gold.

COVID-19 changed things, as the traditional, live WSOP in Las Vegas was canceled (and this year’s was moved to the fall). From the pandemic sprung loads of internet-based events, including the WSOP Online, held on WSOP.com for players in New Jersey and Nevada and on GGPoker for players internationally.

GGPoker’s schedule culminated with the $5,000 Main Event, won by Stoyan Madanzhiev.

The WSOP surprised everybody, though, when it later announced an “official” $10,000 Main Event. It was a bit of an oddity, beginning on both WSOP.com and GGPoker. The final table of each was played live (in Las Vegas and Rozvadov, Czech Republic, respectively) and then the winner of each played at the Rio heads-up for the bracelet and an additional $1m in prize money. Damian Salas ended up beating Joseph Hebert for the title.

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