Just 49 days before the new year, the World Series of Poker has announced that there will indeed be a $10,000 WSOP main event world champion decided in 2020.
Despite the doubt created by a global pandemic, the WSOP sent out a press release on Friday, Nov. 13 revealing that the biggest and richest poker tournament in the world would take place for the 51st consecutive year.
The 2020 WSOP main event will once again feature a $10,000 buy-in, with no-limit hold’em as the game. While those basic facts remain the same, quite a lot will be different for this main event.
“There must be a World Champion in 2020,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. “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.”
“Due to travel restrictions, and out of an abundance of caution for player safety, this year’s format will be unique, where early round play will begin online with one entry on WSOP.com or GGPoker.com, before shifting to a live setting for final table action on two continents,” said the press release from the WSOP. “Each ‘bracket’ will pay out prize money to tournament entrants independently. The final table will be a world’s first, as an ultimate heads-up duel for the World Championship, where $1 million in prize money will be on the line courtesy of Caesars Entertainment, Inc. and GGPoker. The Main Event will be held consistent to the traditional ‘freeze-out’ standards of the Main Event, offering only single entry, as well as the longest levels and deepest stacks ever offered on the online platform.”
There will essentially be both a US-facing and international main event which will be run online and play down to a final table. The two events will then play out those final tables live at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and the King’s Casino Rozvadov, with the two champions of those events meeting in a final heads-up showdown for the ultimate title and an added $1 million prize.
The ‘Domestic Tournament’ kicks off on Sunday, Dec. 13, and will be available to all players within the borders or Nevada and New Jersey. The final table is expected to be set the following day. The last nine players standing will reconvene on Monday, Dec. 28 to play to a winner. ESPN is set to air coverage of the event, featuring commentary from Lon McEachern and Norman Chad.
The ‘International Tournament’ will feature three starting flights on Nov. 29, and Dec. 5 and 6. The final table is scheduled to be set on Dec. 7, with the live final table at King’s Casino on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
“All in-person tournaments, domestic and international, will be subject to special COVID rules and procedures, the details of which will be published at a later date and will require players to undergo a required health screening prior to live participation,” the WSOP noted in their release. “All participants must agree to abide by all applicable rules.”
The final heads-up showdown between the domestic and international winners will take place at the Rio on Dec. 30, with the championship gold bracelet and the $1 million in added prize money on the line.
The WSOP was set to award a record number of gold bracelets this year, with 101 events originally planned to run from late May through the middle of July, but was indefinitely put on hold along with the rest the live poker scene during the early months of the pandemic.
The series joined a number of other high-profile poker tournaments in hosting an online version of their events during the spring and summer months. The WSOP Online awarded 85 gold bracelets from the start of July through early September, with events spread across two separate online poker platforms. A total of 283,983 entries were made throughout the series, with $174.5 million in prize money awarded along the way.