In 2020, the regular World Series of Poker 2020 had to be cancelled for the first time in its 51-year history due to the Corona pandemic. Instead, an online poker series was organized, half of which took place in the USA in the official WSOP Nevada and New Jersey online poker rooms and half outside the USA in the global online poker room GGPoker.
Merger of the two poker giants WSOP and GGPoker
The WSOP and GGPoker joined forces with a lot of organizational effort for a hybrid online live Main Event. Instead of making the usual pilgrimage to colorful Las Vegas, players entered tournaments online and then met at a live final table. The 51st edition of the world’s most popular poker tournament series was therefore significantly different from previous tournament series due to the pandemic.
A new feature was that players from outside the US could also participate in the online bracelet events. These events were held on the GGPoker platform. And players in the two US states of New Jersey and Nevada played a different series of online bracelet events on WSOP.com just like in previous years. Spread across the two different online poker platforms, a total of 85 online bracelet events then took place.
The WSOP.com Online Poker Event
In 2020, most of the World Series of Poker events were held over the Internet between July 1 and September 6, 2020. Unfortunately, the traditional summer festival of live events, usually held in June and July suburban Las Vegas, had to be cancelled. Although the organizers remained optimistic that the live WSOP events would be held in the fall, unfortunately that didn’t work out.
Things got underway in early July when U.S. players played for a WSOP gold bracelet on WSOP.com. A total of 31 bracelet events were held for the US players. They all had to be physically located in the two states. In addition, the organizers arranged it so that there was a bracelet event every day in July, which always kept the excitement high.
There were 101 tournaments with the poker variants No-Limit-Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, Razz Seven Card Stud, 2-7 Lowball Draw and different mixed poker variants like H.O.R.S.E, 8- and 9-Game.
The GGPoker online poker event
The internationally scattered players got their first opportunity to participate in an online WSOP bracelet event on July 19. It was hosted by the fastest growing online poker network in recent years, GGPoker. The schedule of all these events extended until September 6. The tournament was particularly interesting as it broke many records.
Of the total 85 bracelets that could be won in the 2020 COVID year, 54 were for the GGPoker tournaments alone. Also interesting were the many different events, some of which also went down in history. For example, the $50 Big 50 was the lowest buy-in event in WSOP history. In addition, for the first time there were also a total of four so-called “People’s Choice” tournaments. This allowed international players to vote on which game they wanted to play.
The GGPoker Online series culminated on August 16, when the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event began. This event had a guaranteed prize pool of $25 million, making it the largest in online poker historically. Interested viewers could stream the games of the 12 final tables of the series live via Poker Central and GGPoker.TV.
The Poker Series 2020 ended with the World Champion Tournament
Towards the end of the year, the Main Event was held, which consisted of online poker tournaments and live poker tournaments. This was also about choosing the world champion of the year 2020. The $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event was held in a different format and began on November 29 for international players with online tournaments on GGPoker. American players held their tournament on WSOP.com starting on December 13. In the end, both tournaments had new finalists, with the international players meeting at King’s Casino in Rozvadow, Czech Republic on December 15 and the American players meeting at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on December 28 for the final. The winner in Rozvadow was Argentina’s Damian Salas and the winner in Las Vegas was American Joseph Hebert. Both were rewarded with prize money of just over US$1.5 million each.
In the final took place in the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and Damian Sals could prevail there on 03 January 2021. In addition to the official Poker World Champion title, he took home a winner’s bonus of 1 million US dollars.
Outlook for the WSOP 2021
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, long-term planning for the WSOP Main Events remains very difficult. Nevertheless, the WSOP Online Circuit Series has already started on January 14 with the first of a series of many online tournaments. WSOP organizers have not yet decided on the 2021 Main Event schedule at the time of this writing.
However, monthly online circuit events offer players more prize money and opportunities to qualify online. Although many are expressing optimism that the popular live poker events will return to Las Vegas this year, it will likely remain a challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most likely, the 2021 season will again have to be held in the online format.