After postponing the World Series of Poker, organizers now plan to offer a hybrid $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event. The series announced Friday the biggest event in poker will be played online with live final tables in Europe and the US.
The event incorporates a “split series” setup with US-based players on WSOP.com and international players on GGPoker. Those will play to two separate live final tables with the winners of those meeting heads-up for the title.
The Main Event begins Dec. 13 in the US and Nov. 29 for international players. The announcement may not please fans hoping for a full slate of live events. However, with travel restrictions because of COVID-19, organizers didn’t have many options.
“There must be a world champion in 2020,” WSOP executive director Ty Stewart said in a news release. “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.”
How will the 2020 WSOP Main Event work?
After offering bracelet events online this summer, the Main Event now caps a huge year at WSOP.com and GGPoker. Players can certainly expect a unique format now for the Main Event.
Early round play begins online with one entry allowed on WSOP.com or GGPoker.com. Play then shifts to a live setting for final table action on two continents. Each “bracket” (US and international) will pay out prize money independently.
The traditional “final table” this year transforms into a heads-up duel for the ultimate championship and bracelet. Caesars and GGPoker are putting up $1 million in prize money for that event – in a winner-take-all format.
Players can expect the traditional freezeout format of the Main Event. Organizers also promise “the longest levels and deepest stacks ever offered on the online platform.”
WSOP officials noted in a news release that live tables will be subject to special COVID rules and procedures. Qualifying players will be required to undergo a health screening prior to live participation as well.
Getting in the Main Event in the US
US-based players can get in the Main Event on the WSOP.com platform in either New Jersey or Nevada. The $10,000 event is expected to take two days to reach the final table.
Play will be suspended each day for an overnight break after about 12 hours of action. The tournament will also be paused when play hits the final table.
The final nine players will then travel to Las Vegas for the television taping at the Rio and play to a winner. Here’s a look at the US schedule:
- Day 1 – Sunday, Dec. 13
- Day 2 – Play down to nine players on Monday, Dec. 14
- Final table – Play continues to a winner on Monday, Dec. 28, at the Rio in Las Vegas
How can international players participate in the WSOP Main Event?
Players outside the US can play on GGPoker and have three starting dates to choose from. Play will then follow a similar pattern as in the US with play paused for the final nine competitors.
That final table is then set to play out at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, with a live television taping. Here’s a look at the complete international schedule:
- Day 1A – Sunday, Nov. 29
- Day1B – Saturday, Dec. 5
- Day 1C – Sunday, Dec. 6
- Day 2 – Play down to nine players on Monday, Dec. 7
- Final table – Play continues to a winner on Tuesday, Dec.15 at King’s Casino in Czech Republic
WSOP officials make note that any COVID-related issues could alter these plans. The tournament could continue online or be rescheduled if there are travel restrictions or a casino shutdown in December.
Showdown for the bracelet in Las Vegas
After all that has taken place, the US and international winners will head to Las Vegas on Dec. 30. The winner snags the shiny championship bracelet and a million bucks.
There could be one additional issue with this plan however. While players must be 21 to gamble in Nevada, it’s 18 in the Czech Republic. If the international winner is under 21, the WSOP will change the date and location of the heads-up final.
Once again, ESPN will air coverage of the 2020 Main Event featuring Lon McEachern and Norman Chad.
“We’re very happy to continue to deepen our relationship with WSOP,” GGPoker head of poker operations Steve Preiss said. “It was a huge summer of record-setting action on GGPoker and we’re excited to offer players access to the biggest tournament of all.”
Promotions, satellites, special room rates planned
While this event may be quite different, players have a great opportunity to qualify at a minimal price point. WSOP.com and GGPoker have no shortage of Main Event satellites planned.
Qualifiers will be available on both sites for as little $1. Players can also look for weekly freerolls offering $10,000 seats.
For many, this year’s Main Event might mean heading to Nevada or New Jersey for many players. Caesars is planning special Main Event room rates at several resorts in each state.
Online WSOP Main Event nuts and bolts
Players looking to play online should make note of a few caveats. Players can create and fund an online account from anywhere before heading to Nevada and New Jersey.
However, they must be located within state borders to play. New players may also require document verification and are highly encouraged to register early.
There are also plans for WSOP.com deposit and withdrawal options for the Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nevada. This gives players another nice option in the Silver State.
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