World Series of Poker officials announced a vaccine requirement on Friday for anyone playing or working in the festival this fall. The series mandates players show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
The event returns to live play at the Rio beginning Sept. 30 and running through Nov. 23. The vaccine decision came after other major events are committing to vaccination requirements as well.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly – it is made with no agenda beyond protecting player eligibility and the operations of a unique televised gaming event,” WSOP executive director Ty Stewart said in a news release.
“The nature of poker is to be in close proximity with your opponents for extended periods of time, and a seat at the World Series of Poker is a commitment for both our company and the participants. We want players to be excited for their return to the WSOP, while offering the greatest level of protection and limiting complications during the tournament this fall.”
A look at the WSOP policy
The series announced earlier in August that players who are vaccinated won’t be required to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19 and asymptomatic. The new policy now makes vaccination mandatory for all players.
How will that process look in an event that attracts thousands of players each day?
Participants need to show proof of full vaccination one time, upon first registration. This then makes a player eligible to play in WSOP events.
The WSOP will use CLEAR’s free mobile app and Health Pass feature. Players successfully adding proof of vaccination through the app may go directly to the registration cage tellers at the Rio in Las Vegas.
The WSOP will also provide an on-site center to verify alternate documentation including:
- physical vaccination cards
- state or country-specific health passes
To be considered “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19, participants must receive their final vaccine dose 14 days prior to the start date of a tournament they plan on playing. This policy is inclusive of all:
Consistent with current CDC guidelines and state mandates, all attendees and employees must wear masks as well.
Additionally, fully vaccinated players who may have been exposed to a person testing positive won’t be required to leave the tournament and quarantine if they remain asymptomatic since the time of exposure.
Decision draws mixed reactions
As one might expect, the new policy drew opinions across the spectrum among players. Some players support the decision and see it as a necessary measure to limit the virus’s spread.
“Best decision WSOP has made potentially ever,” one Twitter user responded to the announcement.
Other players noted that the number of vaccinated players testing positive has also been rising in recent months. They argued the vaccination mandate may not matter much.
“Vaccinated are the ones getting infected,” another player said. “Brilliant! Not coming cause I’m fairly sure it’s not going to happen!”
Others also argued that those who have already had COVID have a natural immunity and may not need the vaccine. Whatever the case, the WSOP now mandates a vaccination in all 88 events. It will be interesting to see how this now affects turnout.
★★★ Ready to get in the action at WSOP.com? Click here for a complete site review with exclusive USPoker bonus offers. ★★★