The World Series of Poker announced Thursday that it plans to host a live festival of tournaments at the Rio in Las Vegas this fall, with the action kicking off on Sept. 30.

World Series of Poker WSOP 2021
The World Series of Poker plans to hold its live events in both Las Vegas and Europe later this year. (Image: Isaac Brekken/AP)

WSOP organizers plan to put on a full schedule of events, with the Main Event – the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em World Championship – tentatively beginning on Nov. 4 and wrapping up on Nov. 17.

WSOP organizers: ‘Get vaccinated,’ come to Vegas

The World Series of Poker moved to a hybrid, primarily online format in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In their announcement Thursday, organizers said they will review COVID-19 safety protocols leading up to the festival this fall, and will comply with all Nevada state directives regarding the pandemic.

With vaccination rates rapidly increasing throughout the United States and elsewhere, organizers say they can put on a safe and enjoyable WSOP later in 2021.

“This year, more than ever, we embrace our role at the WSOP to deliver memorable experiences and bring this community of poker lovers back together,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said in a statement. “In 2021, the theme is, get vaccinated and get back to Vegas.”

In 2020, the WSOP organized two sets of online tournaments, one for American players in states with regulated online poker, and one for international players. The domestic version awarded around $27 million in prize money over 31 events, while the international series gave out $150 million in prizes over 45 tournaments.

Those online tournaments will return in 2021, taking the summer position traditionally held by the live WSOP. American events will begin on July 1, and organizers say they will release more information on their online tournament plans later in April.

European festival subject to regulations

Organizers also announced an expected WSOP Europe to take place at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic beginning on Nov. 19. The series would include 15 bracelet events. However, the WSOP warned that this plan is still subject to regulatory approval.

“We hope and anticipate travel restrictions will ease by the fall,” Stewart said. “It’s important to us that we have an excellent tournament schedule available to our European players.”

The WSOP canceled both its live Las Vegas and European tournament series last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 1,379 players entered a hybrid online Main Event – with separate US and international fields – nonetheless, with Damian Salas of Argentina defeating American Joseph Hebert heads-up live at the Rio to win $2.55 million.

While the tournament proved successful under the difficult circumstances, it paled in comparison to previous live WSOP Main Events. In 2019, Hossein Ensan of Germany topped a field of 8,569 competitors to win a $10 million top prize.

Johnny Moss won the first WSOP Main Event, which featured just seven players, in 1970. Every Main Event since 2004 has featured a field of more than 1,000 players, with the 2019 edition holding the record for the largest number of entries.

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