WSOP 2021 Requiring Proof of Full Vaccination Against COVID-19
The 2021 World Series of Poker will be returning to its traditional, in-person format this September. The tournament was handled as an online event in 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, they have decided to hold an in-person tournament once again. However, every person in attendance must show proof of full vaccination status before admission to the event. This includes players, spectators, officials and press members.
The decision is somewhat controversial, but WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart stands behind it. He says, “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.”
The 2021 52nd WSOP returns to live play starting on September 30, 2021. The event will be held at the iconic Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino until November 23, 2021. Requiring proof of vaccination is a measure being taken to avoid potential complications. It also protects players and other attendees so that the tournament can run smoothly.
To be considered fully vaccinated, attendees must receive their final dose 14 days before the tournament start date.
WSOP Officials Are Making Verification as Easy as Possible
Tournament officials are doing their best to make the verification process simple. Participants can use the Health Pass feature from CLEAR’s free mobile app. The app allows users to upload proof of vaccination into their database for more streamlined verification. Anyone who successfully verifies their status through CLEAR can go directly to the registration cage.
Additionally, there will be a separate on-site verification center. Attendees can bring physical cards, alternative documentation and out-of-country health passes. Each person only needs to be verified once for the duration of the tournament.
The tournament will be following all of the current CDC guidelines regarding safety protocols. This means that attendees and team members must wear masks. Social distancing will be more relaxed, but it’s recommended when possible.
Ty Stewart also commented on how seriously the WSOP takes these precautions:
“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.”
Rule 115 Causing Confusion in the Ranks
This year’s tournament rules have sparked some confusion and debate. One rule in particular, the now-infamous Rule 115, required officials to step in and clarify.
Rule 115 states that the Rio reserves the right to remove participants from any WSOP event before or during play if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19. The rule goes on to say that it’s up to the venue’s discretion to determine exposure. If a person is deemed a risk, the rule says they’ll be removed and receive no compensation.
This wording confused and upset many players. Some even said it would prevent them from participating. There was also backlash saying that they were targeting “anti-vaxxers” with the rule.
However, WSOP officials have since clarified the specifics of Rule 115. They made a public statement specifically on Twitter to clear up confusion. The statement read, in part:
“Consistent with current CDC guidelines, WSOP participants who are known to have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 will not be required to leave the tournaments and quarantine if they are fully vaccinated within the appropriate timing parameters and remain asymptomatic since the time of exposure.”
This appeased most players, especially ones who were concerned about incorrect disqualification during bracelet events.
About the 52nd Annual World Series of Poker Tournament
The 2021 opening weekend will kick off with a COVID-19 charity event. It will also feature a $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. and $5 million GTD No-Limit Hold’em event.
The tournament will run from Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, through Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. Reservations are open, and Caesar’s Entertainment resort rewards members can access exclusive discounts.
Ty Stewart is excited to welcome everyone back this year. “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. In 2021, the theme is, get vaccinated and get back to Vegas.”
The Main Event is expected to begin Thursday, Nov. 4 and last through Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.