Lots could have gone wrong this year but it looks like the 2021 World Series of Poker went as smoothly as it could have during a pandemic.
The numbers were big considering the pandemic
The 2021 World Series of Poker has just come to an end after an unprecedented return. It was two years in the making, came during a pandemic, took place later than usual in the year, required vaccines and masks, and needed a last minute change to the WSOP schedule.
I wrote a lot about the WSOP in the build up to the event. I had some of the more negative takes on what potential disasters could befall the series given the current state of the world. It was nothing against the WSOP itself, I was glad it was taking place and felt they did everything they realistically could under the circumstances. It was just that the pandemic wasn’t over and in particular the divisive topic of vaccine passports in America made it look likely that something was going to go wrong with that many people under the same roof.
While a lot of what I was concerned about did actually come to bare (there were complaints about dealers, cases did go up near the end, there were accusations of fake vaccine passports) it was relatively minor. I think the WSOP was a big success all things considered.
A lot of marketable stories
Jungleman had one of the memorable victories
The numbers were great and there were a lot of marketable stories that came out of it. Hellmuth’s bracelet and final table record, a major Hellmuth blowup, a back-to-back-to-back winner, lots of players winning their third/fourth/fifth career bracelet, lots of players winning two bracelets in a year, a very memorable Jungleman win and a fiercely contested Player of the Year race, to name but a few.
The Main Event looked like it was a big success too. 6,650 runners is very respectable when you consider that unvaccinated players were unable to play and most of the rest of the world had a very short window of time to get there to play it. The manner in which the WSOP were able to reflexively change the schedule to accommodate the late influx of players was impressive.
We also got a well deserving champion who likely will be a great ambassador for the game in the form of Koray Aldemir.
COVID did not skyrocket
Hellmuth broke more records
COVID cases went up near the end of the series which is not good, in fact we probably won’t know how bad they were until the next week or two. However, it happened near the end and if most of us are being honest it was nowhere near as bad, anecdotal numbers wise, as most of our worst case scenarios we had imagined before the series started.
It could certainly be the case that the infection numbers were bad all the time but everybody kept silent so they could still play, but I think that would have been hard to keep secret for long.
So all-in-all it looks like the WSOP was a big success under very difficult circumstances. There is clearly still huge demand for bracelets and the next series, which will be at a new venue and is only six months away, could be the biggest one in the modern era.
Was the 2021 WSOP a success in your eyes? Let us know in the comments:
Barry Carter is the editor of PokerStrategy.com and the co-author of The Mental Game of Poker 1 & 2, Poker Satellite Strategy, PKO Poker Strategy & the new book Endgame Poker Strategy