Shuffle Up And Deal: WSOP Will Return In 2020 With Hybrid Format

Written By Marc Meltzer on November 13, 2020

The final table of the Main Event at the World Series of Poker will take place live and in person at Rio All-Suites & Casino on Dec. 28.

The WSOP decided earlier this year to postpone the world’s largest poker tournament until the fall. That season came and went, unfortunately. But, the WSOP will happen in 2020.

The December tournament will take place as a hybrid online and live version of the $10,000 No-Limit Hold-Em World Championship. This year’s tournament will also pit a US winner against an international winner.

The Main Event at WSOP will begin for international players on Sunday, Nov. 29, and in the US on Sunday, Dec. 13. While the tournament will come late in the year, sneaking in a 2020 installment was crucial, according to WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart.

“There must be a World Champion in 2020. 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.”

New hybrid WSOP format

The scaled-back and reimagined WSOP will be different for players. The majority of non-poker players who only watch the Main Event on TV, however, might not see much of a difference.

The new hybrid format came as a result of travel restrictions as well as remaining cautious for player safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s format will certainly be unique.

Early round events will begin online with one entry per player on or The action will then move to live events for final table action on two continents.

There will be two brackets for the 2020 WSOP. Each will pay out prize money to tournament entrants independently. The final table will be a distinctive event that takes place as a heads-up game for the World Championship with $1 million in prize money on the line.

The Main Event will be held with traditional “freeze-out” standards and will limit one entry per person. The Main Event will also have the longest levels and deepest stacks ever offered on the online platforms.

WSOP online tournaments only in Nevada or New Jersey

Note that isn’t legal everywhere in the US at this time. American players will only be able to compete in the Main Event online in either New Jersey or Nevada starting Dec. 13.

Dates for the domestic portion of the WSOP:

  • Day 1: Dec. 13
  • Day 2: Dec. 14 (Will stop when the tournament is down to 9 players)
  • Final Table: Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Dec. 28. (Will play until there’s a winner)

The $10,000 event is expected to take two full days to reach the final table. WSOP will suspend play for an overnight break after approximately twelve hours of action. Once the field has been whittled down to a final table, the tournament will break for two weeks before the final nine players travel to Las Vegas to play the final table at the Rio.

Players who reach the final table will be subject to special COVID-19 rules and procedures. All players will be required to have health screening prior to live participation.

If a player tests positive for COVID-19 prior to the start of final table play, they will be disqualified. That player will receive the minimum final table payout. If one of the final table players chooses not to fly to Las Vegas, they can forfeit their chip stack and will receive the minimum final table payout.

The final table will be recorded for television and aired on ESPN with commentary from Lon McEachern and Norman Chad.

The final event: domestic vs. international Heads-Up Championship

The final WSOP event of the year will take place at the Rio on Dec. 30. Winners of the domestic and international WSOP tournaments will meet in Vegas for a televised showdown.

In addition to the prize money earned during US and international tournaments, the winner of this world heads-up championship will take home $1 million. It should be noted that this could change if the winner of the international series is younger than 21 years old.

Both live events could move online or be rescheduled for a later date if there are new travel restrictions or if casinos have to close due to the spread of coronavirus.

Rio reopening shortly before WSOP

The news about the WSOP live event in Las Vegas comes shortly after Caesars announced that the Rio will reopen to the public at 10 a.m. on Dec. 22.

The Rio will only partially reopen in December, however. While the casino and many amenities, such as restaurants and bars, will be open seven days a week, the hotel will only take reservations for suites Thursday through Sunday.

This will also be the debut of another William Hill sportsbook at a Caesars Las Vegas casino.

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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He’s the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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