In June, the organizers of the 2020 Worlds Series of Poker (WSOP) confirmed that the largest poker tournament that normally takes place in Las Vegas would be held online. The announcement that has been made in line with the current situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak fuelled different opinions among poker players worldwide. Many of them said they were pleased that the poker tournament would at least be held in 2020 but others shared some concerns regarding various aspects of this year’s online tournament.
Shaun Deeb, who won the WSOP Player of the Year title in 2018, was among the most eager critics of the idea and explained that many poker players were concerned by the lack of diversity and the low buy-ins. According to critics, the poker event series would miss its true concept with fewer games available. Mr. Deeb further shared that some of the players, including himself, were not happy with the limit of only one poker event daily in the American leg of the tournament.
WSOP’s organizers have responded to the criticism, saying that they have been prepared for what they called a unique chapter in the history of the poker tournament. The executive director of the WSOP, Ty Stewart, described this year’s online format of the tournament as “the esports version of WSOP” and promised it would be a huge thing. As for the smaller number of games included in the 2020 World Series of Poker’s schedule, he explained that the organizers had very little time to make preparations for the online series because of the situation.
Mr. Stewart further noted that the software that is to be used during the poker series is simply not ready to host those kinds of games and there was not enough players’ demand to make organizers run them.
Players Are Concerned about Lower Buy-Ins and Smaller Variety of Poker Games in 2020 WSOP
This year’s schedule of the tournament includes a large number of No-Limit Hold’em (NLHE) events plus some Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) events here and there. It is true what critics say, a major difference between this year’s tournament and the ones held in the previous years exists, especially considering the larger variety of poker games that used to be available.
Lower buy-ins have been another concern for many players, as almost 50% of the American leg events feature a buy-in of $500 or less, unlike previous WSOPs. Some poker pros have not been happy with the new buy-ins, because they simply do not want to see less-experienced competitors dilute the player pool. Normally, games featuring 5-figure buy-ins attract a group of players who are very different from the ones attracted by a game with a lower buy-in and this has a major impact on the dynamics of the game.
In 2018 and 2019, the organizers of the tournaments made sure not only the most popular tournament poker variants were available but also plenty of games, including H.O.R.S.E, Dealer’s Choice, Razz and Seven Card Stud. Previous years have seen other variants, such as double-stack and bounty events, too, but the 2020 schedule does not include any of them.
Considering the recent coronavirus outbreak and the continuing Covid-19 situation, up until several months ago, organizers of the WSOP were unsure whether the tournament would be held in 2020. Still, they decided to hold it online.