Anticipating Changes For 2022 World Series of Poker

The 2022 World Series of Poker will be different. At the very least, the Las Vegas series will be very different from the past 17 years. The WSOP will be held at a new casino – two casinos – on the Las Vegas Strip. And with some luck, the pandemic will be more under control so the series can thrive as it had done prior to 2020.

The Missing Year

For the first time in more than 50 years, the World Series of Poker cancelled its live tournaments in 2020. It was unprecedented but inevitable. Coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions prevented most world travel during the summer months, and most casinos were not even operating at half-capacity after their initial closures in March and April 2020. There was, quite simply, no way to realistically host a safe live WSOP that year.

It was a heartbreaking decision for World Series organizers and players alike.

There had been so much momentum building in the past few years, prior to 2020. And that was all a part of a long recovery from Black Friday, which was the day in April 2011 when the United States government confiscated online poker sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. It essentially closed off American players from global online poker action, at least for the most part and for quite a few years. (Even now, PokerStars and partypoker operate only in a few American states per localized laws.)

While the WSOP did take many tournaments online in 2020, both in those few American states and internationally at GGPoker and Natural8. But it wasn’t the same.

Pre-Pandemic Growth

Looking at the overall numbers for the pre-2020 series, it had taken awhile to recover from the Black Friday damage, but it was happening.

The 2017 WSOP in Las Vegas offered 74 bracelet events at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino’s Convention Center. That included four online events for those in Nevada (and New Jersey via a combined player pool), too. There was a total of 120,995 players in attendance from 111 countries. And the entire series awarded $231,010,874.

In 2018, the WSOP reported 123,865 players over the course of 78 events, only the second year for the series to record more than 120K entries. That year’s players hailed from 104 nations and created a cumulative prize pool of $266,889,193.

The 2019 WSOP grew even more significantly with 187,298 entries over the course of its 89 bracelet events. It was the 50th anniversary of the series as well, prompting special events and a series for the history books regardless of the results. The series, in total, awarded $293,183,345 in prize money.

This year’s 2021 Las Vegas WSOP featured 98 events, including ten online ones. The WSOP did not provide a number of entries across all events, but some calculated 127,245. But the WSOP did provide a cumulative prize pool awarded of $237,384,863. Those numbers were all down from the past two years but not far off from the 2018 numbers.

The Main Event didn’t have the same outcome. It was not as well attended as the rest of the series overall. The 2021 Main Event may have only been the tenth largest in 52 years, but the WSOP Europe Main Event this year was the largest in its history. Considering travel restrictions – with only a last-minute availability for international players to fly directly into the US at last-minute prices – many Europeans opted for the WSOPE in the Czech Republic.

Some Return to Normalcy in 2022

During the livestream of this year’s World Series of Poker final table from Las Vegas, the commentators – Norman Chad, Lon McEachern, and Jamie Kerstetter – confirmed two things about the 2022 WSOP. First, they announced that it will take place at a combination of the Paris and Bally’s casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. Second, they revealed that it will move back to the summer season in Vegas – from 31 May to 19 July.

The location change was not a surprise, as WSOP owner Caesars Entertainment sold the Rio as a part of a larger merger with Eldorado Resorts several years ago. The only unknown was where the WSOP would go. It needed to be at a Caesars property, but it was going to be tough to find a casino with ample parking and a large enough convention center to host the action.

So, instead of choosing one casino, they chose two Caesars properties. Bally’s and Paris are connected and share some communal space. Each has its own convention center. It appears that the WSOP will host starting days of tournaments in one of them and final tables and televised action in another.

This creates questions for pros who like to multi-table and fans who want to see pros in action in various events. It also creates logistical issues for staffing and media. However, the WSOP reportedly did some test runs of tournament action and worked it out. Further notifications from management will give a better idea of how it will run.

As for the dates, most poker players prefer the June-July series because it is easier to take vacation time from work in the summer, and parents need not worry about their kids in school. Some players can make their poker action a part of family trips. The Las Vegas heat is not ideal, but players have gotten used to the contrast between the air-conditioned indoors and blazing-hot outdoors through the years.

Introducing Vince Vaughn

For the first time, the WSOP announced that the 2022 WSOP will have a Master of Ceremonies. And that person is famous actor Vince Vaughn.

Many fans will recognize Vaughn from his breakout 1996 hit film Swingers, but he is also well-known for roles in comedies like Dodgeball from 2004 and Wedding Crashers from 2005. Since then, though, Vaughn has branched out from comedies to work in dramas like the HBO series True Detective. He is also an accomplished film writer and developer.

Vaughn appeared at the 2021 WSOP Main Event and participated in a bounty tournament, even participating in days of WSOP commentary on the PokerGO livestream.

The official press release revealed that Vaughn commented on his association with the WSOP: “I have such a strong connection to Las Vegas and am honored to be selected as the Master of Ceremonies for what is set to be the most anticipated World Series of Poker tournament ever. Poker has long been one of my favorite sports, so to be a part of something as historic as the WSOP finally moving to the Strip is an absolute dream. Vegas, baby, Vegas!”

Upcoming Information

The WSOP said that it will release initial information about the 2022 World Series in January. Within the next few weeks, we should know some key things, such as start-end dates, Main Event dates, and any online events.

The one thing that will remain an unknown factor for the next several months (at least) is pandemic protocols. The latest coronavirus variant and the recent case surge have created setbacks that will undoubtedly carry into the new year. More event cancellations and lockdowns recently went into effect around the world, and travel restrictions are appearing, too.

With some luck, science, and more vaccines, the WSOP does have a chance of returning to some sort of normalcy in 2022.

 

 

Rose Varrelli avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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