Wsop 2021 Begins In Las Vegas With Positive Results

The World Series of Poker returned to Las Vegas on 30 September. No one was sure what to expect. Players needed to prove that they had been vaccinated. Employees had to provide all possible protocols to ensure player health. Players had to arrange travel and accommodations…as pandemic numbers remained at a disturbing level. And people from around the world traveling to America had to navigate the restrictions in various countries.

The first week of the 2021 WSOP is now in the books. Enough people figured out what to do to make it happen. From there, it moved on with generally positive responses and respectable numbers.

Cooperation Essential

The restrictions and requirements for this year’s World Series of Poker were far more than in pre-pandemic times. Players and visitors needed to show proof of vaccination. Caesars Entertainment, the World Series of Poker, the Rio Hotel and Casino (and Convention Center) had to abide by state regulations and pandemic protocols. Players had to agree to wear masks when walking around, when anywhere but at the tables; only when seated to play could they remove their masks.

That doesn’t even touch on travel issues, limits to accommodations, etc.

They did it…in substantial numbers.

Players brought their vaccine information and stood in hours-long lines to verify that status. The first days of the WSOP experienced numerous technical difficulties, long lines, and some miscommunication. And while there were some complaints, everyone did it.

Even further, many players chose to keep wearing their masks during play at the tables. Concern for themselves and others prompted as many as 30% to 50% (estimated) of players to wear their masks at all times.

The WSOP staff worked out the initial kinks and even weathered a half day of a company-wide computer outage across all Caesars properties in the United States. And with a shortage of dealers across Caesars casinos in Las Vegas, they closed down the Flamingo and Bally’s poker rooms and sent those dealers to the Rio.

Teamwork made the dream work.

Initial Happenings

No one knew what to expect. How many players would show up?

The first event, which was limited to casino employees, created  bit of worry with a 39% decrease in attendance from the 2019 WSOP. The low buy-in Omaha Hi-Lo showed a 29% decrease. Some of this was to be expected, though, so it wasn’t any huge kind of surprise.

On the other hand, though, there were some good initial numbers. The $25K buy-in HORSE event brought in 78 entries. But it was the Reunion that really impressed. The $500 buy-in tournament took place over the first weekend of the WSOP this year and boasted of an ambitious $5M guaranteed prize pool. But they did it. Over the course of three starting days, they tallied 12,975 entries. That created an actual prize pool of just under $5.5M.

Everything was going to work out.

First Week of Results

Here were the results of the bracelet tournaments that finished in the first 10 days of the 2021 WSOP:

  • Event 1: $500 NLHE Casino Employees = 419 entries, $175,980 prize pool to pay 63 players, Jimmy Barnett of USA won for $39,013
  • Event 2: $25K HORSE = 78 entries, $1,842,750 prize pool to pay 12 players, Jesse Klein of USA won for $552,182
  • Event 3: $1K NLHE Covid-19 Charity Relief = 260 entries, $231,400 prize pool to pay 38 players, Jeremy Ausmus of USA won for $48,681
  • Event 4: $500 NLHE Reunion = 12,975 entries, $5,449,500 prize pool to pay 639 players, Long Ma of USA won for $513,604
  • Event 5: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo-8 = 607 entries, $810,345 prize pool to pay 92 players, Conor Drinan of USA won for $163,252
  • Event 6: $25K NLHE High Roller = 139 entries, $3,283,975 prize pool to pay 21 players, Tyler Cornell of USA won for $833,289
  • Event 7: $1,500 buy-in Dealer’s Choice: 307 entries, $409,845 prize pool to pay 47 players, Jesse Lally of Canada won for $97,915
  • Event 8: $600 NLHE Deepstack = 4,527 entries, $2,309,280 prize pool to pay 680 players, Zhi Wu of USA won for $281,604
  • Event 9: $10K Omaha Hi-Lo-8 Championship = 134 entries, $1,193,600 prize pool to pay 21 players, Ari Engel of Canada won for $317,076
  • Event 10: $1K NLHE Super Turbo Bounty = 1,640 entries, $1,408,870 prize pool to pay 246 players, Michael Perrone of USA won for $152,173
  • Event 11: $25K NLHE Heads-Up Championship = 57 entries, $721,625 prize pool to pay 8 players, Jason Koon of USA won for $243,981
  • Event 12: $1,500 Limit Hold’em = 422 entries, $563,370 prize pool to pay 64 players, Yuval Bronshtein of Israel won for $124,374
  • Event 13: $3K NLHE Freezeout = 720 entries, $1,922,400 prize pool to pay 108 players, Harvey Mathews of USA won for $371,914
  • Event 14: $1,500 Seven-Card Stud = 261 entries, $348,435 prize pool to pay 39 players, Rafael Lebron of USA won for $82,262
  • Event 15: $1,500 NLHE 6-Handed = 1,450 entries, $1,935,750 prize pool to pay 218 players, Bradley Jansen of USA won for $313,403
  • Event 16: $10K LHE Championship = 92 entries, $857,900 prize pool to pay 14 players, John Monnette of USA won for $245,680

Diversity Lacking

With the travel difficulties around the world due to Covid, the field of players in Las Vegas was destined to be less diverse than in past years. However, there have been a few non-Americans who won events, more who made final tables, and even more who cashed.

The WSOP tracks the players, and there is some diversity. As mentioned in the results above, two Canadians and one Israeli player won bracelets thus far. Tracking players by earnings, there are a few non-Americans in the top 20 so far:

  • #5 = Adrian Mateos of Spain ($381,870)
  • #8 = Benny Glaser of UK ($345,755)
  • #15 = David Benyamine of France ($236,626)
  • #17 = Mustapha Kanit of Italy ($216,842)
  • #20 = Jeremy Malod of France ($193,711)

In the WSOP’s geographical breakdown, there are players from 56 countries who earned payouts at this year’s series during the first 10 days. The usual suspects held the top positions – USA, Canada, and UK – with France and Spain coming in fourth and fifth, respectively. The list then goes on to include Italy, Israel, Belgium, Hungary, and Finland, all recording more than $100K in earnings by players so far.

Australia does register on that earnings list with $28,701 so far via six cashes.

From what we can tell, the following Aussies are in Las Vegas playing the WSOP:

  • Peter Dykes
  • Daniel Jones
  • Gary Benson
  • Michael Addamo
  • Emil Tiller
  • Raj Ramakrishnan
  • Zhaolei Xu
  • Angela Rich
  • Terence Clee
  • Vincent Huang

We’ll keep watching these lists and all of the results coming out of Las Vegas in the coming weeks.


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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