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WSOP 2020 Dates Set, ME Late Reg Draws Criticism

World Series of Poker Logo

It looks as though the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is already looking forward to the year ahead as, on Dec. 11, 2019, it released a set of dates for 2020. The 51st Series, which is already the longest-running tournament where poker is concerned, will start on May 26, 2020 and will occur at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. This is set to run for 51 consecutive days, coming to an end on July 15. Yet, controversy has already arisen thanks to the fact that players can late register for the Main Event right into day 2.

WSOP Has Revealed Dates for 2020 Series

Details on the 2020 Series

Magnifying Glass

The World Series of Poker is a tournament series that has taken place in Las Vegas for many years already, starting out back in 1970 at Binion's Horseshoe and gaining popularity throughout the proceeding decades before moving to the more spacious Rio in 2005. Even those who are more partial to playing at online poker sites often make an exception and head down to Las Vegas when the WSOP is in session.

Last year’s event featured record-breaking numbers with over 187,000 players from 118 countries entering it. This led to there being over $293 million in poker prize money being awarded.

This year’s event continues at the Rio Hotel & Casino as it has done for well over a decade. Despite the fact that Caesars Entertainment sold the establishment to Imperial Companies for a price of $516.3 million, it was confirmed at the time of sale that WSOP 2020 would still take place there. Hosting rights of the tournament still belong to Caesars. While the company has control over the Rio Hotel & Casino for another two years, speculation has already begun upon whether or not the WSOP will be moved to an alternate venue in the coming years.

Rio All-Suite Hotel & CasinoThe World Series of Poker Returns to the Rio Casino in 2020

Speaking of the dates already announced for the 2020 event, the WSOP Executive Director, Ty Stewart, said:

We can’t wait to open our doors for the 2020 World Series of Poker.

He went on to state that “summer can’t come fast enough” and that the WSOP looks forward to providing a welcome, at the Rio in Las Vegas, to poker players from around the world.

Events Included in WSOP 2020

Gold bracelets will be available to win alongside the monetary prizes with the first bracelet events starting out on Wednesday, May 27. There will then be a signature event on the opening weekend, which is the $500 buy-in BIG 50 No Limit Hold’em. This is set to feature 50-minute levels, and all players start out with 50,000 chips. Starting flights for this will be taking place from Thursday, May 28 and will continue for four days to Sunday, May 31.

The highlight of the annual WSOP is, of course, the Main Event Championship, which comes with a $10,000 buy-in and has three of its own starting flights. They will take place on Wednesday, July 1, Thursday, July 2, and finally, Friday, July 3. Should you participate on one of the first two days and survive, then you’ll return on July 4 for the Day 2 part of the event. Those players who get through the starting flight on July 3 will return on Sunday, July 5 for their Day 2. Fields will then combine on Monday, July 6 for Day 3, and the tourney will continue through to Friday, July 10. It is expected that the final table will be reached by this date. The following day will see a break from the Main Event proceedings before the final table is televised from July 12 - 14 on ESPN/ESPN2.

Lastly, the third event initially announced by WSOP for 2020 is the Seniors No Limit Hold’em Championship. Occurring on Thursday, June 18, this comes with a $1,000 buy-in price and is a single re-entry tournament, beginning at 10am. The Seniors event is available to those players who are 50 years old and above, and the final table for this should be taking place on Sunday, June 21.

Buy-ins for events within the WSOP 2020 will begin from as little as $75, while single table satellites will be operation from Tuesday, May 26 and will continue running on a 24/7 basis throughout the seven-week series. Online pre-registration for individual events won’t start until March/April of next year once all of the events themselves have been worked out and approved by the regulators.

The 2019 WSOP tournament drew in a large number of people, and the Main Event saw Hossein Ensan walk away with the $10 million prize. He outlasted Dario Sammartino of Italy and was the oldest Main Event champion since Noel Furlong in 1999.

More Dates Revealed

On Dec. 19, 2019, the World Series of Poker released details on a dozen more events for 2020. Added to the three that were announced earlier, the WSOP 2020 schedule is shaping up as follows (dates listed are days with starting flights):

  • May 27, $500 Casino Employees, 1 re-entry
  • May 28 - 31, $500 BIG 50, 1 re-entry per flight
  • June 5 - 6, $1,500 Millionaire Maker, 1 re-entry per flight
  • June 12 - 13, $1,500 Monster Stack, freezeout
  • June 17, $10,000/$1,000 Ladies Event, 1 re-entry
  • June 18, $1,000 Seniors Event - Age 50+, 1 re-entry
  • June 19 - 20, $1,000 Double Stack, 1 re-entry per flight
  • June 22, $1,000 Super Seniors - Age 60+, 1 re-entry per flight
  • June 22, $1,000/Team Tag Team 2-person Event, freezeout
  • June 24 - 25, $400 Colossus, 1 re-entry per flight
  • June 26 - 27, $888 Crazy Eights 8-handed, 1 re-entry per flight
  • June 29, $1,000 Mini Main Event, freezeout
  • July 1 - 3, $10,000 Main Event, freezeout
  • July 4 - 6, $1,111 Little One for One Drop, unlimited re-entries
  • July 10 - 11, $1,500 The Closer, 1 re-entry per flight

Main Event Causes Controversy

Two People Arguing

While most of the details surrounding the WSOP 2020 have been welcomed with open arms by poker players, the Main Event has drawn the ire of some. One of the clauses that generated a lot of criticism is the following:

Registration for the Main Event remains open through Level 6, meaning all players participating must be in the field at the end of that first level on July 5.

This decision by the tournament organizers means that late registration for the Main Event is possible even while Day 2 play is underway. Longtime commentator Norman Chad voiced his concerns over this on Twitter quite instantly, opining that the policy is “awful” – a word that he mentioned in his Tweet 17 times over.

Norman ChadPoker Announcer and Sports Writer Norman Chad
Norman Chad on ME Late Reg

Yet, it didn’t take long for people to fire back, stating that they don’t believe it to be such an awful policy. Even professional poker player Ross Bryant put his own two cents into the debate, having a completely differing opinion of the policy to Chad. He questioned why it’s awful given that the blinds are “ridiculously slow” and there being an increased starting stack. “Not everyone wants to play 1000bb poker,” he finished off with.

Ross Bryant on Main Event Late Reg

Bryant was by no means alone in his assessment. The World Poker Tour Executive Director Matt Savage went forth and said that he had no idea why Chad thought of it as being an awful policy. He stated, “the blinds are so low, there is no advantage, and it makes it more accessible for people with jobs.”

Norman Chad Wants Everyone Equal at Main Event

Chad fired back that the policy “corrupts the integrity” of competition in the Main Event, claiming that everybody should start out on equal footing instead. Of course, quite a few poker fans agreed with Chad, saying that it definitely is an awful policy for the Main Event of the tournament. One user, going by the Twitter name of “Jaspal Brar,” said that tournament poker is becoming somewhat of a joke due to the late registrations going on forever.

Jaspal Brar Tweet About Main Event Late Reg

Chad stood firm in his opinion of the late registration policy, duking it out in a verbal war with multiple other Twitter users. One professional poker player who backed him up is Todd “Dan Druff” Witteles. Alas, while Witteles did say that he agreed with Chad on the Day 2 late registration policy, he went on to say that it isn’t as bad as some other events. “At least in the Main, about 60% of the field is still left when late reg closes,” he said. He finished off by noting that some events have over 70% of the field gone and registrations still taking place.

Todd Witteles Explains His Views on Late Reg for Main Event

Controversy Surrounds WSOP

The WSOP seems to frequently be flooded with controversy in one way or another. There was a mix up with the Player of the Year announcement only in November. Daniel Negreanu was announced as the victor, but then an error was uncovered that would see Robert Campbell be awarded the accolade instead.

There’s also the ongoing saga of Phil Ivey and his $124,000 win confiscated by the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. Ivey won the money as part of the WSOP event in July 2019, but the Atlantic City casino is requesting that the proceeds be turned over to itself, stating that Ivey owes it as part of a debt.

The Debate About Freezeouts

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Closely related to the phenomenon of late registration is the presence of rebuy and re-entry tournaments. All of these features affect tournament participation and the number of chips that are in play at any given point.

It’s clear that over the past decade or so, unlimited re-entry has become quite the popular feature of poker tournaments. WSOP has multiple events that allow players to buy back into them as many times as they like until registration closes. Of course, this hasn’t been something that sits well with several poker players who recall the days when freezeouts were the norm and all players had a single buy-in. Multiple re-entry is seen by quite a few as a mechanism for greedy casinos to increase their revenues because, unlike traditional rebuys, re-entries generally include a full tournament fee.

Even professional player Daniel Negreanu has stated recently that once events roll around in 2020, he has the mindset of potentially playing through the year with no re-entry. While he did state that he probably won’t make as many final tables or cash as often, it does mean that he won’t be taking part in something that he doesn’t believe should exist.

Daniel Negreanu Vows to Avoid Re-entry

Re-entry wasn’t something that was even an option back in the early days of the WSOP. Because today’s games have deeper structures, re-entry is possible and preferable for many players who wish to bypass a few of the earlier levels when the blinds represent a small fraction of the starting stack.

While WSOP eliminated re-buy events in 2009, it still allows the re-entry option in numerous tournaments. That being said, the Main Event and various others are always freezeout tournaments. Last summer, 40 of the 89 bracelet events had no re-entry, while 31 of them offered a single re-entry. Seven of them capped re-entries at three while four offered one per flight, and a further seven were unlimited. Two of the freezeout events went on to attract more than 6,000 entries.

Playing WSOP and Other Poker in the USA

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The WSOP.com real-money poker offering in New Jersey and Nevada will be hosting its own online bracelet events along with satellites for seats to the live WSOP series at the Rio. However, it's also possible to participate in WSOP online qualifier tourneys at a wide variety of offshore cardrooms.

This lets people from all across the country and, indeed, the world attempt to win their seats for much less than the full retail price. You can view our guide to playing poker in the USA if you're looking for a place to try to earn WSOP entries. All of our recommended sites also have other types of poker too, like cash games, non-WSOP multi-table tournaments, and sit-n-goes.