World Series of Poker pushes ahead with new tour plan
Aussie players looking to jet off for the 2021 World Series of Poker are already making their way to Las Vegas ahead of the upcoming event in Nevada.
Casino Aus reports that the WSOP begins in less than a month and includes a vaccine requirement for poker players.
After the 2020 cancellation of the live poker event due to the global pandemic, organisers were determined to host the series live this year.
The series of 88 tournaments will start on September 30 and end on November 23.
Since COVID-19 continues to spread at alarming rates across the United States, where full vaccination remains around 50 per cent or less, despite the prevalence of vaccines, the WSOP has made a mandate on how to safely host games.
Players and spectators will be required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.
World Series of Poker executive director Ty Stewart said it was not a decision taken lightly.
“The nature of poker is to be in close proximity with your opponents for extended periods of time, anda seat at the World Series of Poker is a commitment for both our company and the participants.
“We want players to be excited for their return to the WSOP, while offering the greatest level of protection and limiting complications during the tournament.”
The WSOP consulted with the United States’ Centres for Disease Control, as well as health and government officials for the state of Nevada and Las Vegas’ Clark County.
They ultimately decided that a full-vaccination mandate was the best way forward.
The mandate requires players and spectators to be fully vaccinated, which means the final dose must be received at least 13 days prior to the date of entry.
Proof of vaccination and masks required at WSOP
At this time, the WSOP accepts proof of the following vaccines as valid, with all requiring two doses, except the Johnson & Johnson: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovacand Covishield.
When players show their vaccination proof the first time, they will then be in the WSOP system and exempt from needing to show it again for the rest of the series.
In addition, for players coming from outside of the US, the WSOP suggests that they be in the United States without any COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days prior to their WSOP entry date.
This is not a mandate but a strong encouragement.
In addition, anyone with any symptoms at all should not play until their symptoms disappear and they receive a negative COVID test.
Again, this is not mandatory, but strongly recommended.
At the current time, players and spectators must also wear masks.
The state of Nevada currently requires masks in all casinos.
In fact, people must wear masks in all large indoor gatherings.
As for COVID-19 itself, the mandate for Las Vegas is unpredictable.
They could change at any time. The current mandates came from a severe increase of positive cases, hospitalisations and deaths within the last several months. The Delta variant of the virus spread quickly, and with less than 50 per cent of the general population vaccinated, there was little in the way of herd immunity to stop it.
For WSOP players, this means that they may lift the mask mandate by the time the WSOP begins.
It is even more likely that they would remove that mandate by the time the WSOP Main Event begins on November 4.
Everything depends upon the rate of COVID-19 spread and corresponding vaccinations.
WSOP officials are likely to require the vaccine regardless of the numbers.
Will Aussies make the trip?
For now, the Australian Government’s ban remains on all Aussies travelling overseas.
The current exemptions to the ban include residents of other countries and people “whose travel is associated with essential work at offshore facilities.”
People can apply to the Department of Home Affairs for an exemption to the current rules.
There is a chance that a person’s job as a professional poker player could qualify as business that requires travel.
Returning to Australia after the WSOP could be just as much of a challenge, as there are few flights going to Australia.
Aussies will need to prove a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours or less prior to the flight, wear a mask on flights and airports, and submit to a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a designated facility upon the return to Australia.