WSOP Main Event Shifts Online with Live Final Tables on Two Continents, $1M Heads-Up Battle

There will be a World Series of Poker Main Event this year after all. Series officials announced on Friday the $10,000 championship will begin online with players around the world able to take part.

That’s not all. The specifics offer a completely revamped event because of the Coronavirus pandemic. That includes two separate live final tables at the Rio in Las Vegas and King’s Casino in the Czech Republic.

Winners of those events will play for the bracelet and an extra $1 million in a winner-take-all battle in Vegas. For international players, the Main Event begins Nov. 29 at GGPoker. US-based players get their half of the tournament started on Dec. 13 at WSOP.com.

“There must be a world champion in 2020,” WSOP executive director Ty Stewart said in a news release. “Poker’s history is too important. It’s a unique format for the Main Event, but this is a unique year. We want to keep players’ health and safety top of mind and still deliver a great televised showcase for the game we love.”

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WSOP Main Event – 2 continents, 2 final tables, 1 heads-up champion

This year’s tournament may be the Main Event, but it certainly comes with some changes. How does it all work? Play globally and in the US begins online on WSOP.com or GGPoker.com. 

Players can expect the event’s usual freezeout format and players can enter once at either site. WSOP.com and GGPoker promise “the longest levels and deepest stacks ever offered on the online platform.”

Once play reaches nine players, the action moves to a live table and both sites will pay out winners independently. When one player is left at each, those two will head to Las Vegas to play in a heads-up duel.

Most of this year's WSOP Main Event moves online at GGPoker.

Additionally, Caesars and GGPoker are putting up $1 million in prize money but with no second place in this showdown. The two players will compete in a winner-take-all format for seven figures.

WSOP officials have promised play at live tables will be subject to special COVID rules and procedures. Players will also undergo health screenings prior to live play.

ESPN will once again air the 2020 Main Event with Lon McEachern and Norman Chad calling the action.

GGPoker adds to growing WSOP presence

For GGPoker, the event comes after a record-setting WSOP Online series this summer. The site now expands its relationship with the series, allowing players around the world to compete in the Main Event.

“We’re very happy to continue to deepen our relationship with WSOP,” GGPoker head of poker operations Steve Preiss said. “It was a huge summer of record-setting action on GGPoker and we’re excited to offer players access to the biggest tournament of all.”

For GG players, there will be three starting flights to take advantage of. Play will be paused each day after about 12 hours of play and when the final nine players are left.

That final table is then set to play out at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, and filmed for TV. Here’s how the complete international schedule looks: 

WSOP Main Event – international schedule

  • Day 1A – Sunday, Nov. 29
  • Day 1B – Saturday, Dec. 5
  • Day 1C – Sunday, Dec. 6
  • Day 2 – Play down to nine players on Monday, Dec. 7
  • Final table – Play continues to a winner on Tuesday, Dec.15 at King’s Casino in Czech Republic

American players in the legal states of New Jersey and Nevada can get in the action on WSOP.com. Play follows a similar schedule as in the international half of the tournament but with only a single starting flight.

WSOP Main Event – US schedule

  • Day 1 – Sunday, Dec. 13
  • Day 2 – Play down to nine players on Monday, Dec. 14
  • Final table – Play continues to a winner on Monday, Dec. 28, at the Rio in Las Vegas

Heads-up in Las Vegas for a million bucks

With US and international winners named, the action shifts to heads-up play at the Rio in Las Vegas. That duel is set for Dec. 30 with ESPN filming the event.

While everything looks firmed up now, COVID-19 has a way of changing that. Those types of issues could alter the live schedule. WSOP officials reserve the right to continue the event online or reschedule live play as needed.

Another issue could arise if a player under 21 won on the international side.  Players must be 21 to gamble in Nevada. The WSOP could alter the date and location for the heads-up final if needed.

GGPoker, WSOP ramp up satellite and promotional power

Players with lighter bankrolls aren’t going to be shut out of the WSOP Main Event at GG and WSOP.com. Both sites promise plenty of satellites starting at just $1 as well as weekly freerolls awarding $10,000 seats.

The new series adds to an already packed lineup of recent events for GG. The Battle of Malta has shifted online and runs through Nov. 22 with $30 million guaranteed.

The High Rollers Week series is also underway with $22 million guaranteed and runs through Nov. 15. The WSOP Main Event certainly becomes another nice online poker option for GG players.

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