WSOP Unveils Some 2020 Dates; Main Event Day 2 Registration Draws Criticism

The World Series of Poker released some of its 2020 dates on Wednesday. The plans call for the 51st event kicking off May 26 and running through July 15 at the Rio in Las Vegas.

Wednesday’s announcement included dates for the Big 50, which is being carried over from 2019. That was just one of three WSOP officials confirmed with the dates for the Main Event and Seniors Championship also now available.

The Big 50 produced 28,371 entries in 2019 with Femi Fashakin taking the title for just over $1.1 million.

The 38-year-old native of Lagos, Nigeria, who now lives in Orlando, Fla., wishes it had been a one-year event. But he plans on being in the field again next summer.

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“I have no choice, but to try to defend my title,” he told USPoker this week with a laugh. “I wish I didn’t have to worry someone else would break my record so soon, but it’s all good.

“It doesn’t bother me too much. It would have been nice to be immortalized – Big 50 once and done.”

A look at the WSOP events announced so far

Those looking to begin planning their complete summer in Nevada will have to wait a bit longer. The full event-by-event schedule is expected to be released sometime in the first quarter of 2020.

However, the WSOP has whet the appetite a bit of those already looking ahead. Here is what can be expected from the first three announced events:

Event Buy-in Re-entries Starting Flight Dates
Big 50 $500 Once per starting flight May 28, 29, 30, 31
Seniors Championship (age 50 and up) $1,000 Single June 18
Main Event $10,000 None July 1, 2, 3

The WSOP also announced a bit of its broadcast plans on Wednesday. The Main Event final will be table televised on ESPN/ESPN2 July 12-14.

“We can’t wait to open our doors for the 2020 World Series of Poker,” WSOP executive director Ty Stewart said.

“Summer can’t come fast enough, and we look forward to welcoming poker players from all over the globe back to the Rio in Las Vegas to award gold bracelets and hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Online pre-registration for events won’t open until March or April, after all events are determined and approved by regulators.

In September, Caesars announced it was selling the Rio. However,  the company will operate the property at $45 million per year through 2021.

This move is expected to keep the series at the off-Strip property until 2021 as well.

Big numbers at recent World Series events

More than 500 poker tables will once again occupy almost 200,000 square feet of ballroom space this summer. That space has become increasingly crowded in recent years.

Last year’s events featured 187,000 entrants from 118 different countries. A record 187,298 entries participated in 2019, creating a 50-year high of $293 million in prize money.

Lower buy-in events like the Big 50 have helped propel some of those numbers. The series has implemented a two-tier approach in recent years. That include major “championship” events at $10,000 and above and also smaller buy-in events typically with larger fields.

Buy-ins for tournaments at the Rio in 2020 are expected to start as low as $75.

More online action continues at WSOP.com

With a shared liquidity market in between Nevada and New Jersey, online poker will remain a major part of the 2020 events.

The series offered its most online tournaments to date in 2019, with nine exclusive online events. That focus will continue in 2020 and may even include more.

WSOP.com’s real-money platform will be the exclusive online home to win seats into series events. Satellites have already begun and are expected to run regularly throughout the 2020 series.

888Poker remains WSOP.com’s international online poker partner in most jurisdictions. 888 will also offer satellite qualifiers and other promotions to award series seats.

Main Event Day2 registration draws some criticism

The release of even a portion of the WSOP schedule wouldn’t be complete without some controversy. The series began allowing Day 2 Main Event registration in 2018 and will again in 2020.

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

Longtime series commentator Norman Chad noted on Twitter that he’s not a fan of this change. He believes players should be in the tournament more for the long haul.

“It corrupts the integrity of the competition,” he noted. “Everyone should start off on equal footing. Part of the challenge of the Main Event is having to navigate seven days of play to reach the final table.

“You start on Day 2, just to reach Day 3, you spend half as much time on the felt.”

Others disagreed with his assessment. The Main Event features two-hour levels and they argue a missed starting flight doesn’t affect play too much.

The debate raged with commenters weighing in on both sides. The criticism falls in line with many players’ feelings about the growing number of re-entry tournaments.

Some players, including Daniel Negreanu, argue there have become too many re-entry events. Chad was averse to this registration change in poker’s signature event.

“How come poker always rewrites the rules?” he noted. “What’s wrong with you register at the start of play, or you don’t play? That’s how the rest of competitions handle it other than, say, the presidential primaries.”

There should be plenty more discussion as there is every summer. The WSOP will announce more dates in early 2020.

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