2020 has been all about people having to make sacrifices in all aspects of life. In the world of poker, the biggest sacrifice was the notion that live tournaments would likely fall by the wayside to a great extent. In their stead came online tournaments trying to pick up the slack and satisfy the competitive whims of the world’s best poker players.
In terms of poker tournaments, the World Series of Poker pretty much reigns supreme. The tourney was scheduled earlier this year but had to postpone because of the unfeasibility of live tournaments. An online version of the event took place instead in late summer and, although there was some hiccups and complaints, proved to be a ringing success.
And as the months dragged on, it seemed like the poker world would have to settle for that as being the closest thing to WSOP action it would get. But then came the announcement last week that, at least for now, the World Series of Poker would indeed get a live table main event. As it turns out, there will be two of them.
Live From Last Vegas
World Series of Poker Main Events will be held for both United States and international players. In the announcement, the World Series of Poker also made it clear that a hybrid format would be in play. Early rounds of the action will take place in an online sphere, before the fields are pared down to the point where a final table will be held with the remaining players gathering together.
In the case of the American version, the preliminary rounds for the $10,000 buy-in event will take place starting on December 13th. As was the case with the online WSOP earlier this year, players must be logging on in either New Jersey or Nevada to be able to complete. The final nine players take the action to the Rio in Las Vegas on December 28.
As far as the international part, it will be the same type of deal. Players will try to make their way to the end by doing so in online battles. When the final take place on December 15th, it is scheduled for the King’s Casino in the Czech Republic.
There is a lot to unpack there with all that information. First of all, there is no guarantee that the final table will indeed take place in a live setting. After all, recent weeks have proven that we are far from out of the woods in terms of being able to return to live events with people enclosed in small spaces, even with all the necessary precautions in place.
If things do worsen, the possibility is that the event organizers could indeed shuffle the final table to an online setting anyway. If that were the case, all of this hype would be directed to an online Main Event. Considering we’ve already had one of those this year under the WSOP banner, it would be an odd turn of events.
In addition, there is still the issue of American players having to make it to New Jersey or Nevada to even be eligible for the event. While that led to some memorable moments in the online version earlier this year, it would still be a shame if the field was limited somewhat by this requirement.
Basically, there still seems to be a lot that is very much up in the air with all of this. It is possible that it comes off without a hitch and the final tables take place as planned. But it is also within reason that something comes along to turn this entire thing on its head.
In any case, this still has to qualify as good news for the world of poker, no matter how it all ends up going down. The chance that we will have top players staring at each other across a table with the biggest prize in the entire game on the line is extremely enticing after how tough a year 2020 has been. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it comes to fruition in one way or another.
Kid Poker Strikes Back
We are starting to go a little deeper into the so-called Grudge Match of the Century in the world of poker. And the good news is that it looks like, at least to this point, that the real money Texas holdem battle between Daniel and Doug Polk is going to be the kind of match that warrants the hype. And, my oy my, has there been a lot of hype.
If you recall last week in this column, Negreanu forged a lead following the head-to-head opening session. But then Polk struck back in the first online go-around, which many expected. After all, that is a world with which Polk is infinitely comfortable, while it represented a sort of new frontier for Negreanu.
This last week, Polk lengthened his lead with another successful online session in a row. Negreanu cut the margin in the next day’s action. But it was on Friday where Kid Poker really struck big, overpowering Polk for an advantage of over $200 in that day’s session.
Where do we stand right now? After over 1,700 hands played, Negreanu has jumped back into the lead by over $25,000. Considering that most of the daily action contains shifts of more than 100,000 at a time one way or another, that is a precarious lead to be sure.
There is a long way to go in this battle. Remember that the earliest it could possibly be over is after 12,500 hands, which means that we’re not even 15% of the way there yet. And the possibility exists that it could go the full route of 25,000 hands before a winner is decided.
Still, the back-and-forth play so far has been exciting to watch. The two have been downright cordial, after so long sniping back and forth at each other on social media. And Negreanu’s good play is making this grudge match into more of a barnburner than many thought it would be, which means it should be holding our attention for quite some time to come.