Major poker series are cancelled after a wave of other coronavirus outbreak related cancellations erased the American sports calendar – the writing was on the wall for live tournament poker series.
And sure enough, major poker operators nationwide began announcing schedule adjustments on March 11, when the Maryland Live! Casino & Hotel postponed its upcoming 2020 World Poker Tour (WPT) DeepStacks Main Event. That $1,650 buy-in tournament was scheduled to run from March 20-23, but the casino’s Twitter account posted the following announcement to prospective players:
“We regret to inform you, due to circumstances beyond our control, the 2020 WPT Deepstacks is canceled.
We apologize for any inconveniences.”
Four days later, Governor Larry Hogan announced a statewide closure of all casinos, racetracks, and other betting venues across Maryland.
WSOP-Circuit Follows Suit with Suspensions and Cancellations
On March 13 – with the venue’s annual World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOP-C) stop already underway – the Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Los Angeles, California elected to suspend the event, joining other major poker series’ being cancelled. At the time, seven of the 13 scheduled gold ring events had already been concluded.
In a statement issued by Bicycle brass, the iconic West Coast card room explained its decision to avoid large gatherings in close quarters – which complied with recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“After careful consideration and to prevent any further spread or transmission of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak throughout the country, The Bicycle Hotel & Casino has decided to postpone the remainder of our WSOPC tournament effective Friday, March 13, 2020.
This decision was made out of an abundance of caution and to protect the well-being of our customers and employees.
Please be assured, our team is monitoring the situation closely, and we look forward to announcing a future date soon.”
Once again, the decision proved to be prescient, as Governor Gavin Newsome issued a statewide “stay at home” order on March 19.
On the same day as its L.A. stop was suspended, the WSOP-C also suspended an ongoing series stop at Harrah’s Atlantic City, postponed a late March swing through Bally’s in Las Vegas, and cancelled its remaining American and worldwide events over the next month:
Speaking with CardsChat, WSOP vice president of corporate communications Seth Palansky outlined the organizer’s approach to coronavirus mitigation:
“We’re essentially dealing with events in the 30 days in front of us and trying to manage those as best we can.
We’ll keep taking everything as we can. Hopefully, people focus on their health and safety, and poker will take care of itself in due time.”
PokerGo and World Poker Tour Join the List of Scratched Series
On March 12, PokerGo confirmed that its 2020 U.S. Poker Open series – scheduled to run from March 19-31 – would be postponed indefinitely:
“While we are disappointed that we are unable to host this event for our players and fans, our highest priority is the health and safety of all individuals involved in attending and producing Poker Central tournaments.
We will continue to monitor and follow the guidance of government health authorities before making decisions about rescheduling for future dates.”
To cap things off, on March 17 the World Poker Tour (WPT) decided to put a halt to any upcoming televised final table productions from its studio in Las Vegas. In announcing the decision, WPT Enterprises’ chief executive officer Adam Pliska pledged to hold the final tables and pay out players as soon as the coronavirus crisis abates:
“Due to the evolving circumstances surrounding the current crisis, the WPT will postpone its televised final tables set to tape between March 31 and April 2 at HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas.
With public health welfare a priority and in line with government and agency directives, we will tentatively look to hold these tables in May with our second set of televised final tables.
Further, we will communicate any other schedule changes to ongoing tournaments and events on WPT.com.”