Shuffle Up and Vaccinate: 2021 World Series of Poker Requires COVID-19 Shots

Posted on: August 27, 2021, 01:40h. 

Last updated on: August 27, 2021, 01:46h.

The 2021 World Series of Poker, set to begin in just a little more than a month, announced Friday that anyone attending the event, including participants, will need to show proof they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

WSOP Vaccine mandate
Damian Salas shows off the bracelet he won in the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event, which was held in a hybrid format because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s series of events return to live-action play, but WSOP officials announced Friday that attendees, including players, will need to be fully vaccinated. (Image: WSOP.com)

In a statement released Friday, WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said the decision was made in an effort to offer “the greatest level of protection” throughout the series of events that will run from Sept. 30 to Nov. 23.

This is not a decision we have taken lightly–it is made with no agenda beyond protecting player eligibility and the operations of a unique televised gaming event,” he said. “The nature of poker is to be in close proximity with your opponents for extended periods of time, and a 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 this fall.”

Full vaccination is defined as having received their last dose of a COVID-19 vaccine no earlier than 14 days before their event begins. So, for a player entering the Main Event and starting on Day 1a, which is Nov. 4, they will need to complete their vaccination protocol by Oct. 21.

The vaccine mandate also covers sanctioned satellite participants.

For US players, full vaccination is either a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. International players who received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will also be allowed to play, as long as the final dose was received at least 14 days prior to their event.

Exceptions to COVID-19 Vaccine Would Be Rare, If Any

On the WSOP website, officials noted “the need to minimize interruptions” to events and the broadcast schedule as the rationale for creating the full vaccination requirement, and not just allowing people to provide negative tests.

There may be accommodations, but those will be rather limited in scope.

“Only a request for an accommodation pursuant to state and federal law may be submitted and will be evaluated individually and in context of the then-applicable public health situation, through an interactive process,” the WSOP website stated.

Further, officials noted that consideration of such requests may take a significant amount of time to consider.

The vaccine mandate also applies to reporters and other media personnel covering the event, as well as spectators and vendors in attendance.

Beyond the vaccine mandate, WSOP officials said all attendees will be required to wear masks, which is in line with current recommendations from both the US Centers for Disease Control and the state of Nevada.

WSOP Recommends Use of CLEAR App

After holding virtual events and a “hybrid” Main Event because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event returns to live play only this year at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino on Las Vegas.

World Series of Poker officials are also encouraging US participants to register their vaccination records with CLEAR Health Pass, a free mobile app. Those that do so will be able to proceed to the registration cage at the Rio upon their arrival.

CLEAR Health Pass is the same app the Las Vegas Raiders are using to manage the vaccine mandate they’ve implemented to attend this season’s games at Allegiant Stadium.