Better late than never! If you like watching poker on TV, then mark your calendars for this Sunday night because the World Series of Poker returns to ESPN2 on February 28 for 8pm ET or 5pm PT. Make sure you tune in to ESPN 2, where they'll cover all the action from the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event.
Hey, 2020 was one of the craziest years to date with everything going sideways during the pandemic. Live events were postponed and cancelled. The World Series of Poker were forced to pivot and change the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas into a series of online events. The 2020 WSOP was set to be the largest ever in the history of the WSOP with 101 bracelets up for grabs. It was also rumored to be the last-ever hosted at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas after Caesar's sold the Rio. Word on the street was that the suits running the WSOP were going to migrate the summer poker circus to the new Caesar's convention center.
When the pandemic hit, the WSOP kept kicking the can down the road and would not cancel it outright. They initially postponed it until the fall of 2020. During the summer, the 2020 WSOP migrated online with 85 bracelet events running at WSOP.com and GGPoker. The problem of accessibility surfaced. Any of the 31 events on WSOP.com were limited to anyone within state lines of Nevada or New Jersey in order to play, meanwhile Americans could not play on any of the 54 bracelet events on GGPoker.
The online series for both Americans and international players had a few bumps, but the WSOP handed out 65 bracelets in the middle of a pandemic. Everyone thought they crowned a "Main Event" champion when Bulgaria's Stoyan Madanzhiev banked nearly $4 million for winning the $5,000 buy-in 2020 WSOP Main Event at GGPoker.
The fall came and went without the WSOP addressing the whereabouts of the live events. But just when everyone was ready to forget about it and focus on 2021, the suits at the WSOP announced their most controversial move yet... the 2020 WSOP Main Event Championship. Yes, the WSOP would host the $10,000 buy-in Main Event in a hybrid manner. The Main Event would begin online with two different legs... one domestic on WSOP.com and the other international at GGPoker. Both Main Events would play down to final table where the online action would stop and migrate to a live venue either in Las Vegas, or RozVegas. After they played down to a domestic and international champion, the champs would meet each other at the Rio in Las Vegas for a special heads-up battle where the winner would earn an additional $1 million and win the coveted 2020 WSOP Main Event bracelet.
Of course, even that didn't run smoothly. In both final tables, at least one player was absent. A player from China could not make it to RozVegas, so they played eight-handed until Damian Salas from Argentina won the RozVegas final table for a score worth $1.55 million. In the USA, Upeshka 'gomezhamburg' De Silva advanced to the final table, but he could not compete at the final table in Vegas because he tested positive for COVID-19. Yikes. The Vegas final table was also eight-handed and Joseph 'kolebear' Herbert took down that final table for $1.5 million.
The heads-up portion of the WSOP Main Event was delayed a few days because Damian Salas got flagged and denied entry because he had traveled less than 14 days before entering the USA. Salas eventually made it to Las Vegas and defeated Joe Herbert to win the extra cool million and the bracelet.
And now, you can watch the drama unfold on ESPN 2 on Sunday, February 28,2021.