WSOP 2021: What's New this Year at the Rio?
Upon arrival at the Rio to compete in the 2021 World Series of Poker, you'll instantly notice a few changes to the host venue, starting with the main WSOP sponsor.
As you approach the main entrance stairway outside the Rio Convention Center, you'll be bombarded with advertisements for Velo, a nicotine pouch and lozenge product. The product placement is perfect given that players often go outside to smoke right in that area. Say what you want about the WSOP's major sponsor choice, but Velo clearly has a brilliant marketing department.
When you step inside the WSOP's host site since 2005, you'll come to realize most things have remained the same. Cash games are set up for the Pavilion, the feature table is back in the Amazon room, and the Brasilia room is still the secondary bracelet event location. Vendors are just getting set up in the hallway, including our PokerNews booth (stop by and say hi!).
There are some new vendors this year, including poker player Jared Bleznick's sports card business, The Blez. For those who complained in previous years about the cell phone accessory salespeople, you're in luck — they're gone, and they've been replaced by a T-Mobile stand.
Benefits for Football Fans
The World Series of Poker typically takes place in the summer, a time when sports betting is at its lowest point in the U.S. This year, however, with the series running in the fall, it coincides with football season, and Las Vegas is packed with sports bettors. The WSOP made sure to cater to this demographic (also a brilliant marketing move).
The Poker Kitchen, a cafeteria inside the convention center hallways, was cut in half to make room for a sportsbook, which features live betting and a plethora of comfortable couches. Rio's main sportsbook is still in tact over on the casino side of the property, but poker players no longer must walk clear over there to place a bet.
Proof of Vaccination Line
The WSOP requires all players be vaccinated against COVID-19 to compete in any bracelet event, Rio cash game, or daily deepstack tournament. Proving vaccination status is easy, but it appears can be time consuming.
As we explained in a previous PokerNews article, you must first download the Clear health app and upload your vax information.
Once you've completed that step, which takes about five minutes, you'll take the QR code provided to you to the Rio before signing up for a tournament. There is a separate room set up within the convention center hallways (opposite the main area) to verify vaccination status. Many players have reported lengthy wait times on Day 1, and it's yet to be seen if this will be the norm throughout the series, so it's best to arrive as early as possible or when the line isn't long.
Players will receive a receipt showing they've gone through the verification process. Hold onto that receipt throughout the series and present it to the tournament staff upon registration for each event you play. You only have to show vaccine proof once during the series, but may be required to go through the process again if you lose your receipt.
The 2021 World Series of Poker, as of 11 a.m. PT, is officially underway with Event #1: $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em. A number of PokerNews staff members, including Chad Holloway, who won the bracelet event in 2013, are competing in the first tournament of the fall. Later today, starting at 3 p.m., one of the biggest events of the series kicks off — Event #2: $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. And then at 6 p.m., the WSOP will host Event #3: $1,000 Covid-19 Relief No-Limit Hold'em Charity Event.
PokerNews will be on hand live reporting all 88 bracelet events, including the first two on Thursday.