Top Stories of 2021, #7: Return of Live Poker & Looking Ahead to 2022
Table Of Contents
After a 2020 almost devoid of live poker after the COVID-19 pandemic, this year was the year that saw the green shoots of live poker returning to some level of normal.
The end of 2020 saw some US based casinos began hosting tournaments but poker room doors were still largely locked shut across the rest of the world.
However, the global vaccine rollout in 2021 provided hope that live poker would return on a greater scale and by and large it did. Although there were initial worries how vaccination rules would affect the 2021 World Series of Poker, when clarifications were made and the ball began rolling there were few interruptions or controversies.
Here Pokernews rounds up some of the notable live festivals from around the world that we enjoyed in 2021.
The Wynn Poker Room has had a stellar year running live events. Their events, under The Wynn Classic brand are always popular and have generated some amazing guarantees this year. The 2021 Wynn Spring Classic, which took place in March, was headlined by the Wynn Spring Classic $3,500 Championship.
It was the first major poker event The Wynn had seen in some time and it was a great success. The $1 million guaranteed event had 614 total entries which saw the prizepool shoot up to $1,985,676. If people were worried about tournament poker after COVID, then those anxieties were soon alleviated. Sung Joo "Arte" Hyun was the first 'Wynner' of the year and took home a massive $323,409 in prize money.
The summer months were also a busy time at The Wynn, there was the $10,000 Wynn Millions ($10M GTD) which was immediately followed by the debut of the Wynn Summer Classic $1,600 Mystery Bounty and the usual $3,500 buy-in, $1 million GTD No-Limit Hold’em Event.
The poker world was also buzzing over the Wynn's Mystery Bounty event due to it's unique format. Players had the chance to win money beyond the standard prizepool. From Day 2, if a player successfully busted another player, they could select an envelope from a container. Inside each envelope there would be a monetary figure on a slip of paper, the number that was on that slip would be the bounty prize you would receive. In the inaugural event, the top bounty prize was $100,000 which was won by Jay Kavoor.
The $100k prize is off the board in @WynnPoker $1,600 Mystery Bounty. Only about 35 envelopes remained when Jay Kov… https://t.co/Ow6Ga6XlTP— PokerNews (@PokerNews)
The Mystery Bounty was a hit, so much so that it was brought back for the Wynn Fall Classic. There was the $1,600 Mystery Bounty as well as the slightly bigger buy-in $2,200 Mystery Bounty. The latter had a top bounty prize of $250,000 which was won by Donald Nimneh, a truck driver based in Omaha, Nebraska.
The $250k top bounty has already been claimed! https://t.co/Y0uFDg53J8— PokerNews (@PokerNews)
The Wynn then rounded off their fantastic year with the 2021 Wynn Winter Classic. The $5,300 Wynn Winter Classic Main Event did not fail to deliver either and created another seven figure prizepool ($3,306,240).
2021 partypoker LIVE MILLIONS North Cyprus
Another tour that marked their return to the poker felt this year was the beloved partypoker LIVE MILLIONS. The good news came in July when they announced the partypoker LIVE MILLIONS North Cyprus series.
Head of Live Events at partypoker, Dan Rose told PokerNews in July “We are thrilled to finally see the return of partypoker LIVE MILLIONS event. I know players have been eagerly wanting to get back to the felt, and it’s a pleasure to be working with Merit to bring the MILLIONS brand to North Cyprus.
Like The Wynn Classics, the event was a great celebration of live poker. Mustafa Timur Ercan kicked off proceedings by winning the $10,500 High Roller. Mantas Nanartavicius was the next winner after taking down the $2,200 Warm Up before Giorgiy Skhulukhiya reigned supreme in the 2021 partypoker LIVE MILLIONS North Cyprus Main Event for $683,285.
Other Live Poker Events
A whole lot more happened in 2021 as well, the PokerNews live reporting team have been all over the world keeping poker fans up to date with the action as it happens.
You may be surprised to see that flagship events like the WSOP and 2021 Super High Roller Bowl Europe have not been talked about in this article. No need to fret, the editorial team have taken deep dives into those tours and will be bringing you articles regarding their return in the coming days.
So in the meantime, check out all the amazing live poker tours that have taken place this year and find out who the big winners of 2021 have been.
- 2021 World Series of Poker
- 2021 World Series of Poker Europe
- Mid-States Poker Tour
- RunGood Poker Series
- 2021 Super High Roller Bowl Europe
- 2021 US Poker Open
- 2021 PokerGO Cup
- Lone Star Poker Series Champions Social
- 2021 bestbet Jacksonville Winter Open
- 2021 Poker Palace Summer Championships
- 2021 Golden Nugget Grand Poker Series
- 2021 Colorado Poker Championship
- 2021 Pokercode Festival Bratislava
- WSOP International Circuit - WSOPC Rozvadov
- World Poker Tour - WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio
EPT Prague Gets Postponed
However, due to the rise of the Omicron variant and growing number of cases in the Czech Republic and Europe, December's EPT Prague had to be rescheduled for March 2022. Hopefully this will be just an anomaly, but some countries are starting to re-introduce restrictions so the framework for live poker in 2022 could be very different than what is currently planned.
Live Poker in 2022
The current landscape for live poker in Q1 of 2022 looks something like the below, of course dates and events are subject to change as countries around the world continue to evaluate what cultural and sporting events can take place while the pandemic rolls on.
The new year starts off strong with a host of events taking place. 888poker are running their first live event since the 2020 888poker LIVE Madrid Festival. Their return to the live felt will be at the 888poker LIVE London Festival which gets underway on January 6.
The WSOP Circuit and WPT kick their seasons off with the World Series of Poker Circuit - WSOPC Rozvadov and WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open while some other events take place across Europe.
|Jan. 4-11||Italian Poker Open - IPO San Marino €1m GTD||San Marino|
|Jan. 5-25||World Series of Poker Circuit - WSOPC Rozvadov||Czech Republic|
|Jan. 6-17||888poker LIVE London Festival||England|
|Jan. 12-24||Merit Poker Western 2022||North Cyprus|
|Jan. 21-26||WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open||United States|
|Jan. 24-30||Italian Poker Open - IPO Master Mendrisio||Switzerland|
|Jan. 25-30||Bounty Poker Tour||Estonia|
|Jan. 27-Feb. 6||Grosvenor UK Poker Tour - GUKPT London Leg 1||England|
More events are scheduled in Europe for February, Kings of Tallinn returns for another instalment while the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour continues.
|Feb. 15-22||Merit Poker International Montenegro||Montenegro|
|Feb. 19-27||Kings of Tallinn 2022||Estonia|
|Feb. 24-March 6||Grosvenor UK Poker Tour - GUKPT Coventry Leg 2||England|
|Feb. 28-March 6||The Patrik Antonius Poker Challenge - PAPC Tallinn||Estonia|
The ever so popular Wynn Millions kicks off proceedings in March and comes with a massive $10 million guaranteed Main Event.
Should plans stay the same, the EPT will be running their first live events since 2019. Players have had to wait since December 2019 for the next edition of EPT Prague which is then followed quickly by EPT Sochi.
|March 3-11||Wynn Millions||United States|
|March 5-16||European Poker Tour - EPT Prague||Czech Republic|
|March 18-27||European Poker Tour - EPT Sochi||Russia|
More events will be sure to follow during the rest of 2022, so stay tuned to PokerNews for all the news as we get it.
Calum has been a part of the PokerNews team since September 2021 after working in the UK energy sector. He played his first hand of poker in 2017 and immediately fell in love with the game. Calum's proudest poker achievement is winning the only tournament he has ever played in Las Vegas, the prestigious $60 Flamingo evening event.
In this Series
- 1 Top Stories of 2021, #10: ClubGG Makes a Splash in the Poker World
- 2 Top Stories of 2021, #9: Michigan Deals First Hands of Online Poker
- 3 Top Stories of 2021, #8: Remembering Those Who Passed Away This Year
- 4 Top Stories of 2021, #7: Return of Live Poker & Looking Ahead to 2022
- 5 Top Stories of 2021, #6: Super High Roller Bowl Europe & Tony G
- 6 Top Stories of 2021, #5: Multiple WSOP Bracelet Winners
- 7 Top Stories of 2021, #4: Doug Polk vs. Daniel Negreanu
- 8 Top Stories of 2021, #3: The Incredible Year of Phil Hellmuth
- 9 Top Stories of 2021, #2: Michael Addamo Crushing High Rollers
- 10 Top Stories of 2021, #1: The Return of the Live World Series of Poker