WSOP Confirms That Players Can Get Removed From The WSOP For COVID-19 Reasons

By Craig Klinski
August 18, 2021

The 2021 World Series of Poker is set to get underway at the end of September, but as players start thinking about their fall trips to Las Vegas, many are wondering what sort of safety measures will be in place and how they will need to prepare.

The issue came to the forefront last week when Kevin Mathers tweeted about Rule 115, which addressed COVID-19 protocols:


The language that stirred controversy centered around this language:

In accordance with guidelines promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control, [Rio} reserves the right to remove any Participate from any WSOP Event at any time prior to or during the WSOP Event, in its sole and absolute discretion

Although the rule does state that players can be removed for any health or safety reason, they specifically mention these scenarios for removal:

–If a player receives a positive COVID-19 test result
–If a player has come in close proximity to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
–If a player refuses to undergo health and safety screening

Per the rules, players could be removed without compensation or remuneration of any type other than any compensation already rewarded prior to being removed from the WSOP event.

WSOP clarifies Rule 115

In response to the uproar over the rule, the World Series of Poker sent out a tweet clarifying its position, saying, notably, that the rules on exposure only apply to non-vaccinated players. In short, a vaccinated player would not be removed from the tournament for exposure but would be removed for a positive test.

“A person who has tested positive for COVID-19 will not be required to leave the tournament and quarantine if they are fully vaccinated with the appropriate timing parameters and remain asymptomatic since the time of exposure.”

In defending their position, the WSOP reiterated that they must operate the WSOP “in a manner consistent with CDC guidelines while following the applicable rules and mandates of our local governments and regulators at all times.”

The clarification didn’t fully alleviate the concerns of some players, who are concerned about the possibility of showing proof of vaccination, among other concerns.


Will players need to be vaccinated to play the WSOP?

At this point, it does not look like players will be required to be vaccinated to play the 2021 WSOP. However, based on the wording of the rules and the clarification, it looks like vaccination is advantageous due to the rules around COVID-19 exposure.

Will players be required to show proof of vaccination?

This is a hot topic among many poker players, especially libertarian-leaning players who don’t think the government should force people to get vaccinated, let alone have to show proof of vaccination. At the time of this writing, the WSOP has not answered whether they will be requiring vaccinations or proof of vaccinations.

Will plays be required to get a COVID test before playing?

Again, at this point, there are no requirements to get a COVID test before playing.

Will players have to wear a mask at a WSOP event?

Players will likely have to wear masks at the 2021 WSOP. In late July, the state of Nevada mandated the use of masks indoors, including at casinos. Should this mandate still be in place in late September, the World Series of Poker will have to follow suit.

What other safety methods will be used at the 2021 WSOP?

The WSOP acknowledged that the “COVID-19 public health situation is constantly evolving” and that they will continue to work with experts on the best course of action. With this unpredictability of the virus, a month can be a lot of time for things to change, making the chance of revised rules a possibility.

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