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World Series of Poker to return in 2021

The series will be back live in Las Vegas, returning to the other side of I-15 and the hotel it has called home since 2004.

American Michael Mizrachi takes his seat at the Final Table of the 2010 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nevada November 06, 2010. Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

The World Series of Poker returns to its traditional home of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in 2021, but the traditional six-week June marathon of poker will be pushed back until Thursday, Sept. 30, with the last scheduled day set for Tuesday, Nov. 23.

The WSOP went to a hybrid format in 2020, with all tournaments taking place online except the final table of the $10,000 main event. That turned into a heads-up match with the US winner taking on the international winner, and Damian Salas of Argentina defeated Joseph Hebert of Metairie, Louisiana.

Salas took home $2.5 million for the victory, but it was just one of dozens of bracelet events that took place completely online since live poker wasn’t possible around COVID-19. Which led to things like poker vlogger Ryan DePaulo winning a WSOP bracelet after playing all night in his car from a Whole Foods parking lot in New Jersey.

While no full schedule has been released, opening weekend will feature a charity event for frontline health workers, a $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. and a $5 million guaranteed prize pool for a No-Limit Hold’em event billed as “The Reunion.” The complete list of events with dates will be posted on April 15th.

The traditional main event kicks off Thursday, Nov. 4, with four days of starting flights. It runs through Wednesday, Nov. 17, with all flights not in the same room until Wednesday, Nov. 10.

The Rio was sold to private equity hospitality company Dreamscape for just over $500 million in December of 2019, but the casino is still operated by Caesars Entertainment which owns the WSOP. Hyatt has recently been tasked to update the cavernous, cheesy theme-park disaster that is the off-strip property.

The Rio brand can politely be described as what happens when 90’s kitsch meets bad Carmen Miranda stereotypes, and the long walks and awful food options have been the bane of many a poker player for 17 years. The “Rio Flu” that kicks in about Week 4 of every WSOP due to the lack of ventilation in the Amazon, Miranda, and Pavilion Rooms is as much a signature of the festival as $5 Pepsi’s and a crush to get food on tournament dinner breaks at the All-American Bar & Grille.