The Muck: Poker Community Confused by WSOP COVID-19 DQ Rule


The WSOP attempted to clarify its controversial rule that players can be disqualified from a bracelet event if they come in close contact with a person known to have contracted COVID-19. But many on social media remain confused with the policy, and some went so far as to say Rule 115 will keep them on the rail this fall.

According to the aforementioned rule, which poker information guru Kevin “kevmath” Mathers shared on his Twitter page, staff is permitted to remove a player who is displaying COVID-19 symptoms or was known to have been exposed to the virus.

Still Just as Confused

On Friday, the WSOP cleared up some of the confusion, letting the poker world know that vaccinated players won’t be removed so long as they aren’t displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Poker Twitter thanked the WSOP for clearing up the air and then moved on. Or not.

“This is a complete scam for anyone who is unvaccinated. Very likely everyone will be in close contact with someone who gets sick at some point. It’s not worth the risk of wsop saying we were in contact and steeling our money. Now I have to cancel my Airbnb and skip wsop,” @btcinvestorhodl argues.

The main topic of discussion in response to Rule 115 wasn’t so much whether the WSOP should require all participants to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Instead, the discussion on poker Twitter the past few days has more to do with how the staff will even enforce the rule, of which that’s still a bit of a mystery.

“It is more likely to come up with a dealer calling out sick with COVID (which is more of a nightmare for close contacts),” John Heinzmann (@JohnHeinzmann) responded.

Big Name Pros Chime In

Matt Glantz is one of numerous poker pros who still need some clarification of Rule 115. He tweeted: “How you make a rule players must be vaccinated without making a rule players must be vaccinated?”

DJ MacKinnon suggests that players who are removed as the result of Rule 115 should receive an ICM chop value based on their chip stack at the time of disqualification instead of the next pay slot. That would prevent a big stack from getting completely screwed, as he explains.

Bart Hanson takes it one step further. He doesn’t want to see players removed from bracelet events at all unless they are caught forging a vaccination card. Instead, his request is that the WSOP eliminate the possibility of such a situation arising before the tournament even begins.

“Just require all players to be vaccinated w evidence (like uploading vax card or streamlining proof in an app) and be done with it. Everyone knows up front and there is no ambiguity. Those forging/faking vaccination and caught are DQed. How can anyone complain if rules up front,” Hanson tweeted.

We aren’t sure how this will all play out. Will it turn out to be a non-issue? Or, are the concerns of so many on social media valid? That’s an answer we’re all going to find out when the 2021 World Series of Poker begins September 30 at the Rio in Las Vegas.

Stay tuned, folks, it’s going to be an interesting Fall.

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