It’s fair to say that normality went out the door in 2020. The whole world was struck down hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with millions of lives lost. Every segment of our society was affected. From sports without fans to virtual poker tournaments, COVID-19 ravaged the world last year.
The game of poker suffered a lot. Since land-based venues shut down early in March 2020, the only option left was to play online. Many online casinos started daily tournaments, but nothing was the same without the mid-major live tours. COVID-19 even forced WSOP to go online after the first announced date in May 2020 was postponed.
The world’s biggest poker tournament eventually started online and finished live with the final poker table on January 3, 2021. However, the industry has seen a massive shift toward online tournaments, and it seems that it’ll remain so for some time.
Return to Normality?
After a lot of speculation, the first COVID-19 vaccines are already out and proving to be very efficient. It will be a struggle to vaccinate a population large enough for herd immunity in 2021, but at least we’re on the right track. The best poker news sites are optimistic that tournaments should be back on schedule this year, at least those from the mid-major kind.
Others will still postpone or go online, at least until a large number of the population is inoculated. While online poker tournaments are great, they can’t be compared to the thrill of sitting at a table against the biggest players in the history of the game.
It’ll definitely be a challenge to get poker tournaments to go back to normal this year. Organizing everything to health and safety protocols is hard. No one wants an outbreak in their casino that could easily spark a new spike in cases. Return to normality is within reach, yet so far away.
The logistical challenges are pretty big too. If things get even back to a shred of normal, the biggest tournaments will likely require players to get vaccinated before they sit at a table, and not all of them will gladly accept that. This is one of the reasons why experts believe that 2021 will still be a year of online poker tournaments before things get back to normal, barring any setbacks.
A Slow Return of Live Events
The return of live poker events will be slower than expected. Travel restrictions and different governments and rules will make sure of it. Keep in mind that many countries are still in various lockdown stages, so the timeline for the return of live events is hard to map out.
Live poker tournaments may be back by June, but depending on how the vaccination goes around the world, it may be 2022 at the earliest. For now, the vaccine is the only way to normality, including poker normality. Even if things go according to plan, the return of live poker events will certainly be held back by special COVID rules and procedures, so don’t expect to play tournaments like you did before for a while.