World Series Of Poker Finally A Las Vegas Strip Headliner

Koray Aldemir smiles in front of a large pile of money with a trophy bracelet on his right hand after winning the World Series of Poker Main Event on Nov. 17, 2021, at the Rio in Las Vegas.
Image Credit: Antonio Abrego-PokerGO

This year’s World Series of Poker represents a return to normalcy but also one of massive change.

For the first time since 2019, the WSOP will be held in full in its usual summer slot in Las Vegas, with no COVID-related restrictions. But it won’t be held at the Rio, the WSOP’s home since 2005.

Instead, the WSOP is finally moving to the Las Vegas Strip, being held jointly at Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas from Tuesday through July 20.

“It’s a key milestone, important milestone for this event and for poker overall,” WSOP executive director Ty Stewart said. “After 52 years, we’re finally a headliner, baby.”

Biggest Main Event Ever?

A banner commemorating Doyle Brunson's two World Series of Poker Main Event victories hangs in the Bally's Events Center.
Image Credit: Jim

As always, the WSOP will culminate with the Main Event, the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em World Championship, whose TV broadcasts helped make household names of Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Phil Hellmuth, Chris Moneymaker and others.

Last year, Koray Aldemir prevailed in a field of 6,650 players to earn $8 million. This year’s Main Event runs from July 3-16, and Stewart said he believes it will break the record of 8,773 entries set in 2006.

“I will be on record this year as taking the Over on 8,773 [entries],” Stewart said. “There’s no reason for us not to break the all-time Main Event record. I expect that we will do it, from what we’ve seen in trends around the world. We know there’s pent-up demand.”

COVID Fades as Concern

Jack Effel, the vice president of the World Series of Poker, gestures with his right hand during a media tour of the Paris Las Vegas convention center Thursday, May 26, 2022.
Image Credit: Jim

The second-largest Main Event was held in 2019 with 8,569 entries, and the record seemed primed to fall in 2020 until the coronavirus pandemic began.

The 2020 WSOP ended up being held almost completely online, and a hybrid online/live Main Event attracted 1,379 entries. It was the lowest figure since Moneymaker won in 2003 (839) and sent poker’s popularity surging.

The WSOP was delayed until the fall last year as the pandemic continued, and the series ended up being held under a vaccine mandate. The Main Event field rebounded to 6,650, but the mandate and international travel restrictions had at least some effect on entries.

That won’t be the case this year. The vaccine mandate is gone, and masks are optional. Stewart and WSOP vice president Jack Effel said the series would follow public health guidelines should those change.

Paris, Bally’s … Horseshoe?

The exterior of Bally's, left, and Paris Las Vegas, right, are seen amid streaks of car headlights on the Las Vegas Strip.
Image Credit: Antonio Abrego-PokerGO

The World Series of Poker started in 1970 and was held at Binion’s in downtown Las Vegas until moving off-Strip to the Rio in 2005.

This year’s WSOP will be contested at Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas, but that will be a blip in the history books. Bally’s is in the process of rebranding itself as the Horseshoe, and next year’s WSOP will be officially held at Horseshoe Las Vegas and Paris Las Vegas.

That will be appropriate for the WSOP, as Binion’s was officially Binion’s Horseshoe during its years hosting the series.

Players will have to spend a few minutes learning how to navigate the Bally’s and Paris convention center spaces being used for the WSOP. The areas are about a five-minute walk from each other, but players will rarely need to go between the two in the same day.

The Paris side houses the main registration area and the Paris Ballroom, where the first day of most WSOP tournaments will take place. A full Caesars Sportsbook also has been installed in the Paris convention area.

The Bally’s side includes two tournament areas that mostly will be for players who advance to Day 2 or later of an event. That includes the Bally’s Event Center, which will host all the final tables, including the Main Event and others being livestreamed on the subscription video service PokerGO or filmed for later broadcast on CBS Sports Network.

The combined areas have 582 poker tables, the largest capacity ever for the WSOP, officials said.

The Parking Issue

Workers install the World Series of Poker logo at the Paris Las Vegas convention center on Thursday, May 26, 2022.
Image Credit: Jim

One major change, especially for Las Vegas locals, will be that parking is no longer free, as it was at the expansive outdoor lot at the Rio. Players can park in the Paris parking garage or in a lot behind the Bally’s convention area for $18 per day.

There are ways to get free or reduced-price parking. Those with Platinum or higher status on their Caesars Rewards cards park for free, and those with lower status can get free parking by applying for a Caesars Rewards credit card.

A seven-day parking plan also can be purchased for $100.

Buy-ins from $400 to $250K

Daniel Negreanu smiles while holding chips and cards during a PokerGO Cup event at the PokerGO studio in Las Vegas in 2021.
Image Credit: Antonio Abrego-PokerGO

The World Series of Poker features options for almost every type of poker player. The buy-ins range from $400 for the Colossus No-limit Hold’em tournament to $250,000 for the Super High Roller No-limit Hold’em event.

While No-limit Hold’em remains the dominant game, events are offered in all major poker variants, including Seven-card Stud, 2-7 Lowball and mixed events that incorporate up to 20 different types of games.

Besides the 88 official live WSOP bracelet events, 13 online bracelet events will be held on (The WSOP awards trophy bracelets for tournament victories.)

Poker superstar Daniel Negreanu, a six-time WSOP bracelet winner, said on Twitter that he expected a massive turnout for the WSOP.

“The excitement I’m seeing surrounding WSOP 2022 is unlike any I’ve seen in many years,” he said. “A new venue likely plays a role, but I think it has a lot to do with a feeling of normalcy again with [the event] back in its regularly scheduled time slot.”