2020 World Series of Poker: 5 Things You Should Know
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2020 World Series of Poker: 5 Things You Should Know

2020 World Series of Poker: 5 Things You Should Know

It is almost that time of year again! Every sport has its championship. Football has the Super Bowl, Hockey has the Stanley Cup, Baseball has the (other) World Series, and College Basketball has March Madness. For poker players and fans though, the dates circled on the calendar are at the end of May and on into June and July. That is when the World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2020 takes place. 

The WSOP got its start in 1970 when casino owner Benny Binion invited a small handful of the best poker players in the world to his poker room at the Horseshoe Casino. The event has gone through several incarnations over the years. It was eventually sold by Binion to Harrah’s (which is now Caesars Entertainment) and moved to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. It has been broadcast by CBS, the Discovery Channel and, for the last 2 decades, ESPN. 

At the World Series of Poker 2020, there will be over 100 events and almost $300 million in prize money awarded. It is the biggest poker event in the world and something that big-time players and fans of the game love. The best part is, as Chris Moneymaker, an accountant from Tennessee proved in 2003, with some good play and a little luck, anyone has a shot at taking home a coveted WSOP bracelet. If you are interested in the World Series of Poker 2020, here is everything you need to know about this year’s event.

When Does the 2020 WSOP Start?

The World Series of Poker 2020 will have many events but the most prestigious tournament is, of course, the Main Event. This Texas Hold ‘Em tournament is considered the apex of the poker world and is THE tournament that the best of the best want to win. It is the most expensive tournament within the WSOP to enter and also comes with the biggest prize. 

In 2019, Iranian-German poker player Hossein Ensan defeated Dario Sammartino at the final table and walked away with the gold bracelet and the $10 million prize. He beat out over 8,000 other players who entered for their chance at poker immortality. 

The World Series of Poker 2020 Main Event is expected to draw at least as many players, if not more than the 2019 event, and have a similar prize that reaches 8 digits. As it has been since 2006, this year’s WSOP Main Event, the 51st edition of the tournament, will be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas starting on July 1. The tournament will run for 2 weeks until a winner is crowned on July 14. The schedule of the tournament is as follows: 

  • July 1 – 3: 3 starting flights
  • July 4 – 5: Day 2 for winners of the 3 starting flights
  • July 6 – 10: Day 3 play
  • July 11: Off Day 
  • July 12 – 14: Final Tables

Once again, ESPN will broadcast the Main Event tournament. Between the cable network and its streaming partner, PokerGO, there will be at least 40 hours of live WSOP coverage and another 90 hours of originally produced episodes. ESPN will televise the final tables live starting at 10 pm EST on July 10, 12 – 14. They are expected to bring back the same group of commentators as last year which included Lon McEachern, Norman Chad, Jamie Kerstetter, and Kara Scott. 

What About Other 2020 WSOP events?

The World Series of Poker 2020 is about more than just the Main Event, though. There are around 100 events in Vegas and around the world that award WSOP bracelets. In 2019, 90 bracelets were awarded in Las Vegas with an additional 15 in other parts of the globe.

There are tournaments for every type of poker player imaginable, but the big ones are the Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments. There are about a dozen prestige tournaments in this category, each held at a different time with different buy-in requirements, rules, and prizes. The big events kick off with a special tournament for Las Vegas casino employees and runs through a tournament called “The Closer”. Here is a look at the other 11 tournaments that join the Main Event to make up the biggest 12 of the World Series of Poker 2020. 

  • May 28 – 31: The Big 50 (28,371 players in 2019), $500 buy–in
  • June 5 – 6: Millionaire Maker (8,809), $15,00 buy-in 
  • June 12 – 13: Monster Stack (6,035), $1,500 buy-in 
  • June 14: Deepstack No Limit Hold ‘EM (6,150), $800 buy-in 
  • June 18: Seniors (5,916), $1,000 buy-in 
  • June 19 – 20: Double Stack (6,214), $1,000 bu -in 
  • June 23: Deepstack Championship (6,140), $600 buy-in
  • June 24 – 25: Colossus (13,109), $400 buy-in 
  • June 26 – 27: Crazy Eights (10,185), $888 buy-in 
  • June 29: Mini Main Event (5,521), $1,000 buy-in 
  • July 4 – 6: Little One for One Drop (6,248), $1,000 + $111 buy-in 

These are the Texas Hold ‘Em games that drew over 5,000 entrants in 2019 but there are all kinds of other tournaments as well, from tournaments just for women to smaller tournaments to tournaments for games like Pot Limit Omaha and others.

Can I still get into the 2020 WSOP?

The answer to this is yes. Anyone can buy their way into the World Series of Poker 2020. All you need to do is pay the entrance fee. These fees range from a few hundred dollars to $10,000 for a seat at the Main Event table. One of the great points of the WSOP, in general, is that anyone who wants to do so can buy in, giving them a chance to take home a bracelet and the top prize.

There are cheaper ways to qualify for the World Series of Poker through both in-person satellite tournaments and satellite tournaments in online casinos. Players are able to buy into these online poker games for as little as $10 or less and, if you win, you can qualify for a seat at the World Series of Poker 2020. These tournaments started in October or November of 2019. Most wrapped up by the end of February 2020. If you miss out on this year’s online satellites, don’t worry. You can still pick your favorite casino, pick up a great online casino bonus, and practice for next year’s WSOP. 

Who are some of the favorites for the 2020 WSOP?

Chances are that the World Series of Poker 2020 will be won by one of the best professional poker players in the world. However, there is a small chance that will not be the case. In 2004, Chris Moneymaker entered an $85 satellite tournament through the website PokerStars and won a seat at the Main Event. Two weeks after the tournament started, this accountant and former waiter walked away with $2.5 million.

Part of what makes the WSOP so popular and exciting is that a Chris Moneymaker-like winner could pop up every year. It is pretty unusual, though. Most years the Main Event is won by one of the best in the world and chances are, 2020 will be no exception. Here are some of the World Series of Poker 2020 favorites to watch.  

Hossein Ensan

You can’t talk about the favorites for the World Series of Poker 2020 without mentioning the 2019 winner first. Ensan is a pro who went into last year’s final table with the biggest stack and saw it all the way to the end. Outside of the $10 million prize last year, Ensan had a modest $3 million in winnings prior to that. This is mostly because he didn’t start his career until the age of 39 in the early 2000s.  

Dario Sammartino 

Dario made it all the way to the end in 2019 and will be back to try and complete the job in 2020. Sammartino is a 32-year-old Italian poker player who is the all-time winningest Italian player in history. He started out online under the screen name Secret_M0d3 and with that success has turned himself into a WSOP favorite. 

Phil Hellmuth

You have to consider “The Poker Brat” a favorite to win the WSOP Main Event every year he enters. Why? Because he holds the records for most bracelets total, most final tables, most money finishes, and most bracelets in one year. He is one of the most famous names in the poker world and one of the highest earners. This is why Hellmuth is always a favorite.

Antonio Esfandiari

Although he didn’t make it to the final table in 2019, Esfandiari hopes to make 2020 his year. The former magician has never actually won a Main Event bracelet but has come close a few times. He has 3 bracelets overall including the one he won in the 2012 Big One for One Drop. That tournament won him the single biggest prize in poker history, over $18 million. 

Zhen Cai

The 35-year-old Cai is a talented Omaha player who made the final table at the 2019 Main Event. He is a well-respected young pro who has won a number of smaller tournaments around the country. 2019 was the furthest he ever made it but few would be surprised if he got back in the game in 2020.

Phil Ivey

Ivey, known as the “Tiger Woods of Poker” is second only to Phil Hellmuth in WSOP bracelets. In 2019, though, he proved how fickle poker can be. The 10x champion lasted just 51 minutes in last year's tournament and was one of the first professional players knocked out. Never one to be counted out, it is not crazy to think that Ivey will be hungry to make up for last year’s blinder in 2020 and make a push for the final table. 

Anything else I should know?

If you are going to the World Series of Poker 2020, there are a few last odds and ends you may want to know. 

  • You can get room reservations at any of Caesars’ Las Vegas properties for as little as $33 for Caesars Rewards members. To do this, use the promo code WSOP20
  • If you want to buy into one of the tournaments, online pre-registration opens in March and April once all events have been determined and approved by regulators. 
  • The lowest buy-in for a tournament at The Rio is $75. 
  • Fun facts: The Rio will set up over 500 poker tables which will take up over 200,000 square-feet of the ballroom. 


Just like the Super Bowl or the other World Series, the WSOP is the premier event in all of the poker world. It is open to all if you have the money or can win your way in.  The chance to walk away with the big prize and a bracelet is real. Whether you are playing, watching in Las Vegas, or enjoying the ESPN coverage on TV, the World Series of Poker 2020 promises to be an incredible event.


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