The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is such a venerable institution in the world of poker that it hardly needs a description. But as the WSOP has become more and more mainstream, with players from all walks of life participating, the question of how to protect the players has become more and more pressing. One step that the WSOP has taken towards this goal is to mandate that all players attending the WSOP must receive a vaccination for Hepatitis A and B, as well as a Hepatitis C vaccine.

A Poker player comes to a WSOP tournament with a chip stack of more than 10,000 dollars. When the players get to the door, a supervisor instructs them to turn a mask and a pair of gloves on, and then to put a plastic hospital bracelet on their wrist. It looks like a surgical bracelet, but it has a small chip embedded in it that has the player’s name on it. When the bracelet is removed, the player will have a radius of infection of less than two meters, and the chip will show up on a scanner.

The World Series of Poker is very concerned with player safety. According to a recent statement from the World Series of Poker, they will be making a major change in their policy to prevent a major epidemic from occurring this fall. “Effective immediately, the World Series of Poker will be mandating that all players attending the WSOP in Las Vegas have a mandatory health shot, including annual flu shots and rabies vaccination,” said Howard Lederer, WSOP Tournament Director, in a statement. “We realize the very nature of the poker tournament is to test player’s physical and mental limits, and we want all players to take precautions to ensure they remain healthy while playing in any World Series of Poker tournament,” Lederer continued.

On Friday, the World Series of Poker announced a vaccination requirement for everyone participating in or working at the event this autumn. The series requires players to provide evidence of COVID-19 immunization.

Beginning Sept. 30 and continuing through Nov. 23, the event will be broadcast live at the Rio. Other big events have also committed to vaccination mandates, prompting the vaccine decision.

In a press release, WSOP executive director Ty Stewart stated, “This is not a decision we have taken lightly – it is made with no purpose other than preserving player eligibility and the operations of a unique televised gaming event.”

“Being in close proximity with your opponents for long periods of time is part of the essence of poker, and a seat at the World Series of Poker represents a commitment for both our business and the players. We want players to be thrilled about returning to the WSOP while also providing the best degree of safety and minimizing difficulties during the event this fall.”

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Examining the WSOP policy

Players who have been vaccinated will not be forced to quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, according to a statement made by the series earlier this month. All players must now get vaccinated under the new regulation.

What would that procedure look like in a tournament with hundreds of participants every day?

When registering for the first time, participants must provide evidence of complete immunization. This qualifies a player to compete in WSOP tournaments.

 CLEAR’s free mobile app and Health Pass feature will be used during the WSOP. Players who have successfully added evidence of immunization through the app may go to the registration cage tellers at the Rio in Las Vegas.

In addition, the WSOP will set up an on-site facility to check alternative documents, such as:

  • immunization cards that are physically present
  • Health passes that are unique to a state or nation

Mandatory vaccinations

Participants must get their last vaccination dosage 14 days prior to the start date of a tournament they want to participate in to be deemed “completely vaccinated” against COVID-19. This policy applies to everyone:

  • participants
  • press
  • spectators
  • vendors

All guests and staff must wear masks as well, in accordance with current CDC recommendations and state requirements.

Furthermore, fully vaccinated players who may have been exposed to a person who tests positive will not be forced to leave the event and enter quarantine provided they have not developed symptoms since the moment of exposure.

Mixed emotions are elicited by the decision.

As one would imagine, the new policy elicited a wide range of reactions from participants. Some gamers are in favor of the decision, seeing it as a vital step in limiting the virus’s spread.

One Twitter user reacted to the news by saying, “Best move WSOP has possibly ever done.”

Other players have seen a rise in the number of vaccinated players testing positive in recent months. They suggested that the vaccine requirement may not have a significant impact.

Another player said, “Those who have been vaccinated are the ones who become infected.” “Brilliant! I’m not coming because I’m quite confident it won’t happen!”

Others claimed that those who have previously been exposed to COVID have a natural immunity to the virus and may not need the vaccination. In any case, the WSOP now requires immunization for all 88 tournaments. It will be fascinating to watch how this impacts voter turnout today.

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