Catch 2020 WSOP Main Event on ESPN This Sunday

The 2020 World Series of Poker was anything but normal. It took place online, mostly, and the Main Event didn’t determine its world champion until January 2021. And the action didn’t broadcast live online at all and didn’t air on television…until now. Set your DVRs – or whatever technology you have – for this Sunday night, February 28.

ESPN2 will broadcast the 2020 WSOP Main Event in a four-hour extravaganza.

Refreshers and Reminders

Since 2020 is somewhat of a fog for some people, it’s good to recap what actually happened with the World Series of Poker last year.

In March 2020, the WSOP – along with every other live poker room and tournament venue – cancelled action for its WSOP Circuit tours indefinitely due to the pandemic. As the summer approached and poker players (and fans) wanted information about the summer World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, the WSOP cancelled that, too.

The WSOP immediately put Circuit events online in coordination with GGPoker for its international events and on its own WSOP site in parts of the United States. It did the same for its summer series, putting bracelet events online for US players and international ones. It gave more players than ever the opportunity to participate in WSOP events.

Later in the year, the WSOP announced a Main Event, the real one and one that was a hybrid of live and online events. GGPoker hosted an online tournament, with the final nine scheduled to play live at King’s Casino in the Czech Republic. One player chose to avoid the health risks, so eight players competed live. The WSOP site in the US hosted its tournament, and its final nine were to fly to Las Vegas to play the final table live. In that case, one player contracted Covid-19 and couldn’t attend.

The winners of both final tables were to play a heads-up match for the ultimate title on December 30. That was rescheduled due to the international player unable to obtain entry to the United States so soon after his trip to Europe.

The two ended up playing on January 3 at the Rio in Las Vegas. GGPoker and Caesars Entertainment (WSOP parent company) put up $1M for the winner, who would also claim the Main Event title and gold bracelet.

For the full results, click here.

ESPN Captured the Action

Despite pandemic restrictions, ESPN found a way to send camera crews to the Czech Republic to film that final table. A crew also filmed the action in Las Vegas – the American final table and then the heads-up finale.

It didn’t take long for ESPN to get it ready for a broadcast. They put the footage into a four-hour broadcast for television audiences.

And now it’s set to air on ESPN2 this Sunday, February 28, at 8pm ET.

The four hours of poker television will take viewers to King’s Casino in Europe and Las Vegas in Nevada to see how those tournaments found their champions. The viewers will then get to know the winners, each of whom brought unique stories to the heads-up match. And finally, the two will compete for the ultimate title in poker, not to mention a cool million dollars.

What could’ve been a quick heads-up match – considering it was a freeroll – turned into a 173-hand battle that played out for hours at the Rio. With no live audience due to coronavirus restrictions, the two played pure poker in a relatively quiet setting, under the lights and cameras.

ESPN will air the highlights of that match, including all of the key hands and showing how the match ended as it did.

A Unique Production in Every Way

For a year unlike any other in memory, ESPN will show a World Series of Poker Main Event unlike any other in the series’ 50-plus-year history.

WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart expressed his excitement to deliver the unique content. “With compelling storylines and unpredictable action,” he said, “these episodes remind us all why there was a poker boom in the first place.”

ESPN Senior VP of Programming Tim Bunnell added that the WSOP will be an unusual but still-exciting viewing experience. “The format may be different, but the action remains captivating.”

Viewers will not only notice the differences in the setup, settings, and action, they will hear a new voice on the broadcast. Lon McEachern will commentate on the play and host the show, but his longtime partner, Norman Chad, will not be there. Due to long-haul effects of his 2020 Covid-19 case, he was unable to participate. In his place, poker pro and much-respected poker commentator Jamie Kerstetter joined McEachern to provide poker knowledge, a unique perspective, and, of course, jokes.

 

 

 

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen

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