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World Series of Poker kicks off its first day in Las Vegas

Posted at 4:31 PM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 20:50:28-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Shuffle up and deal! The World Series of Poker is back in person for the first time since the pandemic! The greatest poker players from all over the planet are once again battling for huge prize money and coveted gold bracelets.

Chips are falling in place at the Rio. Players at the ready hoping to draw a winning hand. The WSOP is finally underway.

“Just really excited to hear the chips and see all the cards being dealt and see all the players back with us again,” Jack Effel, vice president of WSOP, said.

The poker tournament series hosting 88 gold bracelet events. Tens of thousands of people competing with millions of dollars up for grabs. Anthony Curtis with Las Vegas Advisor says it’s a signal Vegas is coming back.

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“People associate Vegas with excitement and opportunity and seeing knowns and unknowns win millions of dollars literally or reading about it day by day, it’s nothing but terrific advertising,” he said.

A vaccine mandate is allowing players to take off their masks at the table with no Plexiglas needed. Tournament officials say it’s all about helping players.

“It’s a nice comfortable way to feel normal, especially with the long days. A lot of the days are 10-12 hours,” Effel said.

RELATED: World Series of Poker 2021 joins list of events requiring proof of vaccination

But some people may choose to remain masked for strategic reasons. In a game that requires reading someone’s face, Curtis says don’t be surprised to see more face coverings than usual in this year’s tournament.

“Some of these poker players have said this is a pretty good tool for my arsenal. Hide my tells and make it a little easier on myself,” he said.

No matter the odds facing these players at the table, the fact that poker is being played with such high stakes is already a win in their book.

“It’s great to see everyone again. It just feels great that this can happen,” Effel said.

The world series of poker will continue through Nov. 23 with the main events to come.