The World Series of Poker is the biggest poker event of the year, but the coronavirus pandemic will force major changes for the event in 2020. The World Series of Poker (WSOP) will be held exclusively online this year, which could lead to several issues.
The first virtual WSOP is set to begin on July 1, and there will be 85 official bracelet events set to take place. The World Series of Poker has previously held some online events as a part of the series, but this is the first time that it will be exclusively online.
Previous online events have been limited to residents of New Jersey and Nevada, as these are the two states that have legalized online poker. This year’s event will allow international players to compete for the first time in over half of the bracelet contests.
Thirty-one events will be held on the WSOP.com network in North America, which is powered by 888 Holdings. 888 Holdings has players in both Nevada and New Jersey.
GG Poker Network will hold the remainder of the events, and these will be open to international players. Players from Asia, Canada, Europe, and Latin America will be eligible to enter these contests.
The World Series of Poker will be keeping the two player pools separate, but there is a chance that players will find a way around these issues. US online poker sites are not allowed to accept international players, and the WSOP will be monitoring this closely.
There will be plenty of media attention for all of the bracelet events that take place at the World Series of Poker, and it will be hard for players to hide their locations. Still, a large number of players are expected to give this a try.
A Number of Issues Exist
The biggest issue that will face the World Series of Poker sites is players using VPNs to hide their location. Players from the United States have been doing this for years, and there have been several big-name cases in recent years.
High-stakes professional poker player Brain Hastings participated in a PokerStars tournament held in Ireland, and he used a VPN to hide his location in the United States. In 2017, Gordon Vayo won close to $700,000 in a PokerStars event in Canada, but he was forced to give back the money after it was discovered that he used a VPN to play from California.
Online poker platforms have gotten better at tracking down the use of VPNs, but location-masking companies have improved as well. It is expected that a large number of players use VPNs, but it only becomes knowledge when someone gets caught.
VPN stands for virtual private network, and it is one of three ways that players mask their location. Virtual hosting and the TOR network are the other two ways that poker players have been entering tournaments from other locations.
Hedgehog Security is one of the biggest companies that will be providing their services to the WSOP beginning in July. They specialize in cybersecurity cases, but they are aware that it will be difficult to follow along with more than 80 tournaments.
Virtual hosting is another common practice among poker players, and this is hard for Hedgehog Security to root out fake players from the genuine ones. Hedgehog can block virtual hosting parties, but it could also kick out players that are eligible to be participating.
Even though there are several cybersecurity issues at play, the World Series of Poker is still expected to be a hugely successful event in 2020.