It has been a while since I have used my favourite hashtag, #allineverywhere , on social media. In late April 2020, more than a full month into the first European Covid wave and locked up in Luxembourg, I was publishing a post about how questionnable it was to consider a live comeback in 2020. Back then, I thought of myself: 'What a nit! - Of course there will be plenty of games again in a few months ... right?'
Well, we all know what 2020 got us into: a messed up 2021. In an attempt of vulgar simplification, one could see the management of the pandemic like a risk/reward problem to solve. Agreed, the problem is complex but from what I can observe from my point of view of an ABC citizen, are European leaders that seem to focus hugely on the risk aspect of this equation, not so much on the reward part anymore and ultimately, not really on the problem solving part either. Locking down city after city and country after country has not proven super effective. Why not reopen older regional hospitals for specific care? Why not make colossal investments in vaccine logistics to speed up things? Why isn't there a massive flow of cash towards public hospitals and the health care systems like when states bail out embarrassing failures of their financial institutions? I am not saying I have the solution. The point here is that I just don't see any strong signal that tells me: we will be out of this soon. All sounds and looks rather like: we are in this for quite a long time. By now it has become a soup of politically correctness, lobbying and maybe a bit of corruption and incompetence to make the mess perfectly messy. Bottomline is that it has been a full year by now that has gone by with politics pretending it will be better in 2 weeks every 2 weeks.
I have not made up my mind yet whether I think it is good idea to get a covid vaccine or not but at the rate that things are going, I might have another 6 months to think about it anyway. The entertainment, travel and leisure industries are not yet out of the woods. While we might have some opportunities to play/work during the summer, the covid saga might resume in the early winter months because why not?
European Poker Tour (EPT) was virtually absent in 2020 except for one stop in Russia, the World Poker Tour (WPT) completely stopped in March 2020 and the World Series Of Poker (WSOP) has cancelled all 2020 live events opting for a full online version of the series for the first time it's long history. It looks like Poker is coming back slowly in Las Vegas these weeks but I have a hard time seeing huge Poker festivals happening this year - at least not in Europe, maybe in Rozvadov at some point. Some big fields are building up again in Sin City and in Florida for instance but for how long?
Some small and local events and new startups might pop up and do well since players miss live events so bad. According to the travel restrictions, some regional events might take place in Europe here and there and some courageous dudes might even start new brands to try to get a hold on what looks like a new virgin market but I wonder when I will be able to hop almost spontaneously from country to country again. These times might be gone for a long while and, if that is the case, I better keep reconsidering my lifestyle as a whole since moving around, reporting, scouting, playing and shooting photography or film, is basically all I have been doing for the last 15+ years. I think I should be able to find cash game spots relatively easily during the coming warmer months but for all my live MTT player buddies, all the restrictions mean that it will be difficult to take home a proper 6-figure bink payday unless playing for really big stakes. Less players per tournament, less people per festival, les tournaments per festival stop ... it was already problematic enough to book a decent profit in Poker MTTs before all this :-)
Independently from my analysis of the situation, there is one thing that I am sure about: the total lack of enthusiasm and perspective of most of my friends and co-workers. Also, no customer is placing serious orders for what so ever: photo shootings, coverages, reports ... Everybody talks about collaborations and partnerships but none of them is willing to put cash on the table. They probably have none left. The struggle is real. Some have lost the battle already. Some are about to crumble. Some continue to fight. Nobody is prospering. It is desolating to see how much work can be put into projects that will maybe not take place. The human resources toll is enormous.
Let us be real, in order to resume playing live and shooting live Poker gigs, I am considering to move over to the U.S. for a while if I can but the virus is a problem over there too, even if more games are running. Asia was also an option on my mind - Cambodia - why not? A friend of mine plays online from there. 'Come over - Cambodia ticks all the boxes', he said. That was before a new virus wave hit the country and they started locking down again 2 weeks ago...
For now, keeping a strong mindset and getting better at online Poker still seems like a good bet. The reshuffling of the live Poker deck is not done yet. It is unclear what brands will emerge of the crisis with an edge, what new tours will be launched but there is already one huge winner in this circus, a winner that has hosted the most prestigious live Poker event without being a live promoter. GG Poker struck very hard in the Poker business one year ago. I would not be surprised to see the online leader come up with a legit live circuit at the end of the pandemic but let's see if the WSOP finds a way to host events with thousands of entrants and to avoid another online series this year that would probably be hosted by GG again. The WSOP has yet to announce any kind of schedule for this year's series.
The 2021 WSOP will happen this year in Las Vegas, Kevin “Kevmath” Mathers reported on Twitter, but the World Series of Poker won’t confirm it
wrote Jon Sofen in Cardchat on March 2nd, 2021