Anti-Vaxxers Unhappy with WSOP COVID-19 Mandate and Rules

9 months ago
Anti-Vaxxers Unhappy with WSOP COVID-19 Mandate and Rules
03 Sep

The WSOP decision to mandate players prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to play the upcoming series in Vegas has seen uproar in the poker community, with Alex Foxen and Kristen Bicknell leading an anti-vaxx charge...

The WSOP’s rules on just how they would deal with the coronavirus pandemic and related issues has changed regularly over the past few weeks, but their announcement at the end of last week is what really set the cat among the pigeons.

The WSOP stated:

“Participants will be required to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 one time, upon first registration, to become eligible to participate in WSOP events, including bracelet events, deep stack tournaments, satellites and live action games.”

With less than a month to go until the annual summer shindig kicks off on September 30th at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, anyone wanting to play will have to “receive their final vaccine dose 14 days prior to start date” in order to be considered “fully vaccinated”.

Kristen Bicknell, who is the other half of poker’s strongest poker couple along with Foxen, shares his conspiracy theory views on the vaccine, her Twitter feed a barrage of pseudo-scientific guff and debunked right-wing propaganda.

WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said of their decision to mandate vaccination:

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly-it is made with no agenda beyond protecting player eligibility and the operations of a unique televised gaming event. The nature of poker is to be in close proximity with your opponents for extended periods of time and a seat at the WSOP is a commitment for both our company and the participants. We want players to be excited for their return to the WSOP, while offering the greatest level of protection and limiting complications during the tournament this fall.”
While Foxen and Bicknell were joined by some other well-known poker names, such as Bill Perkins who is double-vaxxed but still not impressed with the new rule, a number of pros opposed the anti-vaxxer arguments.

Among those were Vanessa Kade, who attempted to get to the bottom of Bicknell’s fears...

...only to be met with more spurious links to well-worn conspiracy theories.

Daniel Negreanu was sticking to the simplicity of “rules is rules” and not getting drawn into the politics of the situation...

...while his long-time nemesis, Irish poker pro David K. Lappin had a tweet for all those anti-vaxxers looking for alternative approaches to the COVID-19 crisis...

It wouldn’t be a proper poker Twitter argument unless Mike Matusow and Doug Polk had something to say, and surprise, surprise they were on opposite sides of the WSOP vaccine fence...

What effect the WSOP vaccine mandate will have on non-attendance is obviously unclear, but given that the CDC guidance they are following might yet change – including mask-wearing policy in Nevada – we’ll probably just have to wait and see who does or doesn’t play.

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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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