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2021 World Series of Poker: Former NBA star Tony Parker joins some big names ready for this year’s tournaments

After a year thrown into chaos by the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Series of Poker returns to something resembling normalcy this year — aside from a move to the fall months rather than taking place in the brutal Las Vegas summer heat.

After the recent release of this year’s full WSOP schedule, some of the biggest names in poker are already starting to lay out plans for this year’s events. In addition, some players have already qualified for the WSOP main event, winning a $10,000 buy-in as a tournament prize. Included in that list is a likely future member of the NBA Hall of Fame.

Let’s take a look at what some big names are saying as the poker world begins to turn its attention to the events to come in October and November that you can watch on CBS Sports Network.

Former NBA star Tony Parker: Four-time NBA champ Parker was the first person known to qualify for the 2021 WSOP, having won a charity event held by The PM Group in January. The top prize for the event was a $10,000 main event seat. WSOP director Gregory Chochon told the San Antonio Express-News, “Because of his career, he never had the time to participate but he is ready for the challenge. We always promote poker as a sport, so Tony’s qualification is great news!”

Six-time WSOP bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu: “There are so many events I’m super excited about,” Negreanu told PokerNews. “There are way more mixed games at high buy-ins with a $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. to start things off … as well as the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. Then at the end for all the degen super high gamblers there’s a $250k no-limit and $100k no-limit.”

10-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Ivey: “I want to travel and play poker,” Ivey, who is coming off a win this month in the WPT $25,000 Heads-Up Championship, told Joey Ingram on the Poker Life Podcast. “I still enjoy playing online poker. When things come up, they’re great. But I prefer to play live and look at my opponent. Nowadays, online has gotten a lot tougher. But I’m looking to play, I’m looking to play poker on TV. I’m looking to travel and play poker. I’m looking at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). I’m not sure about a full schedule, but I’m planning on playing a few events.”

10-time WSOP bracelet winner Doyle Brunson: Brunson, 87, tweeted that he was planning to come out of retirement to play “a few select tournaments” in 2021. Brunson had been a fixture at the event for decades before retiring after taking $43,963 while finishing sixth in the 2018 $10,000 no-limit 2-7 single draw championship. He recently stated he planned to play the 2-7, RAZZ and $1,979 Poker Hall of Fame bounty tournaments.

All-time WSOP bracelet leader Phil Hellmuth: Were there any doubt, 15-time bracelet winner Hellmuth plans to participate in this year’s events with a specific focus on mixed games. “I finished second and third in WSOP Europe eight-game mix events in 2019,” Helmuth told USPoker. “It would be amazing to win that one.”

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