Well, the July 4th holiday is here, which signifies many things -celebrations of all things American, the hot days of summer and the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest (congratulations to eating legend Joey Chestnut for demolishing the competition again this year). With apologies to the World Cup (yes, it is still going on), there isn’t much going on in the sports world. This means that there is a lot of free time on ESPN to broadcast one of the biggest spectacles in the sporting world – the World Series of Poker Main Event!
This year, the Main Event is being broadcast live (with a 30 minute delay) on ESPN and Poker Go. This means that rather than having to wait for an edited version a couple of months from now, you can follow along with the action as it happens. There are those who say that poker is boring to watch, but we beg to differ. This is a game all about strategy and psychology, and watching it happen live gives you the intricacies of every hand versus only seeing the hands that make for good television. Also, having only a 30-minute delay means that the players at the televised tables can find out what their opponents were playing while still on the broadcast, which makes for very interesting conversation between the players.
The World Series of Poker has grown in size to ver 60 bracelet events, but since its start in 1970, it is the Main Event that is the championship everyone wants to win. The buy-in for the event is a whopping $10,000, and yet even without online poker sites qualifying thousands of players like in the early 2000s, the numbers are still staggering. Here is how many players have played in the Main Event since Chris Moneymaker won in 2003:
- 2003: 839
- 2004: 2575
- 2005: 5619
- 2006: 8773
- 2007: 6358 (The first WSOP after UIGEA)
- 2008: 6844
- 2009: 6494
- 2010: 7319
- 2011: 6865 (The first WSOP after Black Friday)
- 2012: 6598
- 2013: 6352
- 2014: 6683
- 2015: 6420
- 2016: 6737
- 2017: 7221
As you can see, even with two seemingly catastrophic events for the poker industry, the Main Event still shows incredible numbers, with 2017 being the 3rd-largest field in history. There is no denying that even though there are thousands of poker tournaments held around the world each year, the one that everyone wants to win is the Main Event of the WSOP.
This year, with the event only having just started, we aren’t yet sure what the final numbers will be, but we expect that it will be close to the 7221 figure from last year. There are four separate starting days to accommodate the thousands of entrants, and there is some strategy in play with regards to when players want to start playing. Some like to play the earliest possible to have more time to rest, whereas others
like to get into a rhythm and stay there, opting to play later in the start dates. Historically, Day 1A has always had the least number of participants, with just under 1,000 in 2018. The 1C start day tends to have the highest number of entrants.
Traditionally, the Main Event has been the last event of the WSOP. However, with so many players busting over the first four days, the organizers decided to offer more bracelet events after the start of the Main Event. These events should draw huge numbers as one would have to believe the fields may be a little softer given that players will still be in the Main.
There are already stories coming from the first couple of days of action at the Main Event. First off, there will be no repeat champion again this year as Scott Blumstein was knocked out relatively early on Day 1A. Beating a field of over 7,000 players is an incredible feat -doing it two years in a row is downright impossible. We have seen a player make the final table in back-to-back years, but we would have to go all the way back to Johnny Chan in 1987 and 1988 to find a repeat champion. Chan is in the field again this year despite not playing much tournament poker throughout the year.
Another crazy situation happened on Day 1B when a player was eliminated on the very first hand. One table featured a player who had pocket Aces, only to get in all 50,000 of their chips against someone holding pocket Kings. As can be the case, the Aces could not fade the remaining Kings in the deck, and when one hit on the flop, a dream turned into a nightmare for one player. We can’t imagine the feeling of dropping $10,000 and being eliminated in the first hand…but then again, it is gambling!
As the dust settles from the rest of the starting days, we will bring you the final numbers for this year’s Main Event, and as the play progresses we will bring you highlights of the action here at USGamblingSites.com.