2017 WSOP Predictions: The Good, The Bad & the Ugly of Field Sizes


With the 2017 World Series of Poker now just a few days away, PocketFives asked our writers to make some predictions about what to expect this summer. Now that we’ve already told you which events we’re looking forward to most, we figured we’d get into some of the numbers in the key events on the schedule.

Lance Bradley – President and Editor in Chief, PocketFives

The WSOP has done good work with catering some of the lower stakes tournaments to recreational players. The Millionaire Maker, The Colousss, The Giant, The Monster Stack are all good examples of giving players who might take one shot at a bracelet, some good value. The Colossus is now in its third year and lost 700 players year-over-year despite some changes meant to increase the field. I’m going to go ahead and assume that the Giant, an even lower buy-in event built around weekend players, takes some of the players from Colossus. I’ll put 20,933 players in the field this year.

I’m pretty optimistic about the Main Event field this year. There was a nearly 5% increase in the field between 2015 and 2016 and I don’t think it’s unrealistic to see that again, pushing the final number of 7,000 players. The Poker Central and ESPN streaming plans have generated a good amount of buzz for the Main Event and there’s also a chance that some UB and AbsolutePoker money finds its way back into players pockets. Those two factors can only help the buzz for poker’s biggest event. Give me 7,101 players in the Main this year.

The $50,000 Poker Players Championship is a very special event usually populated by some of the best players in the world. That being said, the field sizes the last couple of years have been less than awesome. In 2015, just 84 players ponied up the $50,000. The number moved in the right direction with 91 players, but it’s still a long way from the 132 that played is recently as 2013. The increase in mixed game tournies in Las Vegas could help the field here, but I don’t see any reason why we’re back into triple digits. We might see 93 players.

Kevin Mathers – Community Manager, PocketFives

The $565 Colossus III on the opening weekend has tough competition with other events on the schedule as the $365 Giant starts the following weekend. Last year’s Colossus drew 21,613 entries, but expect that number to decrease with the Giant and the $333 WSOP.com Online bracelet event siphoning away players looking for a cheaper path to a bracelet and big payday. I’m going to put the field size at 19,435.

The WSOP Main Event is the unofficial bellwether that determines the health of the poker economy. The 2016 Main Event drew a field of 6,737 players, an increase of over 300 from the previous year. A couple of factors that may help numbers this year include the ability to buy into the $10,000 Main Event with a credit card and the likely happening of Absolute Poker and UB remissions appearing in players bank accounts. We’ll see a small increase at 6,842 players.

There are three WSOP bracelets awarded for online events with buy-ins at $333, $1,000 and $3,333. Only the $333 event has a guarantee ($333,333) that may have a chance of missing the guarantee as the event is held during one of the Colossus opening day flights. The $3,333 High Roller is a new event and will be intriguing to see how many people decide to get into the mix in the highest buy-in event on the WSOP.com Nevada client. I think it will be a success at 419 entries.

Matt Clark – Writer, PocketFives

Colossus III starts off what the WSOP hopes is yet another record-breaking year in the Rio. The first two years of this event has had fields topping 21,000 entered into the Bravo system and I think we’ll similar numbers this June. There’s no reason to think that with $1,000,000 guaranteed for first place that the field will fail to reach at least 20,000.

One Drop is interesting due to the schedule change made by WSOP. Last year, 183 players entered and I think that number will drop by a few dozen entrants in 2017. For players who put together a great summer prior to One Drop and want to take a shot before the Main Event were able to do so in past years. This year, having One Drop in the first weekend changes that dynamic and the field will suffer as a result. My guess is 145 entries.
The Main Event hit an uptick in 2016 and hit 6,737 total players, an increase of over 300 from 2015. That number should remain constant this year. Qui Nguyen’s victory certainly might boost the amount of recreational players looking to take their shot at matching his feat, but the lack of online qualifiers puts a speed bump in that optimism. The poker economy as a whole has seen growth this year and I think the Main Event will see that impact when 6,840 players register this year.

Steve Schult – Writer, PocketFives

The poker world is buzzing with the news about the WSOP partnership with Poker Central and the changes in the television coverage for the event. The consensus opinion is that it falls under the “Good for Poker” heading and I agree.

The live coverage of the event will escalate the excitement about the event and there will be a sizable increase from the 2016 Main Event. There were 6,737 players in last year’s event and this year they will cross the 7,000-player mark for the first time since Jonathan Duhamel won it in 2010 and the third time ever.

This summer, The Giant will surpass the 2015 Colossus for the biggest poker tournament ever and there will be 25,000 entries in the field. With five starting flights for this event spread over five weeks, it gives recreational players plenty of time to travel and take their shot. Since it’s only a $365 buy-in, 5,000-entries a flight doesn’t seem that crazy to me.

We also see increases in field size in the Online Championship event. Over the first two years of running an online bracelet event, there was just one online event and I think that made some players forget about it or write it off. This year, with three bracelet events on WSOP.com, players will be more incentivized to deposit on the site and take a shot on the virtual felt.

Jack Stanton – Writer, PocketFives

Having hovered around 6,500 entrants for the past three years, I’d be surprised to see any radical change in the Main Event numbers this year. However, due to the recent streaming announcements coming from the partnership between WSOP and Poker Central, I predict this will be the last year before we see the field for the Main begin to grow back towards the 8,000 mark. So this is more of a 2018 prediction. Sorry.

As for the One Drop High Roller, I would definitely expect it to eclipse the 183-strong field it had last year when Fedor Holz took it down for almost $5 million. Super High Rollers around the world have continued to grow in popularity, and so I’d imagine everyone with a bankroll big enough will want to take down this one on poker’s biggest stage. If I had to guess (and I do – Lance Bradley says so) then I’d say we’ll see at least 200 players take a seat.