WSOP: Big 50 is the Biggest Tournament Ever In More Ways Than One

The WSOP knew they'd have a big field on their hands for the Big 50 - but an unprecedented one?

For the last week, the poker world has been buzzing and the hallways at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino have been jam-packed all thanks to the $500 Big 50 event at the World Series of Poker. While big crowds and plenty of hype are nothing new for the opening week of the WSOP, the Big 50 was unprecedented in many ways.

Largest All-Time Live Poker Tournament

The 28,371-player field made the Big 50 the largest live tournament in poker history. The previous title holder in that category, The Colossus in 2015, which had a $565 buy-in and allowed players to enter each of the four starting flights once, drew 22,374 players, many of whom checked ‘Play a WSOP event’ off of their bucket list. The Big 50 is a staggering 26.8% bigger than the Colossus ever was.

The Big 50 is now the big dog, but Colossus events hold down the next three spots on the all-time largest live poker tournament list. The 2011 Legends of Poker $1M Guaranteed, which had just a $150 buy-in and allowed for unlimited re-entries through 20 starting flights over 10 days, sits in the fifth spot with a 13,178-player field. Last year’s Colossus is the sixth largest field of all time with 13,070.

Year Event Players
2019 WSOP: The Big 50 28,474
2015 WSOP: $565 The Colossus No Limit Hold’em 22,374
2016 WSOP: $565 Colossus II No Limit Hold’em 21,613
2017 WSOP: $565 The Colossus III No Limit Hold’em 18,054
2011 $150 Legends of Poker $1M Guaranteed 13,178
2018 WSOP: $565 Colossus No Limit Hold’em 13,070
2012 $150 Winnin’ o’ the Green 11,704
2013 $150 Winnin’ o’ the Green Mega Millions 11,608
2012 $150 Mega Millions V 11,146
2014 $160 Mega Millions X 10,939

Just 13 events have ever had a field of 10,000 players or more. Six of them are WSOP events and the other seven are all from the Bicycle Casino events with upwards of 20 starting flights.

Uniques vs. Re-entry

Players were allowed to enter each of the four Big 50 flights once. There were 17,970 unique entries in the Big 50. Had that been its own event, it would have been the fifth-largest field of all-time just behind Colossus III.

There were 10,401 re-entries in the Big 50, making up 36.2% of the total field. The number could have been much bigger had WSOP officials been better prepared for the massive Day 1A turnout. Just 990 players (15.4%) managed to navigate the long lines and waits to re-enter. The three days that followed say 2,188 (1B – 36.6%) 3,322 (1C – 46.3%), 3955 (1D – 43.4%) re-entries as WSOP officials improved the registration process.

For comparison’s sake, Colossus I had 6,987 re-entries to make up 31.2% of the field. Similar to the Big 50 re-entry rules, players could enter each flight one time. The only difference was there were six flights compared to four for the Big 50.

Colossus II and Colossus III both saw an uptick in the % of the field that was re-entry. Colossus II had 9,900 players re-enter (45.8%) while Colossus III had 8,980 (49.7%). This can largely be attributed to an increase in the number of starting flights. Colossus I had just four, while II and III each had six.

Flight-by-Flight Success of the Big 50

Flight 1D of the Big 50 was so huge that had it been its own event, it would have been the 14th largest tournament ever. The 9,121 players that packed the Rio and made for long lines on the final opening day actually outdrew the PokerStars Sunday Million this week. PokerStars’ flagship event had just 8,984 runners.

For events that have multiple starting days, Big 50 flights occupy the top two and four of the top five starting flights ever. The only other event in the top five is Flight C from the 2015 $565 Colossus.

Year Event (Flight) Players
2019 $500 Big 50 (D) 9,121
2019 $500 Big 50 (C) 7,183
2015 $565 Colossus (C) 6,283
2019 $500 Big 50 (A) 6,095
2019 $500 Big 50 (B) 5,972

Even Day 2 Was Huge

From the 28,371 players in the Big 50, 6,455 advanced to their respective Day 2. Had the combined Day 2 restarts been its own tournament, it would fall right between the 2009 and 2015 WSOP Main Event as the 37th largest tournament ever.