The 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event was a watershed moment for the game. A record number of players – 8,773 to be exact – entered the event that year. Thanks to legal efforts in the United States though, the Main Event has never gotten close to that number again.
With the 2019 World Series of Poker just hours away, PocketFives editorial staff have put together their picks for who will make the most out what should be an incredible summer. Here they discuss what the field sizes might look like in some of the more talked-about events on the schedule, including the Main Event.
The Big 50
Possibly the most talked about event in WSOP history, the Big 50 offers players incredible value and a chance to help celebrate the 50th year of WSOP action.
“I think the Big 50 is going to be massive. Players in my local card room, who have never been to the World Series of Poker, are making the trek this year because it feels like the best value tournament of the summer. While my gut says that this would be a complete sellout Friday – Sunday with 5,800 players in each (if that information is accurate) with the opening flight on Thursday reaching 2,500 runners. I feel like the only thing keeping this from eclipsing Colossus I is the rate at which people will or will not be busting. With 50K in chips and 50-minute levels, it’s a recreational players dream scenario (just in terms of a slow rate of play) and I can see people camping in their seats for the day making it hard for late-registrations to get involved. I’m going with 19,200 runners.” – Jeff Walsh, Senior Writer
“For the Big 50, I don’t see it breaking the record for largest live tournament ever set by the 2015 WSOP Colossus that generated 22,374 entries, but it will be big. I think we’ll see something more in the 18,000-entry range.” – Donnie Peters, Managing Editor
“Everybody and their (service) dog is going to be playing the Big 50 and I’m surprised to see my colleagues thinking there isn’t going to be a 20,000+ player field. I get that a Thursday starting day isn’t ideal for those coming in to cross something off of their bucket list, but a good number of those are going to want to get in early to avoid any potential sellouts for Friday, Saturday, Sunday. If the capacity truly is somewhere around 23,200, I feel like 21,500 is a reasonable estimate.” – Lance Bradley, Editor in Chief
The Mini Main Event
Another new “gimmick” event, the Mini Main Event comes in at $1,000 buy-in and the same structure as the Main Event. Players coming into town looking to throw some chips around could use this one to get themselves ready for the Main Event.
“I could be totally off, but despite a great gimmick name – one that I had attributed to the Monster Stack for the past few years – I’m not sure if players are going to be eager to fire $1K into a tournament with 30-minute levels. The structure is great, of course, mirroring that of the actual Main Event, and 60K is plenty of chips with which to blast off but for those value-hunters, there are better options. Plus some of those who might play this may also opt to register for a mega to the actual Main Event. That said, I could be totally wrong, 4,000 runners will pile into the registration line and next thing you know this 2-day event will have to stretch in Day 1A of the Main Event.” – Walsh
“The $1,000 Mini Main Event is an interesting one. Albeit 30-minute levels, it has a decent structure and provides a nice lead-in for the WSOP Main Event. If you’re playing the WSOP Main Event and coming into Las Vegas for that, what’s a couple of extra days and an added $1,000 buy-in event? It’s the perfect warm-up and the WSOP may very well have its hands full with the event being scheduled for just two days. I think it will draw around 3,000 entries and be a little too much for the two-day window to handle.” – Peters
“Before partypoker swooped in with their MILLIONS Las Vegas event, I had a much bigger number in mind for this. It’s not that I think the rec players are going to go across town and play a $10,000, but I think a good chunk of the WSOP grinders who would have taken a shot here, will have to go play for a $5M guarantee at Aria. Still, this thing looks like a lot of fun and I don’t see why it can’t pull at least 3,300 players.” – Bradley
The Main Event
“For me, the only real number to consider is 8,000. Will the WSOP eclipse the 8K plateau for the first time since Jaime Gold’s historic Main Event victory in 2006, where he defeated 8,773. 2018’s registrants were the 2nd largest in the event’s history and my feeling is we only go up from here. Although I’m not as confident as some of my colleagues, I do think that we’ll see an increase and that registration will land between 8,000-8,100.” – Walsh
“Interestingly, the field size trend for the WSOP Main Event closely mirrors that of the Aussie Millions Main Event that takes place each year in January. It’s not exact, but it’s pretty darn close. When the Aussie Millions Main Event sees an increase in turnout, so does the WSOP Main Event. When the Aussie Millions Main Event sees a decrease, so does the WSOP Main Event. Back in January, the Aussie Millions Main Event drew 822 entries, which was up from the 800 the years before – a 2.8% increase. A 2.8% increase on the 2018 WSOP Main Event field size of 7,874 entries would make for a field of 8,090 in 2019. I’ll couple that with the fact that the WSOP Main Event field size has increased three consecutive years now and predict it will hit 8,400 entries. Truth be told, I’m pretty bullish on it and wouldn’t be totally shocked if the 2019 WSOP Main Event set a new record and surpassed the 8,773 entries from the 2006 WSOP Main Event.” – Peters
“Three straight years of increased attendance is a pretty good trend and I see no reason why it won’t do it again. It’s the 50th year, so there’s increased hype and that has to be considered, but I think more importantly Bitcoin is trending up and is up 35% over the price on July 1, 2018. It’s only a good sign for the Main Event if that number can hold or – gasp – even increase between now and the start of the Main. I’m really not seeing much in the way of obstacles to growth. A down year this year would be a massive shock to me. Given what I’m told will be a robust live satellite offering this year, I’m going to go with 8,600 players in the Main Event.” – Bradley