With 7,874 entries, the 2018 WSOP Main Event was the tournament’s second largest ever and biggest field since the Black Friday online poker scandal in 2011.
What does that mean for the current state of the game? Poker players are long over the Black Friday saga that forced the four most popular poker sites out of the United States. It was the third straight year of increased attendance at the WSOP.
Last year, the Main Event had 7,221 players, the third largest in history before this year’s event bumped it to fourth. The 2006 world championship event, won by Jamie Gold for a record $12 million, remains the biggest (8,773).
Factors Contributing to Increased Attendance
There are many reasons for why poker’s most prestigious tournament is on the rise. WSOP.com, a legal US online poker site that is available in Nevada and New Jersey, offered satellites to the Main Event. In one satellite, 29 players who paid $215 earned an entry online into the live event.
WSOP.com hosted four online bracelet events this year and hosted numerous satellites to various live WSOP events.
Another factor in the increased attendance at the WSOP could have to do with the US economy rising. The economy suffered a downturn a decade ago and took quite some time to rebound.
When the economy is struggling, people don’t have as much expendable income, which may have played a small role in attendance slightly dropping from 2011-2015. During those years, the Main Event averaged 6,619 players. Since then, the tournament has averaged 7,277, the second highest three-year average in the Main Event’s 49-year history (7,325 from 2006-2008).
Regardless of the factors contributing to the increased attendance, it’s clear the Black Friday scandal no longer negatively impacts live poker in the US, or has a minimal impact. Poker’s popularity took a bit of a hit following Black Friday as it became more difficult for poker players in the US to play online. But those days are over. With four states having legalized online poker and more potentially on the horizon, the outlook for online poker in the US isn’t as bleak as it once was.
After four days of play in the 2018 WSOP Main Event, there are 310 players remaining, all still hoping to win $8.8 million. The money bubble burst on Saturday night (Day Three), and every left in the field is guaranteed a cash.
Starting on Monday (Day Five), the pressure will pick back up as the pay jumps become massive. Those who made it to Day Five are guaranteed at least $37,705, but only another 228 players need to bust before a six-figure payday is guaranteed.
Joe Cada was the only remaining former champion in the field after Day Four. The 2009 winner is hoping to become the first to win at least $8 million in a poker tournament twice in a career.