It’s official – this is the biggest World Series of Poker (WSOP) in the 42 years of the Las Vegas event. What is really incredible is that this massive entry list that stretches to 75,672 from more than 100 nations for all 58 events at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino comes in the wake of the darkest day in poker history – otherwise known as ‘Black Friday’.
That’s a very healthy increase of 3.7% on the previous record of 72,966, which was set last year, as practically every event recorded greater numbers or, at worst, small decreases on previous years.
Of course, many commentators, players and fans reckoned the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em World Championship main event would suffer badly this year, only for it to remain in line with the last five years’ average of 6,753 as the field eventually recorded 6,865 entries following a worrying first few days.
Numerous records have, in fact, been broken this year, most notably the largest prize pool, which has reached $191,999,010 to show a 2.6% leap on last year’s high of $187,109,850. Amazingly, the WSOP has now seen a seventh successive year with a total prize pool of more than $100 million.
Certainly, Ty Stewart – the WSOP executive director – believes “this summer underscores the appeal of the game and the power of this event”. That might be stating the obvious, but it really had to be said after the dark days of April 15, when the US Department of Justice (DoJ) shut down online poker sites PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker to shock the world of poker.
An undoubtedly relieved Stewart added that he and the WSOP’s other organisers are “so thankful for all those who came from around the world to demonstrate that poker continues to grow”.
He was also delighted to report that “all across the board at the 2011 WSOP, from our signature gold bracelet events to cash games, to satellites and daily tournaments, records were made to be broken” – and they were, as you shall see.
Firstly, though, a figure which continues to grow, no matter the level of entries, is the total prize money awarded over the event history. With this year’s increase to $191,999,010, the total now sits at $1,420,374,131. Phew!
Thousands of amateurs lined up beside the pros, as well as actors, comedians and sports stars, to create these new landmarks, with the noteworthy non-pros including the likes of Brad Garrett, Audley Harrison, Patrick Bruel, Jeff Fenech, Phil Kessel, David Lee, Petter Northug, Shawn Marion, Paul Pierce, Shane Warne, Shannon Elizabeth, Ray Romano, Jennifer Tilly, Nelly and Jason Alexander.
Other interesting snippets include Florida’s Logan Deen becoming the youngest player at this year’s WSOP as he celebrated his 21st birthday by making it through Day 1B of the main event, while 91-year-old Ellen Deeb set the upper limit on age, although she failed to make it out of Day 1C – even though she tried her best when taking an additional $10,000 out of her purse in an attempt to rebuy her way into the tournament. Maybe we’ll see her again next year, though.
With so many records set this year, here is a list of some of the most notable:
- The largest number of million-dollar events, with 46 of 58 boasting prize pools of at least $1 million. That’s two up from last year’s 44 events.
- The biggest seniors’ tournament ever as event #30 recorded a field of 3,752 starters, surpassing last year’s record of 3,142 by 19%. The event prize money increased by almost 15% on last year, leaping up to $3,376,800 from $2,827,800.
- The largest single-day attendance with 3,752 players taking part in event #30 – the $1,000 buy-in Seniors’ No-Limit Hold’em Championship.
- The largest single-day entry for a $1,500 buy-in event as 3,389 players started event #56 – a No-Limit Hold’em tournament.
- The greatest number of successive years – now at 12 – with multiple event winners following Brian Rast’s triumphs in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em event #15 and the $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship (event #55).
- The most successive WSOPs played as California’s Howard ‘Tahoe’ Andrew extended his record to 38.
- The greatest number of cashes without a victory as Florida’s Tony Cousineau extended his unwanted record to 49. His best WSOP placing so far came in 2001 with his fourth-place finish in the $1,500 Limit Omaha event for just $12,570.
- The all-time cash and final-table records of Phil Hellmuth, with the poker legend adding to his record cashes to sit on 84 and final-table appearances on 43.