Many commentators, pundits and players have predicted a massive decrease in player numbers for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) following last month’s decision by US federal authorities to close Americans’ admission to some of the biggest online poker sites.
This, of course, means countless number of online poker players cannot access their accounts as they are frozen, while also stopping many from qualifying for numerous WSOP events through online poker tournaments.
American pro Tom Dwan is among those who believe there will be a downturn in WSOP participants – for the first time in eight years. The 24-year-old tweeted that he reckons there could be over 2,000 fewer players for the $10,000 main event than last year’s 7,319.
However, WSOP organisers are not so pessimistic. In fact, Ty Stewart, the WSOP executive director, is convinced the Las Vegas tournament will not be adversely affected by recent events, suggesting that “this is the year when everyone sees evidence of just how big poker has become around the world”.
Stewart added that he believes “this is the year where people see and recognize what a juggernaut the modern World Series of Poker has become”.
The 42nd staging of the WSOP – with 58 bracelets up for grabs – begins eight weeks of tournaments at The Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino on May 31.
While it might be too much to expect last year’s record entry of 72,966 to be broken – or possibly even matched – Jack Effel, the tournament director, is “planning for more, regardless of any outside factors”.
He added that “if a tournament had 3,000 players last year, we expect the tournament to have 3,000 players this year”.
Effel also stated that registration for the main event is unpredictable, with many players not registering until just before the eight-day event begins.
But Stewart is most certainly optimistic, adding that “the hotel rooms booked is a truer benchmark” of how many players will take part, before adding that “we are marginally up” on last year.
Basically, Stewart reckons that, “if you’re a poker player with any bankroll, you’ll be in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker.”
Additionally, what really should be noted is that this week’s $25,000 buy-in WPT Championship, which is taking place at The Bellagio, has seen an increase of 25 entrants on last year to hit 220. That is almost 13% up on the event won by David Williams when he picked up $1.5million.
WSOP organisers will undoubtedly be happy to hear that news and will most likely hope for a similar increase come the end of the month.