The Amazon Room at the Rio, Las Vegas is packed to the rafters with the second biggest field in WSOP Main Event history. With 8,569 entrants this is the largest since the Jamie Gold extravaganza of 13 years ago. (Image: WSOP.com)
In fact, with the WSOP celebrating its half-century, this is the second biggest field of all time, with 8,569 runners ponying up the $10,000 buy-in — or qualifying online — for their shot at the big one: a first prize that is guaranteed to hit $10 million, from a total prize pool of $80,548,600.
This is the biggest field since 2006 when Jamie Gold took down a still unsurpassed $12 million first prize. There were 8,773 players in that tournament, but it was the absolute pinnacle of the poker boom, when the event was fed thousands of players who had qualified via internet satellites on the dozens of poker sites that then served the US poker community.
After companies like PartyPoker and 888 withdrew from the US due to the federal Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIEGA), which was passed by Congress later that year, many believed we would never see those kinds of fields again.
The companies that hung around to continue feeding the main event — PokerStars, Full Tilt, and UltimateBet — were later torpedoed by the Department of Justice in 2011.
While online poker is back in the US, it is limited and fragmented — but the field size for the main event demonstrates the love of the game is strong. Players came in droves, and reports of earthquakes, armed robberies, and even a grown man dropping his pants and exposing himself could stop them — proving that poker is not a passing fad of the mid-2000s, as some had feared.
The writing was on the wall on June 4 when it was confirmed that the Series’ $500 buy-in “Big 50” event broke the record for the largest live tournament field in the history of poker, with 22,374 entries.
Fast-forward just over a month, and the main event, with its three starting-day flights and two Day 2s, has now been amalgamated into a single mass of chip-shuffling humanity. At the time of writing on Monday, just under 3,000 players remained.
Ivey Lasts Less Than an Hour
Among those still in contention was 2018 Champion John Cynn, who survived to Day 3 with a healthy chip stack. Not among them were Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey — the latter lasted less than an hour into the tournament, but no doubt has some juicy high-stakes cash games to jump straight into.
Also not among them was the aforementioned pants-dropper. He was rightly disqualified from the tournament and escorted from the premises. We guess with a field this big, there’s bound to be one.
The entire festival will comprise 90 events this year, with 16 events remaining to play. Through 74 events, there have been 166,575 entries and $249,061,945 in prize money distributed. That’s more entries over the course of this festival than at any other in its 50-year history, with the total of all the prize pools this year on pace to be a record as well, according to official stats from WSOP.com.