- The 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP) ‘Main Event’ is underway at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
- The 2021 WSOP has been held ‘in person’ in Las Vegas after the 2020 event was primarily contested online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- There are 6,650 entries for the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em World Championship aka the ‘Main Event’.
- First place in the WSOP ‘Main Event’ will be worth $8 million with all final table players receiving at least $1 million.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) has successfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic to return to a live ‘in person’ event This is quite an accomplishment after the competitive live poker circuit was devastated by the pandemic . Last year’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and the WSOP Europe were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The WSOP Online was held in place of the traditional WSOP during the summer of 2020 and a hybrid online/live version of ‘The Main Event’ was held in December and January. International champion Damian Salas of Argentina eventually defeated U.S. champion Joseph Hebert heads-up, taking home a total of $2.55 million USD.
The 52nd annual World Series of Poker began on September 30 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. To the credit of organizers, they’ve been able to adhere to the event schedule that was released in April. By the time the WSOP ends on November 22 there will have been 88 live events along with 9 online events. The most significant of these is Event #67 which began on Thursday, November 4 and is still in progress–$10,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em World Championship more commonly known as the ‘Main Event’. The ‘Main Event’ is scheduled to end on November 17 when a winner will be crowned. In most years, the World Series of Poker has been held during the summer but it was pushed back this year to allow for more planning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As it turned out, scheduling wasn’t ideal–particularly for international players since the US didn’t loosen travel restrictions until Monday. The 2021 WSOP is being held under a vaccine mandate–not surprising for a group of smart people who have intimate understanding of math and probability.
Earlier today, the WSOP organizers gave the final player count for the 2021 Main Event along with the amount of the prize pool and purse amount by finish position. Registration closed with 6,650 entries which creates a prize pool in excess of $62 million USD. The first place finisher will receive $8 million USD and all nine players at the final table will take home at least $1 million USD. The top 1,000 places will be awarded at least $15,000. The field is down 22% from the last live Main Event in 2019–that year a field of 8,569 entered representing the second largest field in history. Even with that percentage decline in entries organizers will certainly be happy with the number that did enter the Main Event. After last year’s ‘hybrid’ event–contested mostly online–drew only 1,379 players the 6,650 entries is a remarkable ‘bounce back’ for live play. The travel difficulties for international players certainly suppressed this number. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the 2021 field is the 10th largest all time but the smallest for the Main Event since 2015 (6,420). The 2017 and 2018 events both drew well in excess of 7,000 entries.
It’s important to keep these numbers in historical context. For an event that began with less than 10 entrants in 1970 the growth of the ‘Main Event’ and the WSOP as a whole is incredible. The Main Event exceeded 100 entries for the first time in 1982 when Jack ‘Treetop’ Straus took home the top prize. It wouldn’t hit 200 entries until 1991 when Brad Daugherty won the $1 million prize. It hit 300 entries in 1997–the same year that the late Stu Ungar won his third and final WSOP Main Event. In 2000, the field jumped to 512 followed by fields of 613 in 2001, 631 in 2002 and 839 in 2003 when Chris Moneymaker became the first ‘online player’ to take home the title.
This was also the timeframe during which the ‘poker boom’ began and the Main Event field size grew exponentially. Greg Raymer finished on top of a field of 2,576 in 2004 and Joe Hachem won the $7.5 million top prize from a field of 5,619 in 2005. 2006 saw 8,773 entries for the biggest field in history. What’s most amazing is that despite the end of the ‘poker boom’ the ‘Main Event’ field has never dropped below 6,300 and was once again in growth mode when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted everything.
The field will play together on what will be called ‘Day 3’ of the tournament after the first two days saw multiple session. Day 1 was contested in six daily sessions from November 4 through 9. Day 2 began on Tuesday and will run through the end of play on Wednesday. As Wednesday’s session game to a close WSOP.com reported that 2878 players were still in the running with an average chip stack of 138,638. In Wednesday’s second Day 2 session 1810 players started with 1017 left as of this writing with just one or two hands remaining before players break for the evening. You can read live updates and see a running chip count total on the WSOP’s website:
Live streaming coverage is available at Pokergo: