There has been growing speculation as to whether this year’s WSOP whose growth has been partially fueled in recent years by players winning their seats via online satellites will be affected by the events of Black Friday. Players from the United States, which make up the majority of the field in the WSOP, are widely believed to come in smaller numbers due to the fact that many of them are not able to satellite on three of the largest online poker rooms that normally send players to the events (Poker Stars, Full Tilt and UB).
Many players still don’t have access to their online bankrolls which presents another obstacle as much of their money is tied up. In addition to this, sponsorship deals with professional poker players have been in jeopardy due to cash flow uncertainties and the fact that patch deals in the United States don’t make so much sense to the poker rooms who are now not allowed to accept players from there. Furthermore, many of the Full Tilt pros rumored to also be owners of the site, have not been seen in Vegas and have not shown up to other big tournaments such as the WPT World Championship taking place right now at the Bellagio.
Despite this recent chain of events, the organizers from the World Series of Poker are confident that it will not have a negative impact on this summer’s tournament series. The organizers of the world’s largest poker gathering are confident that Black Friday will not have a negative effect on the number of participants.
“I believe this is the year when everyone sees evidence of just how big poker has become around the world,” World Series of Poker Executive Director Ty Stewart said.
“I believe this is the year where people see and recognize what a juggernaut the modern World Series of Poker has become,” he added.
Last year, the WSOP attracted a record field of 72,966 entrants across all events, the biggest turnout ever in the 41 year history of the series.
The $10,000 Main Event, however, attracted only 5,114 players, about 2,000 less than the previous year when 7,319 players participated.
Despite the events in the United States, many believe this year’s Main Event will attract even fewer players, but this sentiment is not shared by the WSOP organizers. Hotel bookings at the Rio Hotel and Casino, the host casino of the WSOP, are higher than last year this time.
Tournament Director Jack Effel qas quoted saying “We’re always planning for more regardless of any outside factors. If a tournament had 3,000 players last year, we expect the tournament to have 3,000 players this year.”
The 2011 series is set to kick off on May 31st, with a total of 58 tournaments scheduled and with 11 of these with buy-ins higher than $10,000.
It’s the high-end events including the prestigious $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship that are in any real danger of attracting significantly fewer players.
“Besides that we don’t expect anything else to affect numbers,” WSOP spokesperson Seth Palansky said.
Ty Stewart stressed that the WSOP remains the go-to place for the summer for professional and recreational gamblers alike.
“If you are a poker player with any bankroll,” Stewart said, “you’ll be in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker.”
We can only wait to see what will happen. If there is a smaller turnout, of course it means smaller prize pools but they would still be larger than most tournaments worldwide but it can also mean less competition.
For Canadian players, there are still many satellites available online to win seats to the WSOP.