Will the 2022 WSOP Main Event Smash the Attendance Record?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the tables have been packed at the 2022 World Series of Poker (WSOP), the first year the series has been held at Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas. But how will that translate into attendance in the most important event of them all — the Main Event?

Last year was a unique WSOP in that the series was held in the fall and only those vaccinated against COVID-19 were permitted to play. Still, the field in the $10,000 buy-in world championship event attracted 6,650 entries, impressive considering the circumstances, but nearly 2,000 fewer than in 2019 (the live WSOP was canceled in 2020).

Outside of the venue switch, things are back to normal this summer. So, we’ll compare turnout up to this point at the 2022 WSOP to similar events in 2019 as we attempt to handicap turnout in the upcoming Main Event, which begins later today.

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Huge Series Equals Huge Main Event?

Through Friday’s action, there have been 45 events with registration closed thus far that also ran in 2019. The purpose of comparing similar events is to get a pulse on how many players we can expect to sign up for the Main Event. In the past, high turnout in the preliminary bracelet events have translated into a massive field Main Event.

In 2019, poker’s world championship event attracted 8,569 entries, second only to 2006 (8,773). Leading up to the Main Event three years ago, the fields were record-breaking, including the $500 buy-in BIG 50, which wrapped with an almost unthinkable 28,371 entries, making it the largest live poker tournament in history.

With well beyond half the 2022 WSOP out of the way, it’s clear that attendance in the most important tournament of the year will be high. But just how high will it be? Likely right around Cheech and Chong levels based on field sizes thus far.

Out of 45 matching events, meaning the same buy in and poker game played, there was increased attendance in 2022 compared to the same tournaments in 2019 in 31 events. In most similar tournaments, field sizes have been close one way or the other. But in other cases, turnout has been significantly up. Take, for example, Event #25: $800 No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack, which brought in 4,062 runners, up a whopping 44% compared to the same tournament three years ago.

Another prime example, Event #7: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better, the field was up 27% this year. On the flipside, the 2022 $1,500 buy in Millionaire Maker had 7,961 entries, down from the 8,809 of 2019 (9.6% drop).

Full List of Comparable Events

Event 2022 Entrants 2019 Entrants Difference Higher Year
$500 Casino Employees 832 685 147 2022
$2,500 NLH Freezeout 752 996 -244 2019
$1,500 Dealers Choice 430 470 -40 2019
$500 $5 Mil Gtd 20.080 28.371 -8291 2019
$1,500 Omaha/8 1.086 853 233 2022
$1,500 Seven Card Stud 329 285 44 2022
$10,000 Dealers Choice 123 122 1 2022
$600 NLH Deepstack 5.720 6.150 -430 2019
$50,000 NLH High Roller 101 123 -22 2019
$1,500 Limit Hold’em 522 541 -19 2019
$1,500 NLH 6-Handed 2.393 1.832 561 2022
$10,000 Omaha/8 196 183 13 2022
$3,000 NLH 1.240 671 569 2022
$2,500 Mixed Triple Draw 309 296 13 2022
$25,000 PLO High Roller 264 278 -14 2019
$10,000 Seven Card Stud 96 88 8 2022
$3,000 Limit HE 6-Handed 213 193 20 2022
$800 NLH Deepstack 4.062 2.808 1254 2022
$1,500 Monster Stack NLH 6.501 6.035 466 2022
$10,000 Limit Hold’em 92 118 -26 2019
$1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw 437 296 141 2022
$1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 1.891 1.526 365 2022
$10,000 Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw 118 100 18 2022
$1,500 HORSE 773 751 22 2022
$3,000 NLH 6-Handed 1.348 754 594 2022
$2,500 Mixed Big Bet 281 218 63 2022
$1,500 Millionaire Maker 7.961 8.809 -848 2019
$1,500 Seven Card Stud 8 or Better 471 460 11 2022
$1,000 NLH Super Turbo Bounty 2.227 2.452 -225 2019
$100,000 NLH High Roller 62 99 -37 2019
$10,000 Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better 137 151 -14 2019
$10,000 HORSE 209 172 37 2022
$5,000 NLH 6-Handed 928 815 113 2022
$1,000 Seniors NLH 6.268 5.916 352 2022
$1,500 8 Game Mix 695 612 83 2022
$400 Colossus 13.565 13.109 456 2022
$500 Salute to Warriors 3.209 1.723 1486 2022
$1,000 Tag Team NLH 913 976 -63 2019
$50,000 Poker Players Championship 112 74 38 2022
$1,000 Super Seniors 2.669 2.650 19 2022
$10,000 Short Deck NLH 110 114 -4 2019
$1,000 Ladies NLH 1.074 968 106 2022
$1,000 Mini Main Event 5,833 5,521 312 2022
$10,000 Super Turbo Bounty NLH 419 204 214 2022
$600 PLO Deepstack 2,858 2,577 281 2022

Other Factors to Consider

WSOP Bracelet

Overall attendance is up in 2022 compared to previous years, not just 2019. That alone doesn’t necessarily prove the Main Event will surpass the 2006 record-breaking turnout. But there is one other reason for optimism, and that is the added Day 1 starting flight.

In past years (save for 2021), the opening session has featured three starting flights, but there will be a fourth this year. Adding an extra Day 1 flight could give more players an opportunity to register.

It should also be noted that many of the aforementioned events cost less than $10,000 to enter, the price of the Main Event, and we included all comparable tournaments, not just no-limit hold’em. Some players who enter, say, a pot-limit Omaha tournament have no interest in the Main Event, and many who compete in a low buy-in tournament can’t swing the $10k fee.

But there’s simply no denying the fact that attendance across the board has been at all-time highs this year, which means the likelihood of a record-breaking Main Event is high.

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