The 2018 World Series of Poker set a 49-year record for most total entrants at 123,865, although that’s a bit misleading considering there were more events this year (78) than ever before.
Numerous other records were set at the recently completed series, including most players cashing (18,105), and Phil Hellmuth extended his bracelet record to 15.
Impressive but Misleading Stats
There’s no denying the 2018 WSOP was a rousing success for Caesars Entertainment. The Rio hallways were packed daily for seven weeks, the Main Event was the second largest in history (7,874 entries), and players from 104 countries participated in the summer series. But numbers can often be misleading.
There were 78 bracelet events this year, the most in history, and four more than in 2017 which previously held the record. Five years ago, there were 62 bracelet events and 55 a decade ago. So, while it’s true the 2018 WSOP had more entries than ever before, that’s sort of like comparing total passing yards for a quarterback in today’s NFL (16-game schedule) versus a QB in the 1970s (14-game schedule).
Some events, including the Big One for One Drop and Colossus, fell well short of previous attendance marks. Only 27 players registered for the $1 million One Drop event last week, a significant drop compared to 2012 (48) and 2014 (42), the only other times this event ran.
The $565 buy-in Colossus was also a failure in terms of participation. In 2015, the tournament’s inaugural year, had 22,374 entries, still an international live tournament record. Attendance the following year dropped slightly to 21,613 and then again in 2017 to 18,054 before taking a massive nosedive this summer to just 13,070.
On the flip side, attendance in the Main Event, the world’s most prestigious poker tournament, was up 9 percent compared to last year, and the 7,874 was only bested by 2006, which had 8,773 players.
Coincidentally, or perhaps not, numerous bracelet events ran after the start of the Main Event in 2006 and 2018, unlike most years where the Main Event is the last or one of the last tournaments of the summer.
Records That Don’t Lie
At the end of an otherwise disappointing summer, Phil Hellmuth capped off the 2018 WSOP with a title in the $5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em turbo event for $485,082, a tournament Mike Matusow talked him into playing after the Poker Brat busted out of the Main Event a few days earlier.
The win was Hellmuth’s 15th at the WSOP, giving the 1989 Main Event champion an even bigger bracelet lead over Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, all of whom have 10.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Tony Cousineau cashed for the 84th time in his career, extending his own record for most cashes without winning a bracelet.
Cousineau has averaged just $10,435 per WSOP cash throughout his career and has only made two final tables in the past decade. It’s unlikely he’s even turned a profit at the series given how many events he’s entered the past 20 years. He’s become the 1990s Buffalo Bills of the World Series of Poker. He comes close but can’t seem to win the big one.
Other Records Set at the 2018 World Series of Poker
- Largest total prize pool ($266,889,193)
- Largest non-Texas hold’em field ($365 Pot-Limit Omaha GIANT had 3,250 entries)
- Most events with at least a $1 million prize pool (10)
- Chris Ferguson moved into 2nd place all-time with 115 cashes (Hellmuth has 133)
- Barry Greenstein also surpassed the 100-cash mark (101)
- Players from 18 different countries won bracelets in 2018, the most in history