In 2006, a record 8,773 players competed in World Series of Poker’s Main Event, a high-water mark in poker history that was almost washed away last year, but fell only 110 players short.
That’s 1%, noted Ty Stewart, the WSOP’s Executive Director at yesterday’s online press conference, which also featured VP of WSOP Jack Effel and Chris Moneymaker, who will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his improbable Main Event victory tomorrow.
“Last year, we were so close — 110 entries short, 1% away — so this year we put plans in place to make sure we got a lot more growth than 1%,” Stewart said.
The WSOP brass were confident a new record will be set at this year’s Main Event, which begins July 3.
Credit goes to Chris
The entry record was set only three years after Moneymaker showed the world that an amateur who won his way in online for $86 could compete with the best-of-the-best — and win. It caused the Moneymaker “poker boom,” and with the help of ESPN, launched the game of poker and the WSOP-brand into a status.
In 2003, the Main Event brought in 839. In only three years, the watermark was set as players discovered online poker and its satellites, filling the Rio to the brim. Stewart placed the credit directly at Moneymaker’s feet:
“There will never be another story, another moment when the unknown amateur from Tennessee waltzed into Vegas with no fear and stared down the biggest sharks in the world in an event, at the time, was more of a ‘members invitational’ and beat them at their own game.
It immediately changed everything and inspired a generation. Chris, of course, had the spotlight thrust upon him, and much like Doyle (Brunson), always been a gracious gentleman sacrificing his privacy and his time to travel the world promoting poker, hoping the game and its event will be bigger and better in the future.
Therefore, it’s going to be extra sweet when we tally-up entry-number 8,774 this summer, something that’s going to happen this year, 20 years after Chris lit the match and blew up the industry.”
And how are they hope to do it? With satellites, of course.
Main Event ‘Maynia’
For this first time, the WSOP coordinated a live satellite weekend. Marketed as Main Event Maynia, this weekend will have players in 15 casinos try to win their way into the $10,000 Main Event for as low as $140.
Participating casinos in the US:
- Grand Victoria Casino Elgin
- Hard Rock Tulsa
- Harrah’s Cherokee
- Harrah’s Pompano Beach
- Horseshoe Council Bluffs
- Horseshoe Las Vegas
- Horseshoe St. Louis
- Horseshoe Tunica
- Thunder Valley Casino Resort
- Turning Stone Casino
Let's get into this @WSOP MAIN EVENT MAYNIA!
♠️May 21st Mega Satellite | 5pm
$1,175 Buy-In 1 in 10 win $10k seat & $1,000 cash.
♥️ Now through May 20th $140 step satellites available .
LET'S GO! pic.twitter.com/OoYkMDWsqE
— Harrah’s Pompano Beach (@HarrahsPompano) May 17, 2023
- Deerfoot Inn & Casino Calgary (Canada)
- Enjoy Punta del Este Resort and Casino (Uruguay)
- King’s Resort (Czech Republic)
- Playground Poker Club (Canada)
- Club Pierre Charron Paris (France)
Online partner stepping up
Also internationally, WSOP’s partner GGPoker has promised to send at least 600 players to the Main Event via satellites.
In it’s three domestic markets of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey/Nevada, Stewart said close to 400 Main Event packages will be won through WSOP.com. He said 111 will be won in just the “two weeks prior to the tournament.”
“Our focus has been trying to get players more access to qualify from home. Our partner, GGPoker, is well on its way to crushing is commitment to qualify 600 players to the Main Event, whatever the overlay.”
Check out the local clients for the schedule, which constantly evolves.
Big bonus if record is broken
With all these satellites in place, it sure seems like that 1% will be filled and the entry record will be broken. If it does, Main Event participants have the chance to win a very juicy bonus prize.
If more than 8,773 payers play in the Main Event, the WSOP will give one of the players entry into the Main Event for the next 30 years via a drawing.
“We talk about the WSOP being ‘Where Dreams are Dealt,'” Stewart said. “If your dream is to win the World Series of Poker, there’s a casino hosting a satellite tournament within a manageable drive, or an online site offering guaranteed seats satellites for most of the world’s population, and that’s pretty exciting as we sit here less than two weeks way from the start of the WSOP.”
The WSOP begins its summer poker festival May 30 with the $500 casino employee and the $25,000 High Roller six-handed events. The Main Event starts July, and is scheduled to finish July 17.
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