Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Question Nobody Wants to Ask

So with all the fallout from last Friday's online poker ban in the U.S. still working its way through the collective psyche of poker players and enthusiasts everywhere, one question seems to be looming out there, growing ever larger by the day as online poker players in America get further and further away from the days when we could toil away at our pc's accumulating valuable hand experience at a rate several times faster than any live grinder could ever hope to achieve. And yet, for some reason, I haven't seen anyone writing about this question, or what its ramifications are in the longer-term for this game we all know and love, or for live, televised poker in general:

What's going to happen to the WSOP Main Event this summer in Las Vegas?

With online poker firmly cemented into the offices, studies, living rooms, dens and bedrooms of Americans, the question hasn't needed to be asked for years, not since 2006 when the specter of the UIGEA first reared its ugly head and threatened to stop the long-term growth cycle in the largest televised poker tournaments around. Despite that UIGEA-inspired dropoff in 2007, the Main Event resumed it climb in attendance in 2008, and it has grown in each of the years since then, vaulting back over 7300 entrants in 2010 as the field in the massive 10k-buyin tournament last summer in Las Vegas proved to be the second-largest ever in WSOP history, second only to the 2006 Main Event just before the UIGEA was passed in the United States. I recall a few short years ago that pokerstars alone had sent over 3000 online qualifiers to the Main Event, and lord knows full tilt, UB and the other major poker sites out there all chipped in with solid contributions of their own to these swelling fields in the biggest buyin nlh tournaments around the world.

But with pokerstars, full tilt and UB now all blocked from serving U.S. players, and with anyone who plays on any other site having to be an damn fool to put anything more than a trifling amount into that site (and knowing it may be next to impossible to get anything out of the site even if one does win), it's a safe bet that WSOP attendance in general is going to take a huge hit this year. Just how big is anyone's guess, but 2010 saw total WSOP attendance jump nearly 17% just from 2009, and over 22% over just the past two years. With more or less no U.S. players able to qualify for the WSOP Main Event via online satellite tournaments, and with U.S. players' poker bankrolls in general under attack, unable to grow from online poker play between now and the WSOP, and in many cases stuck in limbo in the cashier somewhere of full tilt, UB or otherwise, one can only assume that we will be looking at a much smaller number than 2009's 7,310 runners in the ME.

How much smaller is anyone's guess. Personally, I'm thinking we're probably looking at closer to 3000 runners than 7000. Maybe less. But then, I bet the satellite room in the back of the Rio is gonna be rockin, pretty much dawn to duskdawn for the next couple of months.

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Blogger BWoP said...

FWIW, my guess is that there is a 35% decrease in WSOP main event participation this year relative to last year's numbers.

5:12 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

So a 35% decrease, that would still be something like 4750 runners. I am guessing it is less than that.

5:25 AM  

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