When the schedule for the 2019 World Series of Poker (WSOP) was released, the “Big 50” was among the events that attracted particular attention, but nobody could have predicted just how massive the event would turn out to be.
Record Numbers at 2019 WSOP Big 50
Big 50’s first three flights drew more than 18,000 players to the Rio, significantly higher than the organizers’ initial expectation of 10,000 entries. The final figures up until the last starting flight on Sunday have not been released yet, but it is estimated that over 24,000 players took that once-in-a-lifetime chance to win a gold bracelet and a top prize of $1 million for a $500 buy-in, making Big 50 the biggest event in poker history.
The Big 50 has been included as part of WSOP’s 50th year celebrations. It has four starting flights with players starting with 50,000 chips and 50-minute levels. Initial entries were rake-free, and directly went into the prize pool. The event features a total guaranteed prize pool of $5,000,000 but it’s understood this number has now been surpassed with the record number of players and fans flocking to the Rio on the first starting day.
A total of 4,336 players were tallied at the start of Flight A, and this figure rose to 6,095 as the day went by. An additional 5,972 players were registered during Friday’s Flight B. A total of 6,200 entries were recorded during Flight C on Saturday. As players were allowed single re-entry per flight, cashing in multiple flights had become possible. For flights A and B, a total of 915 and 896 finished in the money respectively.
The starting flights kicked off on May 30, running through June 2. A winner will be crowned on June 7.
Staying Ahead of the Problem
Being the first of its kind in the tournament scene, and considering the massive participation by players from all over the world, an event as gigantic as the Big 50 sure has its own shortcomings. Jack Effel who is the Vice President of the WSOP admitted that there were quite a few challenges that needed to be addressed with the popularity of the Big 50.
There have been schedule delays and issues with logistics that needed to be ironed out as thousands of players continued to turn up during the starting flights. Tables have been set up in every vacant location in the building; poker hands were played at several rooms in the convention center, at tables in the hallways, in a vacant bowling alley, and even outside of the gift shop just to make sure players get seated.
Many endured the long and winding registration lines, with some cramming to receive late registration seats as each flight was sold out. Late registrants had to wait for unfortunate players to vacate their seats before they could get seated and take a shot. The schedule was altered multiple times, with some flights overlapping and others being pushed back from their original schedule. The discomfort felt a little too much for some players, but others understood that it’s all part of the challenge to cope with what would soon turn out to be the biggest poker event in history.
Effel said the team has been constantly striving to figure out the problems, fix them and make sure they don’t happen again. Putting together an event of this magnitude entails a huge responsibility especially on the part of the organizers. Part of that responsibility is to stay ahead of the problem and Effel was happy with the job his team carried out.
Historic 2019 WSOP
The 50th World Series of Poker promises more than a month of poker action, with over $200 million in total guarantees up for grabs. Significant changes have been introduced during this year’s edition, including an increase in chip stack size for majority of the events, as well as adopting a big blind ante structure for no-limit Hold’em events. A number of new events are also making a debut at the festival, including the Big 50, the brainchild of WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart.
A record 89 golden bracelets are on the line during this summer at the Rio, with special events, including a celebratory gala and awards night taking place to commemorate WSOP’s 50th year. Among the highlights of the festival is the $10,000 buy-in Main Event which runs on July 3 -16 and will receive TV coverage, courtesy of ESPN and PokerCentral.

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