The 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP) live festival at the Rio in Las Vegas will come to an end in less than two weeks, and so far, the numbers have been very encouraging. The main highlight of the series, the $10,000 Main Event, is getting down to the final table, with the action entering Day 4.
The Main Event initially had four starting flights, but organizers added two more Day 1s on November 8 and 9 as the US reopened its doors to vaccinated visitors from abroad. The last-minute influx of players from overseas brought the total number of entries in this year’s Main Event to 6,650.
2021 Main Event Among Biggest in WSOP History
While this year’s figures represent a decline when compared to 2019’s numbers (the year when the WSOP Main Event was last held), the 2021 Main Event is still among the top 10 biggest WSOP Main Events in history. That’s despite numerous challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Putting together such a massive live event like the WSOP in a post-pandemic world was no easy feat, considering the obstacles and uncertainties that the organizers had to deal with, alongside travel restrictions that made it difficult for some international players to take part in the festival. But the series ran smoothly with pandemic-related measures, such as requiring players to be fully vaccinated before entering any tournament, proving effective.
The clearest indication of the festival’s huge success this year is the numbers from the Main Event, which have exceeded expectations.
By comparison, more players registered for the Main Event this year than in the initial days of the poker boom, as well as the years following Black Friday. The 2021 total also outperforms everything recorded at the festival before Chris Moneymaker’s revolutionary Main Event win in 2003. The 2021 Main Event also surpasses seven other Main Events in the years after Moneymaker’s victory.
A total of 2,632 players still remain, and it’s quite hard to figure out at this point who the frontrunners are. Some prominent names are still battling it out for the title, including Moneymaker, Matt Affleck, and Matt Glantz.
Players Disappointed With Payout Discrepancies
While the 2021 Main Event is smooth-sailing, the payout structure does not sit well with many players. Many commented that the payout differences are too flat.
Each of the players reaching the nine-handed final table will walk away with at least $1,000,000. This means that 10th place is set to receive less than 50 per cent of the prize that 9th place gets. There’s also a $400K jump between 9th and 6th, as pointed out by poker pro Alex Livingston. Moreover, the runner-up finisher will only get to take home nearly half of the top prize.
The champion will walk away with a massive $8 million in first-place prize, while the 2nd placer earns $4,300,000. This, according to Livingston, is embarrassing and a total gimmick. Previous editions of the event also had similar discrepancies.
Other festivals, such as those sponsored by the World Poker Tour, use a different approach to distributing the prizes. For tournaments attracting more than 788 participants, the winner will receive 17.76% of the prize pool. So if the WSOP used the same method, the newest Main Event champion would take home over $11 million in top prize.
It probably boils down to advertising. The WSOP wants to make sure that the Main Event prize pool is set in a way that can easily be picked up and covered by the media. While the payout issue has quickly become the subject of debate among players, it can’t hide the fact that the WSOP Main Event was able to beat the odds and performed strongly this year.