The 2022 World Series of Poker has been filled with record-setting fields. The majority of bracelet events on this year’s schedule have attracted enough players and entries to surpass numbers from 2021 and even 2019, the latter the last year of growth the WSOP experienced before the pandemic. Some events set entirely new records due to outstanding turnout.

There will be time to analyze the entirety of the 2022 WSOP when it is all finished.

Right now, all eyes are on the WSOP Main Event. Its attendance almost broke a record but did cement a place for itself in poker history nonetheless.

Day Ones and Twos

There were more opportunities this year than ever before for players to enter the Main Event. There were four flights – 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D – as well as late registration on both Day 2s – 2ABC and 2D.

Only in 2019 did the WSOP begin allowing late registration into Day 2. And the 2019 player total was the second highest ever (8,569), only 204 players from the record (8,773) in 2006.

During the poker boom, there were a few years in which the WSOP added 1D, a fourth starting day. But after the Black Friday drop-off in 2011, they reverted to just three starting days…until last year. In order to work around pandemic-mandated travel restrictions, the WSOP added 1D and an unprecedented 1E.

Therefore, the Day 1A numbers in the chart below have caveats. Some years that offered four or five starting days would have naturally seen fewer players registering on 1A. And the late registration options in 2019, 2021, and 2022 changed player registration decisions as well.

Thusly, it was very difficult for anyone to predict the registration numbers this year. Not only was the venue new and Covid still present, there were four starting days and two late registration days.

Second-Largest Ever

The numbers were difficult to track this year. The WSOP and PokerNews, the official live reporting team, presented different numbers. In fact, the PokerNews numbers changed at various times throughout the past week. Even here, these numbers at the end of Day 2D add up to 8,607 players.

The WSOP announced the final number as 8,663 players.

WSOP 2022 Main Event registration

These discrepancies make it difficult to accurately analyze the starting day registration numbers. However, the final number of players announced by the WSOP is the number, so those total registration numbers are accurate.

With that, the WSOP reported 8,663 players in the 2022 Main Event. That is just 110 players from the 2006 record of 8,773.

WSOP 2022 Main Event chart

Note that we didn’t report the 2020 numbers because all registration took place online – mostly outside of the United States, and some in a few states within the US. The dynamics of the entire thing was different, so we didn’t even put those numbers in it.

What the chart does show, though, is the Black Friday slump followed by a steady increase in Main Event numbers in the past seven years (minus 2020 and the naturally-low numbers of 2021 when Covid-19 was still a major factor). Without those missing years, the significant growth in 2019 led to a continuance of that trend this year.

Will Growth Continue?

We can only speculate, obviously.

What we do know is that the new venues – Bally’s (soon to be Horseshoe) and Paris – on the Las Vegas Strip enhanced the overall player experience. With everything from more food options to easier access to the venues (bus, monorail) from nearby hotels, the venues proved to be an upgrade from the Rio in many ways.

Is there room for improvement? Of course. The parking situation for those driving to the venues was less than ideal. The confusion of tournaments starting and restarting in two different casinos was difficult for some to navigate. And there will be plenty of time for a deep dive into these issues when the World Series finishes later this month.

The expanded registration periods encouraged more people to play the Main Event. More people registered on Day 2D than anyone expected because there was a lot of FOMO (fear of missing out). The number of players was so close to setting a new record – and was still historic, by most standards – that players signed up on the last possible day to play.

I believe the numbers will keep rising. There may not be another poker boom in the near future, but the growth potential is there.