There was one thread over on 2+2 (begun back in early March) that didn’t get too much response when it began, flared up again briefly in April, then got some more responses after the announcement that the Main Event final table had been rescheduled to November. (Most estimate that move won’t have a significant impact on the overall number of players entering the ME.)
The thread hasn’t even reached 90 posts, though. I remember last year someone posted a contest to pick the correct number (perhaps someone will do that again eventually). Over 700 responded on that one, including me. I guessed 5,763, about 600 shy of the final total.
Guesses in this year’s thread mostly range between 5,000 and 8,000. (Oliver Tse predicted between 8,000 and 9,000.) One popular response was to say less than 2006 (8,773) but more than 2007 (6,358). Several also suggested that for a variety of reasons (including the weak dollar) we’re going to see fewer Americans percentage-wise in this year’s field than ever before.
Last year at this time, we were all still trying to keep our heads above water amid the considerable wake caused by the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act, signed into law in October 2006. It was only late February 2007 when Harrah’s made it known that “third-party registrations for players are not permitted unless submitted by Official WSOP sponsors.” That policy continues to be in place for this year’s WSOP -- it appears as Rule No. 5 on this year’s tournament rules -- although by now the online sites and players have had plenty of time to grow accustomed to the new arrangement.
On Monday, Lenny over at the PokerBlog posted some lines regarding the WSOP ME, including some odds on the number of total entrants. The odds came from an online casino called “Paddy Power.” Here are the odds they’re laying on how many will enter the Main Event:
Lenny says he’s going with one of the favorites here and predicting “right around 6,700” entrants. Phil Gordon made the same prediction last week on his podcast, The Poker Edge, also guessing exactly 6,700, although he also stated he thought attendance was going to be down this year at the WSOP. He must’ve been referring to overall numbers and not the Main Event, as 6,700 entrants would represent an increase from last year’s total of 6,358.
Says Gordon, “I’ve noticed the attendance in the poker rooms has been significantly lower over the course of the past, say, six-to-nine months than [it had been] in the past. The economy, as we know, is suffering a little bit. I think that although the rest of the world seems to be exploding with poker growth, I think the U.S. might be a little burned out on it.”
The discussion came amid Gordon’s interview with WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack. Gordon had asked Pollack to offer his own prediction, which the Commissioner refused to do (as he always has done). However, when Gordon offered that estimate of 6,700 -- saying he “wouldn’t put too big a bet on it” -- Pollack did respond by saying “We will see, and maybe off-air we will wager a nice steak dinner,” a response which Gordon interpreted as implying Pollack was “taking the over” on his prediction.
I don’t have much feel for what we’ll see at this year’s Main Event, although I do think the final total will probably exceed that of 2007. Of course, whatever the tally ends up being, it will surely be given more symbolic worth than it deserves as an “indicator” of the overall health of poker.