For three years running, Pollack always had the same reply -- or non-reply -- to the question. For example, when Pollack last year appeared on Phil Gordon’s podcast The Poker Edge (the 5/15/08 episode), Gordon put the question to the Commish once again. “I couldn’t pin you down last year,” Gordon began, “I’m going to try again this year: How many participants in the championship event for the World Series this year?”
“I don’t know, you tell me,” said Pollack. “There are certain things I’m consistent on, and one of them is never publicly predicting the turn-out. I will give you the line I always give, and that is [to say] whoever makes the decision to show, we’re going to welcome them with open arms and they know they’re going to have a better experience than they did the year before.”
Makes sense, really, for the Commish to avoid making such predictions, as there really isn’t much to gain from doing so. Predict a number too low, and it gives the impression the WSOP wasn’t prepared to handle the field that arrives. Predict a number too high, and it gives the impression the WSOP hasn’t met expectations. And, as a marketing-savvy guy, Pollack has always been aware of the importance of impressions.
I’ve heard Pollack interviewed a few times this year, and also heard his answers to questions at the 2009 WSOP Media Conference Call a couple of weeks ago. Haven’t been hearing the question about Main Event numbers so much of late, as I suppose reporters are getting wise to the fact that Pollack ain’t gonna give them anything concrete in response.
All of which makes it interesting to discover that in the 2009 WSOP Staff Resource Guide one finds predictions -- of a sort -- of the numbers of entrants for each of the 57 bracelet events. Including the big one.
Now this guide isn’t necessarily meant to serve as part of the marketing of the WSOP, but rather just a helpful reference for those many individuals employed by Harrah’s to manage the various events. It’s a good idea for those folks to have at least some clue about how many will be showing up for each event so as to prepare more efficiently the needed tables, dealers, and other resources.
Nevertheless, these planned-for numbers do give us a glimpse into what those running the show at the WSOP are anticipating. If you are curious, you can mosey over to Pokerati to see where Kevmath has compiled a list of these predictions, including indications of whether returning events are predicted to have more or fewer entrants.
Lots of interest in there, for sure, such as the prediction of 150 entrants for the much-hyped $40,000 buy-in “40th Annual” No-Limit Hold’em Event (Event No. 2). Barry Greenstein has an over-under bet on that one with Eli Elezra in which Greenstein has taken the over on 222 entrants. They’re also planning for 5,305 players to come out for the so-called “stimulus special” $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Event (Event No. 4), which would rival the number of entrants for the Main Event in 2005. Like I say, check out the list on Pokerati for other interesting figures.
So, in this here WSOP Staff Resource Media Guide, we have ourselves a prediction (in a way) for the Main Event -- 7,323. That would represent an increase of nearly 500 from last year’s total (6,844).
My instinctive response to the number is to say it sounds reasonable. There are many factors, of course, which will affect the Main Event turnout, the two biggest probably being the still-struggling economy and the rest of the overstuffed WSOP schedule. But the general vibe I’m catching is that there’s a bit more excitement this year regarding the WSOP than last time around. And as far as the Main Event goes, we might actually see some benefit coming from the institution last year of the “November Nine” delayed final table, insofar as everyone saw how it worked and thus some may well be further encouraged to participate in the Main Event this time around.
Dr. Pauly has already predicted 7,100 for the 2009 WSOP Main Event. Like I say, I think some number over 7,000 sounds reasonable. What do you think?