Wednesday, July 07, 2010

2010 WSOP, Day 40: A Few Calculations

If My Calculations Are Correct...Yesterday I spent my day off largely away from the Rio. I was there early on for a little business, right about the time the doors were opened and the crush of players and spectators were first allowed into the Amazon Room. Had thoughts of sticking around but I soon realized that after a week straight of working and sleeping 3-4 hours a night I was much too fatigued to do so. It was a day off, and I needed to be somewhere else.

Ended up spending the afternoon back at the home away from home following some of the coverage online, sort of watching a repeat of the Netherlands-Uruguay match, then falling unconscious for a surprising number of hours, starting around dinner time and lasting through mid-morning today.

I guess my body had done a few calculations, decided I had fallen way short of the needed hours of sleep over the past weeks, and finally took over.

The big story yesterday -- as it seemed to me during my waking hours -- was the fact that 1,489 players came out on Day 1b, a bump up from the 1,125 who played on Monday’s Day 1a. Many wanted to compare yesterday’s number to the 873 who played Day 1b last year, but of course that was the Fourth of July which surely affected the low turnout then.

Indications are that Day 1c will also see a large turnout -- i.e., something in that same 1,500-player range, at least, and perhaps a lot more -- and everyone still expects a massive group on Thursday for Day 1d. People continue to try to guess at a total number of entrants for the Main Event, and I’m hearing a lot predicting a total just above or below 7,000, which sounds like a fair estimate to me.

F-Train has been posting off and on this summer about the turnouts at the WSOP and how they’ve been comparing to last year. His first couple of posts on the subject (here and here) noted how numbers were down, but a later one from about halfway through the Series suggested things were turning around.

A couple of days ago we received a presser from the WSOP noting that the overall number of entrants for the 2010 WSOP had already exceeded last year’s total after 55 events, with 63,706 registrations total. There were 1,942 more who played Event No. 56 ($2,500 No-Limit Hold’em), so that’s 65,648 heading into the Main Event, meaning this year’s ultimate total will surely exceed 70,000 -- a significant increase, for sure.

Of course, it should be noted also that this year there were eight different $1,000 buy-in events (including the Ladies & Seniors), as opposed to just three in 2009. Those eight events alone attracted 24,946 entrants, nearly 38% of the total through the first 56 events. That said, the total prize money awarded in 2010 will probably be more than in 2009. Last year saw a total of $174,013,215 awarded, while this year the figure will probably end up right around the $180 million mark.

What’s it all mean? Well, for both the Main Event and the WSOP as a whole, I think the main story as far as numbers are concerned is that they’ve essentially held steady from last year. One could probably dive in deeper and discover other mini-trends or anomalies worth examining, but big picture-wise, we’re not really seeing a huge gain or loss at this year’s WSOP.

There was another storyline I found sort of intriguing from following the coverage yesterday -- actually more so from following my Twitter feed which includes a few of the players who happened to be playing Day 1b. I’m thinking in particular of Annette Obrestad’s tweets documenting her struggles yesterday.

Here’s a quick sample:
@Annette_15: Not a great start

@Annette_15: Back from break. 10k. Lots of small pots gone wrong

@Annette_15: 100-200. Cant believe im this short already

@Annette_15: 25k. Why do ppl hate flops so much? Makes me rly sad. 3 betting shouldn’t b allowed lol

@Annette_15: This table is fkn crazy and theyre all randoms except for one guy whos by online definition old and hes crushing

@Annette_15: Man theyre rly making it hard for me in my first main event…. Where r all these so called donkeys i keep hearing so much about???
Obrestad’s phone would eventually run out of juice, just before she ran out of chips, in fact, and so it would be some hours later before she’d report “Oh I busted btw.”

A lot of players use Twitter to report their progress in tourneys, and a great many sometimes will use it as a means to “vent” a little or at least remark on the reasons why they might be struggling. I’ve singled out Obrestad’s messages here, but I’ve gotten the sense over the last couple of days -- and really over the course of the entire Series -- that a lot of pros and top-level players who’ve had much success in the past have had experiences very similar to Obrestad’s this time around.

In other words, having expected to encounter fields full of predictable and/or passive players, they’ve been met with more and more difficult opponents (i.e., players who know not to limp, who do not continually give up on small pots, etc.). Tom Schneider was kind of getting at this, too, in some of his comments to me a few days ago, though he additionally observed that the poor economy has probably contributed to this toughening up of the player pool, too.

It’s a bit of a hasty generalization, perhaps, but it does seem like while the numbers are holding steady, the percentage of truly weak players (“dead money”) has declined, perhaps markedly. A lot more “thinkers” around the table -- that is, calculating players capable of moves and of successfully countering others’.

One other trend I was seeing on Twitter over the last couple of days was how some were referring to the play as being “boring” to watch. There could be a lot of reasons for why this was the case, but I wonder if one of the factors causing the play to be less than scintillating to observers was that there were more skilled players competing? The fact is, when one can’t see the players’ hole cards, good, solid poker can be a bit tedious to watch and report on (especially if one doesn’t have back stories or other information about the players to help contextualize what one is seeing).

I’m off again today, but will be back in the thick of it tomorrow for Day 1d. Last year saw 2,809 show up for that last of the Day Ones, with hundreds more reportedly being shut out. I think I saw somewhere that they are ready to accommodate as many as 3,700 players this time around -- one hopes they’ve calculated properly this time!

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