Thursday, June 16, 2011

How Do You Figure? 2011 WSOP Attendance Is Up

A couple of days ago a friend asked me about the numbers being up at this summer’s World Series of Poker, defying a lot of folks’ predictions (particularly in the wake of Black Friday). We keep hearing from the WSOP how the overall attendance has increased from last year, and in the case of certain events how records are being broken in terms of the number of entrants. Indeed, it does seem like a lot more folks are climbing those steps, entering the Rio, and subsequently entering WSOP events. (Pic via the great FlipChip of LasVegasVegas, natch.)

When I went on Keep Flopping Aces with Lou Krieger and Shari Geller at the end of April, we talked about what might happen at the WSOP as far as numbers went. The subject came up again when I was on the Two Plus Two Pokercast in May.

Both times I said that while I’d be surprised to see the Main Event attract more than last year’s 7,319, I felt like the WSOP kind of had “a momentum of its own” and would probably be okay. I did say I thought certain high buy-in events might take a hit -- especially if players continued to have their Full Tilt Poker rolls tied up -- but that the lower buy-in events would probably do just fine.

We’re almost to the halfway point of this year’s Series, and so prompted by my friend’s query, I figured it was as good a time as any to take a look at how attendance at this year’s Series is comparing thus far to years past. I had thought I’d only compare this year to last, but I noticed a post from a couple of years ago in which I did something similar, and so am able quickly to take a look at how things are faring here in 2011 when compared to the last three WSOPs. Take a look:

In the right-hand column, green means up from 2010 and red down (obv). Double-checked it all, but any errors that might have snuck in there are mine (also obv).

Setting aside the three new events played thus far this year (Nos. 2, 12, and 14), 17 out of the remaining 24 have seen attendance go up from 2010 to 2011. Among the seven in which the number of entrants has decreased, four are those $10,000 buy-in “World Championship” events. And none of those seven has seen that marked of a drop, either, the largest percentage-wise being the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud World Championship (Event No. 21) which had a 16% decrease from last year. (Interestingly, the only $1,500 buy-in event to drop at all was also a Seven-Card Stud event.)

Why are the numbers up thus far? A couple of reasons spring to mind, an obvious one being the current absence of the online option for most American players. Some are choosing 2011 as their year to take their first shots at the WSOP, while more experienced players who normally split their time between live and online play are likely entering more events this time around.

Another possibility is simply the fact that bankrolls are more plentiful earlier than late. With only 10% or so of those entering each tourney making the money and thus avoiding taking a loss, many of those who have played in events during the first half of June will not be around for the latter weeks of the Series.

What other reasons might there be for the modest -- though nonetheless remarkable -- growth in attendance at this year’s WSOP, do you figure?

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Blogger JK said...

I think the second half of the series is where the real story will be told, as we're rapidly approaching the point where a lot of people who haven't cashed - or who have min-cashed - are beginning to go broke.

I'll be curious to see if the momentum holds or if the numbers start to go down prior to the ME, which I also think will be smaller than last year.


6/16/2011 1:43 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I'm sure the ME will be noticeably smaller due to the lack of U.S. online qualifiers which have packed the Amazon room in years past. The one thing I am really struck by though is the surge in attendance in the $1500 and $1000 "donkaments". This tells me that it's the small-time recreational-type (and probably online-type) of player and not the bigger poker professionals who are flocking to the WSOP this year moreso than anyone else. Whether this is because their rolls are freed up from (most) online sites, they have more time or desire to play live now that online is gone, or because they are making a last-ditch desperation play is anyone's guess.

6/16/2011 1:58 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Everyone at Stars as cash-on-hand like they haven't before. Once that cash got through the Rio's rake cycle or upwards to the better players... things could be hurting.

Or, the WSOP regional stops are getting more players to journey to Vegas for the real thing.

6/16/2011 4:59 PM  

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