Poker News

So who predicted that the 2011 World Series of Poker (WSOP) would be on a record-breaking pace at its halfway point?  You did?  Liar.

After the United States online poker market imploded as the result of the U.S. Department of Justice indictments of eleven principals at Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker, the WSOP became something of an afterthought in the poker community.  Once the dust from Black Friday began to settle, attention started to turn back to the world’s largest poker festival.  But people came to the realization that with Americans banished from the biggest poker sites, there would be fewer online qualifiers into the Main and preliminary events.  On top of that, many players wouldn’t be able to swing the buy-ins, as their poker bankrolls are still in limbo.

But surprise, surprise, the Amazon Room at the Rio in Las Vegas is hopping.  According to WSOP officials, both the total attendance midway through the Series and the total prize pool have eclipsed previous highs.  Tournament organizers count the first 30 events as the first half of the WSOP (even though there are 58 events overall) and through that point, 33,173 people have taken their seats at the tables, an 8.6 percent increase over last year’s 30,552.  A total of $55.9 million has been awarded, which the WSOP is the highest ever, but while this about $2.3 million more than last year, it is still below the $56.3 million doled out in 2009.  Also a bit confusing, as noted above, is the math that is used.  WSOP officials use 30 events out of 58 to mark the halfway point, but they are comparing the figures to 29 total events in 2010, during which 57 bracelets were awarded.  Regardless of the methodology, the fact remains that attendance is looking good so far.

A number of individual event records have also been broken:

Event #2 – $25,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship – Largest heads-up tournament prize pool in history – $3,040,000
Event #3 – $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better – Largest live Omaha high-low split tournament – 925 players
Event #10 – $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Six Handed – Largest six-handed tournament in history – 1,920 players
Event #16 – $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship – Largest Deuce-Seven prize pool in history – $1,184,400
Event #18 – $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em – Largest single day start for a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournament – 3,157 players
Event #20 – $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em – Largest single day start for a $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em tournament – 3,175 players
Event #22 – $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha – Largest live Pot-Limit Omaha tournament in history – 1,071 players
Event #23 – $2,500 Eight Game Mix – Largest mixed game tournament in history – 489 players
Event #30 – $1,000 Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship – Largest Seniors tournament in history AND Largest single day start for a $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em tournament – 3,752 players

For those paying attention, that’s correct: Event #30 broke the record set by Event #20 earlier in the WSOP.

Last year, the WSOP held nine of the seventeen largest live tournaments in poker history, contributing to an attendance jump of 20 percent over 2009.

The 2010 Main Event was the second largest in WSOP history, fielding 7,319 players.  The largest was the 2006 Main Event, coming in at an astounding 8,773 runners, over 3,000 more than the previous year’s record.

“We are humbled once again by the incredible turnout from players all over the world,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart in a press release. “It has been a record-setting summer thus far in 2011 and we are confident it will continue through the duration of the tournament.”

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