Tonight, across the United States, people are getting an early start on the Independence Day fireworks, while looking forward to the most impressive displays tomorrow night and then figuring out creative ways to use up the rest of their celebratory explosives throughout the weekend. Most of the people in the Rio poker room in Las Vegas, though, are more concerned with card explosions that fireworks explosions and are just hoping to make it to the weekend, as the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event has begun.
Players Getting Ready for a Grind
Today is the first of three starting flights, each of which should get progressively larger. Last year’s Day 1A attracted 925 entrants, a really good number for the initial flight. Numbers across all WSOP events have been strong this year, so it is not out of the question that today’s flight could hit four figures. Day 1B is tomorrow and Day 1C will take place on Friday.
Day 1C is always the most sizeable, but it shocked people last year, as 4,571 runners showed up, making it the largest flight in the history of the tournament. All told, 7,874 players entered the 2018 WSOP Main Event, making it the second-largest ever, behind 2006, which drew 8,773 players just before the UIGEA passed in the United States.
Play began at noon local time today and is expected to a bit past midnight. Five 120-minute levels will be played with a 20-minute break after all but the second level. Level 2 will be split into two parts: the first 85 minutes will be contested before a 75-minute dinner break, after which the remaining 35 minutes will be played.
Those who make it through Day 1A with chips will return to the Rio on Saturday for Day 2A. The survivors from Day 1B will also play their Day 2B on Saturday, but they will be separated from Day 2A participants. Because Day 1C will be so massive, the survivors from that flight will have their own Day 2C on Sunday. After that, the entire remaining field will play together.
The nine-handed final table will be determined on Day 7, which will be Friday, July 12th. Players will have the next day off to conduct interviews and tape promos, and then the final table will commence on Sunday, July 14th.
The final table itself will be split across three days. On Sunday, the field will be narrowed to six, then down to three on Monday, and the champion will be determined on Tuesday, July 16th.
How to Watch the Main Event
For those who want to watch the festivities from the comfort of their own homes, ESPN and ESPN2 will be airing some of the Main Event every day. The entire final table will be broadcast on ESPN. All of the action will be shown semi-live with a 30-minute delay. Poker Central’s PokerGO subscription streaming service will have live coverage not shown on ESPN.
John Cynn is the defending WSOP Main Event Champion, outlasting Tony Miles in the longest heads-up match in Main Event history last summer.