There was a great deal of hand wringing from Caesars Entertainment officials prior to the start of the 2018 World Series of Poker $10,000 Championship Event. Would the “Main Event” continue to be the draw that it had been in the past, they wondered. Would the “Main Event” continue the upswing that they had seen in 2017, when the field cracked the 7000-player mark for the first time in years? Those questions and more about the “current state of poker” might be revealed in looking at the numbers for this year’s tournament.

Second Largest Field in “Main Event” History

The numbers for the first two Day Ones of this year’s Championship Event were impressive, but it was Day 1C that really stunned the poker world. The 4571 players that came out for Day 1C smashed the record that was set only last year (4262 players). Along with the two other Day Ones, the total field for 2018 was 7874 players, storming by the 7221 that came out in 2017.

The total field stunned many in that it became the second largest “Main Event” field in the history of the WSOP. Last year’s field of 7221 players fell just short of that achievement – passing 2010’s 7319 players – but the 2018 contingent shattered that wall. For now, 2006’s 8773 player field remains the benchmark to reach but, if the current world and poker economies stay the same or improve, then there is the potential that mark may be under siege within the next couple of years.

Demographically? Could Be Better…

In taking a look at the demographics, there are some areas for concern. The average age of the field for the 2018 WSOP Championship Event was 41.23 years old. This demonstrates that younger players aren’t coming to the game in the same numbers that were seen as little as a few years ago. For men, the average age was 43.71 years old and for women it was 41.13 years old.

Breaking down the age ranges shows this change. Those 26-30 years old more than quadrupled those in the 21-25-year-old bracket (1439 players to 310). By far the largest group were the players 31-35 years old – the “first generation” of the Internet Age of poker – with 1689 players representing. Even those that came just before that “Internet Age” are strong, with 1050 players in the field.

From there, the numbers go down. In the 41-45-year-old bracket, 815 players made up the field. From 46-55, 1451 players were in the field (815 from 46-50, 636 were 51-55). Finally, players OVER the age of 56 made up 1070 players.

Then there is the representation of women in the 2018 “Main Event.” Last year in the 21-25 bracket, there was a singular female represented. In 2018, that’s a bit better, but only five women have come to the game. Overall from the 7874 field, only 301 women took part – that’s worse than the “5%” number that is often bandied about…it is 3.8% of the field.

What Does it Mean?

While the 2018 World Series of Poker Championship Event is a roaring success with its overall numbers, there are some areas for concern. The lack of players entering the game – the lowest demographic, 21-25 – and their ability to offset those who may be exiting – the OVER 56 numbers – is something that has to be questioned. If you’re not at least replacing the same number that are departing, then there is a lack of growth that has to be addressed.

Then there is the question as to bringing women to the game. None of the demographics were even close to the three-figure mark (women 31-35 was the closest at 64) and only five women in the youngest demographic is a big, blinking neon sign that something needs to be done. It isn’t just a question at the WSOP, however; it is a question that has to be answered around the entirety of the poker community, one that hasn’t been answered as of yet. With women accounting for more than half the planet’s population, only having 3% of them in the game is downright embarrassing.

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