Record-Setting WSOP Has Us Hoping Poker Just Might Be Growing After All

It was a record-setting summer for the World Series of Poker, with the third-largest Main Event field ever and over 120,000 bracelet event participants.

sugar cane and measuring tape

The 2017 World Series of Poker (WSOP) wraps up this weekend. For the first time since 2008, the festivities will finish up at the Rio Casino entirely in July. Previously the poker series’ Main Event would get down to a nine-handed final table, then take a four-month break.

Perhaps it is the elimination of the November Nine concept, or perhaps flatter payout structures drew more people to the game. Whatever the answer, the WSOP drew some huge numbers this year. That big turnout was not exclusive to the Main Event either.

2017 WSOP topped 120,000 participants

Surely the Main Event was the crowning achievement in a busy summer. The $10,000 buy-in tournament drew 7,221 players. That makes it the third-largest Main Event ever. It is also the biggest turnout since 2010.

However, the one tournament is just a piece of the series’ overall success. According to a press release from WSOP, the 74-tournament series had 120,995 participants from 111 different countries. That is an all-time record for the WSOP.

Don’t be so quick to take that number at face value though. The 120,995 number reflects total number of entries across the 74 bracelet events. What is not specified is how many unique individuals make up that number. For example, several pros play the majority of the events, so they count for multiple entries.

Turnout down in some events, but WSOP series still growing

Nonetheless, the continued growth of the WSOP is promising, especially considering how many people scrutinized the low turnout in the early events.

Across the summer, WSOP generated over $231 million in prize pools, which is another record. Thanks to popular “gimmick” events anchoring most weekends, like the Millionaire Maker, Monster Stack, Colossus, and Little One for One Drop, the drop in high buy-in prestige events did not make a dent in overall numbers.

In fact, per the WSOP, the average field size was up to 1,635 participants in each event. Some of this is thanks to the proliferation of re-entry events, inflating the numbers.

However, something should be said about the popularity of lower buy-in events, like the $365 Giant tournament. WSOP does not release numbers for unique entries or new players. Nonetheless, there is evidence to suggest these lower buy-in tournaments are bringing in a different set of players than before.

WSOP.com bracelet event set prize pool record

After introducing an online bracelet in 2015, WSOP expanded to three bracelet events hosted exclusively on online poker site WSOP.com this year.

Two of the three tournaments posted seven-figure prize pools. The $3,333 buy-in Online High Roller set the record for largest online poker prize pool in Nevada online gambling history at $1,335,600.

Nevada online poker is still mostly a seasonal affair. This summer, with an extensive online schedule, does indicate it can generate some big prize pools though. Perhaps in 2018 there will be more than three online bracelets, and maybe we will see the first-ever $2 million online prize pool in the Silver State.