The WSOP’s top brass seemed optimistic at the press conference they held on Thursday, May 26. The team confirmed that they had hired almost 1,000 dealers for this year’s series.
The WSOP team also confirmed that the series’s new digs at the Paris and Bally’s would have 582 tables set up just for WSOP purposes.
Both of these numbers are record-setting. So in terms of manpower and square footage, this is already the biggest WSOP in history. And that’s before a card has even been dealt. These vital statistics also reflect a general bullishness that in the room at the press conference.
Ty Stewart — Executive Director of the World Series of Poker and Senior Vice President at Caesars Interactive — even went so far as to say he would be happy taking the over on 8,773 attendees for the main event. 8,773 was the attendance in the 2006 Main Event, the largest ME in history.
To put Stewart’s prediction in context it is worth noting that the 2021 WSOP Main Event attracted 6,650 entrants. Much lower than the peak of 2006, but a solid turnout.
In the 2021 Main Event’s favor was the pent-up demand from the first phase of the pandemic. Against the event, was the pandemic itself which meant many people were nervous to attend and the unvaccinated were outright banned.
The Moneymaker wave peaked in 2006, but it didn’t roll back out to sea. In 2006, there were 8,773 entries and most years since have seen 6k-7k entrants with the occasional spike and a notable drop in 2020. The trend did seem to be on the rise again just before COVID, with the four events from 2016 to 2019 climbing year-on-year from 6.4k to almost 8.6k.
So, the event is likely to be somewhere in the 5k-9k window. However, where it falls in that window will depend heavily on whether last year’s numbers were just stored up demand that has now dissipated. The vicissitudes of COVID will also be a factor and so will the economic oil-slick left by the Russian gas industry.
The 2021 Main Event event had 12 episodes of live-streamed poker. One stream for each calendar day of action. This year, PokerGO seemed to have blocked out 12 days for the Main Event stream again. This suggests that PokerGO are anticipating an event of similar magnitude.
2019 was the second biggest event in the tourney’s history with 8,569. Despite the potential pitfalls, everyone in power seems to be anticipating a return to pre-COVID levels for the 2022 WSOP.
Featured image source: PokerGO