WSOP by the Numbers

World Series of Poker 2015

Did you know that the 46th annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event is going on in Las Vegas?? Don’t worry, not many people notice that anymore.  It used to be a headlining event in the Las Vegas media.  Today it’s more of a footnote.  But it’s still popular when you look at the numbers.

The World Series of Poker Main Event 2015

First off, to have a seat at the World Series of Poker Main Event, you need to pony up $10,000. Some people just plopped down the cash and had a seat. Others have been grinding it out here at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino since the end of May, in what are called satellite tournaments. Slowly building up the bank to get the ten grand need for the Main Event.

6,420 people were registered and playing for the much-coveted gold bracelet and for the first place prize of $7,680,000 .  That may sound like a lot of cash for wearing a hoodie and playing cards.  But it’s the lowest first-place prize since 2005.

The top payout may be down, but the overall prize pool was increased.  They will now pay out to the top 1,000 players.  Players 649 to 1,000 who cash out will get $15,000.


As players get eliminated and we get closer to the final nine or what’s now called “The November Nine” the cash payout gets larger.  Tenth place is $756,000.


As of right now, they are down to 3,393 players and the tournament is expected to be down to that 1,000 player mark on Saturday.  Hitting that “final table” of nine players should happen on Tuesday.

The Break


The game used to be played straight through until you had one winner.  That produced an adrenaline-filled series of plays towards the end that would last a few long days and nights with the world media reporting updates hourly.  In 2005,  Harrah’s/Caesars bought Binion’s Horseshoe and got the WSOP in the deal.  In 2008, they changed the format of the final table to better suit ESPN’s broadcasting schedule.  Giving the final nine a four-month break to get some serious coaching, get better sponsorships (in one case, allow the top player to change countries for tax purposes)  and help ESPN have more time to hype the final table for better ratings.

The Final Table

Now the “Final Table” is held in November in the Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio.  Just a note: If you do go, just remember you can not see the hole card. You can watch it live and enjoy the “action” of live poker but there is no “hole card” camera for the audience to see.

What Fascinates Me About the WSOP

Think about it.  Poker is not an exciting game to watch.  Especially from the rails.  We may make jokes about it and compare it to watching paint dry.  And like all sporting events, you have your professionals you see at every major event.  You also have the fan favorites who come with their entourage.  Thank you have the newcomers, the new kids on the block that are here to prove themselves.  But when they all walk into the World Series of Poker, yu all walk in with a clean slate.  An almost equal opportunity to walk out with the top prize.

What other sporting event has that probability?   Every year we see the fan favorites, the professionals we see on the poker magazines and we see all the other players.  Now look at the last 10 years of Final Tables and tell me how often you see the same faces?  How often do you see the same person sitting behind the pile of cash and holding that gold bracelet??  You don’t.  Every year 6 or 7 of the final 9 are new faces.

I think the WSOP is about the only single player type of tournament where your past performances have little impact on the outcome of this event. If you make it to the Main Event, you have a real shot at the final table and a shot at winning the bracelet.


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