Will the 2022 WSOP Main Event Smash the Attendance Record?

2022 wsop main event

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the tables have been packed at the 2022 World Series of Poker (WSOP), the first year the series has been held at Bally's and Paris Las Vegas. But how will that translate into attendance in the most important event of them all — the Main Event?

Last year was a unique WSOP in that the series was held in the fall and only those vaccinated against COVID-19 were permitted to play. Still, the field in the $10,000 buy-in world championship event attracted 6,650 entries, impressive considering the circumstances, but nearly 2,000 fewer than in 2019 (the live WSOP was canceled in 2020).

Outside of the venue switch, things are back to normal this summer. So, we'll compare turnout up to this point at the 2022 WSOP to similar events in 2019 as we attempt to handicap turnout in the upcoming Main Event, which begins later today.

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Huge Series Equals Huge Main Event?

Through Friday's action, there have been 45 events with registration closed thus far that also ran in 2019. The purpose of comparing similar events is to get a pulse on how many players we can expect to sign up for the Main Event. In the past, high turnout in the preliminary bracelet events have translated into a massive field Main Event.

In 2019, poker's world championship event attracted 8,569 entries, second only to 2006 (8,773). Leading up to the Main Event three years ago, the fields were record-breaking, including the $500 buy-in BIG 50, which wrapped with an almost unthinkable 28,371 entries, making it the largest live poker tournament in history.

With well beyond half the 2022 WSOP out of the way, it's clear that attendance in the most important tournament of the year will be high. But just how high will it be? Likely right around Cheech and Chong levels based on field sizes thus far.

Out of 45 matching events, meaning the same buy in and poker game played, there was increased attendance in 2022 compared to the same tournaments in 2019 in 31 events. In most similar tournaments, field sizes have been close one way or the other. But in other cases, turnout has been significantly up. Take, for example, Event #25: $800 No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack, which brought in 4,062 runners, up a whopping 44% compared to the same tournament three years ago.

Another prime example, Event #7: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better, the field was up 27% this year. On the flipside, the 2022 $1,500 buy in Millionaire Maker had 7,961 entries, down from the 8,809 of 2019 (9.6% drop).

Full List of Comparable Events

Event2022 Entrants2019 EntrantsDifferenceHigher Year
$500 Casino Employees8326851472022
$2,500 NLH Freezeout752996-2442019
$1,500 Dealers Choice430470-402019
$500 $5 Mil Gtd20.08028.371-82912019
$1,500 Omaha/81.0868532332022
$1,500 Seven Card Stud329285442022
$10,000 Dealers Choice12312212022
$600 NLH Deepstack5.7206.150-4302019
$50,000 NLH High Roller101123-222019
$1,500 Limit Hold'em522541-192019
$1,500 NLH 6-Handed2.3931.8325612022
$10,000 Omaha/8196183132022
$3,000 NLH1.2406715692022
$2,500 Mixed Triple Draw309296132022
$25,000 PLO High Roller264278-142019
$10,000 Seven Card Stud968882022
$3,000 Limit HE 6-Handed213193202022
$800 NLH Deepstack4.0622.80812542022
$1,500 Monster Stack NLH6.5016.0354662022
$10,000 Limit Hold'em92118-262019
$1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw4372961412022
$1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha1.8911.5263652022
$10,000 Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw118100182022
$1,500 HORSE773751222022
$3,000 NLH 6-Handed1.3487545942022
$2,500 Mixed Big Bet281218632022
$1,500 Millionaire Maker7.9618.809-8482019
$1,500 Seven Card Stud 8 or Better471460112022
$1,000 NLH Super Turbo Bounty2.2272.452-2252019
$100,000 NLH High Roller6299-372019
$10,000 Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better137151-142019
$10,000 HORSE209172372022
$5,000 NLH 6-Handed9288151132022
$1,000 Seniors NLH6.2685.9163522022
$1,500 8 Game Mix695612832022
$400 Colossus13.56513.1094562022
$500 Salute to Warriors3.2091.72314862022
$1,000 Tag Team NLH913976-632019
$50,000 Poker Players Championship11274382022
$1,000 Super Seniors2.6692.650192022
$10,000 Short Deck NLH110114-42019
$1,000 Ladies NLH1.0749681062022
$1,000 Mini Main Event5,8335,5213122022
$10,000 Super Turbo Bounty NLH4192042142022
$600 PLO Deepstack2,8582,5772812022

Other Factors to Consider

WSOP Bracelet

Overall attendance is up in 2022 compared to previous years, not just 2019. That alone doesn't necessarily prove the Main Event will surpass the 2006 record-breaking turnout. But there is one other reason for optimism, and that is the added Day 1 starting flight.

In past years (save for 2021), the opening session has featured three starting flights, but there will be a fourth this year. Adding an extra Day 1 flight could give more players an opportunity to register.

It should also be noted that many of the aforementioned events cost less than $10,000 to enter, the price of the Main Event, and we included all comparable tournaments, not just no-limit hold'em. Some players who enter, say, a pot-limit Omaha tournament have no interest in the Main Event, and many who compete in a low buy-in tournament can't swing the $10k fee.

But there's simply no denying the fact that attendance across the board has been at all-time highs this year, which means the likelihood of a record-breaking Main Event is high.

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