The World Series of Poker has a teeny-tiny chance of breaking the 13-year Main Event attendance record as 8,129 entrants sit and play through the first three starting flights with late reg open till the start of Day 2.
The record for the biggest World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event attendance has stood as 8,773 entrants since 2006. That was the time that the largest online poker rooms in America began packing up their tents and flashlights and getting the hell out of Dodge.
The following year, attendance dropped to 6,358, but it’s picked up to such a degree of late (7,874 in 2018), that tongues began wagging around the Rio that perhaps this was the year the record would finally snap—a year like no other—a 50th Anniversary year.
After three starting flights, 8,129 people have sat on Main Event tables alongside hardware store owners, flat earth believers, and torturers, and that means it’s the biggest since Jamie Gold banked the $12m first prize.
It’s a stretch for the record to fall, but it’s still a possibility with late registration open until the start of Day 2. WSOP officials are doing everything in their power to try and beat the record including putting on a series of last chance $1,100 buy-in mega-satellites between now and the start of Day 2.
The prize pool has already surpassed the $75m mark. You can expect the final nine to become millionaires, with the winner stumbling away with blow job legs and more than $8m in prize money in the kitty.
Here are the main stories of those first three flights:
Day 1a: Kurganov busts Boeree, Nguyen and Moneymaker through
Day 1a attracted 1,335 entrants, and 962 of them made it through to Day 2ab. Bryan Campenello led the way with 417,500 chips. Campenello won a $2.5k Razz event in 2013, but he has never cashed in the big one.
Two former WSOP Main Event champions also made it through; as Qui Nguyen, the 2016 WSOP Main Event champ returned to form bagging up 180,500. The 2003 Main Event champ Chris Moneymaker managed to get through, sticking 95,000 plastic things into a bag.
A sprinkling of superstars that made it through to Day 2ab includes Jeff Lisandro (180,100), Alex Foxen (173,200), Jack Sinclair (153,800), Brian Hastings (124,200), Elio Fox (73,400), Erik Seidel (57,400), and Stephen Chidwick (45,000).
There were close to 150 tables in the Rio dedicated to the WSOP Main Event, and only Liv Boeree and Igor Kurganov would know the odds of two lovebirds ending up on the same table.
That’s what happened to the two PokerStars ambassadors, but what happened next was even more incredible as Kurganov busted his other half. With blinds at 200/400/400, Brian Altman opened to 1,000 in midfield, Boeree moved all-in for 2,400 in the cutoff, and Kurganov pushed Altman out of the pot with a 5,000 raise from the big blind holding kings. Goodnight, Boeree. In 2017, the pair won the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Tag Team Championship.
Stars who ended up roast lamb on Day 1a included Shane Warne, David Williams, Frank Kassela, Chris Moorman, Steven van Zadelhoff, and Brandon Adams.
Day 1b: Owen going strong
The second of three starting flights attracted 1,915 entrants, and 1,400 sneaked their way into the Day 2ab draw like kids’ sweets find their way into the back pockets of mothers and fathers during Halloween.
The U.K.’s Adam Owen took the biggest stack of the day through (351,800). Owen has recorded 3.2 million in tournament cashes and had a breakout live year in 2018 cashing for $1,917,986 in live events the bulk of which coming from a second-place finish in the partypoker MILLIONS Barcelona for $1,603,750. Owen has finished third on three separate occasions when competing for a WSOP gold bracelet.
Bracelet winners Asi Moshe (330,200) & Galen Hall (295,700) ended with big stacks as did, father and son partnership Joe (61,300) and Daniel Hachem (144,700). Ryan Riess (89,300), Greg Merson (25,000), Chris Ferguson (36,100), and Greg Raymer (73,100) also survived into the full moon.
Plenty of names hit the rail at a constant rate including Sean Winter, Dan Shak, Valentin Vornicu, Anthony Zinno, Cord Garcia, Xuan Liu, and Craig Varnell.
Day 1c: A full moon and an earthquake
Day 1c was a wild one, with 4,879 entrants taking the final total to 8,129 entrants. 962 scraped through, meaning 3,324 will start either Day 2ab or 2c.
The 4,879-entrant field created a seismic shock as the largest Main Event attendance in a single sitting, and the Poker Gods made sure everyone heard about it after WSOP officials sent the players on an impromptu 40-minute dinner break amid an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale. Not the wisest of moves, given the ‘what the fuck to do if there is an earthquake’ guidebook tells you NEVER to leave the house.
Day 1c also witnessed a rare full moon.
During the opening gambit of Level 2, an unnamed player moved all-in blind, preflop, turned over queen-three offsuit before anyone else had acted. He then pulled down his pants and gave everyone a moonie, before taking off his shoes and throwing them at the player in Seat 1.
The WSOP disqualified the man immediately.
It seems it’s not the first time the arse has come out. A video surfaced on social media showing the same guy dancing on a craps table at the Luxor, once again, with a spotty, hairy arsehole in the face of those bothered to look.
The earthquake also had a funny effect on Georgii Belianin whom the WSOP disqualified after sticking his mucky paws into the stack of the player seated next to him.
And we thought the bust of Phil Ivey before 1 p.m. was a tad strange.
Mike “Timex” McDonald (306,300) was the most memorable name to accumulate a stack worthy of a deep run. Other starlets who got through the flight included Calvin Anderson (178,100), Josh Arieh (169,500), Leon Tsoukernik (167,200), Sam Greenwood (126,400), and Ali Imsirovic (102,500).