World Series of Poker on pace for more entries

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

LAS VEGAS -- The World Series of Poker main event looks on pace for more entries and prize money than last year after tournament officials avoided having some players begin during the Fourth of July holiday.

But it's unclear whether the higher numbers will hold with two of four starting days remaining. Last year's tournament saw 6,494 entries, which generated a $61 million prize pool and $8.55 million for winner Joe Cada.

World Series of Poker spokesman Seth Palansky said the tournament was moved beyond Independence Day because the holiday has consistently attracted the lowest number of entries for the $10,000 buy-in tournament.

But moving the tournament meant it started on a Monday instead of a Friday, meaning the starting days now fall midweek instead of around the weekend.

"We're kind of in uncharted territory because of the days of the week," Palansky said. "I don't feel like we have enough information to know what we have ahead of us."

The final two starting days have proven to be the most popular in past years. Last year, more than 500 players were shut out of the tournament on its last day to enter because the event ran out of space.

"Players seem to like to have the most information possible," Palansky said.

Players who register on later days could conceivably adjust their strategy based on observations about the first days of play.

At least 1,300 people started the no-limit Texas Hold 'em tournament on Tuesday, packed 10 to a table at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. That was up from the 1,125 players who started the tournament on Monday and well over the 873 players entered the main event on its second day -- the Fourth of July -- last year.

Last year's two-day total for the tournament's start was 1,989 players, compared with more than 2,400 this year.

Series officials were accepting registrations for Tuesday until players started their fifth hour of play. Space for Wednesday and Thursday was closed before that to properly balance the tournament, so players can all play their third sessions on the same day next week.

The number of players who remain in the tournament after Tuesday's session will go a long way in determining how many players the tournament can accept on Wednesday and Thursday, Palansky said.

Palansky said 766 players survived the tournament on Monday, 68 percent of its starting field.

Brian Pinkus, a 35-year-old software testing executive from Las Vegas, said after two all-in hands at his table that play was going faster than he thought it would.

"They're firing away, calling off chips with nothing," Pinkus said a few hands after mucking his cards when an opponent showed a flush. "So far, it's frustrating."

The slowly-structured tournament gives players a good chance to make it to a second session. The eliminations Monday were more than what tournament officials expected, Palansky said.