WSOP Main Event draws massive field

Updated July 11, 2017 - 12:24 am

The hashtag on Poker Twitter is a sarcastic response used to troll anyone who believes the game’s popularity is in decline.

#PokerIsDead.

If the World Series of Poker’s Main Event is any indiction, reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

When all the numbers were added up Monday night, the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold ’em World Championship finished with 7,221 entrants, making this the largest Main Event field since 2010 and No. 3 all time.

“The players came from far and wide to help make poker great again,” WSOP executive director Ty Stewart said in a statement. “Wonderful to see that lucky seven number yet again. Many dismissed poker prematurely and thought decline far more likely than growth. But one thing is certain: There is only one WSOP, now and always.”

Day 1C is traditionally the largest starting flight, and a record 4,262 runners invaded the Rio Convention Center on Monday with numerous top pros, former Main Event champions, celebrities and amateurs in the field.

Amateur Alan Snow of Seattle had the unofficial chip lead at the final break at 9:30 p.m.

The Main Event continues Tuesday when the survivors from the first two starting flights return for Day 2A/2B at the Rio.

The winner of this year’s tournament will receive $8.15 million, tournament officials announced.

The largest Main Event came in 2006 at the peak of the online and television poker boom when 8,773 players entered and Jamie Gold won the $12 million first prize.

The 2010 tournament, which was the final Main Event prior to the U.S. government’s shutdown of online poker, had 7,319 entrants. Canadian Jonathan Duhamel took down $8.9 million for his victory.

“It’s amazing to see the 2017 WSOP Main Event break 7,000 players for the first time since 2010,” professional poker player and online streamer Jason Somerville wrote in a direct message to the Review-Journal.

“Poker is as popular as ever and hopefully with continued regulation of online poker both in the USA and across the globe we’ll see the game grow even more.”

All four rooms at the Rio Convention Center were in use on Day 1C, but one table received the most attention.

Professional poker players Daniel Negreanu and Jason Mercier were seated together for the afternoon sessions, and a packed house watched the superstars at the feature table.

“The game has grown so globally the last few years, and you see a lot more international players here,” said professional poker player and “World Poker Tour” commentator Mike Sexton.

“It makes a lot of sense to me that it’s going to grow because this is the mecca of the poker world, and everybody around the world wants to come play it. It’s just going to get bigger.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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