It’s taken 17 years, but the World Series of Poker’s 2023 Main Event has slashed through the event’s all-time attendance mark, which has stood since 2006. During today’s first two-hour level in Day 1D, the fourth and final opening flight, the overall attendance had climbed past 8,773, the 2006 mark.
Unofficial day-by-day attendance figures for the four opening flights have also emerged from various sources that have aligned well with previous estimates:
- Day 1A – 1,139
- Day 1B – 1,118
- Day 1C – 3,077
- Day 1D – 3,540… and counting
Here’s WSOP Twitter czar Kevin “Kevmath” Mathers on the big moment:
Accidents of history have twice prevented the Main Event from topping the 2006 mark, in the year that Jamie Gold won the Main Event and collected the largest ME winner’s payout in WSOP history, $12 million. That mark still stands and may remain intact, due to more recent changes in WSOP prize distribution.
Later in 2006, following Gold’s win, the passage of the US’s UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) crippled the ability of offshore sites to send online qualifiers to the WSOP’s Main Event. Attendance dropped to 6,358 in 2007, more than a 25% decline.
Then, over the next dozen years, the Main Event began a more-or-less steady climb toward the 2006 mark, just missing it in 2019 when attendance hit 8,569 and Hossein Ensan won the Main. 2020 looked to be the year the record would fall, but early that year, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Except for a special live, heads-up “Main Event” won by Damian Salas, the entire live 2020 WSOP was cancelled.
In 2021, many would-be Main Event participants were still COVID-weary and leery. That year’s attendance was well off earlier years, as were the turnouts in most other events. In 2022, though, a new surge of Main Event interest and participation occurred, and Espen Jorstad won a main event with 8,663 entries, just 110 shy of the 2006 mark.
Turnout through the first three days of this year’s Main Event topped last year’s day-to-day attendance by more than 1,500 after Day 1C significantly outperformed pre-event expectations. The Day 1C turnout filled both the Horseshoe Events Center and the adjacent Grand Ballroom, leaving no doubt that the record would fall on Day 1D.
The only question that remains is by how much. 9,500 seems very much within reach, and 10,000 seems a possibility as well. Late registration into Day 2ABC remains open into Friday, and the same holds true for Saturday’s Day 2D, after which the 2023 WSOP Main Event’s total attendance will finally be known.