WSOP alters Main Event schedule, changes impact rival series at MGM Grand

Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: July 06, 2022 19:01 PDT

Lower-than-expected turnout during the first two of four scheduled Day 1 flights in the 2022 World Series of Poker Main Event has led the event's organizers to make a shift in the schedule for the two upcoming Day 2 flights in the event, scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The schedule change not only impacts the WSOP itself, as it has forced at least one rival series, the new MGM Grand Summer Poker Series, to tweak the schedule in its own ongoing $2 Million Guarantee $2,500 Grand Finale.

The WSOP announced late Monday that tomorrow's first of two Day 2 flights in the Main Event would include all survivors of the tourneys 1A, 1B, and 1C flights, and that Friday's second Day 2 flight would include only the survivors of today's ongoing Day 1D action. The move makes all of Tuesday's Day 1C's 1,376 survivors (out of 1,800 Day 1C entrants) return to play their Day 2 on Thursday rather than Friday.

Such moves are generally unpopular with players who have scheduled specific off days into their summer poker schedule, whether to play poker elsewhere or to take time entirely away from the tables. Nonetheless, the WSOP reserves the right to make such scheduling changes on the fly, as it frequently does with its final tables to allow its broadcast partners to stream finals that unexpectedly include multiple famous pros.

Here, however, the WSOP changed the Main Event Day 2s after it became clear that Monday's 1B starting flight would fall far short of expectations and that advance registration for Tuesday's 1C flight lagged expectations as well. Traditional, attendance for the Main Event's opening-day flights follows a climbing hyperbolic path. The lowest turnout generally occurs on Day 1A, Day 1B is just a little bit higher, Day 1C makes a significant jump, and Day 1D when the crush of entrants occurs. (2021's Main Event had aberrant numbers due to the late pandemic-related addition of two extra starting days.)

This year, though, Day 1B never even made it to Day 1A's numbers. Day 1A pulled in 900 entrants, 631 of whom moved on to Day 2, while Day 1B, drew only 880 players, with 634 surviving into Thursday's action. Faced with reality, the WSOP announced the Day 2 shift on Twitter:

Many players were and are livid. Matt Waxman's take was one of dozens of similarly-themed posts on Twitter:

A couple of posters even described the WSOP's rollout of the very popular "Mystery Bounty" event alongside the Main Event as a further incentive for players to sign up for the Main Event's 1D event, since doing so allowed players the opportunity to participate in both tourneys. As seen by the shift in Day 2 plans and the warning about 10-handed play on 1D, the plan worked too well.

When the WSOP zigs, others zag

Several other major poker series during the Vegas summer are massive in their own right. However, the WSOP remains the big dog, and the other series generally try to schedule their own headline events around the WSOP's biggest offerings, the better to appeal to poker consumers considering multiple choices. When the WSOP makes a significant change on short notice, that then causes problems elsewhere, as happened with the ongoing MGM Grand Summer Poker Series grand finale.

The WSOP isn't about to care about whatever happens down the Strip at MGM Grand, where MGM Grand's new series has missed a few guarantees but has made many others while generally receiving very high marks for how it's been run in its first year. The Summer Poker Series' head director, Justin Hammer, was quickly aware of the scheduling changes being made on Monday to the WSOP's Main Event:

On Monday night, the MGM Grand Summer Poker Series announced its own scheduling change:

Hammer later added that the Grand Finale might come close to hitting its $2M guarantee after all, which bodes well for the series' future at MGM Grand.

The thought behind the reactive shift at MGM Grand is that a large percentage of players participating in the series finale were also among the WSOP's 1C players, who may have jumped into the MGM Grand event because it fit well into their expected off days from the WSOP. By moving the Day 3 action back to Friday, Hammer and his MGM Grand crew removed as many conflicts as possible given the adjusted timing involved. Events in other major series are also impacted by the WSOP's schedule change. It's been an unusual and very fluid week amid a huge sequence of poker-tournament days. 2022 turned out to be another exception to tradition in that way.

Hammer also left little doubt about his feelings toward the WSOP's $1K Mystery Bounty event, which likely helped trigger the scheduling mess. He Tweeted this at Matt Glantz, who had earlier trashed the mystery-bounty concept but talked himself into good fortune by playing. On Tuesday, Glantz pulled the Mystery Bounty's top prize of a million-dollar bounty bonus:

Featured image source: MGM Grand