How Big Will The 2021 Main Event Be?

Fox Wallace
Posted on: October 25, 2021 22:29 PDT

With the addition of two new starting days to this year's WSOP main event, for a total of five, the conversation about the number of entrants in the main event has started early. And this year's field size is much harder to predict than in previous years. But there are some clues.

The number of people playing in earlier events has always been a good indication of the main event field, though in the early years of the poker boom, the main event grew much faster than the side events because online satellites to the main event were so popular. Since fields are down by around 25% from 2019, some players and WSOP personnel expect the main event to be down by a similar number.

The main event drew 8,569 entries in 2019. A 25% decrease would put the 2021 field at 6,427, but there are other factors in such a unique year. Guesses about the field of the main event range quite a bit.

Extra Flights Added To The Main Event

Two extra starting days have been added to accommodate the European players who will be eligible for travel to the United States the day before Day 1D starts. The lack of European players is at least partially to blame for the smaller fields. Most players and fans expect a fair number of players to make the trip to attend the richest tournament of the year.

Satellites attendance is also down quite a bit more this year -- lower even than the regular tournament fields, with single table satellites running at a much slower pace than in previous years. This could impact the field size in a big way since so many entries in the main are from satellite players.

Whether the uniqueness of the main event will give it some resistance to the pandemic, travel bans, and vaccine requirements is tough to predict. But poker players love to attempt to do just that, so we asked around and found some opinions. Here are a few of the notable responses about the main event field size:

Allen Kessler - 6,148

Drunk Guy Named Jesse In The Hallway - "Probably like forty or fifty"

John Cernuto - 6,666

Troy The Floor Guy - The same as 2019

Andrew Barber - 6,100

Vanessa Kade - 6,950

Mike Matusow - "Probably the same as it always is, why would it be any different. I thought everyone was going to get Covid but I haven't heard a single person even cough, not one. So why wouldn't everyone show up to play the main? I mean everyone got vaccinated right? So what's the …" (this went on for quite some time)

The range of guesses was between five and ten thousand, with a surprising number falling in the mid to low six thousands. We were also informed that one betting line was set at 6,640 and small sums of money have been wagered. This is common, though these wagers usually don't start until a week or two before Day 1A. 

The deciding factor on who wins those bets will likely be how many European players choose to make the trip and how many decide to stay home and wait for next year.