Day 4 at the 2021 World Series of Poker offered volumes of good for the WSOP brand. The series’ first massive-field, multi-opening-day event, the $500 “Reunion,” easily shattered its $5 million guarantee. Though Sunday’s Rio action was marked by more long lines, the greater story was the poker public’s continuing thirst to play a live WSOP tourney, despite the ongoing challenges caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Reunion was truly the first big test of the Rio’s and WSOP’s ability to manage a huge turnout. The event’s theme was to welcome players back to the live WSOP experience. It succeeded in droves, as measured by the turnout.
Any event the WSOP offers that includes multiple opening flights invariably sees its largest “Day 1” turnout in the final offered flight. In the Reunion, Friday’s Day 1A drew 2,649 entries, while Saturday’s Day 1B pulled in another 4,445 entrants. The combined 7,094 entries meant the event needed nearly 5,000 more sign-ups on Sunday to hit the 12,000 mark and cover its guarantee.
It wasn’t even close. Three hours into Sunday’s action, the total field topped that 12,000 mark. Hundreds more players waited for a late shot or their once-per-day re-entry, and the total turnout won’t be known until later today.
Outsized turnout exacerbates long waits but affirms WSOP’s enduring appeal
The building-bursting turnout came with a price, though it was an expected one. The WSOP successfully fixed or worked around a few technical and procedural glitches that lengthened players’ waits on the series’ first three days. That meant Sunday’s Reunion Day 1C waits were a good problem to have — simply too few seats.
The turnout was so crushing that the day’s longest lines — up to a two-hour wait — occurred after players had already late-registered, but had to wait for enough bustouts to occur to claim an emptied seat.
Sunday crush also forces secondary-event cancellations
On Sunday, for the first time in the 2021 WSOP to date, the huge turnout forced the WSOP to cancel some of the secondary, non-bracelet events that run on a daily basis. The WSOP’s Twitter czar, Kevin Mathers, spent his day keeping players abreast of cancellations and delays.
First came the delay of Sunday’s mega-satellite into Monday’s Event #9, the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship. The satellite was pushed back from 2 pm to 8 pm, causing an 8 pm NLH turbo mega-satellite to be wiped away.
That was soon followed by the wiping away of Sunday’s largest Daily Deepstack tourney.
Such cancellations have been commonplace at the WSOP in years past, especially on weekend days featuring massive, multi-flight events. The open question regarding the 2021 WSOP was whether player turnout would still have the Rio bulging at the seams, despite all the extra challenges.
The answer to that question, based on its first real test, is a resounding “yes.” The WSOP is back in full force and fine style.
Featured image source: Haley Hintze