One of the busiest days of the 2021 World Series of Poker to date created delays throughout the Rio Convention Center as tournament organizers struggled to find seats for everyone wanting to play in one of the day’s bracelet events. Friday featured either Day 1 or Day 2 play in five separate bracelet events. Having five bracelet events running at once at the Rio is normally no big deal. At rare moments in the past, as many as eight separate bracelet tourneys have run on a single calendar day at the WSOP.
On Friday, though, there was a different context. Two of the events were assured to provide huge numbers of players. One of those was Day 1A in Event $55, the $400 “Colossus” No-Limit Hold’em tourney. The Colossus has drawn some of the WSOP’s largest fields every year since its inception in 2015. Friday’s first of two starting days drew well over 4,000 entries, and it wasn’t the only big-field tourney underway.
Seniors restart added to crowded day
Friday was also the official Day 2 of Event #52, the Seniors Championship. Demand has increased so rapidly for the Seniors tourney that in 2021, despite the pandemic, the event was given two separate starting days (Wednesday and Thursday) for the first time in its history. As of Friday’s 10 am restart, 1,107 players still remained.
Add in another three events on the day, plus the WSOP’s chronic and pandemic-related dealer shortages, and it was going to be an over-busy day. Tony “Johnnie Vibes” Moreno heard about the congestion even before arriving at the Rio:
That’s exactly how it played out, too. Just minutes before Moreno Tweeted about what he’d heard on radio, and likely before he’d heard a more detailed update, the WSOP announced the Colossus’s delayed start:
Further, the WSOP quickly realized that with every dealer-staffed table already accounted for, there would be no way to seat the waiting line of alternates as soon as they’d hoped. All those waiting in line were shifted to being late registrants, starting play at 1:20 pm, even if they were there before the one-hour delay in getting the Colossus underway. The WSOP also shifted entire sections of players as it planned for the day’s congestion, with the Seniors event restart already underway, two more Day 2 restarts on tap, and the important $10,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em Championship also scheduled to start at 3 pm.
Satellites, dailies shelved
The WSOP typically cancels or postpones satellites, non-bracelet events, and even cash-game action when table shortages occur. To no one’s surprise, that happened early on Friday as well:
Kevin “Kevmath” Mathers, the WSOP’s ever-present Twitter czar, added that no single-table offerings, such as the sit-’n’-go satellites, would start before 5 or 6 pm.
The Colossus delay translated into other delays as well, though it did not, as of this report, alter the event’s initial plan on having the Day 1a flight play into the money.
Similar congestion looms on Saturday
There’s still Saturday, however, when another crush seems almost certain to occur. The day’s main offering will be the Colossus’s Day 1B starting flight. This flight is traditionally much larger than the Day 1A turnout. Even with fewer players returning from the other ongoing events, Saturday could find the WSOP working hard to deal with several thousand more entries in the Colossus than it experienced on Friday.
In one sense, the crush is a good problem for the WSOP to have, in a technical and financial way. Given all the pandemic hurdles in place, the presumptive dealer shortages, and more, the WSOP has likely made every dollar it could on Friday. When the resources are exhausted, they’re exhausted, and all that can be done is to let it play out.
Another stampede will likely happen again on Friday. Expect more long lines and delays in what’s likely to end up as the busiest weekend of the entire 2021 WSOP.
Featured image source: Haley Hintze