WSOP 2021 Main Event Day 1c: The Russians are coming

Kat Martin
Published by:
Posted on: November 7, 2021 7:42 am EST

The 52nd World Series of Poker Main Event saw a new chip leader on Saturday, as Russia’s Aleksandr Shevlyakov grew his stack to 392,600, or nearly 500 big blinds. Notables on the leader board include the in-form Matt Glantz (236,000 chips), who has had deep runs this series in the high-profile $10k Dealer’s Choice, the $25k H.O.R.S.E., and the $50k Players Championship.

Representatives of poker’s old guard who survived the day include Erik Seidel, and Poker Hall of Fame nominee Ted Forrest. Third-place finisher and hometown hero from 2008, Dennis Phillips, will also be playing on Day 2.

Gaming the game

Any tournament with multiple flights invariably leads to speculation as to which starting day might be the softest. This has been further fueled by a provocative tweet by WSOP information guru Kevin Mathers:

“I don’t know how to say this and avoid causing a problem, but if more people decided to play Day 1E or 1F of the Main Event, that would be great.”

Shortly thereafter, Mathers provided an update:

“I’m going to amend this after talking to some people: If you could play Day 1C or Day 1E, that would be ideal. Day 1D is projecting to be huge tomorrow.”

So why is Mathers attempting to influence the starting day chosen by competitors?

There are two colliding issues at work. First is the well-documented dealer shortage at this year’s WSOP. This has already led to the cancellation and/or delay of events at the Rio, including Flight A of the $888 Crazy Eights, scheduled for November 11.

Added to this, the easing of international travel restrictions has led to the speculation that Days 1E and 1F of the Main Event will see an influx of “Euro crushers.” In response to this perceived threat from across the Atlantic, many U.S.-based players have indicated they would rather avoid the challenge. Hence Mathers’ assertion in the above tweet that Day 1D will be huge.

Some players have noted that this attempt to game the game is both an overreaction and a sad reflection on the self confidence of American players. With deep starting stacks, long blind levels, and painfully-slow action, U.S.-based professionals should be able to handle these supposed Euro crushers.

By the numbers

There are two expectations surrounding Main Event attendance. The first is that we’ll see a huge Day 1D. The second, that the European invasion will swell attendance on the last two starting days. Both factors figure prominently on the radar of those who’ve placed prop bets on the total Main Event field size.

The first three flights have attracted 523 (1A), 845 (1B), and 600 (1C), players respectively. The simple expedient of multiplying by two would indicate a Main Event field size falling far short of expectations. We await with eager anticipation the attendance for the last three days, and the possibility that this may yet be the largest Main Event ever.

Featured image source: Twitter