WSOP Main Event satellites fail to attract interest

Kat Martin
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Posted on September 5, 2021 12:42 am EDT

The September slate of promotions at WSOP.com is heavily weighted towards satellites into the upcoming WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, few players seem to care.

At the time of writing, WSOP.com in NV/NJ has attempted to run three $215 Main Event satellites. None of them have reached the minimum number of entrants (eight) required for them to run. Given that each satellite guarantees a Main Event seat, and that a low turnout translates into a significant overlay, this failure may strike some as remarkable.

The number of entrants for the Wednesday event peaked at three before it was called off. Since the event was only announced that morning, it seemed possible that players had simply not had time to become aware of the satellites.

Thursday’s cancellation didn’t have that potential excuse, since in most cases a holiday weekend would generate more action. On Friday, however, the expected $215 satellite was missing, with the only Main Event satellite on the NV/NJ client being a so-called “flipament.”

Flipaments are not technically poker tournaments at all. Instead, every player is automatically moved all-in on every hand and the board run-out decides the winner. This format has the great advantage that players do not even need to be logged into the client to participate. Once registered, it’s all in the hands of the cards.

The flipament failed to attract the necessary 64 entries, despite being rake-free.

Finally on Saturday, the WSOP.com client showed eight registered players ready to battle for a Main Event seat. Then two minutes before the scheduled start, a player withdrew their registration, and the satellite was canceled.

Schedule confusion contributing to apathy?

While WSOP.com can’t compel its users to compete in these events, the company’s schedule, which may come off as confusing to some, may have contributed to the low turnout.

For example, on the Nevada promos page, a daily satellite for a Main Event seat is advertised. The fine print below clearly states that these $215 satellites would run daily from September 1-30.

This hasn’t actually happened so far.

The first two days of the month adhered to the schedule. But then on Friday, the 3:30pm $215 vanished, to be replaced by the 10pm flipament. Saturday brought the $215 back, but for some reason it was scheduled for 5:30pm.

For those of you planning your Sunday tournament schedules, we can report that the September 5 $215 is listed with a 3:30pm (Pacific) start time. Since many features of the client have been untouched since 2013, players can be fairly confident the time slot will not change.

Predicting the Main Event field size

With the days ticking down to the 52nd annual WSOP in Las Vegas, poker pundits and prognosticators are hungrily grabbing any available data that pertain to attendance.

Professional stat-man Nate Silver is the latest to throw his hat into the ring. His line for the 2021 Main Event is 7,000 entrants:

“I’d set the over under at maybe 7,000 with high uncertainty, down from 8,600 in 2019,” tweeted Silver.

A flood of respondents piled in to ask how they could bet as much as possible on the under. Apparently the vast majority within the poker community is anticipating a poor-turn out, assuming the Main Event runs at all.

But there was one notable outlier. Andy Bloch, who has been assiduously compiling COVID data, and who knows a thing or two about good bets, replied simply: “Can I bet over 7,000?”

While it’s unwise to bet against Andy Bloch, it’s safe to say that the number of entrants won’t be significantly bloated by WSOP.com satellites. Whether the disinterest in those satellites reflects a broader apathy about the 2021 series, we can only wait and see.

Featured image source: Poker.org