How Will the World Series of Poker Main Event Do After "Black Friday"?

Q: How Will "Black Friday" Affect the World Series of Poker?

A: In 2010, 7,319 players turned out for the World Series of Poker main event. This was the second highest main event turnout of all time, behind only the 2006 main event (8,773 players).

After the 2006 World Series of Poker, the UIGEA was passed into law in the United States, which resulted in rooms such as Party Poker pulling out of the country. The impact of the UIGEA was noticeable on the World Series of Poker main event, as 6,358 players turned out for the 2007 main event.

WSOP logo - World Series of Poker official logoThanks to the relentless marketing that major rooms such as Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker did in international markets, the WSOP main event numbers started trending higher after 2007.

After 7,319 players turned out for the 2010 main event, there was no reason to think that the turnout wouldn't be even higher in 2011. That is, until "Black Friday" took place.

You all know the story behind "Black Friday", so I won't rehash it.

What you may be wondering is, how will "Black Friday" impact the World Series of Poker going forward?

Well, with US players really having no place to play (sure, some players will migrate to some of the smaller rooms that still take US players, but the casual players will mostly stay away), the impact on the WSOP will be noticeable. In years past, Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker would send countless US players to the World Series of Poker through satellite events. Since US players are blocked from Full Tilt and PS, they will obviously not be winning main event packages through the two sites, which will cut dramatically into the main event numbers.

My best guess for the main event turnout this year? I'm going to say 5,500 players.

How the main event does in the future depends greatly on the status of online poker in the United States. If online poker legislation is passed in the United States soon, then the World Series of Poker will hardly miss a beat. In fact, the main event numbers would almost surely soar to even greater heights.

However, if it takes years to pass legislation in the United States, then the WSOP main event numbers will probably never recover. In fact, if online poker legislation takes more than 2-3 years to be signed into law in the US, then I wouldn't be surprised to see the main event numbers drop as low as 3000-4000 in the coming years. The hardcore players will always turn out for the WSOP main event, but it's the casual US players who have made up the majority of the recent main event fields.

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