Another World Poker Tour tournament, another smaller field.
The 2008 Legends of Poker final table is about to take place. Yet again, the total number of entrants (and overall prize pool) will be much lower compared to last year.
In 2008, there were a total of 373 entrants who created a total prize pool of $3.52 million dollars.
Last year, there were a total of 485 entrants for the same tournament. The prize pool in 2007 was $4.64 million dollars.
While WPT field sizes aren't down across the board, they are definitely lower overall.
Out of the 14 World Poker Tour events that I compared (from Season Six and Season Seven, compared to the year before), only three had a higher number of players than the year before. Out of those three, only one had a significantly higher number of players compared to the year before (the Five Diamond World Poker Classic). A total of four events had higher prize pools than the year before (the Bellagio Cup had a higher buy-in this year, creating a bigger prize pool even though the total number of players was down by almost 100).
The WPT World Championship, Legends of Poker, Mirage Poker Showdown, Mandalay Bay Poker Championship, World Poker Open, Borgata Poker Classic, L.A. Poker Classic, Bay 101 Shooting Star, World Poker Challenge and Foxwoods Poker Classic were all down compared to the year before.
The Bellagio Cup Main Event had a smaller turn-out, but the 50% higher buy-in made for a higher prize-pool.
The Borgata Poker Open, North American Poker Championship and Five Diamond World Poker Classic had higher turnouts (and bigger prize pools) than the year before.
The Borgata Poker Open and North American Poker Championship both had slightly bigger fields (Borgata was 3.7% bigger than the year before, and the North American Poker Championship was 1.4% bigger than the year before).
The Five Diamond World Poker Classic, as mentioned, was the only WPT event that I analyzed that had a significantly higher turnout of players - a full 13.7% higher than the year before.
On the flip side -
545 players participated in the 2007 WPT Championship, compared to 639 the year before.
373 players participated in the 2008 Legends of Poker, compared to 485 the year before.
309 players participated in the 2007 Mirage Poker Showdown, compared to 384 the year before.
228 players participated in the 2007 Mandalay Bay Poker Championship, compared to 349 the year before.
259 players participated in the 2008 World Poker Open, compared to 294 the year before.
507 players participated in the 2008 Borgata Poker Classic, compared to 571 the year before.
665 players participated in the 2008 L.A. Poker Classic, compared to 791 the year before.
375 players participated in the 2008 Bay 101 Shooting Star, compared to 450 the year before.
261 players participated in the 2008 World Poker Open, compared to 475 the year before. To be fair, there was a higher buy-in this year ($7500), but the overall prize pool still ended up being smaller.
346 players participated in the 2008 Foxwoods Poker Classic, compared to 415 the year before.
You can't point to one single reason why the World Poker Tour numbers are down. The 2008 World Series of Poker enjoyed very strong numbers, helped greatly by a strong international presence. The European Poker Tour continues to grow and prosper as well.
Increased competition (World Series of Poker, World Series of Poker Europe, European Poker Tour, multiple FTOPS events, WCOOP) certainly hasn't helped.
Many players now find themselves with sponsorship deals and other poker-related business interests that consume much of their free time, giving them less time to travel to WPT events.
Also, the constantly changing home of the World Poker Tour (first the Travel Channel, then GSN, now Fox Sports) certainly hasn't helped. The prospect of appearing on TV at a WPT final table certainly isn't as alluring as it was four or five years ago.
Many of the top players would rather focus on the "big" events (the World Series of Poker, WPT Championship, EPT Grand Final, etc), and then spend the rest of their time playing online / playing golf / spending time with their families / tending to their business interests. The smaller events, such as the World Poker Open and the World Poker Challenge, just don't interest many of the top players. If the top players in the world decide not to participate, then interest in the event will certainly shrink.
The bottom line - whatever the reason, interest in World Poker Tour events is way off, almost across the board. I am interested to see whether or not the WPT will be able to reverse the momentum in the coming years, and if so, how they will do it.
Filed Under: Tournament Results
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