Friday, June 09, 2006

8,000 NOT the Cap for 2006 WSOP Main Event Entries... No Matter What You Read

If you've read it once, you've read it a hundred times: Due to the expected crush of entries for the Main Event at the 2006 WSOP, Harrah's has placed a cap on entries at 8,000.

Only one problem --- it isn't true.

I read this recently in one of the other poker blogs, but I haven't been able to locate that reference, and I will drop in the appropriate link here when I locate the original source. (Credit where credit is due, and all that.) Despite that, one source does not a story make: As often intoned by one Jim "Oz" Oliva, trivia guru of the World's Largest Trivia Contest, "The web is not a source." At least not until a story noted once can be verified elsewhere.

Wanting to check, I sent off the question to Nicole Khouri, one of Harrah's WSOP "media relations" representatives. She answered right quick: "There is no cap of 8,000 players, as we would be able to accommodate more than that if demand warrants it."

Mark Twain's quote upon reading his own premature obituary come to mind: "Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated." The widespread rumors of the presumed cap number share a similar fate, and logic now reigns. You see, space considerations aside, the cap number itself didn't make sense.

As you know if you've read any of the newsletters sent out from the various online sites, registrations won as tournament prizes continue at a record pace. Poker Stars recently announced that they've already awarded more WSOP ME entries than the entire number of players that participated in 2003, when Chris Moneymaker won the whole thing. And Poker Stars has plenty of seats to give away yet, too, as does virtually every other online site.

Stars will no doubt be in the 1,500-seat range when early August rolls around, but even somewhat smaller sites will contribute huge numbers; Bodog's been awarding 80 seats per weekend for at least the last couple of weeks, to name one example. Adding to the crush, a WSOP main-event package and trip is the prize du jour for literally hundreds of special giveaways and tourneys.

It's not inconceivable that 8,000 seats could be soaked up by online entries alone, though 6,000 might be a more realistic number. Nonetheless, that would put the squeeze on the brick-and-mortar qualifiers and the wave of big-time players who already have their pre-arranged sponsor deals or otherwise walk right up to the gate. Worse, if the 8,000-seat cap was set in stone, then it's the big-name players who would most likely be affected by the crush. These players will participate one way or the other --- if they happen to win a seat online or in a $1000 buy-in satellite at Harrah's, good enough, but they'll pony up the ten grand if other attempts to qualify have failed. These players will be in the Main Event, regardless. Also, on-site satellite qualifying historically reaches a crescendo in the days immediately preceding the event. If the tourney was already filled, then Harrah's would be spiting itself, not able to collect juice on the action from players who were there to qualify.

As you can see, the "8,000" cap number made no sense, despite the logistical crush placed on Harrah's. (There may yet be some timing wrinkles made necessary by the massive interest.) I believe entries will climb much higher, scaring 10,000 but probably not quite getting there. Let's pin the tail on the push-monkey and venture a wild guess: 9,641.

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