(Canada Cal, subbing for Haley...)
While it's probably too late to get into a pool predicting the number of entrants to the upcoming Main Event at the World Series of Poker, the number of players who'll be there remains open to wild speculation.
The latest twist is the announce by Harrah's late last week that there will be four Day Ones instead of three, a sure indication that the WSOP belives that attendance will be on the high end of the ranges we've seem projected. It doesn't seem as though the WSOP believes the total number will be in the 4,000-6,000 range that encompasses the central range of predictions, because a crowd of up to 9,000 could be handled by the WSOP's current set-up over three days.
This assumes of course, that the WSOP wants to use the Poker Pavilion for the Main Event, and that just might be one of the issues. It's possible that the powers that be have judged the temporary facility to simply not be worthy of the accomodations a player should expect for shelling out $10,000 in player fees, plus an extra $600 or whatever in juice.
Removing the Pavilion from the equation returns the Rio to last year's setup, when a little over 2,000 players per day could be seated. The total ME attendance in 2006 was 8,773, but that included hundreds of alternates who were seated late during the four days of play. Three days of action with only the Amazon Room in use suggests a possible ceiling of 6,500 or so players, and it may be that number that's prompted Harrah's move. After all, the lower-priced events have seen an increase, rather than a decrease, in attndance.
Still, no one really knows. The pre-registration pace can't be compared with last year's, due to the lack of online registrations, and at least some of those online qualifiers can be presumed to have found a different way to make it to Vegas. Also, one small factor in the flattened prize structures offered by the WSOP this year was to prime the proverbial pump --- that is, by spreading that money around a little bit more, it just might be returned to Harrah's in the form of additional player entry fees.
Anyone's guess indeed. In a few more days we'll know the answer.