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Questions Surround 2011 WSOP Main Event
In less than 24 hours the largest poker tournament in the world, the WSOP Main Event, will begin.
Starting at noon tomorrow, thousands of players will descend upon the Rio for their shot at glory. Every one of them will be putting up $10,000 for a chance at millions and the WSOP Main Event bracelet.
But there's lots of doubt about what tomorrow will bring.
There are two words that still haunt the majority of the poker community.
Ever since the government seized the three largest online poker domains back on April 15th, there have been a lot of questions about how it would affect the WSOP.
While PokerStars managed to start paying out its US players and continue operations normally, players with money on Ultimate Bet, Absolute Poker and Full Tilt weren't so lucky.
Then, right at the start of the WSOP, Full Tilt titan Phil Ivey announced that he was not only leaving Full Tilt, but suing the company and not attending the 2011 WSOP.
He’s since withdrawn the lawsuit, but questions remain.
The poker world seemed to be thrown off its axis, right in the middle of its largest event.
The WSOP had to take a hit ... or so people thought.
The 2011 WSOP has managed to stay resilient. The majority of events have seen an increase in players, but one event still remains.
Many industry experts are skeptical about the number of entrants for this year's Main Event. How will it fare without the sea of online qualifiers?
The 2010 Main Event saw 7,319 entrants. This was the second largest field after the 2006 Main Event, which drew 8,773 players.
Attendance dropped considerably after 2006, partly due to the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
In 2007, attendance dropped to 6,358 and floated around that region until it shot up again in 2010.
Things were looking good for another increase this year, but that was before April 15th.
Nevertheless, some think Black Friday won't change things much.
“In general, attendance has been up a little,” said tournament director, Robbie Thompson. “I don't think it's going to have any effect really.”
Others aren't that optimistic.
"I think there's a big difference between coming to Vegas and playing a $1,000 or a $1,500, compared to taking a shot at a $10k event,” said professional poker player Annie Duke.
"I was definitely expecting the field sizes to be smaller than they have been,” said Duke. “But I still think the Main Event will be down, just because there was such a huge number of qualifiers generated online."
Even though the numbers have been looking good so far, the WSOP staff is still steering clear of any estimates.
“The WSOP never – with a capital 'N' – makes predictions on expectations for the Main Event,” said WSOP media director, Nolan Dalla.
“One thing we will say is that we are rolling out the red carpet for every poker player in the world who wants to come and be part of, what could be, the most exciting event in history.”
While the WSOP won't make a prediction, a couple of players will. They're also willing to gamble on it.
"The line for this Main Event is 4,964," said 2010 November 9er Michael Mizrachi. "Anyone want action just let me know."
The final Day 1 of the Main Event will be on Sunday, July 10.
We'll see who's right then.