Raymer reminisces on WSOP Main Event Day 1b

Greg Raymer

When Greg Raymer won the WSOP Main Event in 2004 he had to outlast 2,575 players.

It was a significant feat, but a far cry from more recent WSOP fields, which have come close to 10,000.

"It's grown tremendously," said Raymer on a break on Day 1b of the tournament Saturday.

"Even though we tapered off a little because of the stupid UIGEA bill that got passed, it's still a massive tournament."

Raymer was one of over 900 players that bought into the second Day 1 of the historic tournament this year, making the total so far a little over 2,000 players registered with two more Day 1s to come.

Exact numbers for Day 1b won't be known until 8 p.m. Saturday, but it appears the current field is down by nearly 500 players compared it to the first Day 1s of last year.

The former World Champion cited a recent cashout problem for online poker players and the economy as the two major factors to blame for attendance this year.

"Before we had this problem with the Southern District in New York freezing funds I would have guessed there would be 7,800 players," Raymer said. "I know there are players who won their seat on PokerStars and were cashing out to come play, but got caught up in this whole mess.

"Even if players found another way to get money out they might be too worried to take it out. That's going to hurt our numbers. The economy obviously can't help. If the economy hadn't tanked I would have guessed we would have broken the record set in 2006."

According to Raymer, if numbers are going to get that high again, it's imperative that one of the pro-online poker bills, like the one introduced by Rep. Barney Frank, get passed in the near future.

"If we get a law passed that makes it clearly legal, regulated, licensed and taxed then we will have another huge poker boom," he said. "I don't understand how there are people in government who think it shouldn't be done. It's going to raise billions of dollars in taxes for them."

Either way, the event has been forever changed since Chris Moneymaker's victory in 2003 and Greg Raymer's win the subsequent year.

"If I don't start playing better I'm going to be gone in the second level," Moneymaker said.

Raymer could only chuckle as he had himself lost a decent chunk of his 30,000 starting stack in the first level.

"The players have gotten tremendously better," he said. "The average player in the Main Event is much, much better than when I won in 2004. Now I'm playing three times as many players that are three times better than they were five years ago. The challenge of winning has grown exponentially."

The 2009 WSOP is scheduled to run from July 3 to July 15 with the final nine players returning in November to play out the final table.

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