The numbers are in for the 2010 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, playing out from the Rio in Las Vegas. Despite a sagging economy and seemingly fewer online qualifiers than in previous years, attendance in poker’s most prestigious tournament was up 12% in 2010 compared to 2009. In fact, the Main Event drew the second largest field in its history, falling short of only the 2006 cycle. In that year, Jamie Gold defeated a cast of nearly 9,000 to pocket $12 million.
While an eight-figure payday is not up for grabs this time around, the winner will earn a comfortable $8.9 million. As you’d expect, WSOP officials were quite happy with the turnout, with Vice President Ty Stewart commenting in a press release distributed on Thursday, “By every measure, this was the most successful World Series of Poker in the event’s illustrious 41-year history. From the lowest buy-in events to the highest, we saw enormous player demand translate into lengthy registration lists and massive prize pools. As the WSOP Main Event progresses, we’re looking forward to creating several new multi-millionaires.”
The youngest player to be found in this year’s Main Event field was 21 years and one day old. If you’ve watched Main Event coverage on ESPN, then you’re familiar with Jack Ury, who at 97 years of age is the oldest player in this year’s field. Both of them played on Day 1D, which attracted 2,391 runners. Many in the industry, including this author, had anticipated that WSOP attendance would plummet to around 5,000. However, we were all pleasantly surprised when the number for 2010 blew last year’s figure out of the water.
In another record set this year, 44 of the 57 WSOP events generated a prize pool of at least $1 million. The previous mark to beat was 39, which happened last year. Also buzz-worthy this year was the Seniors’ Event, which drew a monster crowd of 3,142 players, up 16% from last year’s total of 2,707. Unlike the Ladies’ Event, the Seniors’ tournament stuck true to its name and saw Harold Angle emerge victorious to bank nearly $500,000.
Two tournaments dished out over $1 million to first place, with an old school poker pro and an internet young gun taking home titles. Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, who many of us remember coming up in poker for his domination of the World Poker Tour, took down the $50,000 Player’s Championship just weeks after a report of a run-in with the Internal Revenue Service came out. Then, Dan “djk123” Kelly became the newest member of the DoylesRoom Brunson 10 after winning the $25,000 No Limit Hold’em Six-Max tournament.
Berry Johnston, who won the Main Event in 1986, cashed twice this year. The significance of that, you ask? Johnston has cashed in 28 straight WSOPs. 28! That’s longer than most of the people reading this have been alive. Also making waves in 2010 was Frank Kassela, the year’s lone dual bracelet winner. Kassela’s wins in the Seven Card Stud High-Low Championship and $2,500 Razz events marked the 11th straight year that there has been a dual bracelet holder.
Nine of the 17 largest WSOP tournaments were held this year, headlined by the aforementioned Main Event. Several of those are $1,000 No Limit Hold’em tournaments, however, each of which boasted a pair of starting days. The largest $1,000 contest was Event #3, which drew just over 4,300 players.
There you have it. If you haven’t been following the 2010 WSOP, now is the time. Stay tuned to MacPoker.com for the latest headlines from Sin City.