Numbers can be misleading, but they do not lie. The 2018 WSOP Main Event proved at least two things: Thousands still dream of becoming a poker world champion, but women remain few and far between at the $10,000 tables during poker’s most important annual event.
Poker on the Rise
With 7,874 entries, this year’s Main Event was the second largest in the tournament’s 49-year history, behind only the 8,773 players (won by Jamie Gold) in 2006, right in the heart of the poker boom era.
Perhaps equally impressive, Day 1C on Wednesday had 4,571 entries, making it the largest starting flight in Main Event history. And to think many were concerned poker players would shy away from playing on the 4th of July and predicted poker’s world championship event would see a significant decline in attendance as a result.
WSOP big wigs seem to know what they’re doing.
Detailed stats prior to 2008 are unavailable but we can make a few conclusions from the above graph, all of which are positive.
First, poker’s only annual tournament televised live on cable is as popular as ever, a great sign for the future of the game.
Since 2015, there has been an increase from the previous year in Main Event participation. Immediately following the April 2011 Black Friday scandal that forced all the major poker sites out of the US, the game’s popularity dropped, and it showed with declining attendance three straight years in the Main Event.
But as you can tell from the graph, the Black Friday hangover appears to be over and the world’s most prestigious poker tournament is thriving again.
John Olsen, from Mississippi, at age 88, was the oldest entry in the 2018 WSOP Main Event. Olsen successfully bagged chips on Day 1B. The youngest player in the field, Nicholas Dashineau from Pennsylvania, turned 21 on July 1. He also advanced to Day Two.
Women Still MIA
Poker is unquestionably thriving among men, but women remain underrepresented in poker rooms all around the world and at the Main Event.
Last year, just 272 of the 7,221 entries were female (3.7 percent), a troubling stat for those who advocate women in poker. There wasn’t much improvement this year, with only 3.8 percent (301 of 7,874) of the field being women.
There is, however, one small positive stat in this area to share. Only one female age 21-25 ponied up $10,000 to compete in the 2017 Main Event. This year, that demographic increased to five, which could be a positive sign for the future of women in poker.
California Invades Nevada
The Main Event attracts an international field, but 73 percent of those who registered in 2018 reside in America. With 415 entries (5.2 percent), Canada was the second most represented country in poker’s championship event.
Of the 5,758 Americans in the field, there was at least five residents in each of the 50 states plus Washington DC. Only five folks from West Virginia traveled out west for the Main Event, the lowest representation from any state.
Unsurprisingly, California had more participants than any other state or country (1,009), meaning there’s a 12.8 percent chance the 2018 world champion will hail from the Golden State.
Top 5 Most Represented States in 2018 Main Event Field
1 California (1,009)
2 Nevada (626)
3 Florida (519)
4 New York (456)
5 Texas (350)