One of the main concerns going into the 2011 WSOP was that attendance figures would be way down. And these concerns were certainly valid following Black Friday (April 15th), where PokerStars, UB Poker, Absolute Poker and Full Tilt Poker were temporarily shut down. On top of this, all four poker rooms were forced to stop taking US players, which cut down on their ability to offer as many WSOP prize packages.
One last thing worth mentioning is that many players who would’ve been at the WSOP couldn’t play because the bulk of their money was frozen on one or more of the largest poker sites. In short, there was a lot of stuff working against strong attendance figures in 2011.
But as logical as it seemed, the 2011 WSOP attendance figures have defied all logic since they smashed the previous records. Over 66,000 players entered tournaments this year, and a collective $121 million prize pool was offered throughout 58 tournaments.
So what’s the driving force behind the record numbers? Well it’s hard to pinpoint a single thing, but one aspect that certainly helped increase WSOP participation is that many of the online poker pros have been forced to turn to live poker. After all, their livelihood was taken, so they’ve jumped in WSOP tournaments as a means of filling this void.
Moving to a secondary reason, this year may have been more attractive to pros than any other because of the decreased number of amateur prize package winners populating the fields; this in theory would lead to smaller tournaments and a better chance of winning. Of course, the fields turned out to be saturated anyways because of how many people entered the events.
Whatever the case may be, it’s nice to see that the 2011 WSOP has remained popular – even after the events of Black Friday.