PokerStars finally kicked off their WSOP satellites. I have a few assumptions why they waited until now, but at this point, who cares. The bottom line is that now is the time of year when you polish off your satellite game and try to win a seat into the big dance for a minimal investment.
You know the stories about the Moneymakers and the Raymers winning their seat on PokerStars and then going all the way in the Main Event. Heck, even last year, Iggy won one of the last big satellite promotions (the 200 seat giveaway that usually happens on a Saturday a week or so before the Main Event kicks off) last summer and secured a seat in the Main Event.
This year PokerStars is upgrading every single one of their Main Event satellite winners to SuperNova status. Interesting little twist this year.
I have no idea how many players the 2009 Main Event will get. Will it even break last year's number of 6,844? Or will it sink below the dreaded 6,000 threshold?
WSOP Main Event Champions & Number of Entrants:Talk all the shit you want about Jamie Gold, but he faded the largest 10,000 buy-in field of all time. I wonder when the Main Event numbers will eclipse 8,773? Or how about 10,000? Well, that answer is easy. If the UIGEA gets reversed or Harrah's starts accepting direct buy-ins from the online poker sites, then the first year back the number will break 8,800 and then the second year the numbers will come close to busting 10,000. Then the WSOP can finally boast that the Main Event is a $100,000,000 prize pool.
2000 Jesus Ferguson - 512
2001 Carlos Mortensen - 613
2002 Robert Varkonyi - 631
2003 Chris Moneymaker - 839
2004 Greg Raymer - 2,576
2005 Joe Hachem - 5,619
2006 Jamie Gold - 8,773
2007 Jerry Yang - 6,358
2008 Peter Eastgate - 6,844
2009 ?? - ????
50K HORSE Champions & Number of Entrants:
2006 Chip Reese - 143
2007 Freddy Deeb - 148
2008 Scotty Nguyen - 148
2009 ?? - ???
If the UIGEA never happened, I think that the 100 million prize pool mark would have been set in 2007. Some day, that might happen. Some day.
Anyway, there's lots of speculation and prop betting over the number of entrants in the Main Event, the 40K anniversary event, and the 50K HORSE event. I'd really like to wait and see the vibe of the 2009 WSOP before I lay serious money on the number of entrants in the Main Event and HORSE. If overall numbers decline for the preliminary events, the numbers for the big events will obviously come in lower. But if the preliminary events attract similar numbers from last year, there's a definite chance of the HORSE and Main Event breaking last year's records.
Pauly's 2009 WSOP Predictions:The 40K is tricky. How do you set that line? The 25K WPT Championships attracted 338 runners (down from 545). The 10K Euro buy in EPT Grand Finale (equivalent to $13K or so) attracted 935 runners (up from 842 last year).
40K NL - 188
50K HORSE - 145
Main Event - 7,100
Can they get 200 in the 40K? That's a stretch. 150? Definitely. But no more than 200. Let's say 188. That number depends on a couple of things...
1. Selection - I wonder how many players skipped the 25K in favor of the 40K? The 40K is one of the few events that will air on ESPN this year. In addition, it's a bracelet event versus just a WPT championship. Then again, the 40K is going to be stacked. Do you really want to piss away 40K of your money or would you rather spread that around in fields with far inferior opponents? That decision from many second-tiered pros is going to be the make or break the total number of entrants.Of course, you never know. Only 120 players could show up for both HORSE and the 40K event and the economy might be that bad that less than 6,000 dreamers buy into the Main Event.
2. Staking - I have been hearing rumblings that the big time staking syndicates have been tightening their belts. The money has not been flying around as freely as it once did. The big backers have slashed the number of ponies in their stables. One crew took a bath last summer during the WSOP and lost a huge chunk of change.
So many of Phil Ivey's horses were so deep into debt to him that he threw them all a collective bone and wiped out all debts. Not every pro who had a six-figure make up was so lucky with their backers. Instead of alleviating the debts (no federal bail outs for those broke dicks), the backers cut off the losing players and they no longer can find anyone to stake them until they pay back a substantial amount of their debts. That's one of those desperate Catch-22 situations that poker pros hope never to find themselves in. They need backing to get into an event in order to win enough money to pay off their debts.
As the number of staking opportunities decreases so too will the number of entrants in events and prize pools. But stranger things have happened at the WSOP. Maybe a fat cat from Dubai or a former weapons smuggler from one of the Balkan countries rolls into town with suitcases full of money and they put in hundreds of horses into these events. I'm sure that's every broke poker player's wet dream... to get a call from a Sheik telling them that they'll get a 100K float to play in the three big events at the 2009 WSOP... 40K NL, 50K HORSE, and the Main Event.
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