Five Questions Ahead of the 2024 World Series of Poker

Six weeks out from the start of the 2024 World Series of Poker, we dig into some of the questions that come to mind ahead of this summer’s action.

Tim Fiorvanti
Apr 17, 2024
Erik Seidel is now tied for second all-time with 10 World Series of Poker bracelets. Could he become the first player since Phil Hellmuth to reach 11 during the 2024 WSOP?

We’ve reached the point in the year where the distance in time between now and the start of the 2024 World Series of Poker is better measured in days and weeks than it is in months. The schedule for all 99 WSOP gold bracelet events is out and by and large this year’s edition of the WSOP bears a striking resemblance to last year, with a few new bells and whistles around the periphery.

Still, there are quite a few questions left to be answered. Some will become clearer in the weeks leading up to the kickoff of the 2024 WSOP on May 30, while others will take most, if not all, of seven weeks of action to provide a conclusive answer.

With that in mind, let’s dig into the most pressing and compelling questions about the 2024 WSOP that remain unanswered.

Will 2024 be the year a second player finally hits 11 WSOP bracelets?

For the better part of the last two decades, the exclusive 10-WSOP-bracelet club has carried a glass ceiling for all but one tournament legend. Johnny Chan became the first member on June 25, 2005, and Doyle Brunson joined him just five days later, on June 30 in front of ESPN’s cameras. One year later at the 2006 WSOP Phil Hellmuth became the third player to hit double-digits, and then set a new bar in 2007 that he’s continued to raise to this day, which he raised to 17 in 2023.

No one else would touch the 10-bracelet mark until Phil Ivey pulled it off in 2014, winning his 10th non-Hold’em WSOP bracelet. He, too, has been stuck at 10 ever since. It took another nine years, but in late 2023 at WSOP Paradise, Erik Seidel became just the fifth player to hit the 10-bracelet mark by winning a $50,000 High Roller.

With 99 events on tap for 2024, could this be the year someone joins Hellmuth in breaching the boundary at 10? Seidel seems a likely candidate, given his success and active status on the high-roller scene.

Ivey has certainly knocked on the door in recent years, with three final table appearances including a second- and third-place finish in 2022 and two more final table appearances in 2023. After going four years without a single WSOP cash, it appears Ivey is back on a more active trajectory. And don’t rule out Chan either, as he recorded three cashes during the 2023 WSOP – his most in a single year since 2008.

Daniel Weinman beat out a record field of 10,043 to win the 2023 WSOP Main Event.

Will the WSOP Main Event field continue to grow?

The WSOP Main Event field famously exploded in size between 2003 and 2006, thanks in large part to the rapid expansion of online poker and the overall popularity of the game. A record for field size was set at 839 (2003), more than tripled the following year to 2,576 (2004), more than doubled to 5,619 (2005) and then peaked at 8,773 in 2006.

The implementation of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) chilled that growth, with the next 12 WSOP Main Events generating fields with 6s and 7s as the first digit. In 2019, the record finally seemed to be in danger again, eventually falling just short at 8,569 entries. Delays and restrictions related to COVID protocols caused dips in 2020 and 2021, with 2022 bringing yet another challenge to the record – falling just shy with 8,663.

It was clear that WSOP officials were locked in on crushing that record once and for all in 2023, putting the most notable promotion into play since promising the winner their weight in silver in 1994 – one player in the WSOP Main Event field would get a seat in the tournament for life if the all-time record was broken. Whether or not that promotion was the final straw, the turnout was tremendous – 10,043.

Now that the record’s been broken, a big question remains: will this tournament hit 10,000 players for the second straight year, setting a new benchmark, or will there be more fluctuations to come? There will be economic factors in and out of poker to keep an eye on, but so long as cryptocurrency (a popular financial holding for some poker players) doesn’t take a serious dip, the odds of another big turnout seem high.

Will the WSOP Tournament of Champions be the biggest controversy of the summer?

In recent weeks, WSOP officials announced a new venue for the WSOP Tournament of Champions – an annual event with a $1 million prize pool that allows all players who have won a WSOP bracelet or WSOP Circuit ring, live or online, to compete – the Commerce Casino in California.

Over the last two years, the event had been held in Las Vegas during the summer WSOP festivities and awarded a gold bracelet to the champion. There was an immediate and negative reaction from many of the qualified players for the tournament, with most of their concerns centering around tax considerations and travel burdens with late, last-minute notice – the latter largely owing to the event running from May 22-24, just before action kicks off at the 2024 WSOP in Las Vegas.

In previous years, the Tournament of Champions and its predecessor, the WSOP Circuit National Championship, was held at a variety of locations – most frequently Harrahs Cherokee in North Carolina, but bounced around to a variety of domestic locations around the United States.

The decision to hold the WSOP TOC at Commerce appears to be an effort to maximize turnout for a last-chance WSOP Circuit event that will be held in the run-up to the Tournament of Champions in late May.

Negative buzz has seemingly died down in recent weeks, and if major controversy is limited to this pre-WSOP event, it would seemingly be a good indicator for a strong summer to follow.

Where is the WSOP Online bracelet schedule, and what will it look like?

The only other point of curiosity surrounding the 2024 WSOP at this point is the lack of an announcement surrounding the online portion of the bracelet event schedule. In previous years, online bracelet events for U.S.-based players in states served by were announced in tandem with their live counterparts, but two months on from the official announcement of 99 live bracelet events, there still hasn’t been official word – raising a certain level of curiosity.

In 2023, there were 20 online bracelet events for players located in Nevada and New Jersey. With a similar offering in 2024, there would be something in the realm of 120 bracelet events on tap, to say nothing of the offerings for separate player pools in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Chad Eveslage kicked off the 2023 WSOP with a tremendous performance, recording back-to-back Dealers Choice wins within the first 10 events of the summer.

Will we see the first-ever four-WSOP-bracelet summer?

That brings us to a related point and our final question. In the history of the WSOP, five players have recorded three bracelet wins in a single summer. Puggy Pearson was the first to do it, in 1973, and the feat wasn’t repeated until both Phil Hellmuth and Ted Forrest both accomplished it in 1993. Phil Ivey was the fourth to pull it off, in 2002, and the most recent example happened when Jeff Lisandro won three times in 2009.

With 99 live WSOP bracelet events on the schedule, plus whatever will be added to the offerings in the online realm, there have never been more opportunities to win a WSOP bracelet. And while the field sizes across the board are larger than ever, with mixed games and high rollers among the tournaments scheduled, variance will, seemingly, put a four-bracelet summer on the table for someone.

Four players won two WSOP bracelets in 2023, with 2022 WPT Player of the Year Chad Eveslage setting himself up about as well as anyone has in the last 15 years to make a run at three or four wins over the summer. Eveslage won back-to-back Dealers Choice events to record two wins in the first 10 events of the 2023 WSOP, and while he’d go on to record 14 total cashes, the closest he’d get from there on out was 12th, which he did twice, in both the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship and $3,000 HORSE.