After days of orderly easy seating and little to no lines for late registration, a last-second crush of 2023 World Series of Poker Main Event entries had people lined up out the door for a shot at the title during the first level of Day 2D.
During the early starting days, WSOP officials were targeting the 2006 WSOP Main Event entry record of 8,776. Now, that number is long in the rearview mirror and today, thanks to registration being open through the first two levels of the day, the field has surpassed 10,000 runners.
A number of notables were among the long line waiting for a seat card including Tom Dwan, 2018 WSOP Main Event winner John Cynn, NFL Hall of Famer Richard Seymour, Maria Konnikova, Dylan Weisman, Mathias Eibinger, and Fedor Holz.
As the line wrapped around the room, people from the back of the line shared some of their stories as to just why they decided to wait so long to get involved.
North Carolina’s Warren Sheaves is playing the Main Event for his 10th time. With more than $1 million in tournament earnings, the 40-year-old Sheaves has had plenty of success in poker – just not in the Main Event.
“I’m 0-for-9 in this tournament and I wanted to change something up today,” Sheaves said, “I’ve had some of my best scores from max late regging so I just wanted to try it in this….even though it’s probably one of the tournaments you want to start on level one.”
Starting in level one is usually when longtime grinder Chris Wallace prefers to get in the action. However, he chose to play it safe when his wife got sick and he didn’t want to find himself unable to play days in as well. But after a week of staying healthy, Wallace knew he couldn’t stay away any longer.
“I came down last night and registered, but I actually wasn’t even [going to play] and then I was watching the live coverage and was just reminded of how bad people (play) in the Main Event.”
San Diego’s Christine Donnelly was in Long Beach, CA just hours earlier but thanks to being able to register on Day 2, she was able to take advantage of a seat she won in her home league.
“I booked a cruise more than a year ago for the first week of July. Then I won a seat and realized the last day I could play [was today]. And so I had to get off the cruise ship in Long Beach at 9:30 this morning. I had to pay to get off early. Hustled over to the airport, got on the airplane, paid to get the front seat, scooted over here on Uber and that’s how I made it.”
With so many people returning for Day 2D, it only took roughly an hour before the early bustouts were making way for the late registrants. By the end of the first level, order was restored and the late registration line was all but cleared.
The number continued to trickle up over the next couple of hours, until another small push in the final moments of the second break at the close of registration. 2013 $50,000 Poker Players Championship winner Matthew Ashton and Austrian pro Thomas Mühlöcker were among that final group.
But one player was determined to be the last one in the field. Kerry Welsh, who lives locally in Summerlin and made the $1,500 Limit Hold’em final table early in the 2023 WSOP, waited at the cage until the literal last possible second to guarantee he was the last one in. As he took his seat in Orange section at the Horseshoe, the opportunity to take a shot at becoming the champion of the biggest WSOP Main Event in history finally closed.