Mystery Millions to The Main Event: Breaking Down the 2023 WSOP Schedule

The 2023 WSOP schedule is offering more chances to win a bracelet than ever before.

WPT Staff
Feb 8, 2023
The 2023 WSOP takes place from May 30 – July 18, 2023.

The 2023 World Series of Poker schedule has arrived. Held this year from May 30-July 18, the massive schedule includes 95 live gold bracelet events in 50 days. It’s a sprawling itinerary of events that covers nearly every poker discipline and caters to players at just about every buy-in level.

From high rollers to shot-takers, mixed games to The Main Event there’s a lot to digest here. So members of our editorial team, including Lance Bradley, Tim Fiorvanti, and Jeff Walsh, picked apart the schedule and offer some thoughts and reactions to everything that will be in store for players at this summer’s WSOP.

Overall thoughts about the schedule?

It’s solid, very balanced, and nearly every week there’s something to get excited about whether you are a fan, a recreational player, or a pro. It’s easy to get lost in the sheer volume of it all but I’m guessing that no matter where you land on the breadth of customers that the series is trying to appeal to, there’s going to be an optimal time when you can register for multiple bracelet events within your bankroll in a 6-7 day span. – Walsh

Take a look at the reaction from some of the WSOP regulars. Praise from that group is often hard to come by, but the WSOP team has received a universal thumbs up from the players likely to put in the most volume and it’s easy to see why. It does seem like attention has been paid to creating something for players of all games at all buy-in levels. As mixed games have grown in popularity over the past decade, the need for a better selection of rec-friendly buy-in mixed game events has become impossible to ignore and this schedule seems to give those players a way to scratch their tournament itch. – Bradley

No kidding about the volume – 95 live bracelet events alone on the schedule for 2023, meaning there are opportunities for players at every buy-in level in any kind of game they choose. As an appreciator of the non-Hold’em events, the additions of Badugi and Big O and the return of the $25,000 HORSE High Roller really bolster the WSOP’s efforts to accommodate everyone. – Fiorvanti

What surprised you about the schedule?

The first thing to jump off the page was that the massive first-weekend retail event, which was usually a $500 buy-in (The Housewarming, The Reunion) mega event was replaced by the $1,000 Mystery Millions. Of course, last year the Mystery Millions (last year called Million Dollar Bounty) essentially stole the show of the series with its viral buzz and well-deserved praise for its presentation. Still, surprised that the WSOP is using this event to kick off the first weekend rather than pack the house with another lower buy-in, large guarantee marquee event to balance out the $25K High Roller and $25K Heads-up. But maybe $1K (w/ 1 re-entry per flight) is the new $500 – inflation right?

Still, expect the Mystery Millions with its $1,000,000 top bounty and $1,000,000 first-place prize to absolutely pop off anyway. But for some, with so much at stake, after trying to make Day 2 on a couple of bullets, it could be the first (and last) weekend of their series. – Walsh

To be honest, I’m somewhat surprised they didn’t do more of the mystery bounty events. Last summer, the event was something to behold from a presentation stand point and the buzz from – both online and in the room – was something that could be pretty addicting for players, but also for the operator. Sure, they added a $10,000 “Secret Bounty”, but I’m happy that they didn’t go overboard and add more than that. 

I know I mentioned the universal praise they’ve seemingly gotten for the schedule – David Baker called it the “best WSOP schedule of all time”, but it really is quite impressive that the folks who are normally so quick to criticize have been silent. WSOP Vice President Jack Effel, the one responsible for signing off, if not creating, the annual schedule has done a commendable job in refining the schedule over the years and crickets from the cheap seats is a testament to the fact that he’s clearly listened to his customers. – Bradley

There are a handful of surprises for me. First and foremost, having the Tournament of Champions event on Day 2 of the 2023 WSOP excludes all the winners to be this summer from the $1 million freeroll festivities. But it’s good news for the various online bracelet winners, WSOP Circuit winners and other qualifiers who are in the mix.

I’m also a bit surprised to see the $3,000 Six-handed Limit Hold’em event return. At 213 players, it was the smallest field for any event with a buy-in $5,000 or below in 2022. In general, the Limit Hold’em fields have had some of the weakest turnouts in recent years, with the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship failing to hit 100 players and falling short of every other $10,000 buy-in event turnout on the schedule. – Fiorvanti

WSOP at Paris (photo courtesy: PokerGO)

Which new event are you looking forward to/think will make an impact?

I’m going to spend a fair bit of time in this column talking about mystery bounties, as well, but I can’t ignore the addition of a $10,000 version of this tournament (called “Secret Bounty”), which lands in the middle of June. If the Mystery Millions pops off as big as I (and many others) think that it will, the turnout for this event could get an even bigger boost in interest and intrigue. There’s $1 million guaranteed for the top bounty here as well. The mystery bounty format has been wildly successful, especially the inaugural version at the WSOP in 2022, and expect nothing less here. – Fiorvanti

The $10,000 buy-in Championship events have always served the professional poker player community quite well with various game formats available, but players have been clamoring for some of those same formats to be available at some of the lower price points for a while now. The WSOP finally relented this year and there are $1,500 Badugi and $1,500 Short Deck events on the schedule and I’m just curious to see what the turnout will be for these. Badugi has been in the rotation for some of the Dealer’s Choice and 10-game mix events over the years past, but this marks the first time it’s getting a standalone bracelet event. Short Deck, which spent some time in poker’s spotlight as the “game of the future” back in 2018 and 2019, has had $10,000 buy-in events before and now the poker fans who watched Ale Epstein (2019), Chance Kornuth (2021) and Shota Nakanishi (2022) win bracelets in Short Deck will have their chance to do the same. – Bradley

Badugi and Big O are fun, but I guess I’m interested to see the sheer size of the field in the new $300 Gladiators of Poker. One of the cheapest buy-ins in WSOP history, this $300 event comes with a $3 million guarantee and will likely be a chaotic mess of recreationals just firing at will in each of the four starting flights. There are two re-entries per flight so if things don’t go well, this gold-plated version of the Daily Deepstack could turn into a sizable investment – provided crowd control and registration is manageable for players to find their way back to the tables. The pros of these events are that payouts begin on the same starting flight so someone can go deep, make the money, get paid, and come back for another shot the next day. – Walsh

Which events (other than the Main Event) are you most looking forward to?

I’m going to assume that one of my colleagues will mention the $50,000 PPC – which is one of the most important events on the schedule as it often has Player of the Series implications – so I’ll pivot and pick Event #65 ($5,000 Six-Max NLH). It’s always one of the toughest, stacked fields of the series. The buy-in is high enough for the well-known pros to want to fire but also low enough that up-and-coming wizards can sell enough to get involved. Because there are so few soft spots, it’s a great way to get to discover newer talent. Last year, the reigning GPI Player of the Year and WPT Prime Championship winner Stephen Song finished as the runner-up for what was, at the time, a career-high $476,990, and first-place was worth over $770,000. If you are a shot taker looking to play a $5K, this ain’t it. But if you are a poker fan wanting to see an abundance of talent, keep your eyes on the chip counts. – Walsh

One of the appeals of the WSOP schedule each year is that poker fans inevitably see players playing in an event that they might not otherwise play. No Limit experts often jump into the Pot Limit Omaha and Mixed Game events and do battle against the players who consider that respective game to be their bread and butter. There is one outlier however; the $50,000 PLO High Roller. While not exclusively PLO beasts, soft spots are ridiculously rare in this event and the field draws out the absolute best PLO players in the world. In 2021, the first year the event ran, Jeremy Ausmus beat Phil Hellmuth heads-up to win his second career bracelet over a field of 85 entrants. Last year, Robert Cowen topped the 106 runner field to earn his second bracelet. If trends continue, it’s possible that this event could draw somewhere 115 entries. – Bradley

Am I that obvious? How I can resist the allure of a player who can thrive in all the games with the $50,000 stakes that the Poker Players Championship has on offer? And for those who will be spending the entire summer in Las Vegas or big chunks of it, there will be so many opportunities for the best poker players in the world to battle for the highest tournament stakes in the world. Within a three-week stretch at the start of the schedule, there’s a $25,000 Six-Handed No Limit Hold’em event, the $25,000 Heads-Up Championship, a $25,000 High Roller, a $50,000 High Roller, a $100,000 High Roller and a $250,000 High Roller in the run-up to the PPC, along with a multitude of $10Ks along the way. – Fiorvanti

Now, let’s talk about the Main Event…

Ty Stewart, SVP & Executive Director of the WSOP said in the press release: “If the Main Event is on your bucket list, this is the year to get to Vegas.”

There’s no doubt about it, WSOP officials are dead set on breaking the record (2006, 8,773 runners) for most players in the Main Event. Kudos to them for no longer settling to simply see what happens and finally putting a concentrated effort into off-site super satellites, online qualifiers, and in-house Mega satellites to ensure that they don’t fall short. Could they still miss? Of course, but it won’t be for lack of trying. And for recreational players who dream of taking a seat and having a shot at an eight-figure score, there’s never been more ways to get in the tournament on the cheap.

The $400 Colossus could be the entry point for a number of players. Show up for the large field, cheap bracelet event on June 30, fire a couple of shots on a Friday and a Saturday and then hang around and play a number of Main Event Satellites (July 2-7). – Walsh

The WSOP team also dangled one more major carrot for those players looking to get into the WSOP Main Event field this year, Jeff. An extra incentive to try to drive the field past its long-standing record size – a giveaway of a 30-year WSOP Main Event prize package for one lucky player if the record is broken. If the WSOP doesn’t break that record, it won’t be for a lack of trying, and with turnouts of 8,569 (2019) and 8,663 (2022) in the last two non-COVID altered fields, there’s every reason to believe they can do it. – Fiorvanti

I’ve been on record for the last 3-4 years believing that the WSOP was going to break their record that year, so it should come as no surprise that I’m going straight to the bank with the belief that the 2023 WSOP Main Event will be the biggest ever. It feels like eons have passed since the 2006 WSOP Main Event – and in some ways, they have – but Jamie Gold’s win came in a historic field of 8,773 entrants. With the off-site satellites, the promise of 600 online qualifiers, and the above-mentioned potential 30-year Main Event freeroll for one lucky player, it seems like WSOP officials know they’re likely to break the record this year. Last year, they were just 110 entries shy. In 2019, the last year before COVID impacted the WSOP schedule, they were 204 away from the record. Not only do I think they break the record this year, but I’m going to say they do it easily with more than 9,200 entrants. – Bradley