It’s official: early in the first level of Day 1D of the 2023 World Series of Poker WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart announced over the loudspeaker that the long-standing record for entrants in the Main Event has been broken.
For months prior to the start of the series, WSOP officials have been targeting the now-previous record of 8,773 runners, set in 2006. And although a running total of entrants is not yet available, the next potential benchmark for this Main Event is the possibility of a field of 10,000 or more.
This wasn’t the first year to threaten the 2006 benchmark. In 2019, the year Hossein Ensan took home the $10,000,000 first-place prize the field of 8,569 was just 204 runners short. Just last year, Espen Jorstad topped a massive field of 8,663 for his $10 million score, just 110 shy. But this year there was really no doubt about it as the WSOP loaded up on mega satellite winners and online qualifiers to ensure that they wouldn’t fall short again.
Not only is 10,000 runners a number of note, all eyes will now be on the prize pool. For now, Jaime Gold still holds the record for the largest Main Event first-place prize of all time when he walked away with $12,000,000 for the win. But that was when the WSOP paid a mere 10% as opposed to the 15% of the field that they pay today.
The day kicked off with Chris Moneymaker at center stage for the official Shuffle Up and Deal. The man credited with the 2003 poker boom took the mic and reminisced about how poker has changed and evolved in the past 20 years. Rather than get the cards in the air himself, he handed the mic to 100-year-old Gene Calden, taking the mantle from Jack Ury as the oldest player to play in the Main Event, who enthusiastically kicked off play commanding dealers to “Shuffle Up and Deal!”
Likely anticipating a major influx of players, officials were all hands on deck in having every section at both the Horseshoe and Paris available for Main Event seating. The result, more order and less chaos, with next-to-no registration lines, nine-handed play, and early and easy access for late registration to be seated.
Plenty of pros opted for a full day of play on Day 1A with WSOP champ Joe Hachem, Chance Kornuth, Chad Eveslage, Jonathan Little, Stephen Song, Erick Lindgren, Chris Hunichen, Mike Leah, Chino Rheem, and Barry Greenstein among the early arrivals.
One last note about breaking the record, now every entrant into this year’s Main Event will be entered into a drawing where one player will win a free (non-transferrable) entry into the WSOP Main Event for the next 30 years.