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2019 World Series of Poker Main Event Set to Kick Off Today

2019 WSOP

The world’s biggest poker tournament is starting in Las Vegas.

The 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event began at noon local time today with hundreds of players taking their seats for Day 1A of the iconic $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament.

The marathon tournament offers three different starting days and will run for 14 days total with a winner being crowned on July 16.

Last year American John Cynn outlasted 7,874 players to take down a massive $8.8-million first-place prize. The preliminary events at this year’s WSOP broke numerous records so there’s no telling just how many players will enter this year’s Main Event.

Will Attendance Continue to Climb?

Last year the Main Event defied skeptics and attracted a staggering 7,874 entries, which was enough to create a $74-million prize pool and become the second-biggest tournament in poker history.

Many poker tournaments have trended down since the poker boom hit its apex around 2006 but not the Main Event. While it’s unlikely the event ever reaches the height it did in 2006, when online sites were allowed to qualify players with no restrictions, it’s remained the pinnacle of poker and is beloved by players from around the globe. There’s simply no other tournament that comes close to matching the prestige and value of the Main Event.

Every year there are bets on whether the Main Event attendance will continue to climb (in fact there are odds on Bovada.lv right now) but it’s hard to say what will happen this year.

There are some positive signs that it will draw even more players this year. The economy in the U.S. is in a relatively good spot (the majority of players in the Main Event hail from the U.S.) and Bitcoin has been trending up (there is a great deal of overlap between Bitcoin investors and poker players).

The overall attendance at the 2019 WSOP (which includes over 80 different side events) has been way up, especially in $1,500-or-lower buy-in tournaments. One of the opening events at the 2019 WSOP — a rake-free $500 buy-in event — attracted a record-setting 28,371 entries to create a $13.5-million prize pool.

Incredibly, over 44 tournaments have offered prize pools of over $1 million, so suffice to say there are a number of poker players with extra cash in their pockets. That might help buoy numbers in the Main Event as players take a shot in the big show.

Here’s a look at Main Event attendance over the last decade:

YearEntriesPrize Pool
2019TBATBA
20187,874$74,015,600.00
20177,221$67,877,400.00
20166,737$63,327,800.00
20156,420$60,348,000.00
20146,683$62,820,200.00
20136,352$59,708,800.00
20126,598$62,021,000.00
20116,865$64,531,000.00
20107,319$68,799,059.00

Ivey, Dwan Expected to Play

Reigning world champion John Cynn is expected to do the honorary shuffle up and deal but the majority of the world’s famous poker players are also expected to play.

Even cash game legends Phil Ivey and Tom “durrrr” Dwan are expected to play in the Main Event after skipping several years to allegedly focus on high-stakes cash games in Asia.

The rest of the usual suspects including Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Antonio Esfandiari, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, Shaun Deeb and Maria Ho are all expected to play.

This year’s WSOP actually had some new faces in the form of Jeopardy celeb James Holzhauer, NHL star Phil Kessel and European football star Max Kruse. It wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see a handful of the aforementioned celebrity players make an appearance in the Main Event.

Bovada.lv is currently listing a number of last-longer bets between famous pros such as Phil Ivey vs Phil Hellmuth and Shaun Deeb vs Daniel Negreanu.

You can see the odds below:

2019 WSOP Main Event - Who Will Last Longer - Phil Hellmuth vs Phil Ivey?
  • Phil Hellmuth -135
  • Phil Ivey -105
Odds as of July 3 at Bovada
2019 WSOP Main Event - Who Will Last Longer - Shaun Deeb vs Daniel Negreanu?
  • Shaun Deeb -120
  • Daniel Negreanu -120
Odds as of July 3 at Bovada
2019 WSOP Main Event - Number of Entries
  • OVER 7,850.5 -120
  • UNDER 7,850.5 -120
Odds as of July 3 at Bovada

Will a Female Player Crack the Final Table?

One of the more interesting bets regarding the 2019 Main Event is whether a female poker player will finally break the streak of male-dominated final tables.

Barbara Enright became the only female player to make the final table when she finished fifth in the 1995 Main Event.

There have been numerous close calls over the years, however.

Annie Duke finished 10th in the 2000 Main Event, while nine months pregnant with her third child. Tiffany Michelle had a mountain of chips in the 2008 Main Event but ended up crashing out in 17th place.

Perhaps the closest call came in the 2012 Main Event when Elisabeth Hille and Gaëlle Baumann finished 11th and 10th respectively.

There are plenty of skilled female poker players who have the ability to make the final table. Maria Ho, Kelly Minkin and the aforementioned Gaëlle Baumann have all been the last woman standing in the famous tournament twice, which speaks volumes about how comfortable they feel in the event.

2019 WSOP Main Event - Will A Female Player Make The Final Table?
  • Yes +550
  • No -1000
Odds as of July 3 at Bovada

Where to Watch the 2019 Main Event

Because the 2019 WSOP Main Event runs for 14 days from July 3 to July 16, there is plenty of poker action to watch.

Since the WSOP attracts thousands of players (who simply wouldn’t fit in the same room all at once) it offers three different starting days and two Day 2s. Day 1C is always the biggest starting day and is frequently larger than Day 1A and Day 1B combined.

Action begins at noon every day (outside of the final table) with the schedule as follows:

  • July 3 — Day 1A
  • July 4 — Day 1B
  • July 5 — Day 1C (final starting flight)
  • July 6 — Day 2A & Day 2B (Remaining players from Day 1A & 1B)
  • July 7 — Day 2C (Remaining players from Day 1C)
  • July 8 — Day 3
  • July 9 — Day 4
  • July 10 — Day 5
  • July 11 — Day 6
  • July 12 — Day 7 (Play to final table)
  • July 13 — Off Day
  • July 14 — Day 8 (Play to 6)
  • July 15 — Day 9 (Play to 3)
  • July 16 — Day 10 (Play to winner)

The Main Event is broadcast on both the poker streaming service PokerGO and ESPN. Here’s a look at the ESPN schedule (all other coverage is available on PokerGO):

DateTimeNetworkEvent
7/3/198:30 PM - 2:00 AM ETESPN2WSOP Main Event Day 1A
7/4/199:00 PM - 11:00 PM ETESPN2WSOP Main Event Day 1B
7/5/198:00 PM - 12:30 AM ETESPN2WSOP Main Event Day 1C
7/6/196:00 PM - 10:30 PM ETESPN2WSOP Main Event Day 2AB
7/7/192:30 PM - 6:00 PM ETESPNWSOP Main Event Day 2C
7/8/1910:00 PM - 2:00 AM ETESPN2WSOP Main Event Day 3
7/9/197:00 PM - 11:00 PM ETESPNWSOP Main Event Day 4
7/10/198:00 PM - 11:00 PM ETESPNWSOP Main Event Day 5
7/11/1912:30 AM - 2:00 AM ETESPN2WSOP Main Event Day 6
7/12/199:00 PM - 11:00 PM ETESPNWSOP Main Event Day 7
7/12/1911:00 PM - 2:00 AM ETESPN2WSOP Main Event Day 7 (Play to Final Table)
7/14/1910:00 PM - TBD ETESPN2WSOP Main Event Day 8 (Nine to Six Players)
7/15/1910:00 PM - TBD ETESPNWSOP Main Event Day 9 (Six to Three Players)
7/16/199:00 PM - TBD ETESPNWSOP Main Event Day 10 (Three Players to Winner)