What WSOP 2016 Showed Us About the Current State of Poker

December 26th, 2016 | by Kaycee James

The 2016 World Series of Poker (WSOP) taught us many things. For one, poker is still an extremely popular game around the world, despite many claiming the game is “dead.”


High turnouts and great responses to lower buyin events should tell the poker industry where to put its resources in 2017. (Image: theinscribermag.com

It’s not dead. Not even close. Poker clearly isn’t at its 2006 peak, thanks to strict online poker regulations in the United States. But the game is far more popular today than it was pre-Chris Moneymaker. And the future looks as bright as ever.

If you need proof that the game of poker is doing just fine, look no further than the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event. The world’s most prestigious tournament had its most players (6,737) since 2011.

In 2015, the Series introduced the first-ever Colossus event, a $565 buy-in tournament that set a world record for most entrants in a live poker tournament (22,374). Despite it being nearly impossible to top that record, WSOP executives expected even more for Colossus II this past year. That didn’t happen, but the 21,613 players registered was still quite an impressive number.

Ladies Not Lacking in Skill, Just in Numbers

Based on the 2016 Series stats, women still aren’t as much a part of the game as many would like to see. Of those 6,737 Main Event participants, only 252 were women (3.7 percent). That was par for the course in most WSOP events this year, except the ladies event, of course.

Las Vegas has more poker rooms than any other city in the United States. The disproportionate number of women in these annual events aren’t much different from what is found in poker rooms in Sin City and all across the country. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t many females playing the game at a high level. Cate Hall and Vanessa Selbst are but two examples of women who can compete with and beat pretty much anyone.

Low Buy-Ins Attract Large Fields

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that smaller buy-in tournaments have larger fields because more people can afford to play. There aren’t many people with $100,000 sitting around to enter a super high roller tournament, and that’s why most of these events have 100 or fewer players.

The Colossus, a no-limit hold’em tournament, had a massive field in 2016, due to the “small” $565 buy-in. It became the least-expensive WSOP event in history. But it wasn’t the only lower buyin event at this year’s summer series that drew a huge field.

Event #12, the $565 Pot-Limit Omaha championship attracted 2,483 players, a record for a live PLO tournament. Event #54, the $888 Crazy Eights had 6,761 players. These lower buy-in tournaments are helping the WSOP attract a larger customer base. In year’s past, nearly every event had a $1,500 or higher buy-in.

Based on what happened this year at the World Series, poker’s prospects are in excellent shape heading into 2017 and beyond.


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