The numbers for the first three days of the WSOP Main Event had been underwhelming at best. Day 1A saw 1,116 players, Day 1B had only 873 players, and Day 1C picked up a little to 1,696 players. So the last thing the organizers of the World Series wanted to do was turn players away with money in hand. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they did on Day 1D.
There were reportedly about 500 would-be players who were turned away at the ticket gates because the Main Event was “sold out”. Officials say they entertained all available ideas on how to allow everyone to play, but in the end, it seemed there was no fair solution. They simply could not accommodate any more players. They reached the seating capacity in the three main poker rooms and even set up tables in a back room near a seafood restaurant.
Hundreds of disappointed people stood around for hours, waiting for news on whether or not they would be allowed to play. There was no discrimination on who was turned away either, although some of the amateurs in the group may have thought otherwise. Several big name players were shut-out, including T.J. Cloutier, Patrik Antonius, Ted Forrest, and Minh Ly.
The players who were gathered even reportedly recruited Mike Sexton, who had already played his Day 1 event, to speak to Jeffrey Pollack (WSOP Commissioner) on behalf of the players to try to work something out. The two met, along with one representative from the dejected players, but to no avail. Pollack gathered the players together and explained that they simply could not fit any more players into Day 1D, and there was no other fair solution that could be found. He read a statement that said, “We are sorry, I am sorry. The last thing we wanted to do was deny entry to any player for the Main Event. But we are unable to accommodate any more people.” The statement also said, “We pledge this wont happen again and will be the first topic we discuss for next year. This is the biggest challenge we have faced in four years.”
According to the AP, PokerStars did their part to try to make sure the players representing the site would be able to buy into the Main Event. Mike Clark, a spokesman for the site, reported that site employees were calling players, knocking on doors, emailing, and leaving notes for players to sign up early so that they would not be turned away. However, even with all of that effort, 5 of the 1,100 players representing PokerStars in one way or another, were turned away from the Main Event.
Even considering the number of players who were not able to play in the Main Event, the numbers for the biggest poker tournament of the year are pretty impressive. In all, 6,494 players entered this year’s Main Event. That number is down from last year, but possibly would have eclipsed last year’s numbers had all players signed up earlier. All of the final table players will leave the World Series as millionaires and the winner will take down over $8.5 million.