WSOP 2011 In Trouble After Poker Sites Shut-Down

With just over five weeks before the start of WSOP 2011, the growing popularity of the world’s most prestigious poker event is now likely to suffer a major blow in the wake of ‘Black Friday.’
The Las Vegas competition, and in particular the $10k Main Event, only exceeded 100 players in 1982 but by 2003 had recorded its highest ever total number of entries at 839 players.
Click here for the current poker sites still in the US market.
That year Chris Moneymaker famously won the event for a $2.5 million pay-day with the popularity of the tournament then sky-rocketing to 8,773 players by 2006.
However, after the US Department Of Justice introduced the UIGEA that year, Main Event entries tailed off by around 2,000 players and is now likely to suffer its most devestating blow to date after PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker had their US online operations shut-down by the FBI.
One of the most extreme predictions so far has come from industry expert Brian Balsbaugh at Poker Royalty, who said he believes attendance figures at this year’s WSOP Main Event may plummet to just 2,500 players.
Balsbaugh’s prediction is based on the fact that around 60% of entrants at the WSOP, as well as the WPT come via online websites and, as MyPokerBasics project director Kevin Smith explains:
“People simply do not realize that the only way for the WSOP and the WPT to offer these huge multi-million dollar prize pools is through the use of sponsors. Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars spent hundreds of millions of dollars keeping these tours alive and expanding each year, so everyone from the professional players to fans to the tournament directors must be furious over this outcome. Honestly, everyone loses.”
With the US government now going after these companies for more than two billion dollars in penalties, sponsorship funding at the event is likely to be hit dramatically, as well as media coverage.
Another potential pit fall for this year’s WSOP is the fact thousands of US poker players currently are unable to access their online funds at PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker thus causing potential liquidity problems..
It now remains to be seen just how badly hit WSOP 2011 will be by the latest DOJ indictments. However, so far one of the most optimistic predictions for the event has come from the 2004 WSOP champion Greg Raymer, who ironically also qualified for the tournament online. As Raymer concludes:
“If I was actually putting a number to bet on, I would say more like somewhere in the low 5,000’s. If you made me pick a number because you were going to bet either over or under, it would be something like 5,250.”

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