The curtain has finally fallen on WSOP 2021. As the dust settles and we pick through the statistics, it is impossible to see the flagship series as anything other than a gargantuan success.
In the most trying of circumstances, this turned out to be a phenomenally successful poker festival by almost any metric you care to consider. According to data compiled by Poker Industry PRO, there were 127,245 entries across the festival, and an eye-watering $237.9 million paid out in prize money.
This makes WSOP 2021 the second largest ever in terms of turnout, and the third largest in terms of prize pool. If the international bracelet events—held in the summer on GGPoker—are taken into account, WSOP has paid out a breath-taking $347 million this year, PRO reports.
A Record Number of Bracelets
A major factor in generating these huge figures was the sheer number of bracelets on offer—99 in total, by far the most of any WSOP in history. 11 of these were played online and contributed over $8 million to the overall total.
It is hard to believe that we had to wait 26 months since the last WSOP proper. In that time the live poker schedule was decimated by Covid-19. It is nothing short of miraculous that WSOP 2021 happened at all, but it didn’t escape entirely unscathed from the pandemic.
The travel ban had an inevitable effect on numbers, and it was clear from the outset that there would be far fewer international players than usual for what turned out to be the final WSOP held at the Rio.
The upshot was a clear fall in average participation for individual events. The Millionaire Maker saw a drop of nearly 40% on the previous edition, and the Colossus numbers were down 28%. Average prize pools also shrank to their lowest figure since 2003.
Even the Main Event could not escape the knock-on effects of the pandemic. A last-minute lifting of air travel restrictions was to not enough to boost attendance significantly. The 6650 taking part in the blue riband event was 22% down on the 2019 equivalent.
$3.5 Billion Paid Out Since 1970
However, the freedom of movement does seem to have influenced the latter stages of the series. The final eight events generated $32.4 million in prize money – an average of over $4 million per tournament, compared to $2.6 million on average over the course of the 88 in-person events.
There are a few other interesting stats worth picking up on. WSOP took $21.2 million in tournament fees during the series. $6.4 million of this was paid to dealers.
The 2021 figures take the all-time prize money awarded in WSOP events to $3.5 billion. The total entries across all 52 editions of the festival now total 1.5 million.
We had to wait a long time for this edition of the World Series, and it had a lot of expectation to live up to. On top of that, there were severe and well-founded doubts that it could take place at all.
On reflection, these figures reveal an absolute triumph of ambition and hard work, and the WSOP is to be applauded. However, they do not have time to rest on their laurels. The next edition of the series—announced last week—is barely six months away.