The World Poker Championship, by the numbers
As this report is being written, the Main Event of the World Series Poker – better known as the World Poker Championship – is underway, with Days 1 and 2 having been played.

Or, to be more correct, we are six days into the World Championship here at the Rio in Las Vegas, where the biggest poker tournament on the planet is taking place. The number of entrants this year is so staggering – 7319 players!! – that the only way the organizer, the company Harrah’s Entertainment, can cope is to divide the starting field into four different starting days: 1A, 1B, 1C and 1D. Otherwise, there is simply not enough manpower, nor sheer physical space available.

These four starting days drew the following numbers:

Day 1A: 1125 players
Day 1B: 1489 players
Day 1C: 2314 players
Day 1D: 2391 players

On each starting day, play went on for nine hours after which the numbers of survivors were as follows:

Day 1A: 766 survivors
Day 1B: 1018 survivors
Day 1C: 1646 survivors
Day 1D: 1716 survivors

Then, the remaining players – a total of 5146 survivors – squeezed into another two days, as follows:

Day 2A (survivors from Day 1A and 1C): 2412 players Day 2B (survivors from Day 1B and 1D): 2734 players

As I write this, Day 2B has not quite finished yet and so the exact number of players who will go into Day 3 remains to be determined... but expect about 2500 players.

Altogether, this year’s World Poker Championship is the second biggest live tournament ever: only the 2006 Event, with 8773 players, has been bigger. That one was won by American Jamie Gold, who took home 12 million dollars for his victory; still the biggest single tournament win ever, money-wise.

More poker numbers: And as this year’s World Championship steamrolls on, let’s check out some other numbers defining the second largest poker tournament in history:

Number of countries participating: 92

The ten countries with the largest representation are the USA (4973 players); Canada (482 players); Great Britain (292 players); France and Germany (176 players each); Australia (110 players); Sweden (99 players); Russia (89 players); Italy (81 players); and the Netherlands (78 players).

The total prize pool: 68,798,600 dollars.

Number of places paid: 747.

First prize: 8,944,138 dollars. Wow, that IS a lot of money...

Number of female players starting: 216.

All players begin with 30,000 in chips, while the blinds start at 50-100. Each level is two hours long, representing the slowest, most player-friendly, skill-rewarding tournament structure existing anywhere. There are however no rebuys, no chance of getting more chips except winning them off the other players. This means that there is a total of slightly over 219 million in chips distributed among the ever-diminishing players... and which will eventually all wind up on the final table, and at the end of that in the hands of the sole winner. No player in the history of poker will ever have had more chips in front of him or her. (At the 2006 Championship, players started with “only” 20,000 each.)

Here is the remaining structure of the World Championship:

12th July: Day 3
13th July: Day 4
14th July: Day 5
15th July: Day 6
16th July: Day 7 (when they will play down to 27 remaining players)
17th July: Day 8 (when they will play down to 9 remaining players)

These nine remaining players, “The November Nine”, will then have almost four months to do interviews, try to obtain sponsorship contracts and prepare themselves before the grand final, which takes place on 6th – 9th November.

So there you have the outline, and the numbers, concerning the biggest, most important and prestigious poker tournament on the planet! More reports to follow...

And as for me? Survived Day 1A, then survived Day 2A, and am on into Day 3 – a bit shortstacked, but still alive and with a chance at the big money!

who finished 534th in last year’s Main Event, winning 25.090 dollars