The $10,000 Question: Play Day 1A or Wait for Bigger Fields?

Erik Seidel prefers to have a well-rested Main Event run.

Erik Seidel prefers to have a well-rested Main Event run.

Since the World Series of Poker Main Event went to multiple starting days in 2004, there’s long been a question of which day was the best to play. The answers vary just as much as the players do.

Over the last ten years Day 1A has historically been the smallest field- save for 2008 and 2009 when Day 1B fell on the July 4th holiday and many American players chose to salute Old Glory rather than take their shot at poker glory.

Sunday looks to be the third triple-digit number Day 1 field in the last four years (a rough estimate of 700 players for Sunday) – not a healthy sign. This year’s starting flights are on the heels of the Fourth of July holiday, where some years, 2009 and 2008 flights on July 4 and drew 873 and 1,158 respectively.

Jeremy Ausmus wanted to take advantage of the holiday hangover. “I thought this would be a good day to play for a couple of reasons – I figured a lot of the young good players partied all day yesterday and wouldn’t be here. I also feel like that a lot recreational players have to work Monday so they’d try their shot on Sunday. If they make it through they can take some days off later.”

“I don’t even know what day I played last year – I don’t put a ton of thought into what day I play,” Ausmus continued. “I feel like a a lot of pros, well poker players in general, procrastinate all the time and they’ll play the last day. I was going to play cash but changed my mind this morning.”

Las Vegas local, Mike Clark chose to use Day 1A as his shot. “I played because it’s a weekend and I have to work during the week – this isn’t a real job for me, it’s my hobby. I live in Vegas so I don’t have a whole lot of plans that I have to fly around for.”

2012 November Niner Steven Gee picked Day 1A as a superstitious habit. “Poker is a game of skill, right? Well I always play Day 1A because I’m superstitious. I did it initially in case I made a deep run so I have time to rest on my days off. It’s hard to change that now.”

Some players want to set up a well-rested Main Event Run. “I just like having days off,” said Erik Seidel. “I like to have as many days off as possible, I thought I’d get Day 1 out of the way.”

Poker Hall of Famer and seven-time bracelet winner Billy Baxter said, “Because I’m at the point in my life where it’s so grinding to try and win something like this it’s silly. The young guys have the advantage. The Main Event isn’t the problem – all the prelim events are brutal when you’re old. The Main is not so bad, I figure if I get through now I get two days off and that’s my main reason – to get through.”

Mike Matusow candidly rattled of his reasons, with little care that his tablemates were within earshot. “Because all the pros play on Day 3 and since my health isn’t in the greatest shape. I only have to play two out of five days to get to Day 3 instead of six out of seven. Besides 95% of the field aren’t pros and I have a table full of monkeys.”

Historical WSOP Main Event Day 1As

  • 2014 – Saturday, July 5 – 771 entrants
  • 2013 – Saturday, July 6 – 943 entrants
  • 2012 – Saturday, July 7 – 1,066 entrants
  • 2011 – Thursday, July 7 – 897 entrants*
  • 2010 – Monday, July 5 – 1,1125 entrants*
  • 2009 – Friday, July 3 – 1,116 entrants*
  • 2008 – Friday, July 3 – 1,297 entrants*
  • 2007 – Friday, July 6 – 1,287 entrants*
  • 2006 – Friday, July 28 – 2,135 entrants*
  • 2005 – Thursday, July 7 – 1,885 entants
  • 2004 – Saturday, May 22 – ~1,200 entrants

*denotes when the WSOP Main Event offered four starting days.

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Paul Oresteen

Senior Writer: Paul Oresteen originally joined BLUFF in 2008 as an intern. He covered two World Series of Poker’s before leaving to join After a two year hiatus Oresteen returned to BLUFF in November 2012. Since starting as a poker journalist Oresteen has covered the World Series of Poker, WSOP Circuit, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour. He graduated from Georgia State University with a B.A. in Communications in 2008.
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