Five Things to Watch For in the 2015 WSOP Main Event

Sure, the first 67 events on the 2015 World Series of Poker schedule gave us great performances including double-bracelet winners, first time champions, stories of heartbreak and stories of charity, but that’s all in the past now. It’s time for the Main Event. With the biggest event of the year kicking off Sunday afternoon BLUFF takes a look at the things you need to know before cards are in the air.

1. Poker Pros Aren’t Necessarily the Biggest Stars in the Field


Sure, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey are sure to have a huge group of fans cheering them on from the rail, but the attention they receive is relative to the potential life-changing possibilities of other players who show up with $10,000 and a dream.

Celebrities and top athletes have made playing the Main Event a part of their summer vacation the past 15 years or so. Comedians Brad Garrett, Ray Romano and Kevin Pollak are some of the more entertaining Hollywood heavyweights that come out. Paul Pierce, who recently announced he would be playing for the LA Clippers next season, has also made it a habit of playing the Main Event and even former NFLer Richard Seymour made an appearance in 2014.

The celebs aren’t always in the field when they show their faces at the Rio. Last year Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul spent an entire day on the rail cheering on a friend.

2. Mark Newhouse Returns to the Scene of the Crime

It’s going to drive Mark Newhouse nuts, but he’s going to be one of the most photographed and followed players on whichever starting day he decides to play. Coming off of his ninth place finish in 2013, Newhouse sent out a now very famous tweet just before sitting down for Day 1 in 2014.

And we all know how that went. Newhouse made it back to the Main Event final table only to finish ninth yet again. Making back-to-back Main Event final tables was unlikely enough as it is, but Newhouse seems to have something about the Main Event figured out so how he does on Day 1 will be a story in itself.

3. Death, Taxes and Ronnie Bardah in the Main Event

Last year Ronnie Bardah set a WSOP record that might never be broken – unless he does it himself. In 2014 Bardah cashed in the Main Event for the fifth consecutive year breaking the record he had held with Chris Bjorin and Christian Harder. Making it through more than 90% of the biggest $10,000 field of the year in any given year is quite the accomplishment, but doing it in five consecutive deserves some special consideration. Here’s how Bardah has done in each year since first cashing in 2010.

  • 2014 – 475th ($25,756)
  • 2013 – 124th ($50,752)
  • 2012 – 540th ($21,707)
  • 2011 – 453rd ($27,103)
  • 2010 – 24th ($317,161)

Another crazy Bardah stat that defies explanation: he’s cashed 11 times at the WSOP and five of them are in the Main Event. 

4. The DraftKings Effect

There used to be a day where the Main Event field was filled with players who had won their seat in an online poker satellite. Since Black Friday those numbers have dropped considerably but thanks to the deal between the WSOP and daily fantasy sports site, we’re seeing more players get into the WSOP on the cheap. This year DraftKings is sending 50 players to the Main Event.   

Sure, it’s not the 600 or so that PokerStars used to send, but it’s a step in the right direction. Couple those 50 with how many qualifiers came from satellites in Nevada and New Jersey and we’re slowly starting to see players getting into the Main Event on the cheap.

The question becomes, what happens if a DraftKings WSOP qualifier wins the Main Event? Do they become the Chris Moneymaker of daily fantasy sports, or a new Moneymaker for poker?

5. Just How Big — or Small — Will the 2015 Field Be?

Prior to last year the WSOP Main Event had been in a bit of a tailspin in terms of field size for a few years now. The number of players in the Main Event dropped each year between 2010 and 2013 before seeing a 5.2% bump in 2014. Some will credit the $10,000,000 guaranteed first place prize money in 2014 as the reason for the bump. Could the flatter payout structure – where the top 1,000 are getting paid and each of the November Nine will make $1 million – bring out more recreational players to get the total field over 7,000 player for just the third time ever?

The WSOP Main Event field size from 2010 – 2014

Year Field Y/Y Growth
2010 7,319 12.7%
2011 6,865 -6.2%
2012 6,598 -3.9%
2013 6,352 -3.7%
2014 6,682 5.2%
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Lance Bradley

Editor in Chief at
Editor in Chief: Lance Bradley began working with BLUFF in March 2008 and was named Editor in Chief in August 2009. Prior to joining BLUFF Bradley launched an independent poker blog, in 2006. Before entering the world of poker media he was the Poker Room Manager for Bodog from January 2004 until June 2006. He graduated from the Applied Journalism program Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Vancouver, Canada.
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