An examination of attendance numbers at the various tournaments seems to indicate that the high rollers are eschewing the Bellagio in favor of the WSOP, while the Venetian is getting more than its fair share of the middle buy-in crowd and Binion's is luring the more budget conscious poker player to Fremont Street.
Despite the setback of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act last year, the crowds at the WSOP don't seem to have shrunk. In fact, the Series has set several new attendance records. The most players ever for a non-main event tournament showed up to play the first $1,500 NLH held on June 2 when 2,998 people purchased their entries. The ladies event this year had 1,286 attendees, which was more than 150 greater than last year, which was itself a record turnout. The two tournaments held June 9 combined for a record 3,009 entries. The $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em event attracted 2,628 entries. The $2,500 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. championship that day attracted 381 players, which was itself a record for an H.O.R.S.E. tournament. No single day in the 38-year history of the WSOP had been busier. In fact, the turnout is believed to be the biggest tournament day of any poker event held anywhere.
The Rio's popularity may be the Bellagio's downfall. The Bellagio Cup has seen its numbers drop off precipitously this year. There were 145 entrants into the first event, a $1,500 NLH tournament, and other than the 166 players who showed up for another $1,500 NLH event on June 25, the numbers have dropped as the Cup has gone along. Only 37 players showed up for the $5,000 NLH tournament on June 16. Last year, the Bellagio Cup attracted upwards of 500 players for some of its events, and 324 players put up $10,000 for the main event. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers the championship of the Bellagio Cup will see when it begins July 10.
In contrast, the fields at the Deep Stack Extravaganza at the Venetian have been fairly large, with players waiting hours to sign up when registration begins at 9 a.m. each morning. Buy-ins here range from $330 to $1,060. The largest event there so far was a $330 buy-in NLH tournament on June 6, which had 590 entrants. The smallest field was 264 entrants in a $1,060 NLH event on June 17.
The Binion's Poker Classic, which mimics the WSOP with similar tournaments with 10 percent of the buy in at the Rio, has attracted rather sizable fields. It got 377 players for a $150 NLH tournament on June 15. Many tournament winners have received prizes in the small five figures for their time.
We'll have more from the non-WSOP tournaments on PokerWorks in the coming days.