WSOP 2018: Why this exceptional tournament is actually bang average

July 05, 2018

As has been well documented already, this tournament is exceptional in all the key respects: field size (7,874 runners), prize pool ($74,015,600), first prize ($8.8 million) and number of players paid (1,182). Two of the three starting flights were the largest ever, and we’re not far off all-time records in almost all of the other categories.

But as you’ll also know from reading our coverage this week, we’re also sticking to a well formulated pattern. Almost precisely the same proportion of players made it through from Days 1A, 1B and 1C as is always the case, while the chip leaders from those days also bagged stacks conformed to long-established standards.

A packed Pavilion Room on Day 2AB

While there’s always the chance of an outlier tournament, so far this one is conforming precisely to type. And that allows us to make a couple of predictions as to what we can expect in the coming couple of days, and even further into the tournament. We’re not quite Five Thirty Eight, but our reliable Excel spreadsheet has held up to scrutiny so far.

Players are currently midway through Day 2AB, with the 2,460 survivors of the two opening flights attempting to battle through another five levels. Word reaches that Team Pro’s Andre Akkari has perished already, but he should feel no shame in that. (Maria Konnikova is the last Team Pro in today’s field.)

Maria Konnikova: Last Team Pro (on Day 2AB)

According to models (that trusty Excel spreadsheet), more than 50 percent of the remaining field will be flushed away today. Over the past seven years, there has never been more than 46 percent of the overall field making it through Day 2AB, and that means tournament organisers should be looking for around 1,100 bags tonight.

If 40 percent of the field remain, as was the case in 2015, that will be 984 players. If 46 percent survive, as was the case last year, that will mean 1,131 players. We need to lean slightly towards the higher end because of the 50,000 starting stack (it was 30,000 in 2015), which means there should be about 1,100 still with chips.

The same proportion also seems to progress from the second of the Day 2 flights, which means between 1,392 and 1,635 are likely to survive from tomorrow. Again, leaning towards the higher number, let’s guess that 1,600 will come through Day 2C unscathed.

Year Total Flights 2A start 2A end % Lead SS
2018 7,874 3 2,460        
2017 7,221 3 2,219 1,023 46 618,000 12
2016 6,737 3 1,847 770 42 838,600 17
2015 6,420 3 1,624 654 40 603,500 20
2014 6,683 3 1,933 817 42 489,000 16
2013 6,352 3 1,880 800 43 413,600 14
2012 6,598 3 2,044 842 41 505,800 17
Average 6,841 3 1,925 818 42 578,083 16
Average since 50K     2,033 897 44 728,300 15

Chart shows year-by-year total number of players since WSOP adopted three starting flights, players starting/finishing Day 2AB, percentage of survivors, chip-lead (gross) and chip lead (as rounded number of starting stacks)

It’s not quite so easy to be confident about how much the chip leader might bag, but that’s mainly because of a man named Amar Anand’s freakishly good Day 2 in 2015. Anand bagged 603,500 that day, which was 20 times his starting stack and somewhat skews averages. However, on the four occasions there has been a Day 2 in a 50,000-starting stack year, players have typically bagged around 13 or 14 times their starting stack. (The highest was 838,600 on 2016’s Day 2AB; the lowest was 618,000 from Day 2AB the following year.)

Let’s predict, then, that whoever has the chip lead tonight will have around 730,000 chips, give or take 100K.

Year Total Flights 2B start 2B end % Lead SS
2018 7,874 3 3,480        
2017 7,221 3 3,300 1,549 47 680,000 14
2016 6,737 3 3,252 1,416 44 630,700 13
2015 6,420 3 2,747 1,142 42 408,800 14
2014 6,683 3 2,571 1,047 41 505,000 17
2013 6,352 3 2,306 953 41 507,300 17
2012 6,598 3 2,300 911 40 457,000 15
Average 6,841 3 2,746 1,170 42 531,467 15
Average since 50K     3,276 1,483 45 655,350 13

Chart shows year-by-year total number of players since WSOP adopted three starting flights, players starting/finishing Day 2C, percentage of survivors, chip-lead (gross) and chip lead (as rounded number of starting stacks)

The Day 2 chip lead is no guarantee of success, by the way, and a shorter stack not certain to spell disaster. Anand managed to ride his Day 2 chip lead only as far as 55th place overall and a payout of $113,764, but Joe McKeehen, that same year, had only 162,100 and he became champion.


Here’s a few more handy WSOP stats thanks to Seth Palansky, Vice President, Corporate Communications, World Series of Poker.

Total # of Entries: 7,874 (up 9 percent y-o-y; 2nd largest ever; largest since 2006)
Net Prize Pool: $74,015,600
Entries by Day: 1A: 925 (up 16 percent)
1B: 2,378 (up 10 percent)
1C: 4,571 (up 7 percent – largest ever single flight)
2A: 659
2B: 1,801
2C: 3,480

Players in the Money: 1,182 (most ever in Main Event history)

1st Place Prize: $8,800,000
2nd Place Prize: $5,000,000
3rd Place Prize: $3,750,000
4th Place Prize: $2,825,000
5th Place Prize: $2,150,000
6th Place Prize: $1,800,000
7th Place Prize: $1,500,000
8th Place Prize: $1,250,000
9th Place Prize: $1,000,000

1,181st place pays (last slot paid): $15,000

Age demographics

The average age of 2018 WSOP Main Event participants is 41.23. For males, the average is 43.71 and for females, 41.13.

Age demographic

Age range Total Male Female
21-25 310 305 5
26-30 1,439 1,408 31
31-35 1,689 1,625 64
36-40 1,050 999 51
41-45 865 830 35
46-50 815 782 33
51-55 636 603 33
>56 1,070 1,021 49
Total 7,874 7,573 301
Chart shows age/gender breakdown of 2018 WSOP field    

VALUE OF CHIPS IN PLAY: 393,700,000 (Most ever; Players start with 50,000 in chips)
PHYSICAL # CHIPS IN PLAY: 267,716 (Each player started with 34 individual poker chips)
# OF DEALERS UTILIZED: 760
# OF DECKS OF CARDS: 1,694
UNIQUE COUNTRIES: 88 (up from 83 in 2017)
TOP FIVE COUNTRIES (BY PARTICIPANTS): United States 5,758, Canada 415
United Kingdom 350
France 136
Brazil 97
Australia 82
Germany 73
Austria 67
Japan 58
Russia 57
AVERAGE AGE: 41.23 (up from 40.59 in 2017)
OLDEST PLAYER: John Olsen, Moss Point, Mississippi (born in 1929, age 88) Played
Day 1B and survived with chips.
YOUNGEST PLAYER: Nicholas Dashineau, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania (born in 1997, age
21, turned 21 July 1) Played Flight C, survived with 90,700 chips
MALE PARTICIPANTS: 7,573 (up 9% from 6,949 in 2017)
FEMALE PARTICIPANTS: 301 (up 6.6% from 272 in 2017)



Day 1A full chip counts
Day 1B full chip counts
Day 1C full chip counts
Follow Team Pro’s progress

Previous WSOP coverage:

“Thanks Daniel” — A letter to Negreanu from Phil Galfond
A flippin’ fantastic way to enter a poker tournament
Jeff Gross: A momentary pause in the perpetual motion
From the archive: Stages
Moneymaker surveys the world he created
Negreanu continues preparations for PokerStars Players Championship
Then and Now: Andre Akkari
An exceptional Day 1A
From the archive: Rio here, Rio there
Then and Now: Maria Konnikova
All systems go on ‘cattywumpus’ World Series

WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.

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