Where is all the shrinkage

Posted by James Guill on Jun 07, 2011 Posted in WSOP News | No Comments »

Heading into the 2011 World Series of Poker, the talk of the poker world centered whether the series would see significant shrinkage.  Through the first nine events, the numbers for some events have been right in line with expectations, while other have show unexpected growth.

The Gainers

Events 1, 3, 4, 6 and 9 have all seen growth year over year.  This is how the numbers break down:

Employees Event         2011 Players: 850    2010 Players:  721     Gain:      129
$1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo        2011 Players: 925    2010 Players:    818    Gain:      107
$5,000 NL Hold’em        2011 Players: 865    2010 Players:  792    Gain:      73
$1,500 Limit Hold’em        2011 Players: 675    2010 Players:  625    Gain:     50
$1,500 NL 2-7 Lowball    2011 Players: 275    2010 Players:      250    Gain:     25

The Omaha Hi-Lo Event set an all-time attendance record at the WSOP for number of players in an Omaha event.

The Losers

Events 5, 7, and 8 have all seen shrinkage so far.  For those of you keeping score, yes, the Heads-Up Championship did have half of the field of the 2010 WSOP.  However, the event was also 2.5 times the buy-in of last year’s event, so I cannot consider it the same event when comparing numbers.  Here are the numbers for events that lost players:

$1,500 Seven Card Stud    2011 Players: 357    2010 Players:  408    Loss:  51
$10k Pot-Limit Hold’em     2011 Players: 249    2010 Players:     268    Loss:  19
$1,000 NL Hold’em        2011 Players: 4,178    2010 Players:  4,345    Loss:  167

While the $1k NL shows the largest drop in regards to number of players, it is actually the smallest percentage of field loss at just 3.8%.

Wait – Wasn’t There Supposed To Major Shrinkage?

If you listened to all the doom and gloom prognosticates, there are supposed to be 10 to 30% drops across the board.  So what happened?  The Employee’s event I believe jumped due to the price alone.  Dealers and other casino industry personnel looking to take a shot at a bracelet could do so for not much more than the cost of a circuit event.

The Omaha events was, in my opinion, the beneficiaries of scheduling.  The $1,500 Omaha 8 always pulls great numbers, but with it being the first open event in a reasonable price range, this drew out more players than if it was scheduled a week from now.  The $5k NL may actually have been a beneficiary of Black Friday.  With online players lacking a place to play, the potential for a payday of near $1 Million was too good to pass on.

The $1,500 Limit Hold’em gained players due to the fact it was a Noon Event.  I have personally been against it being a 5 p.m. event over the last couple of years, and am glad to see that Jack Effel moved it back to a Nooner.  The lowball event I think grew due to the popularity in the game, and the fact it was offered the same day as the $1k NL.

There Was “Some” Shrinkage – Is There More to Come?

So far only three events saw shrinkage.  Two of those events are not a big surprise to me.  While I love playing stud, it is not a surprise that we lost 12.5% of the field.  Even without Black Friday, this may have been a down year for the game.  The $10k Pot-Limit Championship only lost 19 players.  Actually, I think the shrinkage was  due in part to the fact that it was the same day as the Limit Hold’em event.  Had they been on different days, you may had a few pros that did well in the limit event playing in that one.

The interesting number in regards to the shrinkage is the $1k NL.  It lost 3.8% of the field.  While that is a small drop, it is still a loss.  It will be interesting to see how the other smaller buy-in NL fields fare.  It is very possible more shrinkage is on the way.  Consider the fact that after the initial influx of players and bankrolls dry up, the numbers will slow drop like they do every year.  Whether that will have a significant impact or not remains to be seen.

So far in this WSOP, the gainers have outnumbered the losers five to three.  The WSOP could already consider this a major win considering the public sentiment going into the series.  My personal prediction is that we will see shrinkage in many of the mixed events and in the larger field NL events.  However, it will not come close to the predications heading into the WSOP.  Of course, there are still several weeks left and anything can happen, so stay tuned.

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