The 2018 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nevada is officially closed for the year.
Even with the World Series of Poker Europe in Rozvadov coming up in October, there are all sorts of feels when its time to pack up and leave the Nevada desert.
The WSOP awarded 78 bracelets and a record $266.8 million during the summer series. It also processed a record 123,865 entries and paid the most players (18,105) in history.
There were a lot of headlines over the seven weeks of tournament play that included “record.”
How accurate would it be to say the WSOP had a record-breaking summer? Let’s take a look back at the series through the numbers and the headlines.
It’s all about the money
This year marked only the sixth time the total WSOP prize pool was north of $200 million. During its 49 years, the WSOP has awarded just shy of $3 billion in prize money.
The 2018 WSOP hosted a record 10 events that produced a $1 million-plus first-place prize. It surpassed the previous record of seven events from the 2016 and 2017 WSOP. What’s more impressive is four of the ten events paid multiple $1 million prizes.
In case you haven’t heard, Justin Bonomo has been on a heater of late. His incredible run continued at the WSOP. He started the series by winning his second career bracelet in Event #16: $10,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship. He ended the series by winning his third. As the winner of $1 million Big One for One Drop, he collected the biggest paycheck of the series: $10 million.
U.S. players took home $187,417,000 this year, easily claiming the top spot. Germany ($12,454,810) and Canada ($7,995,246) rounded out the top three.
The Main Event is still the main attraction
The Main Event is still the tournament everyone shows up for. This year 7,874 players put down $10,000 for their shot at poker glory creating the largest prize pool of this year’s series.
It was the second largest Main Event field in history, coming in behind the 2006 Main Event that registered 8,773 players. Even so, with the WSOP paying 15% of the field, this year’s Main Event paid out a record 1,182 places.
It’s not often that someone gets a second chance at the most coveted prize in poker. After finishing 11th in the 2016 Main Event, John Cynn closed the deal after a record-breaking 10-hour-plus heads-up battle with Tony Miles. Cynn took home $8.8 million, the second-largest first-place prize of the series.
Nicholas Dashineau played Day 1C at the ripe age of 21 years and two days. He had a shot to unseat Joe Cada as the youngest Main Event champion until he hit the rail on Day 3, just outside of the money.
On the other end of the spectrum, 88-year-old John Olsen was the oldest player in the field. He survived the mine-field of Day 1 but was unable to make through Day 2.
Players everyone is talking about
Bonomo and Cynn weren’t the only players to capture the attention of poker players and fans.
Joe Cada may just be credited with the best 2018 WSOP performance even though he currently sits third on the Player of the Year race. The 2009 Main Event Champion began the Series by winning his third bracelet in Event #3: $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout. He ended it by winning his fourth in Event #75: The Closer – $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em. And somewhere in between, he made another run at the title, coming in fifth place in the Main Event.
Kelly Minkin followed up her 29th-place finish in the 2015 WSOP Main Event with a 50th-place finish in this year’s Main Event and was once again, the last woman standing. It seemed as if the whole community was rooting for Minkin, not only because she is a woman but because she is “gangsta.”
Chris “Jesus” Ferguson followed up last year’s Player of the Year performance that included 23 cashes with another 17 this year. While he is not in contention for PoY honors this year, his 17 cashes are still good for the most of the summer.
As usual, the WSOP attracts a wide range of non-professional players from sports, music, and Hollywood. This year that group produced a gold-bracelet winner. Famed musician, audio engineer and music journalist, Steve Albini went from producing gold records to wearing his first gold bracelet after winning the $1,500 Seven Card Stud.
Online players collected more gold in 2018
WSOP.com held the most online bracelet events in its history with four. It also included a PLO online bracelet event for the first time.
What made this summer exciting for online players is the inclusion of New Jersey players to the player pool. Thanks to the Garden State joining the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement, a combined player pool launched just ahead of the opening of this year’s Series.
The WSOP hosted the largest online bracelet event with a record 2,972 entries in the $365 WSOP.com Online No-Limit Hold’em Bracelet Event.
It also awarded the first summer bracelet to a player located outside of Nevada when Matthew ‘mendey’ Mendez clicked his way to victory in an online event from his home in New Jersey.
It was a record-setting summer, after all
Looking at the numbers, it appears record-setting is an appropriate description of the 2018 World Series of Poker. Granted, it is busy breaking its own records and as a business, that should be a goal.
Even so, it is still impressive that without a strong US poker presence online, the WSOP is still growing.
In a press release, Executive Director for the World Series of Poker, Ty Stewart said:
“The 2018 World Series of Poker was another big success, and it’s thanks to the loyal players that make it out to Las Vegas every summer. We love seeing the Main Event grow to numbers no one ever thought was possible in 2018 as well as positive reaction to our new events. The team will be hard at work to make sure this remains the premier poker festival in the world.”
There is nothing in poker that compares to the yearly summer camp in Las Vegas. For many, the WSOP shapes their entire year. Families temporarily move to Nevada, jobs are put on hold, and vacations are scheduled around the most anticipated poker tournament series of the year.
All that is left now for players is to return to normal life and begin the wait for next year’s schedule.