Tuesday, July 11, 2017 | 2 a.m.
The eventual winner of this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event will have outlasted the third largest field in the history of the game’s championship tournament.
Registration for the tournament closed Monday night at the Rio after three straight starting days with 7,221 players having paid the $10,000 entry fee. That’s the most players the tournament has attracted since 2010, when Canadian professional Jonathan Duhamel prevailed over a field of 7,319 players to win $8.9 million.
This year’s champion won’t rake quite as much cash as Duhamel, with first place paying $8.15 million. That’s largely because, for the second straight year, the World Series of Poker will pay a record number of players.
The top 1,084 finishers will claim a payout, with the minimum prize coming in at $15,000. The WSOP used to pay only the top 10 percent of entrants, but adjusted last year after feedback indicated players preferred more in-the-money finishes.
Players applauded the change, and also praised the WSOP before this year’s Main Event for revamping the format. For the first time in a decade, play will conclude in July instead of a four-month break until November for the final table.
The nine finalists will play next Thursday, Friday and Saturday inside the Rio’s Brasilia Room until a winner is crowned. Everyone who makes the final table, which will be set after seven days of play next Monday night or early Tuesday morning, will be guaranteed $1 million.
The prize jumps are relatively modest at the final table until the last three. There’s a $1.2 million difference between second, which pays $4.7 million, and third, which pays $3.5 million.
The $3.45 million gap between the payouts of the winner and runner-up is the second largest of the last decade, behind only the 2014 Main Event when the WSOP marketed the winner making $10 million. Martin Jacobson prevailed that year, beating out Felix Stephensen, who made $5.1 million for second.
In total, the $26.5 million paid out to the final table accounts for nearly 40 percent of the $67,877,400 prize pool. It should all make for high drama over the next two weeks as players compete for 12 hours a day in hopes of winning the millions to go along with the golden championship bracelet.
ESPN will air portions of the event for the next week, before showing the final table in its entirety.