Several of the big names in poker will not even get the chance to vie for the top prize in this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event. They won’t even get to sit down at the table.
Due to the large turnout for this annual event, the tournament’s “Day 1” is split into several sessions to accommodate the number of dealers and seats available at the Rio where the WSOP is held.
This year, one of those days fell on the Fourth of July, when people apparently wanted to eat burgers more than play cards. The event can only accommodate so many players on each day, so the low turnout on the first day did not mean additional seats would be open on the subsequent days.
Big name players like Brandon Adams, TJ Cloutier and Patrik Antonius are supposedly among the 500 or more players reportedly being shut out of poker’s most high profile tournament, according to pokerati.com. Also among the late-comers hoping for a seat was Godsmack singer Sully Erna, an avid poker player who usually staggers his touring schedule to allow for a Main Event appearance. The number of shut outs seems to be growing and may reach as many as 1,000 players, though the WSOP is only officially announcing about 500 players who were affected.
WSOP commissioner Jeffery Pollack has announced that they have “simply reached capacity” and will not be able to accommodate the additional players. He said that like several other events in this WSOP, when the seats are full, they are not able to accommodate late entrants.
Rumors have swirled that poker pros Phil Ivey and Eric Lindgren were able to sign up after the capacity was reached, but Pollack addressed that as well, saying to the best of his knowledge, no one received special treatment. People who flew in from other countries for this tournament are now out airfare and hotel fees, without even the chance to recoup their losses by cashing in the tournament.
While the perturbed players may still be trying to find a way to gain access to the tournament, registration has been open for some time now. Registration began March 1 and there were plenty of spots available on the Fourth. Some players are arguing that satellite tournaments were being held up until late last night so many players delayed their registration to see if they could gain entry that way rather than put up the money themselves. Suggestions like using alternates have come in response to the surplus of players. If the idea of alternates was embraced, a new player could take the seat of someone who had busted out of the tournament. This would create an uneven playing field, as some players may have already amassed large chip stacks when new players enter the game. However, for a chance at the top prize, most players would be willing to overlook this slight unfairness.
Mike Sexton, World Poker Tour commentator and poker player, has become the unofficial players’ ambassador, attempting to plead their case before WSOP exec Jack Effel. Commissioner Pollack’s announcement proves the bottom line is, the early bird catches the Main Event seat.
Peter Weisz contributed to this post.