Shuffling the Stats: New Records Put 2023 WSOP in Poker History Books
The 2023 World Series of Poker is over, at least the summer series that takes place in Las Vegas. There will be a WSOP Europe and a new WSOP Bahamas, and there is always the possibility of more online poker bracelet events. But the summer set, the one with 95 live events and 34 online tournaments, is officially history.
The series also set its place in poker history, not only by hosting the largest WSOP Main Event in its history but by increasing participation in a majority of the events.
As always, the proof is in the data, so let’s take a look at the figures as they’ve been made available.
Live Tournament Growth
It is no surprise that registration numbers rose in 2023. The introduction of new venues – Ballys-turned-Horseshoe Las Vegas and Paris Las Vegas – in 2022 gave players confidence that the 2023 WSOP would be smooth(er). The poker community knew what to expect this year. And they showed up for it.
Per the WSOP’s official numbers, for live tournaments only:
- Total 2023 entries: 214,641 in 95 events (up 17.5% from 182,662 in 2022’s 88 events)
- Total prize money awarded: $402,808,892 (up 20.8% from $333,362,004 in 2022)
Those numbers do not allow for fair comparisons, since there were 95 events this year but only 88 last year. In addition, the official numbers from the WSOP included live and online events last year. We had to use our own spreadsheets to try to separate the live and online numbers.
For these reasons, we did not compare the online bracelet events year over year because there were only 13 last year for players in Nevada and New Jersey, but there were 20 this year.
Even with all of the caveats, the overall numbers show growth. And our breakdowns show the same.
Most Events Increased Participation
Of the 95 events of the live WSOP in Las Vegas this summer, the majority of them saw increased participation. For this comparison, we took out the Tournament of Champions (freeroll), Heads-Up Championship (capped participation at 64 both years), and 10 tournaments that were either new or had no equivalent in 2022. That leaves 83 events to examine.
- 65 events showed increased participation by an average of 27.48% year over year
- 18 events showed decreased participation by an average of 11.64% year over year
Of course, the WSOP Main Event was one that saw increased participation. That tournament alone increased 15.9% from 2022 to 2023, and the tally of 10,043 entries set a new all-time record for that tournament. We broke that tournament down separately to show flight entries, overall growth, and the journeys of each of the final nine players as they progressed through the Main Event.
As for other tournaments that grew this year, these are the ones that grew by the largest margin:
- $50K PLO High Roller up 88.7%
- $1,500 NLHE Closer up 73.2%
- $25K PLO High Roller up 70.1%
- $1,500 Mixed NLHE/PLO up 68.2%
- $50K NLHE High Roller up 64.5%
- $1,979 NLHE Hall of Fame Bounty up 63.8%
- $10K NLHE Super Turbo Bounty Freezeout up 53.2%
- $2,500 NLHE up 51.6%
- $2,500 NLHE Freezeout up 51.5%
- $100K NLHE High Roller up 50%
It seemed that the deepstacked tournaments and specialty events, with the exception of the Mini Main and Flip & Go, increased year over year, as did the high rollers, with the exception of the Poker Players Championship. The special themed events are worth noting:
- The Closer up 73.2%
- Hall of Fame Bounty up 63.8%
- Salute to Warriors up 34.1%
- Millionaire Maker up 30.8%
- Mystery Millions up 28.9%
- Monster Stack up 27.9%
- Casino Employees up 22%
- Ladies Championship up 21%
- Colossus up 17.1%
- Super Seniors up 17%
- Main Event up 15.9%
- Seniors Championship up 13.2%
The three major tournaments that decreased were interesting:
- Flip & Go down 23.1%
- Poker Players Championship down 12%
- Mini Main Event down 9.9%
With so many high rollers in the mix, the Poker Players Championship no longer stands out as one of the few must-play high-stakes events for some players. The Flip & Go decreased as more people realized that the fun of reentering every 10 minutes is outweighed by the cost of reentering so often just to win a flip and advance into the money. The Mini Main dip, however, was surprising, as all of the other lower buy-in specialty events saw growth. The only problem with the Mini Main was that it conflicted with the Colossus.
As for the 13 tournaments that saw downswings this year, most saw decreases of less than 14%, with the exception of a few:
- $1K NLHE Freezeout down 35.8%
- $5K Mixed NLHE/PLO down 28%
- $1K NLHE Flip & Go down 23.1%
It’s notable that two PLO-8 events saw lower participation this year, the $1,500 buy-in down 13.7% and the $10K Championship down 2.5%. Even the $1,500 PLO Bounty was down 12.7%, though most other straight Omaha tournaments did go the other direction.
Women at WSOP
By most accounts, there were more women at the World Series of Poker – and other poker tournament series around Las Vegas this summer – than ever before. The only thing missing is the numbers to prove it.
The WSOP has not responded to my request for the number of women in the entire 95-event series. They did provide the number of women in the Main Event. The number itself increased from 375 to 395. However, in relation to the increase in Main Event entries overall, the percentage decreased from 4.33% women in 2022 to 3.93% in 2023.
The Ladies Championship saw its biggest number ever with 1,295 entries. It was a 20.6% increase from 2022 to 2023, and it topped every year in the Ladies Championship’s history.
The only thing that we were able to track on our own was the number of women at final tables. Out of 736 players that made official final tables at the 2023 WSOP in the 95 live events, only 23 of them identified as women. That is just 3.13% of the final tablists.
If we remove the Ladies Championship from that mix, there were only 14 women out of 727 final table players, which translated into just 1.93% of final tablists.
Obviously, final tables are not a solid representation of the women who played in WSOP events. Last year, women comprised 5.8% of all WSOP players in 88 live events. However, without official numbers from the WSOP for 2023, we cannot know how this year compared.
As for the stats on the WSOP player page, there is a list of how the women stacked up in the earnings category for live and online events this year:
- Kristen Foxen (Canada) $440,400
- Shannon Fahey (USA) $287,341
- Angelina Rich (Australia) $209,366
- Sarah Herzali (France) $207,720
- Jennifer Craddock (USA) $193,103
- Tamar Abraham (USA) $192,167
- Tracy Nguyen (USA) $171,389
- JJ Liu (Taiwan) $167,214
- Olga Iermolcheva (Ukraine) $151,525
- Shiina Okamoto (Japan) $142,338
And the WSOP tracked the number of cashes as well, with these results:
- 14 cashes = Loni Harwood
- 10 cashes each = Kathy Liebert & Cherish Andrews
- 9 cashes each = Angela Jordison & Lexy Gavin-Mather
- 8 cashes each = Maria Ho & JJ Liu
Diversity at WSOP
The World Series of Poker reported that players represented more than 114 different countries at the 2023 WSOP. Last year, the report merely stated that players represented “over 100 countries.”
We did track the bracelet winners, though, to see the representation. The nations listed by winners may not be where the players currently reside or even where the players were born, so this is as accurate as the WSOP and players listed. Also, keep in mind that there were 95 events this year as compared to 88 bracelet events last year.
- United States = 59 in 2023 (51 in 2022)
- Canada = 6 in 2023 (4 in 2022)
- China = 5 in 2023 (2 in 2022)
- Brazil = 3 in 2023 (2 in 2022)
- Bulgaria = 2 in 2023 (2 in 2022)
- Germany = 2 in 2023 (2 in 2022)
- Argentina = 1 in 2023 (1 in 2022)
- Australia = 1 in 2023 (0 in 2022)
- Austria = 1 in 2023 (2 in 2022)
- Faroe Islands = 1 in 2023 (0 in 2022)
- France = 1 in 2023 (4 in 2022)
- Hong Kong = 1 in 2023 (0 in 2022)
- Israel = 1 in 2023 (1 in 2022)
- Japan = 1 in 2023 (1 in 2022)
- Moldova = 1 in 2023 (0 in 2022)
- Netherlands = 1 in 2023 (0 in 2022)
- Peru = 1 in 2023 (0 in 2022)
- Poland = 1 in 2023 (0 in 2022)
- Portugal = 1 in 2023 (0 in 2022)
- Spain = 1 in 2023 (0 in 2022)
- Switzerland = 1 in 2023 (0 in 2022)
- UK = 1 in 2023 (3 in 2022)
- Ukraine = 1 in 2023 (0 in 2022)
- Vietnam = 1 in 2023 (0 in 2022)
- Cyprus = 0 in 2023 (1 in 2022)
- Hungary = 0 in 2023 (1 in 2022)
- Latvia = 0 in 2023 (2 in 2022)
- Norway = 0 in 2023 (1 in 2022)
- Portugal = 0 in 2023 (1 in 2022)
- South Korea = 0 in 2023 (1 in 2022)
- Russia = 0 in 2023 (1 in 2022)
There were some players who showed great accomplishments at this year’s series.
For example, there were four players who each won two bracelets: Ryan Miller, Josh Arieh, Chad Eveslage, and Chris Brewer.
Phil Hellmuth may have won only one bracelet in the summer of 2023, but that piece of jewelry put his lifetime total up to 17.
— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) July 2, 2023
As for WSOP cashes, Michael Holtz set a new record with 25 of them in live and online events. The top list is as follows:
- 25 cashes = Michael Holtz
- 24 cashes each = Scott Bohlman, Shaun Deeb, Ben Yu
- 22 cashes = Ian Matakis
- 21 cashes = Yuval Bronshtein
- 20 cashes each = Christopher Battenfield & Daniel Negreanu
- 19 cashes each = Josh Arieh, Kyle Miholich, Ari Engel, Koray Aldemir
- 18 cashes each = Yueqi Zhu & Ryan Riess
- 17 cashes each = David Baker, Jim Collopy, John Riordan, Brock Wilson, Jesse Lonis
With yesterdays cash I have officially broken the record for cashes in one WSOP series with 24.
— Mike Holtz (BrockLesnar) (@MikeHoltzPoker) July 17, 2023
Speaking of Ian Matakis, he held the Player of the Year lead for much of the second half of the summer series, and he did win it. The top POY finalists and their point totals were:
- Ian Matakis (USA) 5,203.89
- Shaun Deeb (USA) 4,276.12
- Chris Brewer (USA) 4,127.62
- Josh Arieh (USA) 3,938.62
- Jesse Lonis (USA) 3,865.7
- Michael Rodrigues Pires Santos (Portugal) 3,513.21
- Chad Eveslage (USA) 3,447.63
- Yuri Dzivielevski (Brazil) 3,382.33
- Ben Yu (USA) 3,128.08
- Phil Hellmuth (USA) 3,072.14
Matakis had 22 cashes, including one online bracelet victory in Event 2 and several final table appearances.
2023 WSOP player of the year! What an honor to join such a prestigious group of people, had a blast battling and meeting many new friends along the way. Time to go home and spend some time with friends, family, and girlfriend. Thanks to everyone who rooted for me this summer!
— Ian Matakis (@IMatakis) July 18, 2023