This year’s World Series of Poker is in full swing, and things are a bit different. For starters, the WSOP is taking place in the fall this year, when it normally would have run in the summer months. This was due to continued issues connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year there is also a vaccine mandate. The WSOP alerted players before the series began that vaccination was required to take part.

It seems these factors have played a role in lower attendance totals for the Nevada series when compared to other years. So far, the field sizes have dropped by around 30% when compared to the 2019 version.

Lower No-Limit Hold’em Participation

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, it is the No-Limit Hold’em events taking place at the Rio All-Suite Casino & Hotel that is taking the brunt of the lower numbers. Events have dropped dramatically, including the $1,500 Monster Stack, which saw the field decrease by over 41%. The Millionaire Maker was also down, dropping almost 40%.

Other event formats have seen a decrease too, but not as significant as the No-Limit Hold’em tournaments. Omaha events like the High-Low Championship decreased by just over 26%. The decrease in player participation has created smaller fields which are good for those playing as it gives them a better shot at cashing out, but officials were hopeful that numbers would be a bit higher.

International Travel is an Issue.

One factor to consider is that international travel is an issue. For quite some time, traveling from outside the United States was either non-existent or difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the United States plans to remove travel restrictions for vaccinated individuals outside the country. On November 8, this change will take place, and WSOP officials are hoping that more poker players will come to the series to compete in the Main Event.

The WSOP decided to offer two more opening flights to the big tournament, hopeful that international travelers will come to Las Vegas to compete in the $10,000 event. From November 4-9, the Main Event will feature six starting flights instead of four.

Players have the option to buy in late since two levels are offered on November 9 and 10. International travelers could start heading towards Las Vegas on the 8th and would have two more days to be able to get in on the Main Event action.

Will the biggest event of the series see a good turnout? Or will it be as lackluster as the other tournaments? The WSOP continues through November 23 and has 88 events on the schedule. Hopefully, the international travel change will help to bring more traffic to the area for poker gameplay.