Fears of a “Brexit effect” hurting the World Series of Poker proved baseless, a tournament official said Tuesday, after the Main Event in Las Vegas saw a huge increase in the number of players from Britain.
At the close of Monday’s entries, the tent event at the ongoing 69-event poker tournament gathered 344 players from the UK, up 23 percent from the 279 who played last year.
“I think when $ 63 million is up for grabs, and the top prize is $ 8 million, they’ll find a way to get here,” said event spokesman Seth Palansky.
The worry is the economic uncertainty after Britain’s recent vote to leave the European Union might encourage players to stay at home. Palansky said the number of Main Event players from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was ranked third behind the US and Canada.
In all, 6,737 players from 80 countries entered the $ 10,000 Texas Hold’Em competition this year. Play at the 47th annual Main Event starting Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.
Palansky said a record 1,011 winners would share in the $ 63.3 million prize money. Last year, 1,000 players spent their money.
The oldest participant was William Wachter, 95, from Mahopac, New York. Evan House-Hull of Sandoval, Illinois, the youngest at 21, made it through his first night playing with 92,300 chips, Palansky said. Players start with 50,000 chips.
This year’s celebrity cast includes rapper Hoodie Allen; actors Brad Garrett, Ray Romano, Kevin Pollack and Jennifer Tilly; and sports stars including former baseball liberator Brad Lidge, Norwegian footballer John Arne Riise, former Australian cricket star Shane Warne and NASCAR racer Jason White.
A final table of nine players will appear on 18 July. The Main Event will then take a break before resuming on October 30th. The televised championships will be decided on November 1.
Poker pro Joe McKeehen, 25, from North Wales, Pennsylvania, won last year’s Main Event gold bracelet and top prize of $ 7.68 million