Event #65: $10,000 Main Event

The Evolution of a Tournament Field

[user68268] • Level 22: 10,000-20,000, 3,000 ante

With 146 players remaining at the dinner break in the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event, we decided to take a look at how the current field and pace of play stacks up against that of recent years. The table below depicts how the field and average stack looked for each year following the completion of the 10,000/20,000/3,000 level of play, with the average big blinds being based on the start of the next level where the big blind will be 24,000.

YearEntrants RemainingField SizePercentage of Field RemainingAverage StackAverage Big Blinds
20141466,6832.18%1,373,21957.22
20131376,3522.16%1,390,94957.96
20121396,5982.11%1,424,02959.33
20111426,8652.07%1,450,35260.43

Since 2011, the percentage of the field remaining has risen each year, the average stack has gotten smaller, and the amount of big blinds per stack heading into the next level will be less.

What this information tells us is that the pace of play has slowed from year to year over the recent four years of the Main Event. With a smaller average stack, a smaller amount of big blinds per stack going into the 12,000/24,000/4,000 level, and a greater percentage of the field remaining, 2014 looks to be the field playing the "slowest" — with our definition of "slowest" being the field that loses players at the slowest rate.

As poker, and specifically no-limit hold'em tournaments, become filled with more and more players with an increased level of skill and awareness, it's proving to be a lot more difficult to bust people. The evolution of small-ball strategy and more post-flop play lends itself to a more cautious standard in events these days, and when you couple that with such a player-friendly structure like the WSOP Main Event, fields are learning there is much more maneuverability available and less of a need to put all of one's chips on the line and risk busting.