WSOP Main Event to Feature Record Prize, But Some Pros Aren’t Happy

Date IconLast Updated: Aug 17th, 2023
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WSOP Main Event to Feature Record Prize, But Some Pros Aren’t Happy
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The 2023 World Series of Poker Main Event is officially the biggest ever but, despite the top prize being set at a record-breaking $12.1 million, some players aren’t happy. 

Payout structures are often a source of contention among seasoned pros and, this year, a few people have criticized what they see as a top-heavy first-place prize. The positive news is that the 2023 WSOP Main Event attracted 10,043 players. 

That’s 1,270 more entrants than the previous record, which was set back in 2006. On that occasion, Jamie Gold won $12 million. However, as poker pro David Lappin pointed out on Twitter, 2006 was a time when the Main Event’s payout formula “was bad.

Record Payday for 2023 WSOP Main Event Champion 

The WSOP leveled out its payout structures a few years ago, which meant more people in the Main Event got a return on their $10,000 investment. It also made the prize money more balanced at the final table. 

This year, however, the gap between 9th place and first is $11.2 million. Moreover, the gap between the first and second is almost $6 million. Although poker players are accustomed to uneven jumps, a first-place prize worth almost double that of a second is notable. 

WSOP Main Event Final Table Payouts

  • 1st - $12,100,000
  • 2nd - $6,500,000
  • 3rd - $4,000,000
  • 4th - $3,000,000
  • 5th - $2,400,000
  • 6th - $1,850,000
  • 7th - $1,425,000
  • 8th - $1,125,000
  • 9th - $900,000

Previous years have seen the WSOP Main Event winner take home approximately 12% of the total prize pool. That’s the case again this year. Whoever comes out top will scoop 12.9% of the $93.3 million prize pool. The problem, however, is that other payouts have been lowered so the winner takes home a prize worth $100,000 more than the previous record. 

The 2022 WSOP Main Event runner-up, Adrian Attenborough, took home $6 million. That was 60% of the amount paid to the champion, Espen Jorstad who won $10 million. This year’s runner-up will receive 53% of the winner’s payout. This disparity has caused players to speak out on Twitter.

The winner won’t be complaining, of course. What’s more, there’s a chance players on the final table will do a deal. Those negotiations are usually kept under wraps, but it’s common for payouts to be adjusted by players. However, if a deal isn’t struck, the 2023 WSOP Main Event runner-up will be getting a worse payout (percentage-wise) than in previous years. 

Pros Criticize Top-Heavy Structure 

Joining the chorus of criticism for this year’s WSOP Main Event payout structure was 2003 champion Chris Moneymaker. He called for the organizers to reconsider their decision and wait for the top prize to naturally break the $12 million barrier. 

Moneymaker’s tweet has received a lot of support. Although the organizers have remained steadfast in their decision, it seems people would be happier with a simple structure that pays 10% of the field. 

“Stop trying to make 350-400 players happy and pay 10% of the field, take the roughly 5.4 million and spread it across the final table. Problem solved,” @TimeRKelly tweeted.

Quibbling over a few percentage points either way when players will win life-changing money is certainly a first-world problem. However, perception matters in poker’s marquee event. Offering a record payout is good for business and something that could ignite another Moneymaker-style boom. But, for some professional players, the new structure leaves a lot to be desired.