A note to all the Black Friday doomsayers: The poker industry isn’t so easily intimidated.

Despite widespread fears about how the U.S. crackdown on online poker would thin out the numbers for this year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP), this year’s Main Event has drawn the third-largest number of entrants ever.

And why not? As Casino City Times notes, the ongoing global recession hasn’t hurt WSOP in recent years, so why should these newer problems (which include the loss of one of the world’s biggest poker sites, a boycott from Phil Ivey, and the loss of major advertisers)?

Poker players, it seems, just want to play poker. What better news for poker affiliates?

Main Event underway
The 2011 WSOP Main Event No-Limit Hold’em Championship kicked off late last week, capping off the series of 58 WSOP poker events that began back in May.

The number of entries to this year’s Main Event came in at 6,865. That’s less than last year’s 7,319, but third-largest on the all-time list. (As of publication, 3,481 players remain.)

It didn’t begin particularly strongly, with 897 entrants on Day 1A and 978 on Day 1B. But 2,181 entered in Saturday, and “Sunday’s entry total of 2,802 was the most ever for an opening day of the WSOP,” reports USA Today.

The winner of this year’s $10,000 buy-in Main Event will net about $8.77 million out of a pool of around $64.5 million in total prize money.

Not a fad
“We’ve met our own expectations and crushed everybody else’s,” said Ty Stewart, WSOP executive director. “So I think it’s been an expose on just how global poker has become.

“We’re very proud because people have been labeling poker or the World Series of Poker as a fad … for the better part of a decade now. And we continue year after year to set records and see the event get bigger and bigger and represented by more countries around the world.”

The affiliate angle
Why should affiliates be paying attention to the World Series of Poker? As CAP reported last year, the poker tournament is seen to be online gambling’s biggest traffic driver by some sources.

Describing internet activity at the end of 2010, just as last year’s November Nine was wrapping up, comScore’s Jeff Hackett attributed online gambling’s increasing traffic “to interest in the 2010 World Series of Poker.”

Affiliates promoting internet qualifiers for the WSOP can take advantage of that traffic increase. Almost every online poker room offers WSOP qualifier tournaments to players, and every poker player dreams of being the next Chris Moneymaker, the first online poker player to win the WSOP back in 2003.

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