Big numbers for World Series of Poker opening weekend

John Locher / AP

Crowds fill the tables during the World Series of Poker Colossus event Friday, May 29, 2015, in Las Vegas. Thousands of people entered the event with a relatively inexpensive $565 buy-in.

The World Series of Poker is more popular than ever. That’s based on the number of entries into the WSOP’s 50th anniversary opening weekend tournament, dubbed the Big 50.

The $500 buy-in tournament had more than 28,300 entrants — nearly 18,000 players. That’s well ahead of the previous record of 22,374 entrants for a live poker tournament set in 2015 at the WSOP’s Colossus event.

“What a way to kick things off,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said in a statement. “From humble beginnings 50 years ago to creating a $13 million-plus prize pool for a $500 buy-in, this truly shows the modern poker scene is alive and well and ready to cater to a new generation.”

The winner of the Big 50 is expected to be crowned Friday at the Rio.

The WSOP, owned by Caesars Entertainment, will run until July 16 and award more than $200 million in prize money. There were 124,000 entries overall at the 2018 WSOP, with nearly $267 million in prize money awarded.