Ever since Chris Moneymaker's win in the 2003, the WSOP fields have been growing at incredible rates: the 2010 main event featured over 7,300 players and the total prize pool for the series was nearly $200,000,000.
Many of these entrants win their spots via online satellites, many of which are run by Full Tilt and Poker Stars. Of course, these mega-sites have been shut down by recent US Department Of Justice indictments, announced on a day which has come to be known as Black Friday.
How is the 2011 WSOP being affected? So far at least, it seems to still be going just about as strong as would have been expected without the big shutdowns. The 2011 WSOP began on May 31st, and there are 58 events scheduled, one more than last year. Many of the online players are cut off from their bankrolls as Full Tilt especially is struggling to find the funds to pay them. Live satellites at the WSOP will most likely become even more hotly contested than ever before.
Other interesting areas to watch will be the number of players in the lower-stakes and major events, the sponsored products worn by players as well as the way the media covers the event in such an uncertain climate.