10 Reasons You’ll Probably Lose The World Series of Poker

WSOP bracelet 2023 - PokerGO

Published: May 14, 2024
Written by Global Poker

You may consider yourself pretty good at poker, but are you World Series Main Event-good? Probably not. Here’s why…

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Winning The World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event is a dream for more than a few poker players, for more than a few reasons. Firstly for the prize, often totaling millions of dollars. Secondly, the prestige of being crowned champion. Or maybe just for bragging rights. Either way, few ever climb that mountain and reach the top. The reality is, the vast majority of people who enter the tournament come home empty-handed while nursing a bruised ego.

Many even fail to reach a money position in the Main Event. That doesn't mean everyone who has lost at the Main Event is terrible at poker, although plenty of bad players have entered over the years. The tournament is just a different breed of animal, one that few are truly prepared to face. Everyone loses at poker at some point. Most (good) players will be well-versed with this notion. But for those that aren't; just remember — the WSOP is a beast of a tournament and one you need to be on your A-game for. The reality is, the odds will never be in your favor. It's always good to know what you're up against, so there are no nasty surprises! 

So, to make sure you're World Series-ready, THIS is what you've got in store.

Here are 10 (unsurprising) reasons why you'll probably lose if you enter the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. 

1. You’re Taking on the Best in the World

Taking on a real poker pro is an entirely different ball game to beating the people at your local club or casino. You might be a shark in your home ground, but at the Main Event, you’ll likely be fish food. The Main Event is marketed as the premier poker event in the world, with the winner crowned the world poker champion. 

While there are other events that are on the same level — or in some cases even better than — the Main Event, this particular competition is seen as the place where the best go to test their skills, and attracts top-tier poker professionals. 

Many famous poker players, such as Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan and Daniel Negreanu have all played in the tournament. With so many talented pros and other experienced poker players all vying for the same prize, it's a tall order to beat them and take out the bracelet and prize money in the Main Event. 

Aside from the professional poker juggernauts, plenty of other experienced players know every mathematically correct decision to make in a situation. With everyone making the correct choices all the time, one simple mistake by you can prove catastrophic. The field of players in the Main Event features some truly tough opponents, and you will likely lose against one of them eventually. 

2. Poker Variance and Tilt 

Poker is considered the ultimate blend of luck and skill. The Main Event itself is a long game played over several days, so eventually, you will start to lose badly. Learning to weather the variance and come out the other side with your stack intact is a skill in itself. The variance that inevitably comes along is deadly; and so the longer you play, the greater the chance of it striking, which can often cause a downward spiral into tilt. Even if you survive the first bout of variance, there will still be plenty of time for it to strike again. 

Like a predator stalking its prey, eventually, poker variance will move in for the kill, and you will find yourself suffering a string of losses that can erode your stack in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, the ups (winning) and downs (losses) in poker have no quick fix. Eventually, you will have to suffer through some truly bad luck at the tables during the Main Event, which will more than likely see you eliminated from the tournament. 

3. Lady Luck Eventually Betrays You 

As we mentioned earlier, there's always an element of luck to poker; while skill is essential, you’ll also need a fair amount of luck on your side. Some people are just unlucky. If you are unlucky, you won’t last long in the WSOP Main Event. Even the best poker players in the world have struggled to win the Main Event more than once, thanks to a string of bad luck. 

Nobody’s luck lasts forever, though. Since the event has been running, only a handful have won multiple times or even finished in money positions. But they are an elite bunch: Johnny Chan, Johnny Moss, Stu Ungar and the late great Doyle Brunson. If all these poker greats have struggled to win the tournament, chances are, you’ll likely have trouble as well. Sorry, guys. We're a straight-talking bunch, you’ll thank us in the long run. 

4. The Sheer Size of the Field

Thousands of people enter the WSOP Main Event every year, and to win, you have to outlast or beat all of them. In 2023, over 10,000 poker players were in the Main Event - the most in history. That’s a lot of people. Against such a vast field of other players, the odds of success are not great, even if you have a bit of luck and skill. Only roughly 15 percent of players are paid out each year in the Main Event; the rest have their hopes and dreams quashed. 

5. Unprepared for the Big Time

No matter how much you prepare, taking that next step to the Main Event for the first time will always come with nerves and stress. Both of these are detrimental to keeping a clear head and making good decisions at the poker table. 

With bright lights and big prizes at stake, not to mention a sea of famous poker players in full on battle mode, it can all become a little overwhelming, even for the most experienced of players. Keeping your cool is key, at any stage of any game. But in such a big event, it’s easy to slip up and make silly mistakes you wouldn’t normally make. 

6. Unrealistic Expectations Cloud Better Judgment 

When amateur poker player Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 Main Event; it became the inspiration for people to dream big and think they could win as well. He became the exception to the rule and even celebrities were caught up in the hype that followed. Record numbers of people started entering the tournament with delusions of grandeur, 2004 saw over 2,500 enter, while 2005 had over 5,600. Up until recently, 2006 was the biggest yet, with over 8,700 poker hopefuls signing up to play in the Main Event. 

Almost everyone went home empty-handed, because, as we’ve covered, winning the Main Event is hard, and real life isn't a fairytale for most people. On the contrary, only a few ever get that movie style happy ending. Dreaming big is not a crime, but it can cloud your judgment and wreak havoc on your mindset, particularly in a game like poker, where the best players often lose. 

Your mental capacity during a poker hand is limited. Fixating on winning the Main Event can lead to unnecessary distractions, increasing your chances of an early exit. Even with focus, the odds of success are not high. Daydreaming about becoming the World Poker Champion will likely hinder, rather than help, your performance. 

7. Marathon Sessions Are Not for the Faint of Heart 

The WSOP Main Event is a long event across multiple days, and they are long days that often see people bust out just because they couldn't think straight anymore. It takes enormous mental and physical resilience to survive the sessions. The longer you play, the more likely it becomes you will start making mistakes or, worse, become so tired that you go on tilt and start making irrational emotion-based choices. 

8. You Might Not Be at Your Best 

Playing in Las Vegas is a challenging prospect at the best of times. Depending on where you live, the travel, the play schedule, the party atmosphere, and the distractions can all put severe roadblocks in the way of playing your best. Playing poker exhausted or distracted is always a recipe for disaster. Even if you're a top notch poker player under regular circumstances, it's the rare visitor who can maintain their best game in the bright lights of Vegas and the Main Event. 

9. Your Skills Are Not Up to Scratch

The reality is, not everyone is good at poker. It can be a hard reality to face up to, especially if you think you’re a better poker player than you actually are! However, if you do make it to a Main Event, it will become glaringly obvious if you’re not any good. Even more so if you’re up against a poker pro who actually plays the game for a living. That's completely fine though; there’s no shame in failing at one of the grandest poker events in the world. Competing in the Main Event is an accolade in itself, so own it and be proud, whatever position you finish. 

10. The Main Event is Just Hard

Playing poker is hard. The World Series of Poker Main Event is even harder. A lot of people enter every year, some of whom are among the best poker players in the world. You’ll have to maintain a high level of focus for long marathon sessions to have even a chance of beating them. But remember: there is absolutely nothing wrong with losing at the Main Event — if it were easy, everyone would do it! Just be sure to set your expectations realistically, and know that if you do decide to take a chance and enter, there is a high chance you will lose.