Despite a struggling global economy and hundreds of millions of dollars of poker money still tied up on Full Tilt Poker, the WSOP is expecting big numbers across the board this summer in Las Vegas.

“The Main Event will get between 6,000 and 8,000 players,” WSOP Communications Director Seth Palansky told on Day 3 today.

Last year 6,865 people turned out for the $10,000 World Championship event, a number that exceeded expectations.

Now, one year later, there are a number of factors that will influence attendance not only for the Main Event but for the WSOP as a whole.

A German Champion and Global Growth

In 2011 Pius Heinz became the first German world champion in WSOP history, further fueling the game’s growth in European markets.

“Poker is growing worldwide and the WSOP is the Olympics of poker,” Palansky said.

Since winning the Main Event, Heinz has been the face of German poker and been featured on numerous TV programs in the country.

Germany is now one of the most important markets for online poker and Heinz, along with players such as Benny Spindler, Tobias Reinkemeier, Giuseppe Pantaleo and recent EPT Grand Final winner Marvin Rettenmaier are leading the charge.

European Financial Issues Could be Huge Challenge for 2012 WSOP

It’s not all rosy for the 2012 WSOP, however, and the European financial meltdown represents a big hurdle for the venerable poker series.

With the Euro dropping by more than 15% there could be significantly less European players at the 2012 WSOP.

In years past countries like Italy, France, Spain and Portugal have represented big area of growth for the international poker contest.

With Italy and Greece economies still reeling from the resent financial downturn it remains to be seen how much of a presence European countries will have at this year’s WSOP.

The 2012 WSOP continues through July 16, 2012. For in-depth coverage live from Las Vegas check PokerListings’ Live Updates brought to you by 888poker.

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