World Series of Poker (WSOP)

A little bit of Poker History

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is a poker tournament that was founded in 1970 by Benny Binion. It features many forms of poker and has evolved quite a bit since its inception.

The first WSOP was held at The Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas and the first poker championship was won by Johnny Moss who was voted the top player by his peers. Moss also won the poker championship the following year at the first final table in the tournament’s history.  The first poker games played at the original tournament included low-ball draw, razz, five-card stud, seven-card stud, deuce to seven and, of course, Texas Hold ‘em.

From these very humble beginnings the game began to grow and towards the end of the 1980s there were over 2,100 participants in the poker tournament.

It was during the 80s that satellite tournaments were also added, allowing people to enter the tournament by winning elsewhere and, as a result, saving on the entry fees. In 2004, Harrah’s Entertainment purchased the rights to the World Series of Poker, as well as Binion’s Horseshoe. The casino was sold and the WSOP moved to Harrah’s Rio Hotel and Casino, located near the Las Vegas strip.

WSOP Goes Overseas

Following nearly four decades of poker tournaments in Las Vegas, The World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) was launched in 2007, to join the list of other European poker tournaments, such as the WPT. The first WSOPE event was held in London and won by 19 year old Annette Obrestad of Norway. Obrestad, an online poker pro won a day before turning 19 and is the youngest player to win a WSOP bracelet. This record cannot be broken in the poker tournament events in Las Vegas as the gambling age in the United States is 21. International players continue to accelerate the growth of poker and there may be other WSOP offshoots in other countries in the coming years as well.

Show me the money!

Since 1972 specific prize money has been given to the WSOP winner. The buy in for the tournament was $5,000 with a main event (Texas Holdem) prize of $30,000. Today, with over 5,000 main event players the final winner takes home several million dollars depending on the number of participants. In 2006, the year with the most players to date, the hold’em poker tournament champion took home $12,000,000!

In addition to more money, the number of poker games held at the WSOP has increased dramatically. The 2009 poker tournament featured 57 bracelet events! The WSOP is the biggest and most popular tournament in the world and the overall winners are typically considered the best in the world.

  • Bradley

    I have been watching the WSOP for years – I love watching the personalities and individual playing styles of all the players. It is pretty cool that some of the recent winners were just amateur poker players – that is what makes the WSOP so exciting.