World Series of Poker

World Series of Poker (WSOP)

Las Vegas is the hub of everything casino; little wonder it is also the home of the World Series of Poker (WSOP). The WSOP is a sequence of poker tournaments that is held yearly in Las Vegas. The event is regularly supported by Caesars Entertainment Corporation, formerly known as Harrah’s Entertainment.


For professionals in the world of gambling, the WSOP is a popular event that is worth shelving every other thing to watch. Are you interested in learning more about this global event? Do you want to know all the actions that have taken place during the event even before you started playing poker? Then go ahead and read all about the WSOP in this article.


General Overview of World Series of Poker (WSOP)

Dated back to the 70s, the WSOP was started by Benny Binion when he invited a number of the best known poker players for a tournament at the Horseshoe Casino. The tournament had a start time and a stop time. At the time, the winner was decided upon through a secret ballot that contains the names of the seven players that were involved in the tournament. Winners at each event get monetary prizes and WSOP Bracelets.


The monetary prize is dependent on the number of participants at the event and the amounts of the buy-ins. Over the years WSOP has become very popular within the poker community and the world at large. The event has grown in the huge number of participants and of course, in the number of events. Every year, the World Series of Poker tournament ends with the Main Event known as the $10,000 no-limit hold’em. This main event regularly draws thousands of participants from all over the world. The winner of the main event gets the most coveted WSOP bracelet and a whopping multi-million dollar cash prize. The winner of the WSOP Main Event is also regarded as the World Champion of Poker.


As at the end of 2017, the World Series of Poker consists of seventy four different events featuring many major poker variations. For some years now, more than half of the total events at the WSOP are variations of Texas hold’em. The events usually take place in the course of a day or successive days in the month of June and July, although from 2008, the final table of the Main Event has been delayed till November. For instance, in 2012 and 2016, the final tables of the Main Event started in October due to the presidential election of the United States. However, by May of 2017, the WSOP has returned to the initial date of the culmination of the Main Event and crowning of the winner which is the month of July.


Highlights of WSOP

Participants at the World Series of Poker have grown enormously on a yearly basis from year 2000 through to 2006. After the 2006 event, there was a new gambling legislation online that limits the number of qualifier for the event. This led to a reduction in the number of participants in 2007 but in 2008, there was an increase in the number of entrants at the event. In the year 2000, a total of 4,780 participants came for the various events at the WSOP. In 2005, the number grew to more than 23,000 participants.  In 2006, the event witnessed a huge growth in participants from 839 entrants in the main event in 2003 to a total of 8,773 in the year 2006. Within the next eleven years, the number has fluctuated between 6,300 to 7,200 participants.


Highlights of winnings at the WSOP

There are many poker professionals who have distinguished themselves from the rest at the WSOP events. These players have made a name for themselves in the industry and there is no way WSOP will be talked about that their names will not be mentioned. Here, we will look at the highlights of professional poker players who have made history at the World Series of Poker over a period of time.


Phil Hellmuth holds the most winnings and the highest number of bracelets at the WSOP events. He has won a total of 15 bracelets over the course of the years. Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, and Johnny Chan came second in the hierarchy of the most celebrated winners at the event with a total of ten bracelets each at different events. Crandell Addington is also the only player that has ever placed in the top ten players of the WSOP Main Event at eight different times. It is important to point out that this happened in earlier years when the field of poker was still very small compared to what it is today.


The poker bracelet winners who have also attain fame in other fields include Steve Albini, the American musician and record producer, Jennifer Tilly, the American actress, Jan Vang Sorensen, the Danish soccer player, and Patrick Bruel, the French singer and actor. Recently, there have been other non-bracelet WSOP events that have taken place. Two of the most prominent events are Ante Up for Africa, and World Series of Rock Paper Scissors.


Four different professional players who have won the WSOP Main Event in multiple times in the course of their career are highlighted below.

  • Johnny Moss – 1970, 1971, and 1974
  • Doyle Brunson – 1976 and 1977
  • Stu Ungar – 1980, 1981, and 1997
  • Johnny Chan – 1987 and 1988


Main Event of the WSOP

The Main Event of the World Series of Poker has always been the popular $10,000 no-limit Texas Hold’em buy-in tournament. At the inaugural event of WSOP in 1970, the winner was determined by a secret ballot so there was no special event tournament at the time. In 1971, the buy-in tournament was placed at $5,000. However, from 1972, the buy-in of the Main Event has been $10,000 no-limit Texas Hold’em and has remained the same over time.


Winners at the main event of the WSOP enjoy prominence in addition to the biggest cash prize and a gold bracelet they receive at the end of the event. They also have their pictures featured in the Binion’s Gallery of Champions. In addition to this, any winner of the Main Event of WSOP is automatically crowned the World Champion of Poker. There has been a lot of criticism following the crowning of winners of the event as world champion simply because many are of the opinion that the no-limit hold’em is not the perfect game for deciding a poker champion.


Daniel Negreanu in 2002 requested that the Main Event be switched to pot-limit hold’em with the background fact that pot-limit involved a more comprehensive and complete set of skills in poker than the no-limit variant. Of course, this request was never granted and Negreanu himself admitted that a change such as this may never be possible. After the $50,000 buy-in HORSE Poker Players Championship event got added to the WSOP, many top professional poker players, including Daniel Negreanu, agreed that the tournament event is definitely the ultimate determiner of the world poker champion.


The $50,000 buy-in tournament, which is five times bigger than the regular buy-in at the WSOP Main Event, has become a deterrent for proletarians from playing at the event. It is crucial to point out that the variation of games available at the $50,000 buy-in tournament entails a wider knowledge of poker game.


In 2006, the first $50,000 buy-in event was won by professional poker player, Chip Reese. The event was performed as HORSE tournament. In 2010, the event was changed to an ‘8-game’ format which adds 2-7 triple draw, and no-limit hold’em pot-limit Omaha to the mix. At this point, the tournament was changed to The Poker Players Championship. Michael Mizrachi won the first edition of the newly revamped tournament. After the death of Chip Reese in December of 2007, the winner of the event also gets the ‘Chip Reese Memorial Trophy’ in addition to the prize money and the bracelet.


Memorable Events at WSOP Main Events

There have been various memorable events at the main events of World Series of Poker. Top among these events are highlighted as follows:

  • Jack Straus Comeback Win: In 1982, Jack Straus had an emotional comeback win after he discovered that he still had a single $500 chip when he believed he was already out of the tournament. It was indeed a memorable win for Straus at the event.
  • Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer moments: Both players qualified for the WSOP Main Event at PokerStars online card room through satellite tournaments in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Interestingly, they both won at the events.
  • Jerry Yang Moment: Yang won the Main Event tournament in 2007 and he had only been playing at poker for two years before his resounding victory. He won the space to play at the Main Event tournament at a $225 buy-in satellite tournament at the Pechanga Resort and Casino, California.
  • The culmination of the 1988 WSOP Main Event featured in the movie, Rounders.

Results of WSOP Main Event since Inception

The WSOP Main Event is the avenue for professional poker players to display their expertise at the table. Professionals all over the world gather at this event to contest for the position of the next world poker champion. However, only one player takes home the most coveted prize of the event. Since the inception of the event, the players that have won at the event and their cash prizes are highlighted as follow


Johnny Moss1970Not Available
Johnny Moss1971$30,000
Thomas ‘Amarillo Slim’ Preston, Jr.1972$80,000
Walter ‘Puggy’ Pearson1973$130,000
Johnny Moss1974$160,000
Brian ‘Sailor’ Robert1975$210,000
Doyle Brunson1976$220,000
Doyle Brunson1977$340,000
Bobby Baldwin1978$210,000
Hal Fowler1979$270,000
Stu Ungar1980$385,000
Stu Ungar1981$375,000
Jack Straus1982$520,000
Tom McEvoy1983$540,000
Jack Keller1984$660,000
Bill Smith1985$700,000
Berry Johnston1986$570,000
Johnny Chan1987$625,000
Johnny Chan1988$700,000
Phil Hellmuth, Jr.1989$755,000
Mansour Matloubi1990$895,000
Brad Daugherty1991$1,000,000
Hamid Dastmalchi1992$1,000,000
Jim Bechtel1993$1,000,000
Russ Hamilton1994$1,000,000
Dan Harrington1995$1,000,000
Huck Seed1996$1,000,000
Stu Ungar1997$1,000,000
Scotty Nguyen1998$1,000,000
Noel Furlong1999$1,000,000
Christ Ferguson2000$1,500,000
Juan Carlos Mortensen2001$1,500,000
Robert Barkonyi2002$2,000,000
Chris Moneymaker2003$2,500,000
Greg Raymer2004$5,000,000
Joe Hachem2005$7,500,000
Jamie Gold2006$12,000,000
Jerry Yang2007$8,250,000
Peter Eastgate2008$9,152,416
Joe Cada2009$8,547,042
Jonathan Duhamel2010$8,944,310
Pius Heinz2011$8,715,638
Greg Merson2012$8,531,853
Ryan Riess2013$8,361,570
Martin Jacobson2014$10,000,000
Joe McKeehen2015$7,683,346
Qui Nguyen2016$8,005,310
Scott Blumstein2017$8,150,000
John Cynn2018$8,800,000

Records of Players at World Series of Poker

Since World Series of Poker started in 1970, Johnny Moss and Stu Ungar are the only poker players who have won at the WSOP Main Event three different times. It is essential to point out that the first victory of Johnny Moss was based on an election and not on his performance at the event. However, if his first win, which is by vote, is to be counted, Moss, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Stu Ungar are the only poker players to have won the WSOP Main Event repeatedly in consecutive years.


Phil Hellmuth has the highest record at the WSOP events including most WSOP final tables; most WSOP cashes; and most bracelets. Hellmuth is also the only poker player to have ever won the Main Events at both the WSOP Europe and WSOP.


With the growth of World Series of Poker in recent times, the prize pool of the main event has grown enormously to the point that winners at the event immediately becomes top money winners of WSOP as well as in poker tournament history. Prior to the July of 2012, the seven top players of all-time WSOP Earnings record entailed Main Event winners from the year 2005 to 2011. Among these champions, Jamie Gold had the highest prize pool in the history of the tournament.


However, Daniel Negreanu remains the all-time leader among the top seven players. Interestingly, Negreanu has not won any Main Event at WSOP. However, he was the winner at the inaugural WSOP Main Event at Asia Pacific in 2013. Following Negreanu on the leadership ladder are Daniel Colman and Antonio Esfandiari, both of whom have also not won at the Las Vegas Main Event.


WSOP Player of the Year

Starting from 2004, the player with the highest accumulated points during the WSOP gets an award for the Player of Year. As at the 2013 WSOP event, nine players have won a total of ten awards, with Negreanu winning on two different occasions. It is important to mention that only general events that allow all poker players to participate count towards the accumulated points. In other words, points from other events such as Casino Employee, Seniors, and Ladies events do not count towards the required points.


Also, from 2006 WSOP, the $50,000 buy-in HORSE competition does not have any effect on the result of the winner of the POY award. Prior to 2010, the Player of the Year award was based on the performance of players at the Las Vegas World Series of Poker but from 2011, the World Series of Poker Europe has also become an integral part of the Player of Year award points.


WSOP Poker Hall of Fame

Over the years, the World Series of Poker Hall of Fame has honoured forty two professional pokers. There are various criteria that are considered before a player can be honoured with this prestigious Hall of Fame. The decisive factor to qualify include having played for high stakes; competed against renowned top players; and consistently played well to have garnered the respect of other seasoned poker professionals. Non players are also honoured with the Poker Hall of Fame but to be selected, the individual must have had constructive and durable contributions to the general success and growth of Poker.


Women in World Series of Poker

Currently, there are only a handful of professional women poker players that attend the World Series of Poker tournament annually. As a matter of fact, only about 5% of women in the field of poker participate in all the tournament events during the annual World Series of Poker tournament. Although, there are not many women attending the World Series of Poker but the few that attend have been able to make a name in the industry.


Popular professional women poker players that regularly attend the event include Vanessa Selbst, Nani Dollison, and Barbara. Each of these women has won three World Series of Poker bracelets. There is also Kelly Minkin who finished in the 29th place at the Main Event in 2015. She earned the ‘Last Woman Standing’. During the WSOP in 2007, Maria Ho was also the last woman standing at the Championship Event. She finished in the 38th place out of the total 6,358 poker players during the event.


She earned a $237,865 payday at the event. In 2014, she repeated the same achievement when she placed in 77th out of the 6,683 total players. During the WSOP Europe Main Event, Maria also finished in the 27th place ‘Last Woman Standing and in 2017, she placed 6th in the final table. This makes Maria Ho the only female player to hold the title of Last Woman Standing at four different times at both WSOP and the WSOP Europe Main Events.


There is also Barbara Enright, who became the only female to make it to the Final Table of the WSOP 1995, finishing at 5th place. Enright also ended in the money for the 2015 Main Event. She is the first woman to ever win two different WSOP Bracelets; the first woman to ever win the open event at the WSOP; and the first woman to ever win three bracelets. Barbara Enright is an Ambassador of Poker League of Nation and she is the first woman to be inaugurated into the Poker Hall of Fame, Senior Poker Hall of Fame, and the Women in Poker Hall of Fame. Enright is no doubt the only professional poker player to be inducted into all three poker halls of fame.


World Series of Poker Circuit

Launched in 2005, the World Series of Poker Circuit is a satellite series that take place at Harrah’s personal properties across the United States. Just like the WSOP Las Vegas, the World Series of Poker Circuit also features the $10,000 buy-in tournaments at the different sites. In addition to this, qualifying poker players are also eligible for the titivated Tournament of Champions. Twenty qualifying players from each of the circuit events were part of the 2005 TOC.


At the 2005 TOC, players at the final table from the Main Event and winners of nine or more WSOP bracelets participated in the refreshed TOC at the Caesars Palace. Professionals who participated in the event include Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan, and Doyle Brunson. The first prize was taken by Mike Matusow with a earning of $1 million. All the players that placed at the final table also were guaranteed a sum of $25,000 minimum for the 8th and 9th place players. Over the years, the Circuit event has grown to include eleven additional properties where the events take place.


World Series of Poker Europe

The WSOPE is the first extension of the WSOP in the history of the series. In 2007, the first World of Series Poker championship events organized out of Las Vegas took place, with complete bracelets. The maiden edition of the WSOPE was made up of three different events held from the 6th to 17th of 2017 in London. The main event of 10,000GBP no-limit hold’em WSOP tournament was won by the Norwegian Annette Obrestad. She won the tournament just one day before her 19th birthday. This winning makes Obrestad the youngest person to ever win the WSOP bracelet.


Interestingly, this record cannot be broken in WSOP Las Vegas under the current laws because the legal age for casino gambling in Nevada is twenty one. However, the minimum legal age for casino gaming is eighteen in the United Kingdom. The World Series of Poker Europe moved from London to France, Cannes in the year 2011. In 2013, the event moved to Enghien-les-Bains, a suburb in Paris. According to report, the WSOPE will from now on be held in odd numbered years and the World Series of Poker Asia Pacific held in even numbered years.


World Series of Poker Africa

It is obvious that the World Series of Poker planned to touch the various continents in the world as it makes its expansion to Africa. In 2010, the tournament made its appearance in Gauteng, South Africa. The WSOP 2010 that held in South Africa was a segment of the World Series of Poker Circuit. However, the winners of the event didn’t earn any gold ring or a standing for the WSOP Circuit National Championship.


World Series of Poker Asia Pacific

The World Series of Poker Asia Pacific is the product of World Series of Poker and Crown Melbourne, an Australian casino in 2012. The inaugural event took place at Melbourne Casino owned by Crown. The event held on 4th to 15th of April, 2013, featuring five bracelet tournament events in the series.


World Series of Poker International Circuit

The World Series of Poker International Circuit launched in 2015 with rounds in Latin America, Canada, Europe, Caribbean, Africa, and Asia Pacific. The winners at each tournament become part of the WSOP Circuit winners to participate in the World Series of Poker Global Casino Championship. For the 2017/2018 season of the International Circuit, the tournament has expanded to thirteen tournaments.


Media Coverage for World Series of Poker

The WSOP tournaments have enjoyed wide media coverage over the years ranging from television to social media. Apart from the regular news that revolves around the tournaments and the players, the WSOP has also featured in a couple of film and reality shows. As far back as the 1970s, the World Series of Poker has featured in various television broadcasts. Famous WSOP poker participants have also featured in various television series which have also created much awareness for the event. Between 1999 and 2001, the WSOP tournaments were broadcasted on The Discovery Channels featuring game overview and recap of the events. Over the years, many media corporations have got involved in the coverage of the tournaments as they unfold.


Summing up

The World Series of Poker has become a huge annual event that draw poker enthusiasts from all over the world. Since it started in 1970, the event has grown to a global event that commands the attention of a huge population across the world. Many poker players have made a mark in the WSOP and in addition, they have made their fortunes playing at the event. To participate at the event, you must become a professional poker player with wealth of experience and you must be ready to face many renowned poker players in the world.