The World Series of Poker also known as The WSOP is probably the most infamous poker tournament series in the world. Winning a World Series of Poker tournament is like James Bond ‘getting his license to kill’, it really puts you on the poker map.
It all started back in 1970 Las Vegas when casino owner and poker player Benny Binion hosted the very first World Series of Poker in his own Horseshoe Casino. Back then they didn’t use the same tournament structure we as we do nowadays. Instead the World Series was made up of cash games including Texas Holdem, razz, seven card stud, deuce to seven, low ball draw and five card stud.
Because there was no tournament structure, Benny Binion invited 6 of the world’s best poker players, who would vote and decide who would become the new world champion. During the first WSOP in 1970 the players voted for Johnny Moss, who became the first World Champion of Poker. He didn’t receive a bracelet, but instead received a silver cup for his nomination. In the following year the WSOP introduced a freeze-out tournament structure. Since then the winner of this tournament is crowned the World Champion of Poker.
The World Series of Poker has since come a long way and is currently the biggest live tournament series in the world, with the highest prize pools out there. This peaked in 2006, when the main event (of the tournament series) drew 8,773 players paying a whopping $10,000 buy-in each to compete against each others and be crowned the World Champion of Poker. Jamie Gold ended up winning the tournament and over $12 million dollar, plus the champion’s bracelet.
One of the reasons for the rapid growth of the WSOP is the internet poker boom. It’s now possible for players to qualify themselves for the $ 10,000 tournament with as little as $1 and in some cases even 0 (thanks to WSOP freerolls). The most Famous example of this was Chris Moneymaker who won the Main Event (and over $2,5 million) in 2003, after qualifing through PokerStars for only $39.
Because of the growing popularity of the World Series of Poker, eventually there wasn’t enough room in the Horseshoe Casino to accommodate all the poker players. That’s why the event has moved to the Amazon Room in the Rio Casino, where the tournament series are still held every year.
In 2007 Harrah’s (the current owners of the WSOP) held a WSOP championship event outside of Las Vegas for the first time, when the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) were hosted in London. The event was filled with big poker pro’s and was won by the then still unknown online poker prodigy Annette Obrestad.
This was the day before her 19th birthday, which made her the youngest person to ever win a WSOP bracelet. This record has still not been broken and never will be in Las Vegas, as the legal age to play in the WSOP there is 21 and up.
If all these World Champion stories have made you hungry for more, take a look in the PokerStars lobby and filter your games for qualifiers. They host many of these low buy in Qualifiers throughout the year.
Here is some very old school footage of the World Series of Poker 1978, including Johnny Moss and Puggy Pearson playing poker way way way back in the day: