World Series of Poker – World’s Most Popular Poker Tournament

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the most important event in the poker calendar as it attracts players worldwide and gives them the opportunity to play for enormous prize pools. But this international poker tournament also owes its popularity to the fact that it has no age or gender barriers.

Several female poker players such as Vanessa Selbst, Starla Brodie, Barbara Enright, Cyndi Violette, Carol Fuchs and Jennifer Harman have performed well in WSOP events and many have won gold bracelets. Players are never too old to participate in a WSOP event. Over the years, the WSOP has seen excellent performances by veteran poker players. For example, William Wachter was 94 when he played the WSOP 2015 Main Event and finished in the cash.

The WSOP’s Colorful History 

Humble Beginnings: The first WSOP was held in 1970 at Binion’s Horseshoe, a casino without a poker room, with just a handful of poker tables and 30 participants. Benny Binion, poker enthusiast and owner of Horsehoe Casino; Vic Vickrey, a gambling expert; and Tom Moore, part owner of Reno’s Holiday Casino, designed its format. The credit of televising the WSOP for the first time in 1973 goes to CBS Sports. Compared to modern standards, it was a poor broadcast, but the WSOP of that year included four events instead of just one.

Expansion and Major Changes: In 1978, the WSOP divided its Main Event prize for the first time, as a result of which the top five players of the event finished in the cash. That year, a female poker player, Barbara Freer, took part in the WSOP for the first time. By 1982, the WSOP had eleven preliminary events, including a Ladies World Championship.

In 1990, Mansour Matloubi became the first non-American to win the WSOP championship. But the WSOP of the next year has a great deal of historical significance as it attracted a field of 200 players and awarded a cash prize of $1 million for the first time.

Change in Venue: When Binion’s Horseshoe was sold in 2004, the WSOP brand was acquired by Harrah’s Entertainment, one of the biggest gambling companies in the world, and WSOP 2005 was played in the spacious Rio All Suites Casino Hotel. Since the venue was larger, the WSOP could be expanded and this expansion move led to larger player fields.

Today, the WSOP is a large event, having branched off into major events such as the WSOP Circuit, which allows players from all over the US to take part in lucrative poker tournaments.

Instrumental in Growing Global Poker 

The WSOP has played an active role in popularizing poker worldwide. When Chris Moneymaker became the champion of WSOP 2003, millions of poker enthusiasts worldwide watched him on ESPN. Overnight, the popularity of poker experienced a boost and Moneymaker became a source of inspiration for hundreds and thousands of poker players who craved similar success.

By 2006, the WSOP had awarded 1,329 gold bracelets to players from 42 countries worldwide. Although most of the poker players who won WSOP events came from the US and Canada, many of them also came from Australia and Scandinavia. Australian poker pro James Obst, who finished 13th and won $427,930 in the main event of the WSOP, is of the opinion that the WSOP has “everything that a poker player could ever want.” According to Scandinavian poker pro Sofia Lovgren, the WSOP is a “multi-cultural event” that attracts professional as well as recreational players across the globe.

In the last 10 years, the WSOP brand entered Europe and made London the center of its WSOPE. It then moved to Cannes in France, Paris, and finally Berlin. The WSOP has also signed a multi-year hosting agreement with Rozvadov’s King’s Casino, which will be brought into effect in the near future. As a result of these moves, poker players from over 29 countries such as Australia, Italy, Uruguay, Finland, Tunisia, New Zealand, Spain, Afghanistan, Sweden, and Indonesia won WSOP bracelets outside Sin City. The WSOP branched off into the Asia Pacific in 2013 and held a couple of events in Melbourne, awarding 15 bracelets to players from five countries.

The WSOP would like to attract players from all countries, but this is a lofty goal. Players from 71 countries have still not played WSOP events because of various reasons, including belief patterns and poverty.

WSOP Bracelets and Prize Money 

WSOP prize pools have been increasing steadily ever since its inception in 1970. The $3,333 buy-in NL High Roller Bracelet event held at WSOP.com, the first of its kind, generated a record prize pool of $1,335,600. The $1k buy-in bracelet event held last year at WSOP.com generated another big prize pool of $1,184,650.

In Jan 2015, the WSOP announced that it will no longer award $10 million to the champion of its Main Event. Instead, it would pay the top 1000 players, ensuring that they would receive at least $15,000. Martin Jacobson, the champion of WSOP 2014 Main Event won $10 million while the player who finished second Felix Stephensen received slight more than half that amount.

The WSOP gold bracelets may not cost much, but they are symbols of history and personal achievement to the players who have won them. Phil Hellmuth has won the largest number of 14 WSOP gold bracelets so far.

A few bracelet winners have also auctioned off their WSOP bracelets, preferring to hold cold hard cash instead of a symbol of personal achievement. The champion of WSOP 2008 Peter Eastgate auctioned off his bracelet for $150,000 shortly before he retired from playing poker. Similarly, Jamie Gold auctioned off the bracelet he won in the WSOP of 2006 for $65,725.

Top WSOP Players 

According to the statistics at Card Player, the number one WSOP poker player is Antonio Esfandiari, who has won $21,777,867 playing WSOP poker events. He is closely followed by poker pros Daniel Colman ($17,225,883), Daniel Negreanu ($16,197,209), Jonathan Duhamel ($14,524,442), Phil Hellmuth ($13,995,938), Jamie Gold ($12,194,374), Martin Jacobson ($11,921,983), Sam Trickett ($11,282,118), Greg Merson ($10,113,086), and Joseph Cada ($10,060,861).



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