The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the largest set of poker tournaments in the world. It is held annually in Las Vegas, and since 2007 has consisted of 55 events, of which all but the "Main Event" are finished in just over a month.
The winner of each event wins a World Series of Poker bracelet and a prize based on the number of entrants. Most of the major poker variants are featured, though in recent years over half of the events have been variants of Texas hold 'em.
The series culminates with the $10,000 no-limit hold'em "Main Event", which since 2004 has attracted entrants numbering in the thousands, with the victor receiving a multi-million dollar prize.
| First Place|
Since 2005, the WSOP has been sponsored by Harrah's Entertainment.
Since 1971, all WSOP events have been tournaments with cash prizes. In 1973 a five-card stud event was added. Since then, new events have been added and removed. In 2006 there were 45 events at the WSOP, covering the majority of poker variants. Currently, Texas hold 'Em, Omaha hold 'em and Seven-card stud and their lowball variants (if any) are played. H.O.R.S.E. has been played in the past and returned in 2006. Also, S.H.O.E. has been played in the past, and returned in 2007. Other events played in the past include Chinese poker, Five card stud, and many others.
Like most tournaments, the sponsoring casino takes an entry fee (a percentage between 6% and 10%, depending on the buy-in) and distributes the rest, hence the prize money increases with more players. In the 2005 main event US$52,818,610 in prize money was distributed among 560 players, with US$7.5 million to first prize.
Phil Hellmuth has the most bracelets with eleven. Runners-up Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan have each won ten bracelets. Doyle's son, Todd Brunson, won a bracelet in a $2,500 Omaha Eight-or-better event in 2005, making them the first (and so far only) father/son pair to win at least one event at the WSOP. Crandell Addington is the only player to place in the top ten of the World Series of Poker Main Event eight times.
Bracelet winners who first achieved fame in other fields include French actor/singer Patrick Bruel (in 1998), Danish soccer player Jan Vang Sørensen (in 2002) and American actress Jennifer Tilly (in 2005).
The World Series of Poker began in 1968 as an invitational event sponsored by Tom Moore of San Antonio, Texas, and held at the Holiday Hotel and Casino in Reno. This inaugural event was won by Crandell Addington. The set of tournaments that the World Series of Poker (WSOP) would evolve into was the brainchild of Las Vegas casino owner and poker player Benny Binion.
In 1970, the first WSOP at Binion's Horseshoe took place as a series of cash games that included five-card stud, deuce to seven low-ball draw, razz, seven-card stud, and Texas hold 'em. The format for the Main Event as a freeze-out Texas hold 'em game came the next year. The winner in 1970, Johnny Moss, was elected by his peers as the first World Champion of Poker and received a silver cup as a prize.
In 2004, Harrah's Entertainment purchased Binion's Horseshoe, kept the rights to the Horseshoe and World Series of Poker brands, sold the hotel and casino to MTR Gaming Group, and announced that the 2005 Series events would be held at the Harrah's-owned Rio Hotel and Casino, located just off the Las Vegas Strip. The final two days of the main event in 2005 were held downtown at what is now the MTR operated "Binion's" in celebration of the centennial of the founding of Las Vegas. It also added a made-for-television $2 million "freeroll" invitational "Tournament of Champions" (TOC) event first won by Annie Duke as a "winner-take-all" event.
Starting in 2005, the WSOP began a tournament "circuit" at Harrah's-owned properties in the United States where in addition to the $10,000 buy-in tournament at each site, qualifying players became eligible for a revamped Tournament of Champions. The 2005 TOC, made up of the top twenty qualifying players at each circuit event, along with the final table from the 2005 Main Event and the winners of nine or more bracelets (Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, and Phil Hellmuth) would participate in the revamped TOC at Caesar's Palace. Mike "The Mouth" Matusow won the first prize of $1 million (US), and all the players at the final table were guaranteed a minimum of $25,000 for the eighth and ninth place finishers. During a break in the final table of the 2005 Main Event on July 16, Harrah's announced that eleven properties — including the recently added Bally's and Caesar's properties — would host 2005-06 WSOP Circuit events that started on August 11 in Tunica, Mississippi. One event, that was scheduled for Biloxi, Mississippi was canceled after the Grand Casino Biloxi, which was scheduled to host the event, suffered major damage from Hurricane Katrina.
The Rio also hosted the 2006 World Series of Poker, which began on June 25 with satellite events and formally began the day after with the annual Casino Employee event, won in 2006 by Chris Gros. 2006 featured the "Tournament of Champions" on June 25 and 26, won by Mike Sexton. Various events led up to the main event, which was held from July 28 until August 10. The first prize of $12 million was awarded to Jamie Gold.
The winner of the Main Event has traditionally been given the unofficial title of World Champion. However the game's top professionals have stated that the recently-added $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event is the one which ultimately decides the world's best player. The $50,000 buy-in, being five times larger than the buy-in for the Main Event, has thus far tended to deter amateurs from playing in the H.O.R.S.E. The H.O.R.S.E. tournament was won by Chip Reese in 2006, Freddy Deeb in 2007, and Scotty Nguyen in 2008. Since Reese's death in December 2007, the winner of this event wins the David 'Chip' Reese Memorial Trophy in addition to the bracelet and the prize money.
The end of the 1988 main event was featured in the movie Rounders.
With passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 online poker sites have been barred from purchasing entrance directly for their users. This may have been the cause of the smaller field size in 2007.
With the exception of winners of the World Series Of Poker Main Event satellite tournaments (who automatically win a spot in the main event), all remaining players (including former champions, celebrities, and professional poker players) must supply the $10,000 buy-in in order to participate.
|Year||Winner / Winning Hand||Prize (US$)||Entrants||Runner-Up / Losing Hand|
|1970||Johnny Moss *||n/a||7||n/a|
|1971||Johnny Moss||30,000||6||Walter "Puggy" Pearson|
|1972||Thomas "Amarillo Slim" Preston K J||80,000||8||Walter "Puggy" Pearson 6 6|
|1973||Walter "Puggy" Pearson||130,000||13||Johnny Moss|
|1974||Johnny Moss||160,000||16||Crandall Addington|
|1975||Brian "Sailor" Roberts||210,000||21||Bob Hooks|
|1976||Doyle Brunson||220,000||22||Jesse Alto|
|1977||Doyle Brunson||340,000||34||Gary Berland|
|1978||Bobby Baldwin||210,000||42||Crandall Addington|
|1979||Hal Fowler||270,000||54||Bobby Hoff|
|1980||Stu Ungar||385,000||73||Doyle Brunson|
|1981||Stu Ungar||375,000||75||Perry Green|
|1982||Jack Straus||520,000||104||Dewey Tomko|
|1983||Tom McEvoy||540,000||108||Rod Peate|
|1984||Jack Keller||660,000||132||Byron Wolford|
|1985||Bill Smith||700,000||140||T. J. Cloutier|
|1986||Berry Johnston||570,000||141||Mike Harthcock|
|1987||Johnny Chan||625,000||152||Frank Henderson|
|1988||Johnny Chan||700,000||167||Erik Seidel|
|1989||Phil Hellmuth Jr||755,000||178||Johnny Chan|
|1990||Mansour Matloubi||895,000||194||Hans Lund|
|1991||Brad Daugherty||1,000,000||215||Don Holt|
|1992||Hamid Dastmalchi||1,000,000||201||Tom Jacobs|
|1993||Jim Bechtel||1,000,000||220||Glenn Cozen|
|1994||Russ Hamilton||1,000,000||268||Hugh Vincent|
|1995||Dan Harrington||1,000,000||273||Howard Goldfarb|
|1996||Huck Seed||1,000,000||295||Bruce Van Horn|
|1997||Stu Ungar||1,000,000||312||John Strzemp|
|1998||Scotty Nguyen||1,000,000||350||Kevin McBride|
|1999||Noel Furlong||1,000,000||393||Alan Goehring|
|2000||Chris Ferguson||1,500,000||512||T. J. Cloutier|
|2001||Juan Carlos Mortensen||1,500,000||613||Dewey Tomko|
|2002||Robert Varkonyi||2,000,000||631||Julian Gardner|
|2003||Chris Moneymaker||2,500,000||839||Sam Farha|
|2004||Greg Raymer||5,000,000||2,576||David Williams|
|2005||Joe Hachem||7,500,000||5,619||Steve Dannenmann|
|2006||Jamie Gold||12,000,000||8,773||Paul Wasicka|
|2007||Jerry Yang||8,250,000||6,358||Tuan Lam|
|Year||Winner||Bracelets||Final Tables||Money Finishes|
Since then, ESPN has greatly expanded its coverage to include many of the preliminary events of the WSOP, especially Texas Hold 'Em. Also, their coverage of the main event now typically includes at least one hour program on each day. For the first two years of its existence, ESPN was broadcasting one hour programs of the "circuit" events that the WSOP has at various Harrah's-owned casinos, but ESPN did not renew these events. ESPN's coverage now includes many of the trappings of sports coverage, such as lighter segments (called "The Nuts") and interviews.
ESPN's coverage has been largely driven by Matt Maranz, Executive Producer for the WSOP telecasts. Maranz leads 441 Productions, which produces the telecast under contract to ESPN's unit ESPN Original Entertainment (EOE). Maranz has significant sports production experience, having previously worked on ESPN's football pre-game show, and has also produced taped segments for NBC's Olympic coverage.
ESPN's coverage in 2002 was typical of their coverage in the 1990s (recorded in video, little or no post-production commentary or player profiles, no card cams). However, the final table broadcast was expanded over two one-hour episodes.
In 2003, ESPN expanded their coverage to new heights with their coverage of the WSOP. They included coverage of the entire tournament, with a "Featured Table". At this table, the viewers could see the player's hole cards and subsequent strategy. The action was also broadcast as if live, though on tape-delay. This level of coverage arguably led to the popularity boom of No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em.
Coverage would increase in 2004 and 2005 to include preliminary events from the WSOP, in addition to the "Main Event".
ESPN has expanded poker to all-new levels, especially with their coverage of the 2006 WSOP, including providing the entire final table of the 2006 Main Event via pay-per-view airing.
In 2008, ESPN is experimenting with the idea of a delayed final table. This year's Main Event champion will not be determined until November. This idea presents greater sponsorship opportunities for the players and builds up a great amount of excitement that culminates in a recap of the Main Event and the conclusion of the 2008 Main Event final table.
The World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) is the first expansion of the World Series of Poker. Since 1970, the event has occurred every year in Las Vegas. In September 2007, the first WSOP championship events outside of Las Vegas, complete with bracelets, were held. The inaugural WSOPE consisted of three events held in London from September 6-17, 2007. The main event, a GBP 10,000 buy-in no-limit hold 'em tournament, was won by Norwegian online prodigy Annette Obrestad on the day before her 19th birthday. This made her the youngest person ever to win a WSOP bracelet, a record that cannot be broken in the Las Vegas WSOP under current laws because the minimum legal age for casino gaming in Nevada is 21. Obrestad could play in the WSOPE because the minimum age for casino gaming in the United Kingdom is 18.
While no definitive plans have been announced, WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack has indicated that in the next one to three years that other venues may start holding WSOP events. Two locations that have been mentioned as possible expansion sites are Egypt and South Africa.
WSOP video poker machines now appear at some Harrah's casinos; the machines are standard video poker machines, but have a bonus feature which allows a player to play a modified game of Texas Hold 'em against the machine.
Beginning in 2007, Harrah's announced the creation of the World Series of Poker Academy, a poker school aimed at providing poker players with the skills needed to win a WSOP Bracelet. The instructors for the Academy include Phil Hellmuth, Greg Raymer, Scott Fischman and Mark Seif. Initial academies were launched in Tunica, Indiana and Las Vegas.