WSOP Explained: The History of Poker’s Biggest Tournament

Poker is one of the most popular cards and casino games in the world. With countless casinos offering it and an online player base of over 100 million people, you may be wondering what sets poker apart from the rest. Poker’s main advantage over other casino games is its strategic depth. It owes most of that depth to the fact you play against real people, not the house. What separates poker from games of luck like blackjack and roulette because, in those games, you rely entirely on what you get since you play against the dealer/casino. In poker, folding means you don’t need to commit money when you have a terrible hand, and it’s also what makes winning the pot without a good hand possible. The psychological element of poker strategy comes from how your bets influence your opponents’ actions, making it far more complex than an actual game of luck.

The biggest testament to poker’s strategic depth is its thriving competitive scene. Annual, million-dollar tournaments are broadcast globally; some even consider poker a sport. Of those million-dollar tournaments, one stands above the rest as the most long-running, prestigious, and famous tournament of all time: The World Series of Poker, also known as the WSOP. This article will tell you everything you need to know about the tournament, from its complete history to its iconic prizes.

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WSOP in a nutshell

The World Series of Poker is a series of annual poker tournaments held in Paradise, Nevada. Sponsored by Caesars Entertainment since 2004 and held since 1970, it is the world’s most prestigious and well-known poker tournament series. It consists of 101 separate events, many Texas Holdem, but some include variants like Omaha, Seven-card Stud, and HORSE. Winning any event gets the associated cash prize, up to 10 million dollars for the Texas Holdem main event. Winners also receive the coveted WSOP bracelets, which are direct symbols of poker greatness.

The birth of the WSOP

Despite officially starting in 1970, inspiration for the WSOP happened in 1969, when an event known as the Texas Gamblers Reunion was held. Sponsored by Tom Moore, this tournament was won by Crandell Addington and became the precursor to the WSOP. It inspired Benny Binion, a famous poker player and casino owner who attended the event. The idea of a high-stakes game between the best of the best stuck with him, ultimately leading him to host the first World Series of Poker the following year.

After confirming that there was no intention of hosting another Texas Gamblers Reunion, Binion held his tournament at his casino in Las Vegas. Seven players were invited, and the tournament consisted of many cash games of different variants, such as razz and Texas Holdem. Unlike modern tournaments, the first tournament’s winner was decided by vote. After Binion mentioned you couldn’t vote for yourself, Johnny Moss was crowned the winner of the first-ever WSOP. Afterward, a reporter proposed a more exciting game format with a beginning, middle, and end. The WSOP then transitioned into a freezeout, No Limit Holdem tournament format the following year.

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WSOP Milestones

Over the years, the WSOP has cemented itself as the number one poker tournament. Here are a few notable events for the WSOP:

The fabled WSOP bracelets

Finally, the WSOP wouldn’t be where it is today without the iconic piece of jewelry synonymous with poker greatness. Initially, they weren’t seen as anything special. Doyle Brunson, the owner of 10 bracelets, directly claimed that they did not mean anything back in the day. Many pros then did not expect the meteoric rise in popularity the WSOP would experience. The one pro who initially recognized their value was Phil Hellmuth, the person with the most WSOP bracelets of all time. He knew they would eventually represent poker history and was proven right.

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Where to play poker

We hope this article taught you a lot about the World Series of Poker. If you’re looking to play online poker, you should check out GGPoker, the world’s largest poker room. Officially affiliated with WSOP, GGPoker offers a variety of games for all players. You can easily find many stakes and even variants like Short Deck and Omaha to play. If that wasn’t enough, they even offer free poker tracking software and heads-up displays to all their users. Such a valuable tool for gameplay analysis usually isn’t free, but it is on GGPoker!