Many people know poker as a fun card game to play with friends. The rules are simple to understand, and the game is easy to set up, making it great for casual gameplay. However, poker is also a sport, and a very lucrative one at that. Poker pros know how to make a steady income from the game even with its inherent variance/luck. There are high-stakes poker tournaments and cash games worldwide, and even online. In this article, we will cover the largest and most famous poker tournament series of all time, the World Series of Poker. You will learn everything you need to know about it as a beginner, including its complete history from the beginning to the present.
1. What is the World Series of Poker?
The World Series of Poker, WSOP for short, is a series of annual poker tournaments held in Paradise, Nevada. It has been sponsored by Caesars Entertainment since 2004 and is the world’s most well-known poker tournament series. It consists of 101 events, featuring the most popular poker variants but focusing mainly on Texas Holdem. The winners of each event win not just money but also the coveted WSOP bracelets.
2. The Beginning of the WSOP
The precursor to the WSOP was a 1969 event known as the Texas Gambling Reunion. Sponsored by Tom Moore and held in Reno, this tournament was won by Crandell Addington. The tournament was one of the biggest inspirations for poker player and casino owner Benny Binion. He was also inspired by the famous 1949 game between Johnny Moss and Nick Dandalos, two of the most popular poker personalities at the time. Binion arranged the games, which attracted much publicity, and went on for five months.
This idea of a high-stakes poker game with the best players stayed in Binion’s head for nearly two decades. After attending the Texas Gamblers Reunion, he decided to host his own tournament the following year. This 1970 WSOP consisted of several cash games of the different poker variants, from five-card stud to razz to Texas Holdem. The WSOP adopted a freezeout, no-limit Texas Holdem tournament format the following year.
3. The WSOP Circuit and Expansions
In 2004, Harrah’s Entertainment (now known as Caesars Entertainment) bought Binion’s Horseshoe and the rights to the WSOP. Since 2005, they have been expanding the WSOP by creating the WSOP circuit. The circuit was a series of satellite tournaments, also known as qualifiers. Players who did well in these tournaments won a spot at the Tournament of Champions, another poker tournament related to the WSOP but did not give bracelets, and instead a trophy shaped like the WSOP logo.
The WSOP continued to grow thanks to expansions. These expansions marked the first time the official WSOP, complete with bracelets, was held in other countries besides the USA. The first expansion was in Europe in 2007 and has since spread worldwide to places like Africa and Asia Pacific.
4. Present-day WSOP
The WSOP was heavily affected by the pandemic. Despite this, the WSOP was still played in 2020 and 2021, thanks to a hybrid online and physical poker tournament format. In 2022, the WSOP returned to a mostly physical format but retained some online events. The 2022 WSOP recently concluded on July 19 after starting on May 31. The winner of the main event was Espen Jorstad of Norway, becoming the first ever Norwegian to win the WSOP main event, claiming a ten million dollar prize. The 2022 WSOP nearly broke the record of WSOP main event entrants at 8663, losing only to the 2006 WSOP with 8773 at the height of the poker boom.
5. WSOP bracelets
The WSOP bracelets have a history almost as long and varied as the tournament itself. They have ornate designs and sell for a decent amount. Despite this, many poker players don’t even consider their monetary value, as they are the most famous symbol of poker excellence. Winning a bracelet is the equivalent of winning the Stanley Cup for hockey or the World Cup for football. Bracelets were not the original WSOP reward, only introduced in 1976 after the 1970 silver cup, the 1971 – 1974 trophy, and the 1975 silver plate.
It is also shocking that the bracelets were not considered as valuable as they are today. They carried little weight back in the day, and repeat winners like Doyle Brunson did not even bother to claim two of the ten bracelets he had won. However, this was not the case for everybody. Phil Hellmuth, the owner of 16 WSOP bracelets, the most in history, recognized their value from the first time he won one in 1989. He believed they were a big part of poker history and was proven right during the mid-2000 poker boom. With poker rapidly rising in popularity, nearly every player vied for the bracelets, giving them the legendary status they have today.
The official WSOP partner site
The World Series of Poker is almost a prerequisite to know for every poker player. In large tournaments, it is not only exciting to watch the top players play, but it is also educational. Studying their playstyles can help improve your game, and there is no better place to put what you learn into practice than online poker. There are many great poker sites online like GGPoker, the world’s largest poker room. Officially partnered with WSOP, GGPoker offers many benefits from satellite and fully only tournaments to free poker tracking software and head’s up displays built into the site. Sign up at GGPoker today!