The WSOP – World Series of Poker – is an annual festival of many tournaments that take place in the summer in Las Vegas.
It is considered the holy grail of poker tournaments by many top players and gives away life-changing sums of money every year.
The WSOP Main Event costs $10,000 to enter, and in 2018 the winner received $8,800,000 – one of the largest prizes in history.
Many online poker sites run satellites to one of the 50+ tournaments available which typically includes flights and accommodation for two as well as entry to at least one tournament.
In this article, we will explain the following. You may click on any of the links below to bring you to that point in the article.
A Poker World Series was first introduced back in 1969. It was a US only event known as the Texas Gambling Reunion.
The first event was by invite only which took place in Reno.
The first open event was the following year, through an idea initially thought up and run by Benny Binion, a poker player, and casino owner.
The first event was just a number of cash games across several formats that included Deuce to Seven Low-ball, Five-card Stud, Seven-card Stud, Razz and Texas Hold’em.
As these were cash games, the winner got voted for by other players and it was Johnny Moss who won a silver cup.
The following year the format as the Main Event became a Texas Hold’em Freezeout tournament, which has remained the same to this day.
Harrah’s Entertainment – which is now known as Caesars Entertainment – purchased Binions Horseshoe back in 2004 and with it the rights to the WSOP.
The location changed to their own Rio hotel & casino just off the main strip in Las Vegas.
They set about making the WSOP what it is today – the first Main Event back in 1970 had seven entrants, in 2018 this was a slightly healthier 7,874. Prize money in 1970 was zero with just a silver cup going to the winner, the following year six entrants gave the winner a prize of $30,000. In 2018, American John Cynn walked away with $8.8m!
The World Series of Poker has grown in entries and events most years since.
Up until 1975, a cash prize was all the winner got, but in 1976 the iconic bracelet is also given to the winner of each event, and poker players often think a player hasn’t made it until they own at least one of these.
After its launch, the tournament steadily grew through the 1970s with a total of 52 players in 1982.
Then came the introduction of satellites to the main event meaning the Main Event and its $10,000 buy-in became much more accessible to the everyday player.
1987 saw more than 2,100 players take part in the overall event with 152 entering the Main Event itself.
With the advent of online poker came more and more opportunities for players from all over the world to qualify and as a result of this, online satellites were the most significant reason that saw Main Event numbers go from 839 in 2003 to 2,576 in 2004 and 5,619 in 2005.
It peaked at 8,773 in 2006 around the same time a new law passed in the United States making online poker illegal.
The numbers reduced as a result and have swung between 6,000 and 8,000 since although the second highest was in 2018 with 7,874 entries.
In 2012, the introduction of The Big One for One Drop saw the first poker tournament with an entry fee of $1m. 11% of this amount went to charity, and it attracted many true high-rollers.
Winners and Entrants
|1970||United States||Johnny Moss||7||N/A|
|1971||United States||Johnny Moss||6||$30.000|
|1972||United States||Thomas Preston Jr||8||$80.000|
|1973||United States||Walter Pearson||13||$130.000|
|1974||United States||Johnny Moss||16||$160.000|
|1975||United States||Brian Roberts||21||$210.000|
|1976||United States||Doyle Brunson||22||$220.000|
|1977||United States||Doyle Brunson||34||$340.000|
|1978||United States||Bobby Baldwin||42||$210.000|
|1979||United States||Hal Fowler||54||$270.000|
|1980||United States||Stu Ungar||73||$385.000|
|1981||United States||Stu Ungar||75||$375.000|
|1982||United States||Jack Straus||104||$520.000|
|1983||United States||Tom McEvoy||108||$540.000|
|1984||United States||Jack Keller||132||$660.000|
|1985||United States||Bill Smith||140||$700.000|
|1986||United States||Berry Johnston||141||$570.000|
|1987||United States||Johnny Chan||152||$625.000|
|1988||United States||Johnny Chan||167||$700.000|
|1989||United States||Phil Hellmuth||178||$755.000|
|1991||United States||Brad Daugherty||215||$1.000.000|
|1993||United States||Jim Bechtel||220||$1.000.000|
|1994||United States||Russ Hamilton||268||$1.000.000|
|1995||United States||Dan Harrington||273||$1.000.000|
|1996||United States||Huck Seed||295||$1.000.000|
|1997||United States||Stu Ungar||312||$1.000.000|
|1998||United States||Scotty Nguyen||350||$1.000.000|
|1999||Republic of Ireland||Noel Furlong||393||$1.000.000|
|2000||United States||Chris Ferguson||512||$1.500.000|
|2001||Ecuador||Juan Carlos Mortensen||613||$1.500.000|
|2002||United States||Robert Varkonyi||631||$2.000.000|
|2003||United States||Chris Moneymaker||839||$2.500.000|
|2004||United States||Greg Raymer||2,576||$5.000.000|
|2006||United States||Jamie Gold||8,773||$12.000.000|
|2007||United States||Jerry Yang||6,358||$8.250.000|
|2009||United States||Joe Cada||6,494||$8.547.042|
|2012||United States||Greg Merson||6,598||$8.531.853|
|2013||United States||Ryan Riess||6,352||$8.361.570|
|2015||United States||Joe McKeehen||6,420||$7.683.346|
|2016||United States||Qui Nguyen||6,737||$8.005.310|
|2017||United States||Scott Blumstein||7,221||$8.150.000|
|2018||United States||John Cynn||7,874||$8.800.000|
Although the Main Event is the tournament everyone wants to win, there are many smaller tournaments throughout the WSOP series and each one pays out cash depending on the number of entries as well as a WSOP Bracelet.
Those players with the most Bracelets are:
|Country||Player||Main Event Wins||Bracelets|
|United States||Phil Hellmuth||1||15|
|United States||Doyle Brunson||2||10|
|United States||Johnny Chan||2||10|
|United States||Phil Ivey||0||10|
|United States||Johnny Moss||3||9|
|United States||Erik Seidel||0||8|
|United States||Billy Baxter||0||7|
|United States||Men Nguyen||0||7|
WSOP Player of the Year
In 2004, a new award for player of the year was introduced. This takes into account how players fare across all events from a WSOP including wins, final tables and cashes.
|2005||United States||Allen Cunningham||$1,007,115||1||5||4|
|2006||United States||Jeff Madsen||$1,467,852||2||4||4|
|2007||United States||Tom Schneider||$416,829||2||3||3|
|2008||United States||Erick Lindgren||$1,348,528||1||5||3|
|2010||United States||Frank Kassela||$1,255,314||2||6||3|
|2011||United States||Ben Lamb||$5,352,970||1||5||4|
|2012||United States||Greg Merson||$9,785,354||2||5||2|
|2016||United States||Jason Mercier[||$960,424||2||11||4|
|2017||United States||Chris Ferguson||$428,423||1||23||3|
|2018||United States||Shaun Deeb||$2,545,623||2||20||4|
The following are some of the records currently held in the WSOP:
Most Final Tables
53 – Phil Hellmuth
109 – Phil Hellmuth
Highest Career Earnings
$21,835,100 – Antonio Esfandiari
Highest Earnings from One Event
$18,346,673 – Antonio Esfandiari
Youngest Bracelet Winner
18 years, 364 days – Annette Obrestad
Oldest Bracelet Winner
81 years, 0 days – Johnny Moss
Most Bracelets in 1 Year
Most Final Tables in 1 Year
6 – An Tran
Most Cashes in 1 Year
23 – Chris Ferguson
97 years – Jack Ury
WSOP Main Event Records
Most Main Event Wins
Highest Main Event Winnings
$12,000,000 – Jamie Gold
Most Main Event Final Tables
5 each –
Most Main Event Cashes
10 – Berry Johnston
Youngest Main Event Winner
21 years, 357 days – Joe Cada
Oldest Main Event Winner
66 years, 358 days – Johnny Moss