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World Series Of Poker

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) was initiated in 1970, when the world of poker was very different than it is now. In 1970, when the WSOP held its first series of events in Las Vegas, there were only 50 poker tables in the whole city. That first WSOP involved 30 players and drew no public attention and very little press coverage. A lot has changed since then. In 2017, the WSOP consisted of thousands of players competing in over 70 events.

The first WSOP world champion, Johnny Moss, didn’t even actually win a tournament that first year. Instead, he won by being voted “best all-around player” by his fellow contestants after several days of high-stakes games. In 1971, he kept his title when he won a $5k Freeze-out, but even then the WSOP remained unknown outside of Vegas.

The world of poker, and the WSOP with it, changed significantly over the next few years, following “Amarillo Slim” Preston’s win in 1972. A prolifically public figure, Amarillo Slim beat out 12 opponents to become WSOP’s 1972 champion, and he went on to become one of poker’s greatest living ambassadors. He wrote a best-selling book about poker, starred in several movies, and appeared on The Tonight Show eleven times, bringing extensive attention to the game of poker and adding a sense of personality to a game that had received little notice before.

Following Slim’s win and the subsequent public attention brought to the WSOP, CBS Sports decided to televise the 1973 series. During that year, the WSOP also added four events—Seven-card Stud, Deuce-to-seven Draw, Razz, and another No Limit Hold’em event with a lower buy-in—two of which were won by Slim. For most of the 1970s, the major players remained the same and traded wins. Johnny Moss won his third championship in 1974, while Doyle Brunson took back-to-back titles from 1976-1977, solidifying his place among the top echelon of poker’s elite.

The WSOP continued to grow in 1978, when Barbara Freer became the first woman to enter what had previously been an all-male group. This was also the year that the prize money for the Main Event was divided up so that each of the top five finishers got a cash payout.

Stu “The Kid” Ungar swept through the poker world in the early 80s, and the game continued to grow. Winning the WSOP in 1980 and 1981, Ungar brought a new kind of style and energy to the poker world, generating even more public attention for what was called gambling’s greatest event. Television coverage also increased during this period, including NBC Sports covering the 1981 WSOP and bringing the game to millions of new viewers for the first time. Finally, during this period, the development of satellite tournaments gave new up-and-comers the opportunity to compete against the guys who were dominating the game.

As the WSOP continued to grow in popularity and interest, it began to outgrow the Horseshoe Casino. As the fields increased exponentially in size, they began to have to host participant tables at additional casinos, such as the Golden Nugget and Four Queens.

The WSOP became internationalized in 1990, when Mansour Matloubi became the first non-American to win the tournament. This Iranian-born expat who lived in England at the time took the most prestigious prize in poker, increasing overseas interest in the event. The prize money continued to grow with the number of competitors (over 200 players in the Main Event in 1991), and in 1991, WSOP gave its first ever million-dollar cash prize. By the late 90s, over 300 players were signing up to play the Main Event at the WSOP. During this period, Stu Ungar also joined Johnny Moss at the top of poker royalty: they are the only two players to ever win three world championships.

The 2000s were marked by an explosion in the amount of prize money that players started raking in. A few examples: Moneymaker won $2.5 million, then Greg Raymer (another amateur at the time) won $5 million. Following these tremendous wins by amateur poker players, $7.5 million became the top prize, and the potential for the WSOP’s growth seemed limitless, as it continued to grow in every way: amount of prize money, prestige, number of players, public excitement, and international fame. In 2004, Harrah’s Entertainment acquired the rights to the WSOP after Horseshoe closed and sold out.

As the world’s largest gaming company, Harrah’s was in a unique position to both expand the WSOP and benefit enormously from that expansion. And because of this development, the WSOP grew to become the richest event in the world of sports. In 2005, they moved to the RIO All-Suites Casino and Hotel, which increased their space significantly and enabled them to add new events to the schedule. As the years passed by, the number of players grew from the hundreds to the thousands. Indeed, Jamie Gold had to defeat 8,772 players to beat out the largest field in poker history.

World Series of Poker Trivia:

US players have won the WSOP Main Event 28 times in 38 years. The Main Event is the $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold ’em (NLHE), which has remained the same since 1972.

The list of winners includes many poker legends, Johnny Moss (3 titles), Doyle Brunson (2), Stu Ungar (3), Johnny Chan (2; his second victory in 1988 is featured in the 1998 film Rounders), Phil Hellmuth and many others.

On June 2, 2011, the World Series of Poker teamed up with Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté to start a special fundraising event focused on water initiatives. The Big One for One Drop has a record US$1 million entry fee.

World Series Of Poker Stats:

  • Most bracelets: Phil Hellmuth (14)
  • Most earnings: Antonio Esfandiari ($21,107,812)
  • Most cashes: Phil Hellmuth (109)
  • Most final tables: Phil Hellmuth (53)

World Series Of Poker History:

  • 1970: WSOP is created
  • 1973: Covered on TV for the first time
  • 1976: WSOP bracelets are introduced
  • 1979: WSOP Hall of Fame is created
  • 1988: ESPN TV coverage begins
  • 2004: Harrah’s Entertainment acquires WSOP
  • 2005: World Series of Poker Circuit begins
  • 2007: First expansion of the WSOP: World Series of Poker Europe
  • 2010: Second expansion: World Series of Poker Africa
  • 2012: The Big One for One Drop
  • 2013: Third expansion: World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific
  • 2015: WSOP International Circuit is launched, with rounds in Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Africa.

World Series Of Poker Information:

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