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The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is a poker tournament held annually in Las Vegasmarker. The first WSOP in 1970 was an invitational wherein Benny Binion invited six of the best known poker players to the Horseshoe Casinomarker. At first, the WSOP grew slowly. It was twelve years before the WSOP drew 52 participants, in 1982. In the early 1980s, satellite tournaments were introduced, allowing people to win their way into the various events. By 1987, there were over 2,100 entrants in the entire series. Participation in the Main Event peaked in 2006, with 8,773 players competing.

The first World Series of Poker was not a freeze-out tournament, but rather an event with a set start and stop time, with the winner determined by secret ballot. In 1973, five-card stud was added as a second event. Since 2007, the WSOP has consisted of 55 events. While events traditionally take place over one or more consecutive days during the series in June and July, in 2008, the Main Event final table was delayed until November. The winner of each event receives a World Series of Poker bracelet and a monetary prize based on the number of entrants and buy-in amounts. A World Series of Poker bracelet is considered the most coveted prize or trophy a poker player can win, with one from the Main Event revered above all others. Since 1976, a bracelet has been awarded to the winner of every event at the annual WSOP. WSOP victories prior to 1976 are also known as "bracelets". 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. The victor receives a multi-million dollar prize. The winner of the World Series of Poker Main Event is considered to be the World Champion of Poker. Since its inception, Stu Ungar and Johnny Moss are the only players to have won the Main Event three times, though Moss's first victory came in a different format than that now used as he was elected winner by vote of his fellow players at the conclusion of what was then a timed event. Moss (if the first time win by vote is counted), Ungar, Doyle Brunson, and Johnny Chan are the only people who have won the Main Event in consecutive years. Johnny Chan's second victory in 1988 was featured on the 1998 film Rounders. Phil Hellmuth holds multiple WSOP records: most bracelets (11), most WSOP cashes (75), and most WSOP final tables (41). The 2009 Main Event bracelet winner, Joe Cada, is the youngest person to win the Main Event. 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 increasing 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 as the first prize.


The number of participants in the WSOP grew every year from 2000 until 2006. Following 2006, new online gambling legislation restricted the number of online qualifiers to the event. 2007 was the first dip in numbers in this century while in 2008 more people participated than the previous year. In 2000 there were 4,780 entrants in the various events, but in 2005, the number rose to over 23,000 players. In the main event alone, the number of participants grew from 839 in 2003 to 8,773 in 2006. Phil Hellmuth has the most bracelets with eleven, while Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan have each won ten bracelets. Crandell Addington is the only player to place in the top ten of the World Series of Poker Main Event eight times, albeit in earlier years with small fields compared to modern times. Four players have won the main event multiple times: Johnny Moss (1971 and 1974), Doyle Brunson (1976 and 1977), Stu Ungar (1980, 1981 and 1997) and Johnny Chan (1987 and 1988). 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). In recent years, there have been non-bracelet events at the WSOP, two of the most notable is the "World Series of Rock Paper Scissors" and "Ante Up for Africa."


The idea of a World Series of Poker began in 1969 with an event called the Texas Gambling Reunion. It was as an invitational event sponsored by Tom Moore of San Antonio, Texas, and held at the Holiday Hotel and Casino in Renomarker. 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 Vegasmarker casino owner and poker player Benny Binion. In 1970, the first WSOP at Binion's Horseshoemarker 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.

Acquired by Harrah's

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 Riomarker Hotel and Casino, located just off the Las Vegas Stripmarker. 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.
A Binion's poker table signed by WSOP Champions and other professional players after the casino hosted its final WSOP.
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 Palacemarker. Mike 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, Mississippimarker, 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.

Main Event

The Main Event of the WSOP has been the $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold 'Em (TXHE) tournament since 1972. (In 1971, the buy-in was $5,000.) Winners of the event not only get the largest prize of the tournament and a gold bracelet, but additionally their picture is placed in the Gallery of Champions at Binion's. 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 this event, and the variety of games played require a broader knowledge of poker. The first H.O.R.S.E. tournament was won by Chip Reese in 2006. Since his death in December 2007, the winner of this event receives the David 'Chip' Reese Memorial Trophy in addition to the bracelet and the prize money.

The Gallery of Champions in 1979
There have been many memorable moments during the main events, including Jack Straus's 1982 comeback win after discovering he had one $500 chip left when he thought he was out of the tournament. The end of the 1988 main event was featured in the movie Rounders. Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, the winners in 2003 and 2004, both qualified for the main event through satellite tournaments at the PokerStars online cardroom. Jerry Yang, the winner in 2007, had only been playing poker for two years prior to his victory. He won his seat at a $225 satellite tournament at Pechanga Resort & Casino, in California. 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. The 2009 final table lasted for 364 hands, including 88 hands of heads up play.

Main Event results

Year Winner Winning

Prize (USD) Entrants Runner-Up Losing

1971 Johnny Moss 30,000 6 Walter "Puggy" Pearson
1972 "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
2008 Peter Eastgate 9,152,416 6,844 Ivan Demidov
2009 Joe Cada 8,547,042 6,494 Darvin Moon

Player of the Year

Since 2004, a Player of the Year Award has been given to the player with the most points accumulated throughout the World Series. Only "open" events in which all players can participate count in the standings. Beginning with the 2006 World Series of Poker, the Main Event and the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. competition had no effect on the outcome of the winner of the Player of the Year award. In the 2008 World Series of Poker, the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event counted toward the Player of the Year award, but the Main Event did not. In 2009, all open events, including the Main Event, count towards Player of the Year. The Player of the Year is based upon performance at the WSOP in Las Vegas and does not take the World Series of Poker Europe into account.

Year Winner Bracelets Final Tables Money Finishes
2004 Daniel Negreanu 1 5 6
2005 Allen Cunningham 1 4 5
2006 Jeff Madsen 2 4 4
2007 Tom Schneider 2 3 3
2008 Erick Lindgren 1 3 5
2009 Jeff Lisandro 3 4 6

World Series of Poker Europe

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 Vegasmarker. 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 Londonmarker from September 6–17, 2007. The main event, a GBP 10,000 buy-in no-limit hold 'em tournament, was won by Norwegianmarker 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 Nevadamarker is 21. Obrestad could play in the WSOPE because the minimum age for casino gaming in the United Kingdommarker 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.

Year Winner / Winning Hand Prize (£) Entrants Runner-Up / Losing Hand
2007 Annette Obrestad £1,000,000 362 John Tabatabai
2008 John Juanda £868,800 362 Stanislav Alekhin
2009 Barry Shulman £801,603 334 Daniel Negreanu


The WSOP has corporate sponsors and licensed products which pay fees to market themselves as an official sponsors and/or licensees and exclusively use the WSOP insignia and cross-promote with their events. Besides the Harrah's properties and ESPN, major sponsors have included Miller Brewing's "Milwaukee's Best" brand of beers, Pepsi's SoBe Adrenaline Rush energy drink (sponsors of the 2005 TOC), Helene Curtis' Degree brand of anti-perspirant/deodorant, United States Playing Card's Bicycle Pro Cards, Bluff magazine, GlaxoSmithKline/Bayer's Levitra erectile dysfunction medicine, and The Hershey Company. Licensees include Glu Mobile, Activision (video games for different platforms such as Nintendo's GameCube, Microsoft's Xbox, Sony's PlayStation 2, and PC, featuring computer-generated versions of stars like Ferguson), and products made by different companies ranging from chip sets, playing cards, hand-held games, and clothing like caps and shirts. The official playing cards and chips are manufactured by Excalibur Electronics, Inc. which is based out of Miamimarker, Floridamarker and has been the main chip licensee since 2005. The fees and licenses bring in more than a million dollars to Harrah's.

WSOP television coverage


The earliest filming of the World Series was a special produced by Binion's Horseshoe in 1973 and narrated by Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder. CBS began covering the World Series in the late 1970s. In the early 1980s, the event was again broadcast as specials. In the late 1980s, the World Series returned to television as ESPN took over broadcasting. Initially, coverage consisted of just a single one-hour taped-delay broadcast of the main event.


ESPN Classic currently airs many of the old broadcasts, especially from the mid 1990s and beyond. The most striking thing about the early coverage is how little was actually shown, since no "pocket cam" existed. Generally, ESPN used poker-playing actors such as Dick Van Patten, Vince Van Patten, and Gabe Kaplan, with either the tournament director (usually Jim Albrecht) or a poker pro like Phil Hellmuth joining the team. Early coverage was primitive compared to what ESPN does now, with no pre-taped interviews or profiles on the players. The commentators were actually on the casino floor itself. The 2002 WSOP was the first with the "sneak peek" (later called the pocket cam, or hole cam). 2003 was the first year that the broadcast covered action preceding the final table. 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.


In 2000 and 2001, the World Series of Poker was broadcast by The Discovery Channel. These hour long programs presented more of an overview or recap of the WSOP as opposed to broadcasting an actual live event with play-by-play analysis and color commentary. The Discovery Channel's broadcast also featured final table players interviews interlaced throughout the show. ESPN would resume coverage the following year. 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.

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 experimented with the idea of a delayed final table. This idea presented greater sponsorship opportunities and notoriety, culminating in a recap of the Main Event and the conclusion of the 2008 Main Event final table. In 2009, ESPN announced they would again move the final table to November 2009. The WSOP has also decided there will be no rebuy events in 2009. The decision was reached because of complaints that rebuy events provided an unfair advantage to professionals with no limitation on how much money they can spend for an event. There were 57 bracelet events this year.

WSOP broadcasters

  • 2002 (ESPN) - Lon McEachern and Gabe Kaplan; (ESPN Latin America - Spanish) - Gabriela Hill
  • 2003 (ESPN) - Lon McEachern and Norman Chad; (ESPN Latin America - Spanish) - Gabriela Hill
  • 2004 (ESPN) - Lon McEachern and Norman Chad; (ESPN Deportes and ESPN Latin America - Spanish) - Gabriela Hill
  • 2005 (ESPN) - Lon McEachern and Norman Chad; (ESPN Deportes and ESPN Latin America - Spanish) - Gabriela Hill and Andrés Agulla
  • 2006 (ESPN) - Lon McEachern and Norman Chad; Phil Gordon and Ali Nejad in Main Event Pay-per-view; (ESPN Deportes and ESPN Latin America - Spanish) - Gabriela Hill and Andrés Agulla
  • 2007 (ESPN) - Lon McEachern and Norman Chad; Phil Gordon and Ali Nejad in Main Event Pay-per-view; (ESPN Deportes and ESPN Latin America - Spanish) - Fernando Álvarez and Gabriela Hill
  • 2008 (ESPN) - Lon McEachern and Norman Chad; (ESPN Deportes and ESPN Latin America - Spanish) - Fernando Álvarez and Gabriela Hill
  • 2009 (ESPN) - Lon McEachern and Norman Chad; (ESPN Deportes and ESPN Latin America - Spanish) - Georgina Ruizsandoval and Fernando Álvarez


DVD releases

In 2003 and again in 2004 a DVD set was released by ESPN of the Main Event. The DVD's have since been out of print but still can be found on ebay for sale. No DVD sets have been released since then.

Video games

In 2005, a video game based on the tournament, titled World Series of Poker, was released for several consoles and the computer. A sequel called World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions came out in 2006. In 2007, World Series of Poker 2008: Battle for the Bracelets was released. 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.

WSOP Poker Academy

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 Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth, Jr., Greg Raymer, Scott Fischman, Mark Kroon, Mark Seif, Alex Outhred, and former FBImarker interrogator Joe Navarro. Initial academies were launched in Tunica, Mississippimarker, Indianamarker, and Las Vegasmarker.


  1. [1]
  2. Harrah's Set to Launch World Series of Poker Europe Feb 27, 2007. Gaming Business Accessed 7/25/07
  3. Bambach, Mike. World Series of Poker ups the ante, expands event to Europe 6-28-07. USA Today. Accessed 7/25/07

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