World Series of Poker

From Academic Kids

The World Series of Poker is the most prestigious set of poker tournaments in the world.



The original World Series of Poker was started by Tom Morehead of the Riverside casino in Reno and was an invitational event. The set of tournaments the World Series of Poker (WSOP) would evolve to was the brainchild of Las Vegas legend, casino owner, and poker player Benny Binion as well as his two sons Jack and Ted.

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Johnny Moss, Becky Binion, and Puggy Pearson at the 1974 World Series of Poker

The Binion family not only nurtured the WSOP, but poker in general. Prior to the 1970s, poker was not found at many casinos because of the difficulty of keeping cheaters out. Through better security techniques as well as the Binion's tireless promotion through events like the WSOP, poker became a very popular game.

In 1970 the first WSOP at Binion's Horseshoe took place with seven players. The winner, Johnny Moss was elected by his peers as the first World Champion of Poker and received a silver cup as a prize.


From 1971 on, all WSOP events have been freezeout tournaments with cash prizes. In 1973 a new event, five-card stud, was added to the main event of no-limit Texas hold 'em. Since then new events have been added and removed. In 2003 and 2004 there were 36 events at the WSOP, including poker games like Omaha and Razz as well as events only for seniors and women. Event winners get, in addition to their prize money, a golden bracelet.

Players who have won bracelets in a draw poker event, a stud poker game, and a community card poker game are: Mickey Appleman, Bobby Baldwin, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Johnny Moss, and Stu Ungar.

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The 2002 World Series of Poker in progress

The number of participants in the WSOP has grown every year, and in recent years the growth has exploded. In 2000 there were 4780 entrants in the various events, yet in 2004 there were over 13,000. In the main event alone, participants grew from 839 in 2003 to 2576 in 2004. Much of this growth can be attributed to the WSOP and the World Poker Tour being shown on ESPN and the Travel Channel.

Because the prizes increase with more players, more than $25 million was won by players in the 2004 main event, including a $5 million first prize.

In 2004, Harrah's Entertainment purchased Binion's Horseshoe and announced that the 2005 Series will be held at the Harrah's-owned Rio Casino, just off the Las Vegas strip, with the final two days of the main event held downtown at the Horseshoe.

The main event

The main event of the WSOP is the $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas hold 'em tournament. Winners of the event not only get the largest prize of the tournament and golden bracelet, but additionally their picture is placed into the Gallery of Champions at Binion's Horseshoe.

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The Gallery of Champions in 1979

There have been many memorable events during the WSOP, including Jack Straus's 1982 win which was a comeback after having discovered he had one $500 chip left when he thought he was out of the tournament.

A few players have won the WSOP multiple times, including Stu Ungar who won in 1980, 1981, and 1997. Ungar had a drug problem that spanned decades, which makes his 1997 win all the more amazing. Since Ungar had no money to enter the tournament in 1997 his friend and 6 time WSOP bracelet winner Billy Baxter gave him the entrance fee. Ungar split the $1,000,000 prize evenly with Baxter.

Johnny Chan won back to back in 1987 and 1988. Chan finished 2nd in 1989 to the youngest WSOP main event winner of all time Phil Hellmuth. The 1988 event would later be featured in the movie Rounders.

Chris Moneymaker won the main event in 2003 after qualifying through a $39 satellite tournament at the PokerStars ( online cardroom. Four players at the final table of the 2004 main event qualified through PokerStars as well, including the winner, Greg "Fossilman" Raymer and second place finisher David Williams.

It may be that winning the WSOP makes legends out of people, but some living poker legends have tried unsuccessfully for years to win the main event, including: T. J. Cloutier, Erik Seidel, Barry Greenstein, Men "The Master" Nguyen, and Howard Lederer.


These are the past winners of the main event:

Year Winner Prize (US$)
2004 Greg Raymer 5,000,000
2003 Chris Moneymaker 2,500,000
2002 Robert Varkonyi 2,000,000
2001 Carlos Mortensen 1,500,000
2000 Chris "Jesus" Ferguson 1,500,000
1999 Noel Furlong 1,000,000
1998 Scotty Nguyen 1,000,000
1997 Stu Ungar 1,000,000
1996 Huck Seed 1,000,000
1995 Dan Harrington 1,000,000
1994 Russ Hamilton 1,000,000
1993 Jim Bechtel 1,000,000
1992 Hamid Dastmalchi 1,000,000
1991 Brad Daugherty 1,000,000
1990 Mansour Matloubi 895,000
1989 Phil Hellmuth, Jr. 755,000
1988 Johnny Chan 700,000
1987 Johnny Chan 625,000
1986 Berry Johnston 570,000
1985 Bill Smith 700,000
1984 Jack Keller 660,000
1983 Tom McEvoy 580,000
1982 Jack "Treetop" Straus 520,000
1981 Stu Ungar 375,000
1980 Stu Ungar 385,000
1979 Hal Fowler 270,000
1978 Bobby Baldwin 210,000
1977 Doyle Brunson 340,000
1976 Doyle Brunson 220,000
1975 Sailor Roberts 210,000
1974 Johnny Moss 160,000
1973 Puggy Pearson 130,000
1972 "Amarillo Slim" Preston 80,000
1971 Johnny Moss 30,000
1970 Johnny Moss* n/a

* awarded by vote

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