World Series of Poker – the king of poker tournaments

WSOP 1976 Johnny Moss
Johnny Moss and Puggy Pearson
World Series of poker 1976

There is a single way to find out which is the best poker player in the world. And this way involve to participate and win on the biggest poker tournament on earth – World Series of Poker ( WSOP ). There is a wonderful history of WSOP which began to be played by a handful of players for a symbolic prize and it has been developed over the years in the most important poker tournament worldwide with the participation of thousands of players for amazing million of dollars prizes. Let’s see how it all began…

The story of WSOP has started in 1970 at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino located in Las Vegas, Nevada where was held the first edition of the World Series of Poker. This event hasn’t attracted any public attention and the interest of press was very low. Benny Binion the owner of the Binion’s Horseshoe Casino invited the best six poker players in America at his Casino to decide who’s the best American poker player. Those players were: "Amarillo Slim" Preston, Sailor Roberts, Doyle Brunson, Puggy Pearson, Crandell Addington and Carl Cannon. The winner of the first event was decided after several days of playing high stakes cards by. Probably you are wondering how the election process work? Well the rule said that the player with two or more votes will be declared the winner. In the first attempt is obviously that each player has been voted for himself so no winner declared. On the second attempt they were asked to vote for a second best player. And the results have crowned John Moss as the best poker player and he was remaining in history as the first winner of the World Series of Poker. There was not a cash prize at this first edition of WSOP.

But few people know that the idea of WSOP was born in 1969 when Tom Moore, a part owner of the Holiday Casino in Reno, Nevada invited known poker players of that time to participate to the first Texas Gambler Reunion. At this reunion were played among few days high-stakes cash games. Special quests of this event were: Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder, Rudy "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone, Doyle Brunson, "Amarillo Slim" Preston, Johnny Moss, Puggy Pearson and Benny Binion.

WSOP 1976 Doyle Brunson

World Series of Poker 1976 - Doyle Brunson watching a hand

Impressed by what he saw in Reno, with a strong sense of gaming, combined with the fact that he was the owner of the biggest Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada - Binion’s Horseshoe Casino – Benny Binion “borrow” the idea of Tom Moore and in 1970 organize the first edition of WSOP like we described above.

Benny realized the high potential that WSOP can heave and in 1971 organize a freeze-out tournament with a $5,000 entry fee. It was a winner take it all structure. So the first winner of a cash prize at the World Series of Poker was Johnny Moss who won $30,000 (at the second edtition participate six players).

Next year, in 1972 was the first edition of WSOP that has an entry fee of $10,000, entry fee that is available on our days World Series of Poker tournaments. Thomas "Amarillo Slim" Preston, Jr. win this historical edition and the prize was fairly consistent - $80,000. "Amarillo Slim" become that year the ambassador of WSOP at the most important television shows. This was the moment when World Series of Poker caught the attention of an entire nation.

As expected, the 1973 edition was for the first time in history televised by CBS Sports and his reputation grew more and more. Winner of the 1973 WSOP was Puggy Pearson and the prize was $130,000.


WSOP 40th annual

Champions Group Photo from the 40th Annual WSOP - 2009

In 1974 Johnny Moss won his third WSOP title and a prize of $130,000. World Series of Poker held in 1975 has 21 participants already and a full prize of $210,000. The winner was Brian "Sailor" Roberts.

WSOP 1976 and WSOP 1977 were won by the greatest Doyle Brunson. Cumulated prize for Doyle was $560,000 that seems to be the greatest poker prizes until that years.

The importance of this tournament grow year by year and this can be seen from the numbers: 1971 edition - 6 players - $30,000 and in 1977 edition – 34 players - $340,000. Impressive right? For this reasons World Series of Poker become named also the Main Event until our days.

1978 brought some changes to the WSOP format. Was the first edition when the prize pool was divided. So the top five finishers received a cash payout. Was the first edition when a woman entered the tournament. The winner was Bobby Baldwin with his queens against nines of Crandell Addington and a total price of $210,000.

In 1982 at the Main Event were introduced twelve additional preliminary events. Al thirteen events from that year awarded over $2,6 million prizes for top finishers.

WSOP 2015 winner

Joe McKeehen wins World Series of Poker 2015

In 1991 was the first time when top prize of the Main Event was $1,000,000. This “first million” was winning by Brad Daugherty.

World Series of Poker become the most important poker event from the globe. In 2004 more than 2500 players have been participated to the Main Event with a total prize pool of $5,000,000. The biggest prize of the WSOP was in 2006 when Jamie Gold win a huge prize consist of $12,000,000.

Thousands of peoples around the entire world are trying year by year to entry the history playing in the biggest, the greatest and the most important poker tournament World Series Of Poker - “a big dream for anyone in the world”.

World Series of Poker winners

Year Winner Prize won
1970 Johnny Moss N/A
1971 Johnny Moss $30,000
1972 "Amarillo Slim" Preston, Jr $80,000
1973 Walter "Puggy" Pearson $130,000
1974 Johnny Moss $160,000
1975 Brian "Sailor" Roberts $210,000
1976 Doyle Brunson $220,000
1977 Doyle Brunson $340,000
1978 Bobby Baldwin $210,000
1979 Hal Fowler $270,000
1980 Stu Ungar $385,000
1981 Stu Ungar $375,000
1982 Jack Straus $520,000
1983 Tom McEvoy $540,000
1984 Jack Keller $660,000
1985 Bill Smith $700,000
1986 Berry Johnston $570,000
1987 Johnny Chan $625,000
1988 Johnny Chan $700,000
1989 Phil Hellmuth, Jr. $755,000
1990 Mansour Matloubi $895,000
1991 Brad Daugherty $1,000,000
1992 Hamid Dastmalchi $1,000,000
1993 Jim Bechtel $1,000,000
1994 Russ Hamilton $1,000,000
1995 Dan Harrington $1,000,000
1996 Huck Seed $1,000,000
1997 Stu Ungar $1,000,000
1998 Scotty Nguyen $1,000,000
1999 Noel Furlong $1,000,000
2000 Chris Ferguson $1,500,000
2001 Juan Carlos Mortensen $1,500,000
2002 Robert Varkonyi $2,000,000
2003 Chris Moneymaker $2,500,000
2004 Greg Raymer $5,000,000
2005 Joe Hachem $7,500,000
2006 Jamie Gold $12,000,000
2007 Jerry Yang $8,250,000
2008 Peter Eastgate $9,152,416
2009 Joe Cada $8,547,042
2010 Jonathan Duhamel $8,944,310
2011 Pius Heinz $8,715,638
2012 Greg Merson $8,531,853
2013 Ryan Riess $8,361,570
2014 Martin Jacobson $10,000,000
2015 Joe McKeehen $7,683,346

Story inspired from Wikipedia and WSOP official website. Many thanks!