The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is one of the biggest and most prestigious poker tournaments in the world. Its dominant position in the sport is partly thanks to its age since it was the first of its kind when it was first run way back in 1970.

It has since grown into a global phenomenon, attracting thousands of players from around the world.

So let’s delve into a detailed history of the World Series of Poker.

When Is The World Series of Poker In 2023?

The 54th annual World Series of Poker is set to make its grand return to the Las Vegas Strip, specifically at Horseshoe Las Vegas and Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

The highly anticipated tournament will take place from May 30 to July 18, 2023, promising the largest number of bracelet events ever scheduled in the history of the series.

In 2022 the Series attracted an impressive 197,626 participants from over 100 countries with a total prize pool of $347.9 million.

2023 will see the largest capacity in the history of the series, accommodating 608 tables spread across more than 200,000 square feet of convention space.

Notably, the 2023 WSOP will introduce the first-ever $300 buy-in tournament in the history of the series, opening up an accessible and thrilling opportunity for a broader range of players to participate.

Undoubtedly, the centerpiece of the summer extravaganza will be the highly anticipated $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em World Championship, commonly referred to as The Main Event®.

With its expanded offerings and record-breaking potential, the 2023 World Series of Poker promises to be amazing for both seasoned professionals and enthusiastic newcomers alike.

How The World Series of Poker Started

Now, 53 years on from its modest beginnings, the WSOP has grown into the highlight of the poker calendar, attracting the eyes of everyone involved in the sport.

Of course, it no longer has a monopoly on large poker tournaments. Other major events like the European Poker Tour have also grown a large following and earned a lot of prestige, but the WSOP still has a special place in the hearts of poker players because it was the first.

The first-ever World Series of Poker was conceived by Benny Binion, a prominent casino owner in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Benny Binion, the flamboyant owner of the casino who was also partial to playing poker, organised the original competition with Tom Moore and Vic Vickrey, two other people heavily involved in the Vegas casino scene.

In 1970, Binion invited six of the best poker players to compete in a series of cash games at his casino, the Horseshoe Casino. There was also no main event.

Instead, there were just a few cash games for different variants of poker, including five-card stud, razz, and Texas hold’em.

With no main event, the overall winner was decided by a ballot of all the players, who decided that the first-ever WSOP title should go to Johnny Moss.

In addition to there being no main event, there was also no bracelet for winners, at least not immediately.

Although the tournament has since moved, you can still see remnants of the WSOP’s history at Binion’s.

The casino is located at the popular Fremont Experience, where it proudly shows off memorabilia, including a signed table from an early tournament.

Growing Popularity

In the early years, the WSOP featured a single main event, the No-Limit Texas Hold’em World Championship. The field size was small, with only a handful of participants.

However, as word spread and poker’s popularity increased, more players began to participate in the WSOP.

The organisers began making tweaks to the format, such as the introduction of the main event, to help create more structure and to add a focal point.

This allowed the tournament to more closely follow the style of major sports leagues like the NFL and NBA.

The changes worked. By 1973 the competition was being aired on television. Of course, just three years in, the WSOP was still much smaller than it was today, but TV would help the event to gain popularity, increase its prestige, and as a result attract more players.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the event’s growth accelerated, resulting in around 400 poker players taking part each year by the end of the 21st century.

Expansion In The 2000s

In 2004, Harrah’s Entertainment (now Caesars Entertainment) acquired the rights to the WSOP. The tournament’s venue shifted from the Horseshoe Casino to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, where it has been held ever since.

The acquisition brought about increased resources, marketing, and development for the WSOP.

In 2005, it was expanded globally by introducing the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) held in London. The WSOPE features several events and culminates in the awarding of multiple bracelets.

This expansion allowed international players to compete in a prestigious WSOP event without traveling to Las Vegas.

The series has continued to evolve and adapt to the changing landscape of poker. It introduced online bracelet events, allowing players to compete from anywhere in the world.

It has also embraced new technologies and media platforms to engage with a wider audience. Today, it offers a diverse schedule of events, allowing players to compete in their preferred poker games.

The Poker Boom

Today, card players take online poker for granted. It’s convenient and easy to just open your computer, tablet, or smartphone and start playing.

It’s not even just free games with play money either. Thanks to major brands like PokerStars, it’s possible to enjoy many variants of online poker with real money on all of these platforms by taking advantage of the various payment methods they offer.

Until the early 2000s, that wasn’t the case. Your only options for a game of Texas hold’em was to play around your kitchen table or to take a trip to a card room which, depending on where you lived, could be several hours away.

Spotting an opportunity, many online poker sites began sponsoring the WSOP and offering talented players on their platforms a spot in the tournament.

When one of the players became the first WSOP winner to qualify online, demand for these sites exploded, leading to a period known as the poker boom.

WSOP Main Event Winners From 1970-2022

  • 1970 – Johnny Moss
  • 1971 – Johnny Moss
  • 1972 – Amarillo Slim
  • 1973 – Puggy Pearson
  • 1974 – Johnny Moss
  • 1975 – Sailor Roberts
  • 1976 – Doyle Brunson
  • 1977 – Doyle Brunson
  • 1978 – Bobby Baldwin
  • 1979 – Hal Fowler
  • 1980 – Stu Ungar
  • 1981 – Stu Ungar
  • 1982 – Jack Straus
  • 1983 – Tom McEvoy
  • 1984 – Jack Keller
  • 1985 – Bill Smith
  • 1986 – Berry Johnston
  • 1987 – Johnny Chan
  • 1988 – Johnny Chan
  • 1989 – Phil Hellmuth Jr.
  • 1990 – Mansour Matloubi
  • 1991 – Brad Daugherty
  • 1992 – Hamid Dastmalchi
  • 1993 – Jim Bechtel
  • 1994 – Russ Hamilton
  • 1995 – Dan Harrington
  • 1996 – Huck Seed
  • 1997 – Stu Ungar
  • 1998 – Scotty Nguyen
  • 1999 – Noel Furlong
  • 2000 – Chris Ferguson
  • 2001 – Carlos Mortensen
  • 2002 – Robert Varkonyi
  • 2003 – Chris Moneymaker
  • 2004 – Greg Raymer
  • 2005 – Joe Hachem
  • 2006 – Jamie Gold
  • 2007 – Jerry Yang
  • 2008 – Peter Eastgate
  • 2009 – Joe Cada
  • 2010 – Jonathan Duhamel
  • 2011 – Pius Heinz
  • 2012 – Greg Merson
  • 2013 – Ryan Riess
  • 2014 – Martin Jacobson
  • 2015 – Joe McKeehen
  • 2016 – Qui Nguyen
  • 2017 – Scott Blumstein
  • 2018 – John Cynn
  • 2019 – Hossein Ensan
  • 2020 – Event postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic
  • 2021 – Damian Salas (International) and Joe Hebert (US), played heads-up in 2021 for the championship
  • 2022 – Espen Jorstad

Who Has The Most World Series Of Poker Bracelets?

The record for the most World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets won is held by Phil Hellmuth Jr.

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Phil Hellmuth is a highly accomplished professional poker player known for his exceptional tournament performances.

He has amassed an impressive total of 15 WSOP bracelets throughout his career, establishing himself as the all-time leader in bracelet victories.

His achievements include winning the prestigious WSOP Main Event in 1989 at the age of 24, becoming the youngest player ever to accomplish that feat.