The World Series of Poker or WSOP as it’s more frequently referred to began in 1970 in Las Vegas. Since then it has become the biggest poker event in the world. And the WSOP Main Event is the one event that every poker player dreams of winning.
The first Series was in 1970 had just seven players and the winner was decided by vote. Johnny Moss, known as ‘The Grand Old Man of Poker’ was the fortunate one in the first Series. He was elected by his fellow players for the Champion title. That won him a silver trophy and $30,000. The story goes (possibly fictional!) that every one of the players, when asked to vote for the best player, voted for themselves!
It was only when the players were asked to vote for the second best player that Moss emerged victorious. The format obviously needed to be changed and so it was for the next Series in 1971. They employed the freezeout tournament structure that is still used in the competition today.
The freezeout structure made the event far more exciting. And over the years field sizes have grown, as have the prizes. More events have been added in a wider range of poker games, but players still gravitate towards the Main Event. The reasons for this are clear: the Main Event has a $10,000 buy-in and the winner is awarded a huge cash prize and is crowned World Champion.
The joy of the World Series of Poker is that the rise of online poker has enabled everyday amateur players to win seats in the tournament. Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event after winning his seat through a $39 satellite, winning himself a cool $2,500,000!!!!!
With amateurs being able to enter this way the event has grown massively and in 2008 there were 6,844 entrants. It was won by Peter Eastgate who took home $9,152,416. By 2018 there were 7,874 entered into the tournament. John Cynn overcame Tony Miles in a heads-up match for the title and winnings of $8.8 million.
So what kind of strategy do you employ if you are lucky enough to get a seat at the World Series of Poker? Peter Eastman says that the strategy that he used to win the 2008 Main Event was to not have a pre-tournament strategy! There are too many unknown variables such as quality of cards drawn. As well as an abundance of players with hugely differing emotional states, it is difficult to have a pre-determined strategy.
He does say that the key to playing in a long and hard tournament like the WSOP is to find the balance between accumulation of chips and maintaining your chip stack. And, of course, to stay relaxed especially as the money increases.
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