The Early Years
The very first World Series of Poker (WSOP) took place in 1970 and a famous gambler, Benny Binion, founded this concept. Compared to the thousands of WSOP players today this first event only had seven entrants. In its defence though the very first WSOP was by invitation only. In 1971 the WSOP changed its format and it became a public format where anybody could play as long as they could come up with the buy-in of $5000. Only six players entered.
The seven players from the inaugural tournament were known not only for their poker skills, but all forms of gambling and betting. These seven were Johnny Moss, Amarillo Preston, Brian Roberts, Doyle Brunson, Walter Pearson, Crandall Addington and Carl Cannon. The winner of the first WSOP tournament was Johnny Moss who won by way of voting. This format changed in the following year to the traditional elimination rounds.
The following year the buy-in went up to $10 000 and has remained that way until now. Although the series did not grow as quickly as one would expect with only 52 players 10 years later, it would explode years later. Until 1976 the winners of the WSOP were awarded a silver cup and in this year winners were then awarded a gold bracelet and it is still the same today. All WSOP winners before 1976 were also rewarded with gold bracelets.
The Moneymaker Effect
In 2004 the WSOP had more than 10 000 tournament entries and this explosion of players was as a result of an accountant from Tennessee, Chris Moneymaker. In 2003 Moneymaker won two of the satellite tournaments on PokerStars, which led to him being eligible to play at the WSOP main event. The satellite tournaments are a way for players to play poker with a smaller buy-in, which in turn could lead to a seat at one of the larger tournaments. These satellite tournaments are known as step tournaments. Moneymaker was not a professional poker player, but managed to win a seat at the WSOP main event. Later he won $2.5 million in the main event and it was this win from an amateur that attracted many players believing that if he could do it, so could they. And with online gambling Canada sites offering freerolls and other easy to enter poker tournaments, the reality of winning big is now better than ever.
The Expansion of the WSOP
The WSOP entrants began increasing from 2003 with 839 players, in 2004 2576 players and 5619 in 2005. In 2006 the WSOP had 45 events going on with more than a million dollars in prize money. Jamie Gold made history when he beat 8772 players and walked away with $12 million. In 2016 there were 6737 players taking part in the main WSOP event. This is known as the Moneymaker effect and is probably the only reason why the game of poker is as popular and profitable today.
After the poker boom in the US, the WSOP wanted to expand and have the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE). In the first year of the WSOPE there were three events and this included a 10 000 GBP event which was won by a Norwegian girl, Annette Obrestad, who was just 19 at the time. The WSOP also made its way to Africa and Asia.
The WSOP also continued to expand in the US with many events each year. The WSOP consists of a range of events culminating in the main event, which is called the Championship and has made many poker players’ millionaires and will continue to do so in the future.