Breif History of the World Series of Poker
The World Series of Poker was originally organized by Jack Binion. Binion was the owner of the Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas and wanted to put together an event that brought together the best poker player in the world to crown a true World Champion of Poker.
The first World Series of Poker was held in 1970 with seven of the best poker players in the world. The participants were Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim Preston, Johnny Moss, Sailor Roberts, Puggy Pearson, Crandell Addington, and Carl Cannon.
These were the poker stars to whom many of the the current young poker players look up to. The very first year Moss was voted best player among the players at the event, making him the first WSOP champion.
The next year Moss won the winner takes all event with a prize money of $30,000.
In the early days, the buy-in for the Main Event was $5,000 and the game was No-Limit Holdem. A few years later, the buy-in was raised to $10,000. In 1971, additional event were added to the Main Event. Additional event would be added through the years to include women’s events and a seniors only event.
Around the middle 70’s, participation began to grow. Doyle Brunson would win back to back titles in 1976 and 1977 and raked in over half a million. Both of Doyle’s titles were sealed with the Doyle Brunson holding 10-2.
In the 80’s, the WSOP would start receiving television time when CBS and NBC took turns broadcasting the World Sereis of Poker. One featured player on these broadcasts was back to back Main Event winner Johnny Chan, who was popularly known as “The Oriental Express”.
Chan won back to back titles in 1987 and 1988, making him the first back to back winner since Stu Ungar won back to back titles in 1980 and 1981. Proceeding that year, Chan had to settle for second place when his run for a third title was thwarted by Phil Hellmuth. Hellmuth at the time was the player to win the Championship. Phil was about 24 yrs old when he won the World Series Main Event. His record would stand until 2008 when Peter Eastgate became the youngest Main Event winner.
The 90′s brought in more money for the players and the game began to receive more media exposure with continued broadcasts on both ESPN and CBS. The money was big and the first place money was over $1 million. Stu Ungar surprised everyone with his win in 1997 and became the only other three time WSOP champion besides Johnny Moss.
The World Series of Poker exploded in popularity in 2003 due to two reasons. The first was the pocket cam that allowed fans to see what the players were holding in their hands. The next was the rise of Chris Moneymaker who won the World Series of Poker after getting into the event on a $40 satellite. The combination of the two set off what is known as the poker boom and heralded in a long list of new players and champions.
Jamie Gold is the current record holder for the largest win in WSOP history. In 2006, Gold navigated his way through the largest field in WSOP history to take the first place prize of $12 Million. Peter Eastgate became the first pro to win the Main Event since 2001 when he took the 2008 Main Event after an epic battle with Ivan Demidov.
The WSOP brings out the best players in the world as well as many strong amateur players. While there is a lot of dead money in the field, the Main Event is still the granddaddy of all poker tournaments.