The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the most prestigious series of poker tournaments in the world. While there is no tournament called the World Championship of Poker, the WSOP is (unofficially) considered to be one. The World Series is held every year in Las Vegas, lasts over a month and consists of more than 60 tournaments in all major varieties of poker, with a total prize pool of more than $180 million. The winner of each tournament is awarded a gold bracelet. The number of World Series bracelets won is one of the main hallmarks of the world’s top players. The series ends with the “Main Event” – a $10,000 buy-in tournament, the winner of which is considered the winner of the entire tournament and the “World Champion”.
The first major poker competition was held in 1968, when Tom Moore of San Antonio, Texas, to advertise his Holiday Hotel and Casino in Reno, organized The Texas Gamblers Reunion, which is considered to be the foundation World Series of Poker. It was won by Crandell Addington, who finished in the top ten in the WSOP Main Event eight times, a record that still stands today.
The first official tournament took place in 1970 at the initiative of Benny Binion and lasted only a week at the Benny Binion’s Horseshoe casino on Fremont Street in Las Vegas. Only 7 players took part in it, and Johnny Moss became the winner by decision of the general vote, who received the silver cup and the title of world poker champion. The championship was called the “World Series of Poker” (WSOP) and its task was to determine the best poker player in the world. In the history of the WSOP, there have been two three-time winners of the tournament – Johnny Moss (“the great old man of poker” won the vote of the players for the first time), as well as Stu Unger (three clean wins), on whose story the film “The Gambler” was made. Surprisingly, both of these players died in Las Vegas – Jony at 88, having retired from poker, and Stu at 45, remaining a professional player, but undermining his health with drugs.
Every year more and more players registered for the competition, and, accordingly, the prize fund increased. If in 1971 only 6 players took part in the main tournament of the series, and the winner received 30,000 US dollars, then already in 2006 8772 participants participated, and the main prize was 12 million dollars. In 2007, the number of participants decreased slightly due to the measures taken by the US government to combat the game of poker for money on the Internet. Despite this, 6358 people played in the main tournament, and the winner Jerry Yang won $8.25 million. The winner of the WSOP Main Event has traditionally been awarded the unofficial title of World Series of Poker Champion.
In 2006, a new $50,000 mixed poker tournament H.O.R.S.E. was added to the World Series schedule. (each new level changes the type of poker played – Limit Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Razz, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better). Due to the exponential growth in the number of participants in the Main Event, many in the poker community consider the H.O.R.S.E. more objective way to determine the best player in the world. The winners of this tournament were Chip Reese in 2006 and Freddie Deeb in 2007, and in 2008 the winner was Scotty Nguyen, who behaved rather aggressively due to excess alcohol in his blood.
Since 2010, the “high roller” H.O.R.S.E. was replaced by The Poker Player’s Championship tournament (the entry fee remained the same – 50 thousand dollars) in the 8-Game mixed poker discipline, which is extremely popular in recent years (it is a mix of 8 poker varieties: Limit Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Razz, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball). The first winner of this tournament was Michael Mizrahi (2010).
Since 2004, the player with the highest total ranking points in the current year’s World Series tournaments has been awarded the prestigious WSOP Player of the Year title. Almost every year, the organizers make changes to the rules for calculating rating points (mainly these changes relate to the inclusion / exclusion of certain tournaments from the general rating calculation formula). For the 2011 series, all tournaments held directly at the World Series, as well as at the European stage of the World Series, counted. Exceptions: Tournament #1, Casino Workers Only, Tournament #30, Veterans Tournament, and Tournament #53, Women Only.