The History of World Series of Poker

Arguably the most popular poker tournament around, the World Series of Poker likewise enjoys a long and colorful history. While the first WSOP debuted officially in 1970, the idea was actually born more than twenty years earlier.

It was back in 1949 that wealthy gambler Nicholas Dandolos, more popularly known as Nick the Greek, approached casino owner Benny Binion to help him stage a tournament wherein he can challenge the best poker players in the land in a high-stakes poker tournament. Binon agreed and set up a match between Dandolos and legendary poker player Johnny Moss under the condition that the match be made public.

The match lasted for an astounding five months, where the two men played every multiple variations of poker. Ultimately, Moss won, pocketing approximately $2 million.

The popularity of this poker marathon served as the inspiration to Benny Binion to hold the best of the best poker tournament, the World Series of Poker. Binion saw the potential in the interest this first match generated and in 1970, he formally inducted the very first WSOP tournament. Johnny Moss also cam out on top in this inaugural tournament, his win was determined by popular vote from his fellow players.

The next year the tournament employed a freezeout method where the players get eliminated one by one until just a sole player owned all the chips. Incredibly, Moss once again grabbed the top spot. In 1972, the title was won by Thomas Preston, more famously known as Amarillo Slim.

Binion had hope that someday, more than fifty participants will join the competition. In 1982, this dream came to fruition when the tournament hosted 52 hopefuls. Since then, the WSOP has only gained momentum, and only five years later, a total of 2,141 players joined.

Today the World Series of Poker is still held annually and the grueling competition has taken residence in Las Vegas. It currently hosts a game of 55 events, which are held in the course of a month with the exception of the Main Event. Each event's winner is given a champion's bracelet, and the prize is determined by the number of participants in that particular event. The Main Event is the highlight of the event where a hopeful would have to pay a $10,000 buy-in to participate. The staggering pot amount is what draws thousands to shell out this amount of money to be able to take part in this annual event.

In 2006, the WSOP main event hosted almost 9,000 players. In the event's history, several people has proved that poker is a game of skill and not merely of chance, as evident by the number of WSOP bracelets they have at hand: Phil Hellmuth holds the record at 11 bracelets, while felo legends Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson each have 10.

So far, the record for the biggest money winner of all events belong to Jamie Gold, who won 12 million dollars in 2006. Gold was the very first person to go past the 10 million dollar mark in earnings for tournament poker.