World Series of Poker – WSOP

World Series of Poker (WSOP) is a series of poker tournaments held annually in Las Vegas. The most famous and prestigious part of WSOP is the $10 000 Main Event, where the World Champion of Poker is crowned.

Since the start in 1970, WSOP has grown to a huge phenomenon that spans over 60 different tournaments. WSOP 2012 consisted of 61 tournaments of which roughly half were variants of Texas Hold’em. Other examples of featured poker games were Omaha, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low 8 or Better, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball, Seven Card Razz, H.O.R.S.E och Eight Game Mix.

The WSOP 2012 Main Event attracted 6,598 entrants of which 666 placed in the money. The prize pool consisted of $62,021,200 and the winner, Greg Merson, received $8,531,853 and the coveted WSOP Main Event bracelet.

The start of WSOP

The first World Series of Poker (WSOP) was played in 1970 and was not an open tournament. Jack Binion invited seven great poker players to Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas and they played a cash game with a set stop time. Several different poker variants were included: Texas Hold’em, Five Card Stud, Seven Card Stud, Deuce to Seven, Lowball, and Razz. After the game, a winner was determined by secret ballot.

The participants were Amarillo Slim, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, Carl Cannon, Sailor Roberts, Puggy Pearson and Crandell Addington, and the winner was Johhny Moss. Moss was awarded with a silver cup. (The famous WSOP bracelet was not introduced until 1976.)


In 2004, Binion’s Horseshoe was purchased by Harrah’s Entertainment (now Caesars Entertainment). The rights to the World Series of Poker brand was included in the purchase, and the World Series of Poker 2005 was held at Rio Hotel and Casino, an establishment owned by Harrah’s.

November Nine

WSOP is traditionally played in the summer. Up until a few years ago, the prestigious WSOP $10 000 Main Event was played without interruption, but in 2008 the Main Event final table was moved to late fall in an effort to build excitement and increase interest in the televised shows. (The shows are taped during the summer but not broadcast by ESPN until later.)

Since 2008, the final table of WSOP Main Event has been played in November, giving the nine finalists the collective nickname “November Nine”. An exception is the year of 2012 when the WSOP Main Event final table was played in late October instead to avoid a clash with the U.S. Presidential Election.

Online satellites

A wide range of poker rooms arrange satellites to World Series of Poker. It is possible to win everything from buy-in to one of the cheaper side events to extensive packages that include the $10 000 Main Event buy-in + airfare, hotel accommodation, pocket money, and more.

On most sites, several tiers of satellites are available where the lowest satellites are freerolls or have a very low buy-in. Sometimes points from the poker room’s loyalty program can be used instead of cash. This multi-tier system makes it possible to win WSOP packages without risking any large amount of money. Players chose freely on which tier to start their journey, based on how much they are willing to risk.

In 2003, Chris Moneymaker – a 27-year-old accountant from Tennessee – won a $39 satellite tournament on the PokerStars site. This gave him entry to a more expensive satellite where the first prize was a seat in the WSOP $10 000 Main Event. Moneymaker won the prize and went to Las Vegas, where he eventually won the entire WSOP $10 000 Main Event, thus becoming the first person ever to be crowned World Champion of Poker after qualifying at an online poker site. This caused a lot of attention world wide and is believed to have been a major factor in the poker boom of the mid 2000’s. In the press, the phenomenon was dubbed the “Moneymaker Effect”. In 2003, 839 players participated in the WSOP $10 000 Main Event. By 2004, the number of Main Event participants had grown to 2 576.

WSOP $10 000 Main Event Champions 1970-2012


Number of entrants


First place prize (in USD)


1970 7 Johnny Moss N/A N/A
1971 6 Johnny Moss 30,000 Walter “Puggy” Pearson
1972 8 Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston 80,000 Walter “Puggy” Pearson
1973 13 Walter “Puggy” Pearson 130,000 Johnny Moss
1974 16 Johnny Moss 160,000 Crandell Addington
1975 21 Brian “Sailor” Roberts 210,000 Bob Hooks
1976 22 Doyle Brunson 220,000 Jesse Alto
1977 34 Doyle Brunson 340,000 Gary Berland
1978 42 Bobby Baldwin 210,000 Crandell Addington
1979 54 Hal Fowler 270,000 Bobby Hoff
1980 73 Stu Ungar 385,000 Doyle Brunson
1981 75 Stu Ungar 375,000 Perry Green
1982 104 Jack Straus 520,000 Dewey Tomko
1983 108 Tom McEvoy 540,000 Rod Peate
1984 132 Jack Keller 660,000 Byron Wolford
1985 140 Bill Smith 700,000 T. J. Cloutier
1986 141 Berry Johnston 570,000 Mike Harthcock
1987 152 Johnny Chan 625,000 Frank Henderson
1988 167 Johnny Chan 700,000 Erik Seidel
1989 178 Phil Hellmuth, Jr. 755,000 Johnny Chan
1990 194 Mansour Matloubi 895,000 Hans Lund
1991 215 Brad Daugherty 1,000,000 Don Holt
1992 201 Hamid Dastmalchi 1,000,000 Tom Jacobs
1993 220 Jim Bechtel 1,000,000 Glenn Cozen
1994 268 Russ Hamilton 1,000,000 Hugh Vincent
1995 273 Dan Harrington 1,000,000 Howard Goldfarb
1996 295 Huck Seed 1,000,000 Bruce Van Horn
1997 312 Stu Ungar 1,000,000 John Strzemp
1998 350 Scotty Nguyen 1,000,000 Kevin McBride
1999 393 Noel Furlong 1,000,000 Alan Goehring
2000 512 Chris Ferguson 1,500,000 T. J. Cloutier
2001 613 Juan Carlos Mortensen 1,500,000 Dewey Tomko
2002 631 Robert Varkonyi 2,000,000 Julian Gardner
2003 839 Chris Moneymaker 2,500,000 Sam Farha
2004 2,576 Greg Raymer 5,000,000 David Williams
2005 5,619 Joe Hachem 7,500,000 Steve Dannenmann
2006 8,773 Jamie Gold 12,000,000 Paul Wasicka
2007 6,358 Jerry Yang 8,250,000 Tuan Lam
2008 6,844 Peter Eastgate 9,152,416 Ivan Demidov
2009 6,494 Joe Cada 8,547,042 Darvin Moon
2010 7,319 Jonathan Duhamel 8,944,310 John Racener
2011 6,865 Pius Heinz 8,715,638 Martin Staszko
2012 6,598 Greg Merson 8,531,853 Jesse Sylvia