World Series of Poker

WSOP: History, Winners, Bracelets and Future

The World Series of Poker is the most prestigious series of poker tournaments in the world.
Every winner receives a gold bracelet along with the cash prize to show off their
victory. The gold bracelet is coveted by all players, and the more serious
players want the bracelet more than the money.

The Beginning of the WSOP

The first World Series of Poker occurred in 1968, and took place not in Las Vegas, but in
Reno, Nevada. Tom Moore, hailing from San Antonio, Texas, was the founder of this
invitation-only event. The winner was Crandell Addington, a man who would finish in
the top ten of the WSOP Main Event eight separate times, a feat that has yet to be

This was the precursor to the modern World Series of Poker, which was formed by
Benny Binion in 1970. Benny Binion wanted to promote poker, which had trouble
finding its way into casinos because it was hard for casinos to keep cheaters out and the
casinos also didn’t see how they would make money. Eventually poker’s popularity both
in and out of casinos would rise thanks to the efforts of Benny Binion and events such as
the WSOP.

In 1970, the first year of Benny Binion’s World Series of Poker, the players competed in
a series of cash games and voted on the best all-around player, and that player would be
named the champion. Johnny Moss won the vote, becoming the first World Champion of
Poker, winning a silver cup.

In 1971, the World Series of Poker changed to its current format, with tournaments where
the winner is awarded a cash prize and a gold bracelet. In 1973 a Five-Card tournament
was added to the World Series of Poker, making the WSOP an actual series of
tournaments instead of just the Main Event.
WSOP Booms

Participation in the World Series of Poker has boomed in recent years. This boom can be
attributed to two different factors, the first being the growth of televised poker with the
WSOP on ESPN, the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel, and several more poker shows
appearing on the Game Show Network and other channels. The other factor is the success
of Chris Moneymaker, who as a total unknown won the 2003 WSOP Main Event,
which made a lot of amateur poker players thing that they could do it too. After
Moneymaker’s victory, the player field in the WSOP Main Event exploded from 893 in
2003 to 2,576 in 2004 and 8,773 in 2006. In three years the player field grew by a factor
of 10.

The World Series of Poker Main Event

The WSOP Main Event is the most prestigious poker tournament in the world. Every
poker player dreams of winning this tournament and the cash that comes along with it.
The Main Event is a $10,000 buy-in No Limit Texas Holdem Tournament, and the
winner also receives the honor of having that picture placed in the Gallery of Champions
at Binion’s Horseshoe. Four players have won the Main Event more than once. They are
Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, and Johnny Chan. The final hand of the 1998
Main Event was immortalized by the movie Rounders, which showed the end of the
heads-up battle between champion Johnny Chan and Erik Seidel.

WSOP Main Event Champions

The following table is a list of the WSOP Main Event Champions from Johnny Moss in 1970
to Jerry Yang in 2007. Johnny Moss’s victory in 1970 was decided by vote; therefore, there
was no runner-up in that year.

Year Winner Runner-Up Entrants 1st Prize $
1970 Johnny Moss N/A 7 Cash Game
1971 Johnny Moss Puggy Pearson 6 $30,000
1972 Amarillo Slim Preston Puggy Pearson 8 $80,000
1973 Puggy Pearson Johnny Moss 13 $130,000
1974 Johnny Moss Crandall Addington 16 $160,000
1975 Sailor Roberts Bob Hooks 21 $210,000
1976 Doyle Brunson Jesse Alto 22 $220,000
1977 Doyle Brunson Gary Berland 34 $340,000
1978 Bobby Baldwin Crandall Addington 42 $210,000
1979 Hal Fowler Bobby Hoff 54 $270,000
1980 Stu Ungar Doyle Brunson 73 $385,000
1981 Stu Ungar Perry Green 75 $375,000
1982 Jack Straus Dewey Tomko 104 $520,000
1983 Tom McEvoy Rod Peate 108 $540,000
1984 Jack Keller Byron Wolford 132 $660,000
1985 Bill Smith T.J. Cloutier 140 $700,000
1986 Berry Johnston Mike Harthcock 141 $570,000
1987 Johnny Chan Frank Henderson 152 $625,000
1988 Johnny Chan Erik Seidel 167 $700,000
1989 Phil Hellmuth Jr. Johnny Chan 178 $755,000
1990 Mansour Matloubi Hans Lund 194 $895,000
1991 Brad Duagherty Don Holt 215 $1,000,000
1992 Hamid Dastmalchi Tom Jacobs 201 $1,000,000
1993 Jim Bechtel Glenn Cozen 220 $1,000,000
1994 Russ Hamilton Hugh Vincent 268 $1,000,000
1995 Dan Harrington Howard Goldfarb 273 $1,000,000
1996 Huck Seed Bruce Van Horn 295 $1,000,000
1997 Stu Ungar John Strzemp 312 $1,000,000
1998 Scotty Nguyen Kevin McBride 350 $1,000,000
1999 Noel Furlong Alan Goehring 393 $1,000,000
2000 Chris Ferguson T.J. Cloutier 512 $1,500,000
2001 Juan Carlos Mortensen Dewey Tomko 613 $1,500,000
2002 Robert Varkonyi Julian Gardner 631 $2,000,000
2003 Chris Moneymaker Sam Farha 839 $2,500,000
2004 Greg Raymer David Williams 2576 $5,000,000
2005 Joe Hachem Steve Danneman 5619 $7,500,000
2006 Jamie Gold Paul Wasicka 8773 $12,000,000
2007 Jerry Yang Tuan Lam 6358 $8,250,000

The New Prestige Tournament

Thanks to the giant influx of new players at the WSOP, and especially, the Main Event,
professional players have had a harder time doing well simply because of the larger
numbers. In response, a new tournament was created, the $50,000 HORSE event. The
high buy-in discourages amateurs from paying the entry fee, and as HORSE is a mixture
of five different poker games, only players skilled in all games will go deep into this
tournament. Because of these qualities, the $50,000 HORSE tournament winner earns
more respect for their victory than the winner of the Main Event. This event was won by
Chip Reese in 2006 and Freddy Deeb in 2007.

Quest for the Most Bracelets

In 2007, Phil Hellmuth won his 11th WSOP bracelet, breaking a three-way tie that included
Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan. Doyle and Johnny still hold 10 bracelets, and will be
looking to win more in 2008. Both Doyle and Johnny came close to winning an 11th
bracelet in 2007, but fell just short.

Harrah’s Takes Charge

The World Series of Poker was changed in a big way in 2004 when Harrah’s
Entertainment bought Binion’s Horseshoe, the site of the WSOP, then turned around and
sold the hotel and casino while retaining the rights to the Horseshoe and World Series of
Poker brands. This move put them in charge of the World Series of Poker.

After buying the WSOP, Harrah’s moved it to the Rio Hotel and Casino, owned by
Harrah’s. In 2005, the final two days of the Main Event took place at Binion’s
Horseshoe. However, beginning in 2006 the entire WSOP Main Event has been held at
the Rio.

Harrah’s also began the invitation-only Tournament of Champions, which in 2004 was a
winner take all event, but was changed in subsequent years to have a more normal payout

Harrah’s also implemented WSOP Circuit Events, which were $10,000 buy-in
events held at Harrah’s-owned casinos across the United States.

World Series of Poker Europe

On September 6-16th there will be three World Series of Poker events held in London.
This will be the first time that a poker player can win a WSOP bracelet outside of Las
Vegas. There are also plans to expand the WSOP to even more locations, with Egypt and
South Africa being considered as future sites, although no definitive plans have been set
in motion.