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The World Series of Poker

 

World Series of PokerThe first ever World Series of Poker [WSOP] was held at the Holiday Hotel and Casino, in Reno, in 1969, by Tom Moore, of San Antonio, Texas. The winner of this inaugural event was Crandell Addington, who later went on to place in the top ten of the Main Event eight times, a record that still stands. The set of tournaments that the World Series of Poker would evolve into was the brainchild of Las Vegas casino owner and poker player Benny Binion, as well as his two sons Jack and Ted.

The Binion family nurtured not only the WSOP, but poker in general. Prior to the 1970s, poker was not found in many Las Vegas casinos because it was difficult to keep card cheats out of the game. Eventually, partly through better security techniques as well as the Binion's tireless promotion, poker became a very popular game and many casinos across the world have introduced poker rooms.

In 1970, the first WSOP at Binion's Horseshoe Casino took place as a series of cash games that included five-card stud, deuce to seven low-ball draw, razz, seven-card stud, and Texas hold 'em. The format for the Main Event as a freeze-out Texas hold 'em tournament came the following year. The winner in the 1970 WSOP was the now legendary Johnny Moss, who was later elected by his peers as the first World Champion of Poker.

From 1971 on, all WSOP events have been tournaments with cash prizes. The number of participants in the WSOP has grown almost every year. In 2000 there were 4,780 entrants in the various events, but in 2005, the number rose to over 23,000 players. In the Main Event alone, participants grew from 839 in 2003 to 8,773 in 2006. This was known as the "Moneymaker Effect" because after unknown amateur player Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event, everyone thought that they could do the same. Much of this growth can also be attributed to the WSOP being televised on ESPN and the World Poker Tour being shown on the Travel Channel.

In 2004, Harrah's Entertainment purchased the Binion's Horseshoe Casino. Harrah's kept the rights to the Horseshoe and WSOP brands and announced that the 2005 WSOP would be held at the Rio Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas. The final two days of the 2005 WSOP Main Event were held downtown, at what is now the MTR-operated "Binion's" in celebration of the centennial of the founding of Las Vegas.

The Rio Hotel and Casino also hosted the 2006 WSOP. The first prize of $12 million was awarded to Jamie Gold.

 

Four players have won the main event multiple times, namely Johnny Moss (1970, 1971 and 1974), Doyle Brunson (1976 and 1977), Stu Ungar (1980, 1981 and 1997) and Johnny Chan (1987 and 1988.) The final round of the 1988 WSOP Main Event was featured in the popular movie Rounders, staring Matt Damon and Ed Norton.


 

Since 1972, the WSOP Main Event has always been the $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold 'Em tournament. (In 1971, the buy-in was $5,000.) The winner of the Main Event has traditionally been given the unofficial title of World Champion, however the game's top professionals have stated that the recently-added $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E> event (in which Hold 'em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud and Eight-or-better are all played) is the true event which ultimately decides the world's best poker player.

The 2006 H.O.R.S.E. tournament was won by Chip Reese. It should be noted that the professional poker players played a major role in convincing the WSOP management to stage an event with a buy-in much larger than the Main Event. The growth of poker tournaments and the WSOP (by way of "Moneymaker Effect") had resulted in fields with a far greater number of amateurs in proportion to professional players. Hence, the Main Event now has a much greater likelihood of producing winners who are rookies, amateurs and/or unknown players, mostly as an outcome of chance, rather than true poker skill. Professional poker players sought to create an event that was more likely to produce a more well-rounded poker professional as the eventual winner. The $50,000 buy-in has thus far managed to deter amateur poker players from participating in the H.O.R.S.E. tournament.

 

 


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