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History of the World Series Of Poker

Though the World Series of Poker made its official debut in 1970, the idea of the Horseshoe's annual tournament was actually conceived more than two decades earlier.

In the summer of 1949, as the story goes, inveterate gambler Nicholas "Nick the Greek" Dandolos approached Benny Binion with an unusual request - to challenge the best in a high-stakes poker marathon. Binion agreed to set up a match between Dandolos and the legendary Johnny Moss, with the stipulation that the game would be played in public view.

During the course of the marathon, which lasted five months with breaks only for sleep, the two men played every form of poker imaginable. Moss ultimately won "the biggest game in town" and an estimated $2 million. When the Greek lost his last pot, he arose from his chair, bowed slightly, and uttered the now-famous words, "Mr. Moss, I have to let you go." Dandolos then went upstairs to bed.

Though significant in its own way as a chapter in poker history, the five-month marathon took on added importance to Benny Binion. He noted that the public had gathered outside the casino each day to watch the game with the fervor of dedicated sports fans, and he was amazed at the attention the event had attracted. But it wasn't until 1970 that Binion decided to re-create this excitement and stage a battle of poker giants - dubbed the "World Series Of Poker" - to determine who would be worthy of the title "World Champion." Some of the best players in the country were assembled, and Johnny Moss came out on top. The decision was democratic in that the champion was decided by popular vote.

The following year, the winner was determined by a freezeout competition, with players being systematically eliminated until one player had all the chips. Moss again was declared the World Champion. In 1972, when Thomas "Amarillo Slim" Preston won the title and went on the talk-show circuit, the WSOP began to gain a wider following.

It was only a year later that Binion participated in the Oral History Project at the University of Nevada-Reno and discussed the World Series with interviewer Mary Ellen Glass. "This poker game here gets us a lot of attention," he told Glass. "We had seven players last year, and this year we had 13. I look to have better than 20 next year. It's even liable to get up to be 50, might get up to be more than that." Binion then paused, and as if gazing into the future, prophesied, "It will eventually."

In the early 1980s, with the introduction of preliminary satellite competitions with lower buy-ins, Binion's prophesy came to fruition and the popularity of the World Series of Poker soared. But even Benny Binion, who passed away on Christmas Day of 1989, would have had difficulty foreseeing the enormous growth the Horseshoe's annual tournament has experienced in the past decade or so.

In 1982, nine years after Mr. Binion participated in UNR's Oral History Project, the tournament drew 52 entrants. Five years later, there were 2,141 participants, and the 2002 event attracted 7,595 entries. The prize money has increased proportionately, from $7,769,000 a decade ago to a staggering $19,599,230 in 2002. Whereas only 12 events, mostly Texas hold'em and seven-card stud, were scheduled as recently as 1988, the 2004 tournament offers 33 competitions that feature a wide variety of games.

Today, the legacy Benny Binion left the poker community ranks as the oldest, largest, most prestigious, and most media-hyped gaming competition in the world, and no doubt it holds the promise of an even brighter future. But equally important, The World Series of Poker has touched thousands of lives over the years, affording talented players the opportunity to follow their dreams, reach for the stars, and perhaps one day achieve greatness in their chosen endeavor

W.S.O.P. Main Event Winners

YEAR
COUNTRY
WINNER
ENTRANTS
PURSE
2017
USA
7221
$8 150 000
2016
USA
6737
$8 005 310
2015
USA
6420
$7 683 346
2014
SWEDEN
6683
$10 000 000
2013
USA
6352
$8 361 570
2012
USA
6598
$8 531 853
2011
GERMANY
6865
$8 715 638
2010
CANADA
7319
$8 944 310
2009
USA
6494
$8 547 042
2008
DENMARK
6844
$9 152 416
2007
USA
6358
$8 250 000
2006
USA
JAMIE GOLD
8773
$12 000 000
2005
AUSTRALIA
JOE HACHEM
5618
$7 500 000
2004
USA
GREG RAYMER
2576
$5 000 000
2003
USA
CHRIS MONEYMAKER
839
$2 500 000
2002
USA
ROBERT VARKONYI
631
$2 000 000
2001
SPAIN
CARLOS MORTENSEN
613
$1 500 000
2000
USA
CHRIS FERGUSON
512
$1 500 000
1999
IRELAND
NOEL FURLONG
393
$1 000 000
1998
USA
SCOTTY NGUYEN
350
$1 000 000
1997
USA
STU UNGAR
312
$1 000 000
1996
USA
HUCK SEED
295
$1 000 000
1995
USA
DAN HARRINGTON
273
$1 000 000
1994
USA
RUSS HAMILTON
268
$1 000 000
1993
USA
JIM BECHTEL
220
$1 000 000
1992
USA
HAMID DASTMALCHI
201
$1 000 000
1991
USA
BRAD DAUGHERTY
215
$1 000 000
1990
WALES
MANSOUR MATLOUBI
194
$895 000
1989
USA
PHIL HELLMUTH
178
$755 000
1988
USA
JOHNNY CHAN
167
$700 000
1987
USA
JOHNNY CHAN
152
$625 000
1986
USA
BERRY JOHNSTON
141
$570 000
1985
USA
BILL SMITH
140
$700 000
1984
USA
JACK KELLER
132
$660 000
1983
USA
TOM MCEVOY
108
$580 000
1982
USA
JACK STRAUSS
104
$520 000
1981
USA
STU UNGAR
75
$375 000
1980
USA
STU UNGAR
73
$385 000
1979
USA
HAL FOWLER
54
$375 000
1978
USA
BOBBY BALDWIN
42
$210 000
1977
USA
DOYLE BRUNSON
34
$340 000
1976
USA
DOYLE BRUNSON
22
$220 000
1975
USA
SAILOR ROBERTS
21
$210 000
1974
USA
JOHNNY MOSS
16
$160 000
1973
USA
PUGGY PEARSON
13
$130 000
1972
USA
AMARILLO SLIM PRESTON
8
$80 000
1971
USA
JOHNNY MOSS
6
$30 000
1970
USA
JOHNNY MOSS
38
TROPHY

WSOP

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Pro Tips

 

Lack of patience and self-discipline are the downfall of many players who otherwise are technically sound enough to be winners...Doyle Brunson

 

The decisions you make on the Flop are by far the most important...Doyle Brunson

 

Be straightforward...not fancy...in your betting tactics. Some hands you get will virtually play themselves. Your ability to make the most, or lose the least, with one Pair will probably be the difference between winning and losing...Doyle Brunson

 

It comes to a point where you have to take a chance. If you want to be a winner...Doyle Brunson

 

You should never start out bluffing at a pot and keep bluffing at it without an out...Doyle Brunson

 

You can't play winning poker by playing safe all the time. You must take chances...gamble...Doyle Brunson

 

You should constantly be trying to get as much value for your hand as you can. And the way you do that is to bet...Doyle Brunson

 

Often you can tell just from the way a man bets, whether he has a strong hand or a weak hand , it's all in the motion...Mike Caro

 

Players often stack chips in a manner directly indicative of their play. Conservative means conservative: sloppy means sloppy...Mike Caro

 

Players staring at you are usually less of a threat than players staring away...Mike Caro

 

Play the top ten hands only for a while, get yourself comfortable, get yourself used to the game. As you advance as a player you can start playing the majority play hands...Phil Hellmuth

 

Remember to always raise. Do a lot of raising to find out where you're at. Raise to find out if your hand is the best hand or not. Raise to try to win the pot. Once you've learned the information, once you've learned where you're at through raising, make sure that you follow through. If you've learned that you're beat...fold, if you've learned that you have the best hand...continue to play and bet...Phil Hellmuth

 

It's very important that when your opponent has a drawing hand that misses to allow them to bluff to you...Howard Lederer

 

Very often you can catch a big bluff on the river, not by anything your opponent did on the river, but by how he was betting his hand earlier in the pot...Howard Lederer

 

Don't look at your cards until it's your turn to act...Howard Lederer

 

If you practice reading people, you will become a better poker psychologist...Howard Lederer

 

Find the few friends in your group that are really into the game and start sharing ideas amongst eachother, and you're gonna find your game improving very quickly...Howard Lederer

 

Mix up your play and become a dangerous unpredictable player...Howard Lederer

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