Of all the sporting events that claim to represent the interests of the world, the World Series of Poker is really the only one that can truly claim an all-encompassing international interest. Even the World Cup, soccer’s biggest event, can’t boast the representation of as many countries as the WSOP can.
Not only can this most prestigious of poker tournaments pride itself on being the goal of poker players worldwide, but it can also pride itself on the fact that it has long been a promoter of the card game itself, through times in which it looked as though poker might disappear from the public consciousness. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the tournament in terms of its development.
The World Series of Poker was actually started in 1968 in Reno, Nevada, but it wasn’t until 1970 that the foundations for the tournament with which fans are so familiar today were laid. At that time, the Binion family (under the leadership of Jack Binion) held the first WSOP in Las Vegas.
The event was held at the Binion Horseshoe hotel and casino, and included a series of games such as seven card stud, Texas hold ‘em, and five card stud. The following year, the idea of the progression of players through winning a match was introduced, with the game of Texas hold ‘em becoming the main event.
The World Series of Poker has been held each year since its inception, but it wasn’t until ESPN began expanding its coverage of the event that its popularity really took off all over the world. ESPN and other poker historians have noted that the sneak peek camera seems to have been the turning point as far as popularity, as the event has grown in terms of audience and coverage since the introduction of the device in 2003.
Another notable contribution to the growth of the WSOP itself and the popularity of poker in general was the victory of Chris Moneymaker in 2003. After seeing the amateur take the field, everyone who had ever played a hand realized believed that they might have a shot at making a career out of the game.
The number of entrants into the World Series of Poker has increased more than ten times in the past four years since Moneymaker won the prize and his bracelet.
Today’s World Series of Poker Main Event borrows its format from some tournaments that have been around much longer. Players are ranked according to their play of the following year, determined both by their bankrolls and the end result of several tournaments.
Because the field is so large, ranked players are seated at different tables and don’t meet each other head on until later in the tourney’s progression. This way, amateur players have the chance to progress as well as to possibly play some of the most well known players of the game in the world.
The combination of innovative broadcasting, the popularity of the World Series Of Poker for your PC and the online chances for anyone to win the title has made the World Series of Poker a sports event unlike any other. Today’s tournament has over 45 different variations of poker being played, so entrants have the chance to win a bracelet in more than just the Main Event.
And it’s not just the Main Event that draws people in any more; ESPN covers everything in the World Series of Poker from lower ranked table to various side games. Since the tournament is over a month long, it turns into quite the production!