The History of the World Series of Poker

The first World Series of Poker was held in 1970, which seems like a lifetime ago given that it is now an international event. There were only around fifty poker tables in Las Vegas at the time, and only about seventy in the entire state of Nevada. The championship event (if it can even be called that) was so tiny and drew so little attention that it was not even played in a poker room because there was no demand for it. 

The Horseshoe Casino had no poker room at all, which is noteworthy because it is where the humble beginnings of this coveted tournament took place. Instead, players were jammed around tables in a casino area with less space. These players had no idea they were about to go down in poker history as pioneers at the moment.

The Game That Preceded the WSOP

Benny Binion is credited with coming up with the idea for the World Series of Poker (WSOP), but two other guys played a role in its creation. The year before the first World Series of Poker, Tom Moore, a part owner of a casino in Reno, and Vic Vickrey, a gambling industry insider, coordinated and invited numerous high-stakes poker players to join them in Reno for a tournament that became known as the Texas Gamblers Reunion. This match occurred the year before the first World Series of Poker. 

It was after the days of the Mafia and Vegas, but it was also the only instance of the event, and the next year Tom Moore and Vic Vickrey declined to sponsor a poker event, leaving the door open for Benny Binion (who attended the Texas Gamblers Reunion the year before) to seize. Benny Binion took advantage of the situation and won the tournament.

The World Series of Poker Has Begun

Johnny Moss was the first person to win the World Series of Poker, and the joy of his success was equivalent to the rush of playing keno in an online casino today. Johnny did not even win a poker tournament because of the nature of the original competition. During several days of high-stakes games, his opponents unanimously agreed that he was the best player overall. 

Benny Binion knew that this structure would need to be redesigned if his tournament was to get international notice, so he altered his formula the next year, with the World Series of Poker becoming a freeze-out and players paying a $5,000 buy-in each. He did this so that his tournament would be noticed around the world. Johnny Moss took home the grand prize, allowing him to successfully defend his title as world champion.

The World Series of Poker is still going from strength to strength

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) was not always as well-known as it is today. However, in 1972, Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston won the event and used his triumph to propel himself into the public glare, so capturing the WSOP. Over the next decade, he would appear on The Tonight Show 11 times, write a book that became a New York Times best-seller, and star in several films. He acted as an ambassador for the World Series of Poker and was successful in garnering public attention for the event.

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) will now be shown on television

Stu Ungar continued the work that Thomas Preston had started. He won the competition in 1980, catapulting him to the forefront of the scene. Stu Ungar piqued the interest of the general public because he was so different from what people around the world had come to associate with poker professionals. Stu was the World Series of Poker’s youngest winner ever (WSOP). He was originally from New York. 

This was exacerbated by the fact that he appeared to be younger than he was. As a result of his appearance, people began to refer to him as Stu “the Kid” Ungar. He went on to win his second World Series of Poker in 1981, and the tournament gained a lot of attention as a result—so much so that NBC Sports sent a film crew to capture the event on camera. For the first time in its existence, the World Series of Poker was televised, pushing it into the mainstream consciousness of society.

The World Series of Poker, as well as its satellite tournaments

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) grew in popularity over the next few years, leading to the tournament’s growth to include 11 preliminary events and a Ladies Championship. Benny Binion had already transferred the majority of the tournament’s day-to-day management to his son Jack at this point. Jack, along with tournament director Eric Drache, was responsible for the WSOP’s subsequent significant jump. 

They came to the decision that for the competition to be appealing to a bigger number of individuals from all over the world, amateur poker players would have to participate against seasoned pros. Because of the advent of satellite events, amateur poker players were allowed to compete for spots at the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

The World Series of Poker competition

A schism and disagreement within the Binion family caused the Horseshoe Casino to deteriorate, resulting in a fall in the history of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As a result of several renowned players opting out of the tournament, and the subsequent development of a new competitor, the World Poker Tour, some speculated that the WSOP would soon cease to exist.

Chris Moneymaker and the World Series of Poker

In 2003, the World Series of Poker was completely redesigned. Chris Moneymaker, a complete newbie to the poker business, won the main event after qualifying through one of the most well-known online satellite events, held on The vast majority of huge events feature prohibitively costly buy-ins, making it impossible for most people to compete against the world’s finest poker players. 

PokerStars made something previously unattainable to the average person available and provided the World Series of Poker (WSOP) with much-needed energy and excitement, both of which have been driving forces behind the tournament’s evolution up to the present day.

Danielle Rose