If you love poker or just have some extra time on your hands, then playing in poker tournaments is always a fun option. Whether you want to sharpen your skills as a player or see how you stack up against the competition, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) offers many different types of tournaments in various settings all year long.
World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the most popular poker tournament in the world. The tournaments feature multiple formats spread throughout Las Vegas yearly, with events traditionally held between April and October. However, eligible players are also able to compete online.
Las Vegas has long been considered the gambling capital of America. The city is teeming with gaming opportunities and each year hosts one of the most significant poker competitions in the world: The World Series of Poker. This article will give you an informative overview of WSOP tournaments, so read on to learn more!
What Are World Series of Poker Tournaments?
World Series of Poker tournaments are some of the most prestigious sports tournaments in the world. With a field of thousands of players, WSOP tournaments are high-pressure events that many players dream of winning. But they’re also much more than just a poker tournament; they’re a cultural phenomenon, an intellectual affair, and a celebration of the game of poker.
The events bring together professional poker players who compete for cash prizes and the coveted World Series of Poker bracelets. The WSOP began in 1970 as a friendly game among card players who met up in Las Vegas, Nevada, once a year.
Today, it’s an annual series of poker tournaments held in Las Vegas and, since 2006, across the United States. The WSOP is open to anyone 21 years or older, with events reserved for players who have qualified through an official poker tournament or through winning a satellite tournament
Do you know how long each WSOP tournament takes? I’ve written an article that answers this exact question and helps you decide which tournaments to sign up for.
The Development of the World Series of Poker
The World Series of Poker, popularly known as the WSOP, has become one of the world’s most prestigious and lucrative poker tournaments.
WSOP was founded in 1970 by Benny Binion, an iconic casino owner and poker player. Today, It has expanded from a small gathering of gamblers to a multi-million dollar event attracting worldwide participants.
At the beginning of the series, there were only a few players. The event had little to no interest or coverage and was not nearly as popular as it is today.
At the time, world champion Johnny Moss was elected through a voting system that was carried out by his peers. He was voted the best all-around player over a few days of high-stakes competition.
Binion was enthralled by his golden opportunity and knew that he had to make improvements for WSOP to become a prestigious event. While this was just the beginning, In those early years, there were no limits on entry fees, and the prize pool consisted entirely of an added buy-in from each player.
The following year, he implemented an entry fee of $5,000, of which seven players paid. The winner for the second year running, Johnny Moss, would yet again become victorious–but this time winning the winner-takes-all prize.
In 1972, the renowned poker ambassador Thomas’ Amarillo Slim’ Preston brought much-needed attention to the WSOP world stage. Following his victory, Preston began a publicity tour, including being a guest on the late-night talk show The Tonight Show and writing a best-selling book.
Thanks to Preston’s publicity stunts, in 1973, the WSOP was televised for the first time by CBS Sports–in good timing too. This year saw the expansion of WSOP into four separate tournaments:
- Seven-card Stud
- Deuce-to-seven Draw
- No Limit Hold ’em
While continuing for several years and gaining more and more in popularity, the next significant format change was in 1978. This change saw the Main Event’s prize money divided between the top five players for a cash payout. Additionally, this year saw the entrance of Barbara Freer, who was the first female WSOP player in what had been a predominantly male community.
Following the 1979 WSOP, many foreign nationals and amateur poker players were encouraged to join in on the fun. This was primarily contributed by Hal Fowler, who became the very first amateur to beat the class of elite WSOP players.
Over the next three years, WSOP diversified into eleven initial events or tournaments, including a Women’s World Championship and a $10,000 buy-in Main Event. This saw WSOP grow in size and importance to poker players and the world alike and grow in diversity too.
The 1990s saw the first international championship winner take the prestigious title home to England for the first time–Mansour Matloubi. Additionally, in 1991, players competed for the first-ever WSOP prize of its kind: one million dollars. This would end up attracting well over two hundred players, solidifying the position of the WSOP tournament as the leading poker tournament in the world.
The early 2000s was a rocky period for the WSOP. With the Binion family being split up, many top poker professionals would boycott the event. And by 2003, the arrival of the new World Poker Tour (WPT) saw competition increase significantly.
However, everything seemed to change following the victory of Chris Moneymaker. Being likable and easily identifiable by young and aspiring poker players, Chris made way for the most significant impact in WSOP that we experience today. Having been covered on ESPN too, this was one of the most important events of WSOP’s history and brought a lot of status to the table.
Accompanying the rapid growth came many new ventures for WSOP tournaments. Harrah’s Entertainment secured the rights to WSOP in 2004, which saw thousands of poker players migrating to Las Vegas during the latter years.
In 2006, the WSOP comprised over 40 tournaments whereby players could win more than $100 million in cash and gold bracelets. These figures highlight the fact that WSOP had become one of the world’s richest sporting events in just under 30 years. And this expansion wasn’t stopping here.
Soon enough, the World Series of Poker introduced the WSOP Circuit. This saw the series expanding beyond Las Vegas to several casinos throughout the United States of America. This allowed poker players to participate in the WSOP nationwide while, in turn, attracting big corporate companies.
What was once regarded as a small subculture in the 1970s has today become an attractive, most desirable target audience for big companies to promote their products and brands.
There is still much excitement surrounding the World Series of Poker as it remains one of the most significant sporting tournaments in the world. No one knows what the future holds, but it sure looks bright.
What You Need To Know
World Series of Poker, as it’s known today, has expanded to several continents and even includes a WSOP International Circuit introduced in 2015.
The International tournament takes place in the form of rounds that are carried out across the globe:
- Latin America
- The Caribbean
The winners of each event are joined by the WSOP Circuit winners to take part in what’s known as the WSOP Global Casino Championship.
In 2020, the World Series of Poker carried out over 100 tournaments that featured the most significant poker games–most noticeably variants of Texas Hold ’em.
By now, I’m sure you’re aware that The WSOP is the world’s biggest and most prestigious poker tournament. Let us take a look at how the events are formatted.
The Format Is Straightforward
As you can imagine, earning a seat at the table is no easy feat. Each year, thousands of players compete to make it into the big event, which has been hosted every June since 1970.
The competition begins with satellite tournaments held throughout the year in different cities worldwide. Players win their way through these preliminary rounds into a series of smaller events that qualify them for a seat at the WSOP.
Some events are open to anyone who wants to play; others are closed to those who already have earned a spot at the WSOP by placing high enough in another qualifying event.
While most of the WSOP’s events are played during a lengthy series held annually every summer, there have been shorter tournaments held at various other times throughout the year and special events held outside Las Vegas.
The winner of each tournament is generally awarded a bracelet and a large cash prize (the amount varies depending on the event and buy-in amounts).
A common question among many prospective players is whether you need real money to play WSOP. To find out the answer, don’t miss my other article.
The number of events has grown significantly over the years as well. Not only has the number of players begun increasing as the years have gone on but so has the quantity and range of variations on poker being played.
In addition to Texas Hold ’em, which remains by far the most common game played at WSOP events, players can choose to compete in Omaha, Seven Card Stud, and others. Depending on what game is being played, there could be anywhere from two to fifty players at a table competing against each other for prizes.
The tournament culminates with the Main Event, lasting 10 consecutive days and attracting players worldwide. Tournament play begins with several days of single-table games, and as players are eliminated from each game, they join other players to form a new table.
After several rounds, the number of tables is reduced until only three are left, at which point they begin playing no-limit hold’em. After a short break, those finalists play down to a winner.
The WSOP has attracted thousands of players who try to compete for a spot in the Main Event through satellite events. Alternatively, players can purchase their seat with cash (around $10,000), which is what most people do.
The game played in the Main Event is No-limit Hold ’em, where the victorious receive the coveted bracelet and over a million dollar monetary prize. The winner of the Main Event is referred to as the World Champion of Poker, the highest title a poker player can achieve.
Want to learn more about the Main Event? Read my other article where I cover a frequent topic: rebuys in the Main Event. Do they exist?
The World Series of Poker Bracelet
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet is the holy grail of poker tournaments.
It is a 14-carat gold bracelet that features over 30 carats of diamonds. Each suit of a deck of cards is also featured in either diamond or rubies. The bracelet is awarded to the winner of the WSOP Main Event each year.
For most poker players, winning the WSOP bracelet is their ultimate goal, and many try to make it a career to play in as many WSOP tournaments as possible.
The winner of the WSOP bracelet gets to keep it, and even more importantly, they are welcomed into an elite group of poker players who now have their names inscribed a World Champion of Poker for that year.
While bracelets may differ depending on the year and type of event a player has won, they all have something in common–they are wholly made up of gold and diamonds.
However, at the beginning of WSOP, these bracelets did not mean much. Most players were interested in the cash prize. Despite this, as WSOP became more popular in the latter years, the bracelet became a symbol of excellence and prestige in the poker world.
It soon became something that would differentiate a good poker player from an elite one. Today, to win the coveted bracelet as a poker player is equivalent to an NFL team winning the Super Bowl.
Ultimately, the bracelet is more than a tradition that was introduced by Benny Binion. Yes, it’s a way to honor a poker legend, but it’s more than that. It symbolizes recognition, achievement, and respect that any serious poker player would dream of acquiring.
World Series of Poker Online Tournaments
As individuals, we live in an increasingly more interconnected world, where instantaneous data and information flow is the norm. The ability to communicate and interact with friends and family anytime is a click away.
The internet has broken technological barriers and made it possible for you to do your shopping, pay bills, and conduct almost every aspect of your life from the comfort of your home.
Now, by utilizing WSOP’s software, you can also play poker from the comfort of your home for real money and win millions of dollars and a chance to win a WSOP bracelet without having to leave your home or deal with pushy card dealers at casinos!
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WSOP’s resources were severely strained (as were the congregation of people). With the restricted movement of amateur and professional poker players, no one could compete. This led to the emergence of the WSOP Online Tournaments.
Residents and visitors in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware can play against one another in games such as Texas Hold ’em, Omaha, 7 card stud, and much more for the first time.
During 2020 and 2021, WSOP had dedicated online tournaments in which players could compete. This was done through WSOP’s official website and is still available today. However, there are some restrictions due to technical legalities.
WSOP’s online rooms are the most prominent legal rooms in the online poker world. The regulated and licensed rooms, however, do have some requirements for you to take part:
- Over the age of 21.
- You have to be physically located in the state of Nevada.
- Your eligibility to participate in tournaments is based on the WSOPs End User License agreement.
If you’re eligible to join the WSOP’s online poker rooms, then you’ll have added benefits that are not commonly associated with smaller online poker sites, such as:
- Playing on your phone, tablet, or desktop device.
- Various options for depositing and withdrawals.
- The ability to participate in Live events through Satellite events.
- Freerolls daily.
- No-limit Hold ’em, Omaha, and stud cash games.
- Blast poker.
- $10,000 Guarantees daily.
- Poker Reward program.
- First-time depositors can double their deposits.
Players can compete in online sit-and-go, cash games, and live satellite games by downloading the WSOP software. Then users can access and compete in big prize-pool tournaments to stand a chance to win the WSOP Online bracelet.
Some people accuse WSOP online games of being rigged. To find out if that claim is real, I investigated various sources and wrote about it in an article. Don’t miss what I found.
Tips for Joining the World Series of Poker Tournaments
The World Series of Poker isn’t just a poker tournament: it’s an experience. The WSOP is all about bringing people together; the great thing is that you can be any level of a player to join in a few events. You can be a champion, an amateur, or anything in between.
If you’re new to the game or curious about joining, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, don’t be intimidated by the ring of serious faces around you–the poker community loves to help newcomers get their feet wet.
If you’re thinking about becoming a member of the World Series of Poker community, every player will have their own tips for you, but here are some helpful guidelines.
Play Your Way Into Practice Games
If you’re new to poker play, get some experience at a local casino or online before diving into tournaments. Play low-stakes cash games with friends and family until your knowledge of the game is strong enough to handle big tournaments.
Find Friendly Competition and Mentors
Start with the friendly competition with your friends and family members and then move on to more severe competition in higher-stakes games.
You can also find a mentor from the poker community willing to teach you how to play. Most pros are happy to share what they know–it’s considered good etiquette for them to do so.
Learn About Styles of Play
Before playing in significant tournaments like WSOP, learn about different play styles to understand who you’re against in a tournament setting.
Practice by analyzing other players’ strategies as part of your learning process, but don’t be afraid to try your own strategy when you play.
Once you’re comfortable and ready to take on some of the pros in Las Vegas, there are a couple of things to remember.
Bring a Valid Identification to Every Event
The WSOP is a series of massive events, so you can be forgiven for not knowing every single detail that goes into it. However, one thing that may surprise some people is the requirement to bring a valid ID to every event.
They may ask you for your identification when you stroll into the casino, or they may not. If you’re a first-time player, it’s always best to be safe if you’re asked.
Plus, you’ll need your identification to get a Player’s Card and register for the event.
Get a Caesars Reward Loyalty Card
The Caesars Reward Loyalty Card is necessary for any WSOP competition, including those preliminary and non-bracelet events.
You’ll be glad to hear that these cards are free and often have rewards. These cards are easy to get at any Caesars property or online.
Registration is an exciting time. It’s when you realize this is all real, and you’re joining the WSOP community. All you have to do is take your identification card and player’s card to the registration line where the event is being held.
To finally gain access, all players must pay the applicable buy-in for the event you’re attending. The most common payment method is cash or card, but there are a few cases where players who have won satellite events will show their Lammers.
However, if you’re looking to avoid the masses of hopeful players, you’ll be able to register in advance online.
To sum up, what began as a relatively small community of poker enthusiasts has grown into a worldwide phenomenon that attracts people from all walks of life. Whether you are new to the game, an occasional player, a hardcore gambler, or just a spectator who enjoys the thrill of the game–you’re sure to be enticed!
Poker tournaments are a great way to get involved in a game that has made millions and even play against some of the best players in the world. From amateur tournaments to the Main Event, the World Series of Poker has something for everyone.