If you are a big poker player or even just a casual fan, you have probably heard of the World Series of Poker. The event, which takes place in Las Vegas every summer, has gone from being the only major poker tournament in the world to the granddaddy of the poker industry, under which all other tournaments fall.
How big is the World Series of Poker? How easy it to enter the events? We are going to cover those questions and more as we explain to you why this is a can’t-miss event on the Las Vegas calendar.
A Brief History of the World Series of Poker
The World Series of Poker dates all the way back to 1970 when Benny Binion brought the best players in the world together to the felts to determine the first World Champion. The event back then was much smaller than it is today, but that does not diminish the value of being called a World Champion from that era.
The WSOP was held at Binions for three decades, growing in popularity but not to any major extreme. The first winner of the title was Johnny Moss, who was voted as the winner by his peers in 1970. Since then, a list of poker royalty has taken down the Main event title, including Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, Stu Unger, and Phil Hellmuth. This was the one tournament that professional players wanted to win, but as the game grew, there were more non-professional players taking a shot at the title.
By the early 2000s, thanks to broadcasts of the event on ESPN and the game of Texas Hold ’em starting to grow outside of Las Vegas, the event had grown to multiple tournaments, with the 2003 Main Event growing to 832 participants. This was a huge amount of growth over the years past, but this was the year everything changed for the World Series of Poker, and the poker industry as a whole. That year, an accountant by the name of Chris Moneymaker qualified for the Main Event on an online poker website and went on to beat all the professionals and win the whole thing.
Moneymaker’s win caused a major stir in the poker industry and opened players’ eyes to the power of the online satellite tournament. Harrahs bought Binions in 2004 and moved the WSOP to the Rio Hotel and Casino for the 2005 Event to accommodate the huge growth in numbers. There was an exponential growth of the game and the number of entries in the $10,000 Main Event, peaking in 2006 when 8,632 players hit the felt to try to take the $12 Million USD first prize!
Even though online poker has been shut out of the U.S. market since 2011, the growth of the game has not slowed down. The World Series Main Event saw a dip in numbers, but the organizers added more events each year, and by 2019, the numbers were back to the heights that it had not seen since the online poker boom.
The 2020 event is slated to have over 70 events, which is a testament to both the industry and to the organizers of the event.
Top 5 Things to Know About the World Series of Poker
Ok, now that you know how massive the event has become, are you getting excited about playing in the tournaments? Our team wants to make sure that if you decide to go, that you get the most out of your experience. With that in mind, we have come up with the Top 5 Things you should know about the WSOP.
#1. Be prepared for a long visit.
The festival is a long one, now taking up six weeks in the summertime. The Rio hosts all the land-based events, and you will want to sift through the schedule to ensure you are going to Vegas at the time that fits the events you want to play.
#2. Be Prepared Mentally and Physically
Many poker players, especially amateurs, do not realize the toll the game takes on the human body. Not only is the mental grind of having to wait for ages for a good hand, or having to analyze cards and players for multiple hours at a time, there is also the physical effect of sitting at a poker table for that length. Tournament days can last 10-12 hours, including breaks, which can cause a lot of physical pain.
#3. It’s hot and cold at the table and in Las Vegas
While you are sitting in a room with thousands of players all trying to make the final table, the hotel is trying to make sure it doesn’t get too hot in the room. This means the air conditioning is typically set very low, which can make players complain of the cold. Of course, outside, it is the middle of the summer in the desert, with temperatures regularly over 100 degrees. Prepare yourself with layers, as the extreme difference from inside to outside can make even the strongest of us ill.
#4. Pack a bag
While you may have accommodations nearby or even in the Rio itself, you are not going to see your room for very much of the day, so you want to bring all the essentials with you to the table. This includes things like reusable water bottles and portable battery chargers, so you and your devices are powered up all day long. You should also bring snacks with you, so you don’t get caught in huge lines on breaks to purchase junk food.
#5. Have fun!
When you are a few hours into your fourth day of playing poker at the Rio, you may find it more like a job than entertainment. It is important to take a step back and remember that this is the most prestigious poker festival on the planet, and you are one of those lucky enough to be taking part. We also suggest that if you are planning to enter multiple events, that you take days for yourself away from the Rio. Your mind and body will thank you.
There are so many other helpful tips and tricks that you can use to navigate your way through the grueling poker schedule at the Rio. One final note is that while there are more than 70 prestigious WSOP bracelets up for grabs inside the Rio, there are also a couple of official bracelet events being hosted online for players in Nevada at WSOP.com. You could become a World Champion while relaxing in your hotel room!
If you love poker, we think making your way to the World Series of Poker is something you have to do at least once, and if you take these suggestions with you, your experience will be one you never forget.