How Popular Is WSOP Worldwide?
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the largest and oldest poker tournament globally. It usually has the largest prize pool and holds the world record for the highest number of players in one tournament.
Most people think that the WSOP only involves the Main Event held in Las Vegas each year.
However, this is only a single event in the series. In 2020, the series had more than 35 circuit events around the US besides the Main Event, international events, and dozens of tournaments happening before and after the Main.
The World Series of Poker has undergone numerous changes in response to the transformations in the poker sector and the number of entrants.
Although there are numerous WSOP events worldwide, most of the series happens in Las Vegas in June. The following are some of the reasons why WSOP is popular around the world:
The WSOP Main Event
The $10,000 Texas Hold’em tournament is the single top tournament in the poker industry. According to tradition, the winner of the WSOP Main Event becomes the unofficial World Champion of poker.
Winners also receive the famous WSOP bracelet and a cash prize based on the number of players in the tournament. Between 1971 and 2006, the Main Event’s prize increased from $30,000 to $12 million.
The number of people entering the main event tournament is not limited. The record number of competitors was set in 2006 when 8,773 players participated. In 2019, there were 8,559 players.
The November Nine
The main event is traditionally one of the penultimate events of the series held in June and July. However, WSOP decided to change the schedule for the last few years.
From 2008 onwards, the organizers stopped the tournament after eliminating all but nine players. These players would feature in the final table, and all were guaranteed a prize of more than $1 million.
The organizers also postponed the ultimate table game until November instead of allowing the nine players to complete the tournament the next day.
This was aimed at creating more hype for the event and making it easier to broadcast. Although the revenues of WSOP and ESPN increased after the final table game, the players reacted unfavorably.
According to the players, the delay interrupted the tournament and made it less authentic.
Therefore, from 2008 until 2016, the Main Event final table was known as the November Nine. The Final Table game was held at the end of October in 2012 and 2016 to avoid interfering with the US election.
Technological innovations have revolutionized the broadcast aspect of poker tournaments. By 2011, WSOP.com and ESPN could air the main event with delays of only between five and 30 minutes. Those delays ensured that players could not cheat.
In 2017, ESPN and WSOP sealed a digital media deal with Poker Central. The contract revoked the November Nine format allowing the final players to complete their game in the traditional tournament held in July.
Other Popular WSOP Events
In 2020, around 101 different events were featured in the World Series of Poker. Some of the most notable ones are:
Ladies Championship Event
Ladies make up only about 5% of the poker players participating in the WSOP. Even though women are not barred from taking part in the Main Event, there has only been one occasion when a woman made it to the final table.
In 1995, Barbra Enright made it to the ME final tale with only 273 players participating.
Although there is always a lot of hype around the last woman standing in the Main Event, the Ladies’ Championship event allows women to compete against each other. The tournament started in 1977 with a $100 buy-in Seven-card stud event.
The tournament has happened every year since then. It was initially held on Mother’s Day but was moved to a different date after numerous complaints from women.
Jackie McDaniels won the smallest cash prize ($5,580) in WSOP history in 1977. On the other hand, the largest prize ($262,077) in the Ladies’ Championship was won by Sally Boyer in 2007.
Casino Employees Championship Event
Only people actively working in the casino industry can participate in the casino employees’ championship.
The event was added to the WSOP schedule in 2000 to pay homage to the contribution of casino employees in the tournament.
It was initially known as the Dealers World Poker Championship during its inception.
At that time, only dealers could compete, but all casino employees became eligible to play in 2001.
In most cases, professional poker players do not work for any casino. Therefore, almost all players in the event are average hourly casino employees.
While some of the employees, such as dealers, might be involved with poker regularly, a significant percentage might be security, food service, or janitorial staff. Casino owners and managers can participate, too.
In 2006, Chris Gros won $127,496. It was the largest prize ever won in the event’s history. The event usually brings the rivalry between players and proposition players to the limelight.
Location of the WSOP Main Event
The WSOP Main Event was held at the Rio Las Vegas for almost two decades. However, for the first time in its history, it was moved to the Las Vegas Strip this year (2022), taking place at the Paris and Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casinos.
The event is broadcast live on ESPN and streamed on various online streaming platforms.
You can get in on WSOP online tournaments in certain US states. You can gain entry into the next annual WSOP tournament by winning online WSOP events, too.
Qualifying for the WSOP
You only need to pay the buy-in amount to qualify for WSOP events in most cases. However, certain events have stricter rules.
For example, senior tournaments have age restrictions. For online tournaments, you have to be in a jurisdiction where real money online poker is legal.
There are numerous WSOP satellite events throughout the year. Winning any of them can earn you an entry into the Main Event in Vegas in June and July.
Although buy-in amounts for satellite tournaments are smaller, you can also secure entry into the Main Event by paying the full $10,000.