WSOP

The WSOP is still going strong after half a century

What began five decades ago with six gamblers became the largest and longest running annual poker event in the history of the game, with the number of tournaments being held over the years running to four figures, hundreds of thousands of participants and literally billions of dollars turned over.

And the WSOP continues to enjoy amazing popularity today, making a great success of keeping up with the times by teaming up with the forward-thinking, incredibly popular GGPoker Network to hold the 2021 series online after last year’s partnership (brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic bringing a halt to ‘live’ events) with GG proved so successful.

Here’s a bit of WSOP trivia that should put in perspective the invaluable role the organisation has played in both maintaining the popularity of the game and giving so many players over the years the chance of glory. Just reading the names below shows how important the WSOP has been to the biggest poker stars, year after year, with so many great players having the WSOP to thank for contributing in such a crucial way to their glittering careers.

Humble Beginnings

So few people knew about the very first, rather ambitiously named World Series of Poker back in 1970 that it attracted no public attention, barely no media coverage and, ironically, just a handful of players! Consequently, the inaugural World Champion, Johnny Moss, was awarded the title not by ploughing through the field in a blaze of glory as he bluffed and tricked his way through grueling sessions of complex hands, rather he was voted the “best all-around player” by his peers after days of high-stakes play.

An actual tournament took place the following year, with a whopping total of seven players each putting up a buy-in of $5,000 (a considerable sum even by today’s standard) and all the prize money going to the winner – a certain Johnny Moss!

The buy-in was then increased to a round $10,000 and has remained at that level since, but other aspects of the event have seen massive changes over the years, most notably in the sheer numbers of players from around the globe looking for fame and fortune.

The online poker boom that started over two decades ago spawned a whole new generation of players, many of whom had known only the internet version of the game. Indeed, after years of weathered, seasoned professionals dominating WSOP events, the whole landscape saw a sea change heralded by players whose first Bricks & Mortar poker experience was, in fact, the WSOP!

With more and more bracelet events to cater for the increased popularity of the WSOP, what was originally dozens of participants became hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands and, eventually, six-figures. Naturally, with record-breaking player numbers, the prize money – across many events – in turn rocketed to nose-bleed levels. From just $70,000 back in 1971, it’s now not unusual to see a quarter of a billion dollars up for grabs.

Events, players and prize money at the WSOP since 1970

Year Events Total Entries Total Prize Money
1970 1 6 $0
1971 5 46 $70,000
1972 2 10 $100,000
1973 7 89 $275,000
1974 6 106 $427,000
1975 5 124 $338,000
1976 8 198 $480,900
1977 13 324 $675,580
1978 11 294 $776,180
1979 12 421 $1,030,320
1980 12 846 $1,788,400
1981 13 876 $1,881,650
1982 14 1,199 $2,573,600
1983 14 1,442 $2,709,860
1984 13 1,513 $3,424,700
1985 13 1,939 $3,554,000
1986 13 1,993 $4,331,900
1987 12 1,793 $4,757,010
1988 12 2,247 $5,350,500
1989 14 2,611 $6,237,100
1990 15 2,746 $6,871,300
1991 18 3,122 $7,841,000
1992 20 3,061 $7,769,000
1993 21 3,109 $8,020,957
1994 22 3,850 $9,844,500
1995 24 4,146 $10,701,000
1996 24 4,267 $11,647,000
1997 21 4,053 $12,259,000
1998 21 4,101 $12,482,000
1999 16 3,755 $11,803,000
2000 24 4,780 $15,387,500
2001 26 5,912 $17,789,321
2002 35 7,256 $19,595,930
2003 36 7,572 $21,788,660
2004 33 13,036 $45,971,010
2005 43 31,714 $105,955,238
2006 46 48,041 $157,875,975
2007 58 54,967 $169,966,400
2008 60 60,043 $192,307,035
2009 63 62,287 $183,109,814
2010 64 74,576 $197,207,988
2011 65 78,298 $206,186,853
2012 69 76,733 $230,521,146
2013 76 83,393 $221,047,100
2014 76 84,648 $235,621,262
2015 79 108,556 $218,168,749
2016 70 107,850 $248,312,255
2017 74 120,995 $231,010,874
2018 78 123,865 $266,889,193
2019 89 187,298 $293,183,345

$10,000 then, and $10,000 now

For the vast majority of players, paying $10,000 to take part in a poker tournament – however prestigious – is a considerable financial commitment. Indeed, given the nature of No Limit Hold’em, it would be quite feasible to find yourself playing the very first hand perfectly yet still suffering a bad beat on the River. A five-figure sum spent on a single hand…

$10,000 has been the buy-in for the WSOP Main Event for a good five decades. Of course, there are more expensive, so-called high-roller tournaments where the buy-in levels dwarf this amount, but 10K is a nice ‘round’ number and, at least for the foreseeable future, there seems no reason to increase the buy-in for an event that is anyway guaranteed to provide an enormous prize pool thanks to the numbers that are inevitably drawn to what is the world’s most ‘famous’ poker tournament.

With this in mind, however much $10,000 looks today, imagine the comparative hole it would have left in the bankroll of the would-be champions of yesteryear. Using a US Bureau of Statistics inflation calculator, we find that $10,000 in 1972 would equate to almost $64,000 today – a staggering amount of money to potentially lose on the turn of a card! Indeed, this even exceeds the $50,000 buy-in for the WSOP High Roller fixture that many of the world’s elite players have over recent years treated like a more genuine ‘main event’…

Biggest Field in Poker History

Thanks to the COVID pandemic, we have to go back to 2019 for the last Bricks & Mortar edition of the WSOP. Perhaps not surprisingly, this saw numerous records being broken in terms of both the number of entries across a host of events, and the amount of prize money awarded. In fact, over a whopping 89 separate events, the total paid out in WSOP 2019 was a staggering $293,183,345!

Meanwhile, the Main Event drew 8,569 entries, the second highest of all time, just a couple of hundred short of the 2006 tally of 8,773 entries that was boosted so much by the then unfettered influx of online qualifiers. The prize pool for the ME was $80,548,600, again only slightly behind the $82,512,162 of 2006. The eventual winner, Hossein Ensan, took home a tidy $10 million for his efforts…

WSOP 2019 also saw the highest number of entries ever in a poker tournament, with record numbers attracted to the rake-free, $500 buy-in Big Fifty. The total entries came to an amazing 28,371!

The 187,298 total entries throughout the series was another all-time record. And there were others:

62 events had at least $1 million in prize money

34 events had at least $2 million in prize money

12 events had at least $5 million in prize money

As for the most successful WSOP players, here’s the Top 50…

Rank Name Bracelets Cashes Earnings
1 Phil Hellmuth 15 165 $15,050,038
2 Phil Ivey 10 70 $7,140,151
3 Johnny Chan 10 51 $4,681,324
4 Doyle Brunson 10 37 $3,038,079
5 Johnny Moss 9 27 $834,422
6 Erik Seidel 8 130 $5,768,657
7 Men Nguyen 7 114 $4,155,467
8 Billy Baxter 7 37 $1,219,686
9 Daniel Negreanu 6 169 $19,550,955
10 Chris Ferguson 6 168 $6,875,576
11 John Hennigan 6 45 $5,793,660
12 TJ Cloutier 6 97 $4,710,417
13 Jeff Lisandro 6 84 $4,422,383
14 Layne Flack 6 74 $2,869,570
15 Ted Forrest 6 39 $2,061,592
16 Jay Heimowitz 6 43 $1,526,281
17 Michael Mizrachi 5 73 $9,370,568
18 Allen Cunningham 5 78 $7,914,058
19 Scotty Nguyen 5 64 $6,001,267
20 John Juanda 5 68 $5,714,127
21 Jason Mercier 5 73 $5,039,501
22 Daniel Alaei 5 41 $4,612,167
23 David Chiu 5 74 $3,674,019
24 Berry Johnston 5 72 $2,119,871
25 Stu Ungar 5 16 $2,081,478
26 Gary Berland 5 11 $220,390
27 Joe Cada 4 43 $13,610,088
28 Dominik Nitsche 4 50 $8,091,964
29 Brian Rast 4 44 $6,031,994
30 Shaun Deeb 4 94 $4,975,588
31 Mike Matusow 4 82 $4,281,704
32 Robert Mizrachi 4 71 $3,816,587
33 Huck Seed 4 54 $3,653,465
34 Jeff Madsen 4 104 $3,178,999
35 Loren Klein 4 49 $2,764,837
36 Brian Hastings 4 46 $2,700,478
37 Max Pescatori 4 101 $2,685,917
38 Asi Moshe 4 43 $2,244,508
39 George Danzer 4 24 $2,224,901
40 Eli Elezra 4 67 $2,137,326
41 Michael Gathy 4 33 $2,134,880
42 Bobby Baldwin 4 20 $2,100,311
43 Tom Schneider 4 50 $1,779,645
44 Tom McEvoy 4 54 $1,386,393
45 Mickey Appleman 4 51 $1,237,002
46 Artie Cobb 4 37 $881,915
47 Amarillo Slim Preston 4 13 $437,958
48 Puggy Pearson 4 12 $265,580
49 Lakewood Louie 4 4 $100,800
50 Bill Boyd 4 4 $80,00

When the WSOP went online…

When it became evident in 2020 that the COVID-19 pandemic was so serious that it would mean countless events around the globe would have to be postponed or cancelled until such time as life could once again approach normalcy, the WSOP, like so many other major sporting fixtures, faced a dilemma.

Given the aforementioned success of the previous year, this was a particularly unfortunate problem. But all was not lost! With the internet to thank for the continued healthy state of the WSOP via the very high level of popularity of online poker around the world, it didn’t take much of a mental leap to look to the World Wide Web for a solution.

And so began the partnership with the forward-thinking GGPoker, who hosted a veritable smorgasbord of events that attracted so many players and paid out so much in prizes that 2020’s online edition of the WSOP was a fantastic success. So, much so, in fact, that it’s happening all over again in 2021!

In terms of sheer numbers, the 2020 WSOP online series was very impressive indeed. A total of $147,789,550 was paid out in prizes, with 54 gold bracelets awarded on GGPoker and another 31 from WSOP.com in July, 2020.

GGPoker’s online Main Event ended up being the biggest ever online poker tournament, generating a $27,559,500 prize pool, from which the eventual winner, Stoyan Madanzhiev, took for his efforts a cool $3,904,685 – also a record!

Even more startling, perhaps, was the tally of entries for the so-called BIG 50 event, which had a buy-in of only $50. As a testament to both the success of the WSOP’s adjustment to switching to online, and the amazing popularity of online poker itself, the tournament’s total entries reached a stratospheric figure of 44,576…

By the time the proverbial dust had settled, the first ever online WSOP attracted a total of 239,754 entries. That it was a truly global worldwide web event was confirmed by the number of countries represented – 166. Despite all these hopefuls, only one player – Alex Stasiask – managed to win two bracelets.

Also interesting was that only five players achieved the feat of reaching three final tables. However, 281 were consistent enough to cash at least 10 times in GGPoker events, while 203 succeeded in cashing for over $100,000.

As for GG hosting the 2021 online WSOP, we wish our YourPokerDream players the best of luck!

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The last changes of the page “YPD Guide to the World Series of Poker (WSOP)” was made by YPD on May 29, 2021