WSOP Texas Hold’em – How it all began – A History of the Tournament

WSOP Texas Hold’em

Poker has been around for a few centuries now, however, it did not make its way into America till the 2000s. This was the time when sports platforms like ESPN expanded their genres and started broadcasting the World Series of Poker or WSOP. They helped the tournament to become what it is in this day’s time. The first event was played in 2003 when headlines were made by a man called Chris Moneymaker who won the main event at the tournament. He was the first person ever to win the tournament at online poker. While poker was not something that the general crowd was aware of, the event does have a huge history.

WSOP Texas Hold’em Tournament History

The World Series of Poker is a tournament that started way back in the 1970s. In the year 1970, a gambling star, Benny Binion, who was also famous in the Las Vegas Casinos, had invited some of the top players of poker from the USA to take part in the tournament of Texas Hold’em.

The first tournament of the WSOP Texas Hold’em featured games like the deuce to 7 lowball draw, 5-card stud, 7-card stud, and the evergreen Texas Hold’em. Texas Hold’em was chosen as the format for the main events of the tournament in 1971.

The winner of the 1970 tournament was a man called Johnny Moss who was given a silver cup as a prize. Benny Binion dreamt of organizing a tournament for poker with the best poker players in the world, and the WSOP Texas Hold’em tournament helped his dream come true.

WSOP Texas Hold’em Expansion

No-limit Texas Hold’em is the format used for the Main Event since 1972 when the buy-in was $10,000. The 1971 tournament featured a buy-in of just $5,000. The winners of the WSOP tournament also receive a gold bracelet and with that comes a huge cash prize. Johnny Moss became the winner of the 1971 tournament as well and won a cash prize of $30,000. Thomas Preston won the tournament in 1972 when the buy-ins were higher than normal and he won a cash prize of $80,000.

Every winner of the WSOP is given the unofficial title of ‘World Champion’. Over the years there have been several controversies saying that no-limit Texas Hold’em should not be the game that decided the best poker player, however, the format has remained the same for WSOP.

In the year 2002, WSOP decided to mark these concerns by holding a H.O.R.S.E Texas Hold’em tournament with a $2,000 buy-in. A man named John Hennigan won the tournament that year and got a cash prize of more than $117,000.

Although the games had been around for a while, ESPN began the coverage of the games in 2003, and that led to poker becoming extremely popular.

WSOP Fun Facts

  • As of 2022, WSOP has been around for more than 50 years. However, there have only been a few players who have won 3 main events over these 50 years.
  • Johnny Moss was one of the players who won the main events in 1970, 1971, and 1974.
  • Stu Ungar won the main events in the years 1980, 1981, and 1997. He was considered one of the greatest poker players in the history of the tournament.
  • Jesse Alto is one player who made it to the finals of the main event 7 times in his career. He set the record for the most appearances in the finals in WSOP history.
  • Jesse Alto may have cashed in certain games in his career, but he has never won the main title of WSOP. He did win the runner-up title once, but that was it for him.
  • Berry Johnston, a veteran player, has the title of most number of money finishes in WSOP history. He had finished ‘in the money over 10 times in his entire career.
  • Koray Aldemir was a German and third-ever German player to win a main event in the WSOP with a cash prize of $8,000,000.


The hype of the World Series of Poker has only increased over the years along with the number of participants. Though there have been several restrictions where online poker players are not allowed to enter the WSOP tournaments. Several years have gone by since poker has become a part of the American culture, and people are still learning and participating in the WSOP from all over the world.

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