Everything You Need to Know About the World Series of Poker (WSOP)

Jump in our time machine, mate! We’re going all the way back to 1970 – you know, long before online poker existed. At this time, there were fewer than 50 poker tables in all of Las Vegas and Benny Binion’s celebrated club, Horseshoe, didn’t have a poker room at all. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Back then, poker competitions were held in alcoves no bigger than a standard hotel room. In these rooms, you’d have roughly 30 gamblers packed like sardines around a few tables. Little did they know they were kickstarting a historic event, which would later be known as the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

Of course, the first-ever WSOP got zero public attention. Nobody outside Vegas knew or even cared about WSOP poker. After many days of high-stakes poker, gambler Johnny Moss was eventually named the “best all-around player” and was awarded a golden cup.

Now, let’s get one thing straight: Benny Binion was no fool. He understood that, if WSOP poker was ever going to earn a reputation, improvements needed to be made. So, in 1971, he stepped up the game. The WSOP hosted seven players, each of whom paid a $5,000 entry fee. In the winner-take-all tourney, Johnny Moss came out on top, holding onto his world champion title.

Flash forward by 16 years and WSOP poker had grown to amazing heights. The tiny Horseshoe could barely even host what was quickly turning into a global gambling spectacle. Certain fields were growing so much that some participants were forced to play at nearby casinos, including the Golden Nugget and Four Queens. 

By 2006, the WSOP was hosting 45 tournaments and bestowing gold bracelets onto its winners. Over $100 million was won, making it the richest event in the history of sports.

In this piece, we break down some of the coolest parts of the WSOP poker history, important WSOP dates, and how to get in on the action.

The Most Iconic WSOP Winners and Moments

Long and rich (pun intended), poker history is multilayered, especially in the context of the WSOP. 

One of the most exciting events in its history? Without a doubt, the 1972 victory of “Amarillo Slim” Preston. As one of only 12 entrants, he transformed his victory into a major publicity campaign. Although he started it for personal gain, he brought a lot of attention to the WSOP: he appeared on The Tonight Show 11 times, made movies and wrote a best-selling book, securing the WSOP’s status as a worldwide phenomenon.

In 1973, CBS Sports became the first network to televise the WSOP. The network flashed images of crazy wide lapels, thick sideburns, and smoking cigars. The WSOP was quick to capitalise on the massive exposure, soon adding four preliminary events. 

These events were:

  • Seven-card Stud
  • Razz
  • Deuce-to-Seven Draw
  • No-Limit Hold’em

In a shock to no one, Johnny Moss won his third championship the following year. After that, though, Doyle Brunson swooped in and won back-to-back titles. These victories landed him a spot as one of the top poker players in the world. 

In 1978, the WSOP welcomed its first female competitor. It was Barbara Freer who broke the sex barrier, taking her place in what had previously been a male-only competition.

Another one of the most iconic WSOP dates came in 1979; the first amateur player to ever enter, Hal Fowler, walked away as that year’s champion. His victory not only shocked but embarrassed heaps of veteran poker pros. Fowler paved the way for more amateurs to enter, including international players. Unfortunately, since that was his only WSOP experience, his legacy faded with lightning speed.

In 2004, Harrah’s Entertainment bought Binion’s Horseshoe Casino, however, they didn’t just buy the venue – they bought the rights to the WSOP. In 2005, they declared that the events would be held at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. To this day, this spot remains the setting of the event. 

The Games We Play: WSOP Poker Games

According to Hollywood, Texas Hold’em is apparently the only poker game on offer. There’s no denying it’s one of the most renowned, but it’s definitely not the only one. Trust us, we’re the experts. If you want to discover the variety of games, strategies, and structures, look no further than the WSOP!

Sure, there’s Texas Hold’em, but it doesn’t end there. The WSOP also features Omaha, seven-card stud, five-card draw, draw games, lowball draw, Horse, and Badugi.

Thinking of entering the WSOP yourself? Good on ya! We at Ignition Casino tip our hats to you for your bravery and confidence. Just remember that this tournament is reserved for the most skilled players. That’s what makes it the hottest game in town! Thousands of pros and amateurs from all over the globe gather on a massive stage to duke it out. Skills, tricks, strategies – they bring their A-game in the pursuit of the top prizes!

With that in mind, make sure you practise your talents well in advance. The first step in refining your online poker skills? Download Ignition poker on your smartphone! At Ignition Casino, you can play whenever and wherever. You can also play on any device of your choosing, be it a mobile phone, a desktop, or a tablet. Get in on the action in any format you like, such as Quick Seat, Zone Poker, Anonymous Tables, heaps of tourneys and so much more. As an added bonus, we even provide you with tips and tricks to take your gameplay to the next level.

We can’t wait to catch you in Las Vegas, legend!