small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6
The Start of the WSOP

The Start of the WSOP

In 1969, the first 'Texas Gamblers Reunion' had taken place, but a year later Benny Binion decided to hold another get-together - the World Series of Poker.

In 1970, poker was something of an after-thought for the burgeoning Las Vegas casinos. Most casinos in the city didn't have a cardroom, so it was a revolution when a handful of Texas Hold'em enthusiasts and road gamblers congregated at Binion's Horseshoe in Downtown Las Vegas.

Johnny Moss, the "winner" in the WSOP's first year, was merely voted the best player rather than take down any all-in showdowns. But the players returned as the germ of a regular series of tournaments took hold.

small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6
Doyle Brunson and The First Kids

Doyle Brunson and The First Kids

In 1971, the cash game idea had been scrapped in favor of the first 'freezeouts' - tournaments that carried a set buy-in and a structure that would lead to an ultimate winner.

The Main Event attracted seven players, all stumping up the $5,000 entry fee. This time, Johnny Moss won on his own tournament merits, bagging the $30,000 winner-takes-all prize.

1972 saw an increase in buy-in to $10,000 which has remained to this day. Numbers also grew, with 8, 13, 16, and then 21 entrants all buying in during the mid-70s. The number of side events also grew, with Stud, Razz and Draw gradually added to the mix.

Doyle Brunson became the first bracelet back-to-back winner - in 1976 and 1977 - and in Bobby Baldwin in 1978 a younger generation would start forcing their way in.

small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6
In Come The Satellites

In Come The Satellites

Bucking the trend of "old-school" champions, Stu Ungar - a gin rummy hotshot from New York - hit Vegas and took down two WSOP Main Events in successive years.

Numbers were still growing but the Main Event would surge with the introduction of satellites, low buyin qualifiers that gave players the chance to bag a Main Event seat on the cheap. By 1982, the WSOP had introduced 12 events in total, double the number from a decade earlier. In came a Ladies Championship.

By the late 1980s, when Johnny Chan had won two events, Phil Hellmuth had announced his arrival with a stunning 1989 win, and NBC were on-hand with expert coverage, Binion's opened a dedicated poker room to handle the numbers.

small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6
The Overseas Players Muscle In

The Overseas Players Muscle In

By the 1990s, the WSOP had grown to feature around 25 events, all awarding gold bracelets to winners. Women's 7-card Stud and Chinese Poker were some of the events introduced - and later scrapped.

The '90s also witnessed the start of $1million Main Event first prizes, and the first UK-based Main Event winner - Mansour Matloubi in 1990. In 1999, the 'Year of the Irish' featured three players from the Emerald Isle. One, Irishman Noel Furlong, would take down the year's million-dollar prize.

The advent of online poker made it possible for players to enjoy games on their PCs. But it wouldn't be until the online poker boom of the early 2000s that the World Series organizers would really see the benefits.

small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6
The Online Explosion

The Online Explosion

The advent of online poker in the late 1990s led to a boom in the US that would see attendances soar.

Major online poker sites like PokerStars offered cheap "satellites" to allow players to qualify for the $10,000 Main Event for much less. It was music to the ears of a WSOP worried about the growth of rival poker events like the World Poker Tour (WPT).

In 2003, an accountant from Atlanta, the aptly-named Chris Moneymaker, spent around $90 qualifying for the WSOP Main Event on PokerStars. He went all the way, beating 839 runners - and an old-school legend in Sammy Farha heads-up - to win $2.5 million.

Moneymaker's win inspired a generation of recreational players to travel to Vegas for a shot at the big one. Attendances grew, and in 2006, a record 8,773 players took to the WSOP's new home of the Rio to battle it out. Hollywood agent, Jamie Gold, stormed to victory, winning $12 million.

In 2008, a new concept was introduced: the November Nine. In a break with tradition, and to give TV broadcasters time to edit their highlights packages, the Main Event was paused at the final table stage. It later reconvened in November, hence the 'November Nine'.

small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6
More Events, More Player

More Events, More Players

WSOP attendances, at least in the Main Event, dropped off following the 2011 shutdown of illegal online poker sites in the US.

However, the WSOP organizers continued to add events. In 2013, 62 bracelets were contested, in disciplines as varied as No Limit Texas Hold'em, Omaha, HORSE, and 2-7 Triple Draw. By 2015, that had risen to 69, with the inclusion of lower buy-in events like the "Colossus". A world record 22,000 runners turned out for the $565-buyin event, and the tournament is returning in 2016.

Also included were "Millionaire Maker" events - tournaments carrying $1,500 entry fees but guaranteeing a million dollars to first place. In 2016, both first and second place finishers will become millionaires.

1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6
line for modal window

The WSOP Main Event: A Roll Call of Winners

The WSOP Main Event has been held every year since 1970. The roll call of champions reads like a Who's Who of poker legends. Some have even won it twice.

While the age of Main Event champs has come down, and winners have started to come from all over the world, there's no doubt that every one of them has endured one of the toughest poker challenges on earth.

Learn more about the winners by hovering over their photo

2015 Joe McKeehen winner:Joe McKeehen
winner: Joe McKeehen

2015 - Joe McKeehen

WON: $7,683,346

Lifetime Earnings: $11,545,712

The $10-million-guarantee experiment vanished in 2015, but the players didn't. 6,420 entered in 2015, with US pro Joe McKeehen performing one of the biggest demolition jobs in WSOP final-table history. McKeehen is probably the first Risk World Champion to win a major poker championship to boot.

2014 Martin Jacobson winner: Martin Jacobson
winner: Martin Jacobson

2014 - Martin Jacobson

WON: $10,000,000

Lifetime Earnings: $15,106,285

WSOP organizers guaranteed a $10 million first prize for the Main Event for the first time. Numbers rose as a result, with 6,683 players turning out in 2014. Sweden's Martin Jacobson, an experienced pro who already had major cashes and millions in prize money to his name, took down the title.

2013 Ryan Reiss winner: Ryan Reiss
winner: Ryan Reiss

2013 - Ryan Reiss

WON: $8,361,570

Lifetime Earnings: $9,190,619

Another college graduate who threw it all in for poker was American, Ryan Reiss, the Main Event champion in 2013. He'd never reached a final table before when he defeated a tough final nine that included JC Tran, Mark Newhouse, and tough online player, David Benefield.

2012 Greg Merson winner: Greg Merson
winner: Greg Merson

2012 - Greg Merson

WON: $8,531,853

Lifetime Earnings: $11,371,974

A return to the US for the Main Event bracelet as Greg Merson beat fellow countryman, Jesse Sylvia, heads-up. Like many recent Main Event champs, the then 25-year-old had prepared for the big one with a major cash elsewhere at the World Series. Earlier in 2012, Merson won $1.1 million in a $10,000 Six-Handed No Limit Texas Hold'em event.

2011 Pius Heinz winner: Pius Heinz
winner: Pius Heinz

2011 - Pius Heinz

WON: $8,715,638

Lifetime Earnings: $9,028,569

On "Black Friday" in April 2011, when three of the biggest online poker rooms were closed down in the US, it became virtually impossible for Americans to play poker online, or even access their funds. It marked the start of a slow decline in Main Event numbers following the FBI raids. But 2011 saw another milestone - Germany's inaugural Main Event champ - and another experienced 20-something brandishing the solid gold bracelet.

2010 Jonathan Duhamel winner: Jonathan Duhamel
winner: Jonathan Duhamel

2010 - Jonathan Duhamel

WON: 8,944,310

Lifetime Earnings: $17,605,726

A spike in Main Event numbers - 7,319 paid their $10,000 entry in 2010 - saw the first prize in the Main Event jump too. Jonathan Duhamel became Canada's first ever champion when he beat solid American pro John Racener to win the biggest prize of his career.

2009 Joe Cada winner: Joe Cada
winner:Joe Cada

2009 - Joe Cada

WON: $8,547,042

Lifetime Earnings: $10,403,598

If Eastgate's win was amazing, Joe Cada's bettered it. Cada was 21 and several weeks younger than the previous year's champion when he defeated Darvin Moon at the Main Event - the first 'November Nine' in the WSOP's history. An experienced player already with several cashes under his belt, Cada's win also marked the start of a run of champions who had cut their teeth playing online poker.

2008 Peter Eastgate winner: Peter Eastgate
winner:Peter Eastgate

2008 - Peter Eastgate

WON: $8,250,000

Lifetime Earnings: $11,131,450

Danish pro, Peter Eastgate, marked a new era for young WSOP winners. At 22, Eastgate broke the record for the youngest Main Event champ as he defeated another young buck in Ivan Demidov heads-up.

2007 Jerry Yang winner: Jerry Yang
winner:Jerry Yang

2007 - Jerry Yang

WON: $8,250,000

Lifetime Earnings: $8,443,075

Following the USA's introduction of UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) in 2006, Main Event numbers began to drop off. It didn't stop unheralded amateurs taking down shock wins, however, and in 2007 devout Christian Jerry Yang stunned Tuan Lam to win over $8 million. The win, of course, was dedicated to God.

2006 Jamie Gold winner: Jamie Gold
winner: Jamie Gold

2006 - Jamie Gold

WON: $12,000,000

Lifetime Earnings: $12,586,358

WSOP numbers had been rising for years, thanks to the boom in poker and the growth of online satellites. And in 2006, Jamie Gold won the biggest ever Main Event prize - $12 million - by out-talking, out-bluffing, and out-running some of the biggest players around. As in the two previous years, the better player lost, this time Paul Wasicka finishing runner-up.

2005 Joe Hachem winner: Joe Hachem
winner: Joe Hachem

2005 - Joe Hachem

WON: $7,500,000

Lifetime Earnings: $12,153,803

Australia's Joe Hachem broke the run of American Main Event wins when he won the 2005 WSOP. The tournament had been sold to Harrahs and the whole Series moved to the Rio All-Star Hotel and Casino. And there, Hachem saw off another bumper field of 5,619 to take down the first prize.

2004 Greg Raymer winner: Greg Raymer
winner: Greg Raymer

2004 - Greg Raymer

WON: $5,000,000

Lifetime Earnings: $7,559,923

With the aptly-named Chris Moneymaker winning in 2003, some 2,576 runners headed to Vegas to try their luck a year later. Another amateur, lawyer Greg Raymer, emerged victorious, and another experienced pro in David Williams ended up in the runner-up chair. Raymer's win would also be the last at Binion's casino.

2003 Chris Moneymaker winner: Chris Moneymaker
winner: Chris Moneymaker

2003 - Chris Moneymaker

WON: $2,500,000

Lifetime Earnings: $3,595,975

The win that inspired a generation. An accountant from Atlanta, Moneymaker won his $10,000 seat by playing cheaper qualifiers online. By "spinning up" his $80 into a $2.5 million, it was a fairytale that would see the attendance (839 runners) treble a year later.

2002 Robert Varkonyi winner: obert Varkonyi
winner: obert Varkonyi

2002 - Robert Varkonyi

WON: $2,000,000

Lifetime Earnings: $2,302,668

Robert Varkonyi was one of the most inexperienced champions the WSOP has ever seen. Before he beat Englishman Julian Gardner in 2002, Phil Hellmuth declared he'd shave his head if Varkonyi won. The American took it down, Hellmuth lost his hair.

2001 Carlos Mortensen winner: Carlos Mortensen
winner: Carlos Mortensen

2001 - Carlos Mortensen

WON: $1,500,000

Lifetime Earnings: $11,954,406

Arguably one of the most talented players to win a WSOP Main Event, Mortensen prevented Dewey Tomko (a runner-up in 1982) completing an amazing comeback. Mortensen won $1.5 million for his win. The next day, Tomko was back on the Vegas golf courses playing for a million a hole.

2000 Chris Ferguson winner: Chris Ferguson
winner: Chris Ferguson

2000 - Chris Ferguson

WON: $1,500,000

Lifetime Earnings: $8,281,927

The beginning of a new generation of champion began in 2000 as former MIT math grad, Chris Ferguson, overpowered the old-school experience of T.J. Cloutier to win his first bracelet. "Jesus" would become a key figure of the game until his involvement in the collapse of Full Tilt 11 years later.

1999 Noel Furlong winner: Noel Furlong
winner: Noel Furlong

1999 - Noel Furlong

WON: $1,000,000

Lifetime Earnings: $1,145,806

The "Year of the Irish" saw three Irishmen competing at the Main Event final table in 1999. Ultimately, Furlong outlasted countrymen George McKeever and Padraig Parkinson, and sent American Alan Goehring to the rail to win the million-dollar first prize.

1998 Scotty Nguyen winner: Scotty Nguyen
winner: Scotty Nguyen

1998 - Scotty Nguyen

WON: $1,000,000

Lifetime Earnings: $11,874,539

"If you call, it's gonna be all over, baby!" The immortal last line of the 1998 WSOP from Vietnamese refugee, Scotty Nguyen, induced Kevin McBride to make an ill-fated call. Nguyen wasn't bluffing, though, and his winning hand gave him the top prize and the fast-track to poker immortality.

1997 Stu Ungar winner: Stu Ungar

1997 - Stu Ungar

WON: $1,000,000

Lifetime Earnings: $3,675,321

Ungar's return to the WSOP in 1997 was as heroic as it was tragic. The final table - played out in the open air next to Binion's Horseshoe - showed a player going for his third historic Main Event. But is also showed a frail man ravaged by drugs. Ungar won a million bucks that year but 12 months later he would be dead without a cent to his name.

1996 Huck Seed winner: Huck Seed
winner: Huck Seed

1996 - Huck Seed

WON: $1,000,000

Lifetime Earnings: $7,647,267

One of the most complete all-round poker pros, and a lover of "proposition bets", Huck Seed proved a popular winner in 1996. Huck continued to rack up WSOP wins, notably in side events like Razz and 2-7 Draw, but the 1996 Main Event remains his greatest achievement.

1995 Dan Harrington winner: Dan Harrington
winner: Dan Harrington

1995 - Dan Harrington

WON: $1,000,000

Lifetime Earnings: $6,618,963

"Action Dan" may be known for a popular series of poker books, Harrington On Hold'em, but he's also a legend of the game with over $6 million in career earnings. In 1995, Harrington prevented a first Canadian Main Event win for Howard Goldfarb by besting a field of 273.

1994 Russ Hamilton winner: Russ Hamilton
winner: Russ Hamilton

1994 - Russ Hamilton

WON: $1,000,000

Lifetime Earnings: $1,526,243

Russ Hamilton had already secured minor cashes around LA and California before he bagged the big one at the 1994 WSOP. Hamilton would gain more "fame" for his 2008 role in a cheating scandal while acting as a consultant for disgraced online poker room, Ultimate Bet. He was found guilty of cheating online players out of millions of dollars.

1993 Jim Bechtel winner: Jim Bechtel

1993 - Jim Bechtel

WON: $1,000,000

Lifetime Earnings: $2,566,705

Jim Bechtel's 1993 Main Event win remains his only gold bracelet of his career, although he's reached 9 final tables in other WSOP tournaments. Main Event numbers were on the rise again in 1993, up to 220 with the first prize remaining a cool million bucks.

1992 Hamid Dastmalchi winner: Hamid Dastmalchi
winner: Hamid Dastmalchi

1992 - Hamid Dastmalchi

WON: $1,000,000

Lifetime Earnings: $1,826,357

The San Diego pro won multiple bracelets at the World Series of Poker, but none were so coveted as his 1992 Main Event triumph. By this point, around a dozen smaller events were being contested, but the Main Event - despite a drop in numbers that year - proved the biggest draw.

1991 Brad Daugherty winner: Brad Daugherty
winner: Brad Daugherty

1991 - Brad Daugherty

WON: $1,000,000

Lifetime Earnings: $1,814,476

With Main Event numbers passing the 200-mark, 1991's WSOP showpiece saw its first million-follar first prize. That fixed first prize would hold for another eight years. Champion Daugherty would later team up with another Main Event former champ, Tom McEvoy, to co-write Championship Satellite Strategy.

1990 Mansour Matloubi winner: Mansour Matloubi
winner: Mansour Matloubi

1990 - Mansour Matloubi

WON: $835,000

Lifetime Earnings: $1,990,457

The Iranian-born player became the first UK-based pro to win the Main Event when he bested a field of 194 back in 1990. Heads-up, he beat the wonderfully-named Hans "Tuna" Lund, but the final table was also notable for the reappearance of Stu Ungar.

1989 Phil Hellmuth, Jr. winner: Phil Hellmuth, Jr.
winner: Phil Hellmuth, Jr.

1989 - Phil Hellmuth, Jr.

WON: $755,000

Lifetime Earnings: $19,310,196

Despite several small cashes on the circuit, a young 24-year-old Phil Hellmuth stunned the poker community in 1989 by stopping Johnny Chan get his treasured third WSOP Main Event bracelet. Hellmuth would go on to amass 14 WSOP bracelets (a world record) and $19 million in career prize money.

1988 Johnny Chan winner: Johnny Chan
winner: Johnny Chan

1988 - Johnny Chan

WON: $700,000

Lifetime Earnings: $8,646,455

Chan - and his lucky orange - made it two in two years with a cool dismantling at the final table of Erik Seidel. His sucker punch on the final hand was immortalized in the film 'Rounders'. Only a young upstart called Phil Hellmuth Jr. would prevent Chan making it three in a row one year later...

1987 Johnny Chan winner: Johnny Chan
winner: Johnny Chan

1987 - Johnny Chan

WON: $625,000

Lifetime Earnings: $8,646,455

Along with Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan sits in second place in the all-time WSOP bracelet winners' list. But it is his back-to-back Main Event triumphs in the mid-80s that have made Chan a legend.

1986 Berry Johnston winner: Berry Johnston
winner: Berry Johnston

1986 - Berry Johnston

WON: $570,000

Lifetime Earnings: $3,484,850

At one point, 5-time bracelet winner Berry Johnston had more WSOP cashes than any other player. He was a fearsome opponent who won the 1986 Main Event in style for a $570,000 payday.

1985 Bill Smith winner: Bill Smith
winner: Bill Smith

1985 - Bill Smith

WON: $700,000

Lifetime Earnings: $1,055,488

US pro, Bill Smith, made three Main Event final tables in his career, taking down the title once in 1985. The story goes that his heads-up opponent, T.J. Cloutier, was hoping for a drunk Smith to turn up. Sadly for him, a semi-drunk Smith turned up and he played an incredible game.

1984 Jack Keller winner: Jack Keller
winner: Jack Keller

1984 - Jack Keller

WON: $660,000

Lifetime Earnings: $3,900,424

"Gentleman Jack" moved from cash games to tournaments, and - like many WSOP champions - managed a Main Event triumph in the same year as winning a first bracelet. Keller won a Stud side event earlier in the summer before taking down $660,000 in 1984's Main Event.

1983 Tom McEvoy winner: Tom McEvoy
winner: Tom McEvoy

1983 - Tom McEvoy

WON: $540,000

Lifetime Earnings: $2,991,672

The advent of the "satellite" - a cheap qualifier that gave players the chance to win a bigger Main Event seat - meant that the WSOP could attract more players. And attract they did: in 1983, 108 runners turned out for the Main Event, ultimately won by Tom McEvoy.

1982 Jack Straus winner: Jack Straus
winner: Jack Straus

1982 - Jack Straus

WON: $520,000

Lifetime Earnings: $830,269

"Treetop" famously won the 1982 Main Event, beating Dewey Tomko heads-up. But his win was also famous for coining the phrase, "a chip and a chair". Legend has it Straus moved all-in, betting all his chips on the table. He lost, but discovered he had dropped a single chip on the floor. His one lifeline was spun up into a big stack, and he went on to win.

1981 Stu Ungar winner:Stu Ungar
winner: Stu Ungar

1981 - Stu Ungar

WON: $375,000

Lifetime Earnings: $3,675,321

It's hard to believe that when the World Series of Poker began back in 1970, there were fewer than 50 poker tables in the entire city of Las Vegas. There were only 70 poker tables in the whole state of Nevada. Binion's Horseshoe, the host casino, did not even have a poker room. The contest that would come to decide poker's first world champion was held inside an alcove about the size of an ordinary hotel room. Thirty or so gamblers shoehorned themselves around a few poker tables. They didn't know it at the time, but they were making poker history.

1980 Stu Ungar winner: Stu Ungar
winner: Stu Ungar

1980 - Stu Ungar

WON: $385,000

Lifetime Earnings: $3,675,321

A gin rummy from New York who was so good he couldn't get a game, Stu "The Kid" Ungar switched to poker and never looked back. His slight frame and gaunt features were a marked contrast to the Stetson-wearing opponents at the WSOP, but he was never fazed and beat Doyle Brunson heads-up in 1980.

1979 Hal Fowler winner: Hal Fowler
winner: Hal Fowler

1979 - Hal Fowler

WON: $270,000

Lifetime Earnings: $383,500

American Hal Fowler became champ in 1979 after defeating a field of 54 players. He also became the first amateur to win the Main Event. It's fair to say Fowler got lucky along the way and he never matched his stunning achievement with further titles. He died in 2000.

1978 Bobby Baldwin winner: Bobby Baldwin
winner:Bobby Baldwin

1978 - Bobby Baldwin

WON: $210,000

Lifetime Earnings: $2,319,679

Bobby Baldwin won four bracelets in the 1970s, and went on to found 'Bobby's Room', a high-stakes cardroom at Las Vegas's Bellagio casino. His crowning achievement, though, was winning the 1978 Main Event to mark a brief lull in old-school road gamblers taking down the big one.

1977 Doyle Brunson winner: Doyle Brunson
winner: Doyle Brunson

1977 - Doyle Brunson

WON: $340,000

Lifetime Earnings: $6,131,775

Brunson won again in 1977 with the same hand, 10-2, as he defeated Gary Berland heads-up. It would also mark the end of winner-takes-all in WSOP Main Events.

1976 Doyle Brunson winner: Doyle Brunson
winner: Doyle Brunson

1976 - Doyle Brunson

WON: $220,000

Lifetime Earnings: $6,131,775

Already a legend on the circuit, "Texas Dolly" secured his first WSOP title in 1976. His winning hand, 10-2 offsuit, became his calling card.

1975 Brian "Sailor" Roberts winner:Brian 'Sailor' Roberts
winner:Brian 'Sailor' Roberts

1975 - Brian "Sailor" Roberts

WON: $210,000

Lifetime Earnings: $266,650

Brian Roberts had already won a WSOP bracelet - the previous year's $5,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven Draw - when he took down 1975's Main Event. Again, the 21 runners competed for a winner-takes-all prizepool of $210,000.

1974 Johnny Moss winner: Johnny Moss
winner: Johnny Moss

1974 - Johnny Moss

WON: $160,000

Lifetime Earnings: $1,254,859

Another "jump" in M.E. entrants - to 16 - saw a prizepool of $160,000 created in 1974. Big-hatted Crandell Addington came close - he would finish runner-up again in 1978 - but Johnny Moss added a third Main Event bracelet to his name.

1973 Walter "Puggy" Pearson winner: Walter 'Puggy' Pearson
winner:Walter 'Puggy' Pearson

1973 - Walter "Puggy" Pearson

WON: $130,000

Lifetime Earnings: $443,480

13 entrants turned out in 1973 in an expanded WSOP that carried seven separate events. The previous year's defeated runner-up, Puggy Pearson, took down the winner-takes-all first Main Event prize. It would be the year that TV took an interest, with CBS Sports putting the tournament on television for the first time.

1972 Thomas "Amarillo Slim" Preston winner: Thomas 'Amarillo Slim' Preston
winner: Thomas 'Amarillo Slim' Preston

1972 - Thomas "Amarillo Slim" Preston

WON: $60,000

Lifetime Earnings: $587,567

The Main Event entrants rose in 1972, to a staggering TWELVE, with the buy-in also doubling. The $10,000 buy-in has remained ever since. "Amarillo Slim" Preston stunned the poker world - such as it was - that year by defeating Puggy Pearson and became poker's first celebrity.

1971 Johnny Moss winner: Johnny Moss
winner: Johnny Moss

1971 - Johnny Moss

WON: $30,000

Lifetime Earnings: $1,254,859

Seven players paid $5,000 to enter the first ever WSOP Main Event "tournament", with Moss winning for real this time. He also won another bracelet event that year, $1,000 Limit Ace-to-Five Draw.

1970 Johnny Moss winner: Johnny Moss
winner: Johnny Moss

1970 - Johnny Moss

WON: 0

Lifetime Earnings: $1,254,859

The WSOP wasn't played as the tournament we all know until 1971. 1970's "champion", Johnny Moss, was simply voted as the best out of a group of high-stakes gamblers who had gathered in Las Vegas that summer. The vote had to be redone after everyone, er, voted for themselves.

small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6

Inside The World Series Of Poker

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is an annual series of poker events held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Currently, the Series hosts 69 poker tournaments, all awarding winners a gold bracelet and a portion of the prizepool. Staggered prizes are awarded depending on the number of entrants.

Entry prices vary, but range from the cheapest - the $565 'Colossus' - to a $50,000 'Poker Players' Championship.

Most popular poker variants are covered in the WSOP schedule. It's not unusual to find several Hold'em and Omaha events mixed in with Stud, Razz, HORSE, and Draw. In 2016, a WSOP tournament will be held online to celebrate Nevada's new online poker legislation.

The showpiece tournament every year is the $10,000 Main Event No Limit Hold'em Championship. Typically attracting several thousand players, the event is run over two weeks as a "freezeout" where players bust out once they have run out of chips.

Players receive 50,000 starting chips (an increase on last year) and the clock is set at two hours. That means that every two hours, the blind levels increase. Blinds are enforced bets which help move the action along. As the blinds increase, so the tournament speeds towards a conclusion. Around five or six two-hour levels are played each day.

Players have a choice of days to start their Main Event - Day 1A, Day 1B, Day 1C - with all remaining players going forward to a Day 2AB or 2C. Play then continues until Day 6, at which point the event "plays down" to the final nine.

Play is paused once the final table of nine - the "November Nine" - is reached. The tournament reconvenes in the Fall where remaining players will compete for a first prize worth in the region of $7-10 million.

small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6

WSOP Main Event 2016: From Day 1 To The November Nine

In 2016, 6,420 runners turned out for the WSOP Main Event. Each paying their $10,000 entry fee, the prizepool came to a staggering $60,355,857.

While even hitting a minimum cash is beyond most players' wildest dreams, spare a thought for the pros and amateurs making their way through nearly two weeks of gruelling action.

Let's take a quick journey through the early days of the Main Event and see how the runners get whittled down day by day at the Rio.

Payouts

Generally, payouts are pretty "flat" in the WSOP Main Event. That means several hundred runners will earn the same amount before a "jump" in prize money. With so little "laddering" up the payouts, the action tends to hot up once the bubble bursts - i.e. the last player before the money places starts is eliminated.

As you can see, for example, from 100th to 225th, a huge 125 players which could take several hours to get through, there's only a jump of around $6,000 in prize money. As the tournament progresses, the pay jumps get bigger: $10,000 to $20,000 to $30,000, and so on.

payout list

WSOP Main Event Eliminations

In 2015, the WSOP Main Event had three starting "flights": Day 1A, Day 1B and Day 1C. Remaining players from those three days merged to fight on in either the Day 2AB or Day 2C. All survivors then progressed to Day 3 and continued playing down to a final table.

The Main Event is played as a freezeout, so once players have lost all their chips, they are eliminated. And once the final nine players have been reached, the play pauses for four months with the "November Nine" reconvening at the Rio to play for the bracelet. Why is it called 'the November Nine'? Well, the tournament kicks off again in November (usually around the 11th or 12th of the month) and there are nine players.

small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6

Day 1(Day 1A, 1B, 1C)

Entrants: 6420

Remaining: 4,371

The gargantuan Brasilia and Amazon Rooms at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Vegas host the WSOP Main Event each year. With so many players, the starting "flights" are spread over three days - the cunningly-titled Day 1A, Day 1B, and Day 1C.

Days kick off at 12pm, with every player being given 30,000 starting chips. The "blinds" - the forced bets that rise as the action continues - start at 50/100. All levels last two hours - that is, after 120 minutes the blinds go up. After five levels of play, with the blinds at 200/400 ante 50, play stops, and all remaining players proceed to the next day.

1000

100

50

10

1

mobile Day1
smallDesktop

Entrants: 6420

table1
table2

8

table3

62

table4

587

table4

665

table3

72

table2

7

table3

80

table4

833

table4

725

table3

83

table4

529

table4

720

Remaining: 4,371

table5
small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6

Day 2(2A/B, 2C)

Entrants: 4,371

Remaining: 2,324

On Day 2A, the remaining players from Day 1A and Day 1B reconvene at the Rio, but play in different rooms. Remaining Day 1C players start the next day - Day 2C. The blinds kick off at the next level on the structure, and all players play five more 2-hour levels.

By the time the Day 2s are finished, nearly 4,000 players will have been eliminated, and all remaining players edge closer to the money places. In 2015, the leading chipstack at the end of Day 2A/B had over 180,000 chips - a 6x increase on his starting stack.

1000

100

50

10

1

mobile Day2
smallDesktop

Remaining: 4,371

table
table2

8

table3

62

table4

397

table4

465

table6

44

table2

7

table3

80

table4

633

table4

535

table3

83

Remaining: 2,324

table5
small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6

Day 3

Entrants: 2,324

Remaining: 661

Day 3 is when those players hoping for a min-cash (the lowest prize payout of $15,000) will be looking to survive the bubble. The "bubble" is that moment that last player who will win nothing is eliminated. At this point, tables go "hand for hand" - playing their hands simultaneously and waiting for other tables to finish their hands. This helps avoid slow-play by players trying to wait it out till the bubble bursts.

By the end of Day 3 in 2015, 661 players had remained. Typically, once the bubble bursts, players relax and aggressive play tends to increase. More players start moving all-in, especially if they have short stacks, as they race towards the next pay increase.

1000

100

50

10

1

mobile Day3
smallDesktop

Remaining: 2,324

table
table2

8

table4

197

table3

72

table2

7

table4

233

table3

81

table3

63

Remaining: 661

table5
small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6

Day 4

Entrants: 661

Remaining: 237

During Day 4, over 400 players bite the dust, and the payouts double during the course of the day. While Day 4 may begin with players still winning $15,000 for busting out, it will end with players winning around $34,000 - over double.

It's important for players to know the "laddering" system: at the WSOP, payouts don't increase for every single player who busts. Rather, blocks of eliminated players will win the same amount before the payouts go up.

The blinds continue to increase too. By Day 4, players are on or around Level 16, where the blinds reach 2500/5000, with a running ante of 500. By the end of the day, five levels will have been played.

1000

100

50

10

1

mobile Day4
smallDesktop

Remaining: 661

table
table6

22

table3

42

table3

51

table2

7

table3

29

table3

30

table3

13

table3

43

Remaining: 237

table5
small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6

Day 5

Entrants: 237

Remaining: 69

Day 5, and another five levels of play are scheduled. By the end of the day, the blinds have risen to 25,000/40,000 with a running ante of 5,000. In 2015, nearly 170 players were bust out on Day 5, with the chip leader sitting on a stack of over 7 million. All players remaining were also guaranteed at least $96,000 in prize money.

While the freed-up tables are cleared away, the huge poker room at the Rio is still filled with bustouts sticking around to play cash games and daily MTTs (multi-table tournaments).

1000

100

50

10

1

mobile Day5
smallDesktop

Remaining: 237

table
table3

16

table2

7

table2

4

table3

31

table2

5

table2

6

Remaining: 69

table5
small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6

Day 6

Entrants: 69

Remaining: 27

Day 6, and another five levels are played. By the end of the night, around three tables of players will be left. The final table is in sight. The payouts also increase massively during Day 6. At the beginning of the 10-hour day, players will win $96,000 for busting out. By the end, players are in line for a payday worth $262,000. Regardless of the level, play is halted as 27 players are reached.

1000

100

50

10

1

mobile Day6
smallDesktop

Remaining: 69

table
table2

3

table2

6

table2

3

table2

5

table2

1

table2

5

table2

4

Remaining: 27

table5
small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6

Day 7

Entrants: 27

Remaining: 9

In keeping with past days, five 2-hour levels are scheduled on Day 7. This is the day that play will continue until a final table of nine is reached. In 2015, however, the players didn't even need to get through all five levels. Six players bust out in the opening level, with six more following in the very next blind level. As on all days, play is broken up with regular drinks breaks, and a longer dinner break usually lasting 90 minutes.

With the final nine players reached, play is suspended. But rather than return the following day to kick off again, the "November Nine" take a four-month break. This gives the players time to recoup and train, plus the TV firms to edit a highlights package for broadcast in the autumn.

1000

100

50

10

1

mobile Day7
smallDesktop

Remaining: 27

table
table2

3

table2

4

table2

2

Remaining: 9

table5
small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6

Day 8

Entrants: 9

Remaining: 6

November, and the remaining nine hopefuls reconvene at the Penn and Teller Theater at the Rio in Vegas. Play kicks off at 5pm local time, with a live audience of supporters allowed to attend and cheer on their pals.

The blind levels start at exactly the same point they were paused at back in July (even if there is a minute on the clock) and continue to rise every two hours. ESPN broadcast every hand on a half-hour delay for viewers at home. Adjustments may be made to the number of levels played depending upon how many players remain.

From here on in, players will win at least $1 million, with the remaining payouts decided at the end of the initial Day 1s. The winner in 2015 picked up $7,683,346.

1000

100

50

10

1

mobile Day8
smallDesktop

Remaining: 9

table
table2

6

Remaining: 6

table5
small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6

Day 9

Entrants: 6

Remaining: 3

With six players remaining, plays continues until three players remain. As with previous days' play, the hands are broadcast live on ESPN, with viewers also able to watch on the WSOP website.

As the game is played as No Limit Hold'em, players can experience huge swings in their chip stacks. However, with the blinds at eye-watering levels - around 500,000/1,000,000 with a 100,000 ante, some players are forced to move all-in for their chips following a previous raise.

In 2015, US pro Joe McKeehen was dominant throughout the main event final table. At the end of Day 9, he had 128 million chips compared to Neil Blumenfield with 40 million and Josh Beckley on 23.7 million.

1000

100

50

10

1

mobile Day9
smallDesktop
table1

Remaining: 6

table2

3

Remaining: 3

table5
small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6

Day 10

Entrants: 3

Remaining: 1 (Champion)

It's the final day of the World Series of Poker Main Event. Months ago, over 6,000 runners paid their $10,000 entry or won a seat via live or online satellites to compete on the biggest stage in poker. The format - more or less - and buy-in has remained unchanged for decades: $10,000 to enter, playing a No Limit Hold'em freezeout structure.

Blind levels on Day 10 kick off where they finished on Day 9, and play continues until a winner is reached. No deals are permitted (players agreeing to split the prize money or stop play early) but both heads-up players will end up multi-millionaires - if they weren't already.

Play continues until one player has all the chips, usually accompanied by a dramatic all-in bet watched eagerly by the player's railbirds and millions of viewers online and on television. Another WSOP Main Event champion is crowned.

1000

100

50

10

1

mobile Day10
smallDesktop

Remaining: 3

table
table22
small logo1 small logo2 small logo3 small logo4 small logo5 small logo6
color logo white

back to
top