Poker has become one of the most popular card games played globally, attracting players of different ages and backgrounds. Among the biggest and most prestigious poker tournaments worldwide is the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

Held annually since 1970, the WSOP has evolved into a massive event that attracts players from all corners of the world. It has become one of the premier gambling competitions, with millions playing and many more watching on through TV and the internet. Broadcasters such as ESPN have televised the Main Event in years gone by, with figures from Statista revealing that approximately 675,000 watched in 2017. However, despite the figures appearing to have declined from other years (2013 recorded 1.15 million viewers on ESPN), the prize pots have continued to climb. The 2023 Main Event has a record first-place prize available, with $12.1 million having been made available to win!

With so much on the line in this year’s edition, it is easier to stay informed. You can find a WSOP guide & updates available here, where you are able to keep abreast of everything that happens. However, before this year’s record-breaking competition, it is worth getting as much detailed background info on the tournament’s history and global reach!

WSOP: History and Global Reach

The WSOP was founded by Benny Binion in 1970 in Las Vegas and was initially a small tournament that played only one event. However, with each passing year, the tournament grew, and more events were added to the schedule, with different variants of poker to choose from. Today, the WSOP features more than 80 events, and numerous satellites are held worldwide, with the final table play being broadcasted on cable TV operators such as ESPN.

The global reach of the WSOP can be measured in several ways. Players worldwide can compete to win a gold bracelet and a vast amount of prize money, with satellites being held worldwide to qualify. What’s more, the tournament allows participants to come from a range of countries and cultures, representing a level of diversity that few other major competitions bring together. The WSOP has welcomed poker players from Africa to Asia, pursuing their passions for the game. The 2023 Main Event competition recently smashed the record for entries, with more than 10,000 vying for the $12.1 million first-prize pot. The previous record was 8,733, which had been set in 2006.

However, Chris Moneymaker’s emergence and performance at the 2003 WSOP may have helped put the tournament on the sporting map and give it its global appeal. An accountant from Tennessee, he was an amateur of the game. However, he managed to overcome some of the biggest superstars the game has ever seen. He also managed to produce the Bluff of the Century,” which is a moment that will be remembered forever.

Legendary Winners and Huge Prize Pots

With a vast array of events comes strategic brilliance, making the WSOP more than a game of luck. Competitors who have won multiple bracelets are seen as individuals with extraordinary skills and talent, with various types of poker requiring different approaches. Phil Hellmuth is the record-holder for the most bracelets, having won 17 in his career and amassing a total career earnings of more than $17 million. Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, and Doyle Brunson are all next on 10, but Hellmuth is widely perceived to be one of the greatest WSOP players ever.

The WSOP provides a platform for recognizing and rewarding the game’s greats, with enormous prize pools up for grabs. The winner of the Main Event receives millions of dollars, and other tournaments also deliver vast prize pools. As highlighted, the 2023 WSOP Main Event will feature the biggest single first-place prize in its history, but it is not uncommon for players to have been able to walk away with significant wins. In 2006, the record-setting WSOP tournament for most attendees, Jamie Gold managed to win $12 million

Final Thoughts

The World Series of Poker has become a globally recognized tournament, attracting millions of viewers for its accomplishments in poker excellence. It has become the grandest stage for poker enthusiasts to test themselves, as they can compete against the very best and look to win millions. With the WSOP also being broadcasted internationally, there is no doubting its global appeal, either.