The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is a poker tournament held annually in Las Vegas. The first WSOP in 1970 was an invitational wherein Benny Binion invited six of the best known poker players to The Horseshoe Casino. At first, the WSOP grew slowly. It was twelve years before the WSOP drew 52 participants, in 1982. In the early 1980s satellite tournaments were introduced allowing people to win their way into the various events for less than the full entry fees. By 1987, there were over 2,100 entrants in the entire series. Participation peaked in 2006, with 8,773 people participating in the Main Event alone.
The first World Series of Poker was not a freeze-out tournament, but rather an event with a set start- and stop-time with the winner determined by secret ballot. In 1973, five-card stud was added as a second event. Since 2007, the WSOP has consisted of 55 events. While events traditionally take place over one or more consecutive days during the series in June and July, in 2008 the Main Event final table was delayed until November. The winner of each event receives a World Series of Poker bracelet and a monetary prize based on the number of entrants and buy-in amounts. A World Series of Poker bracelet is considered the most coveted prize or trophy a poker player can win, with one from the Main Event revered above all others. Since 1976, a bracelet has been awarded to the winner of every event at the annual WSOP. WSOP victories prior to 1976 are also known as “bracelets”. Most of the major poker variants are featured, though in recent years over half of the events have been variants of Texas hold ’em.
The series culminates with the $10,000 no-limit hold’em “Main Event“, which since 2004 has attracted entrants numbering in the thousands. The victor receives a multi million dollar prize. The winner of the World Series of Poker Main Event is considered to be the World Champion of Poker. Since its inception, Stu Ungar and Johnny Moss are the only players to have won the Main Event three times, though Moss’s first victory came in a different format than that now used as he was elected winner by vote of his fellow players at the conclusion of what was then a timed event. Moss (if the first time win by vote is counted), Ungar, Doyle Brunson, and Johnny Chan are the only people who have won the Main Event in consecutive years. Johnny Chan’s second victory in 1988 was featured on the 1998 film Rounders. Phil Hellmuth holds multiple WSOP records: most bracelets (11), most WSOP cashes (68), and most WSOP final tables (41). The 2008 Main Event bracelet winner, Peter Eastgate, is the youngest person to win the Main Event. Since 2005, the WSOP has been sponsored by Harrah’s Entertainment.