The World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) is the first expansion effort of World Series of Poker-branded poker tournaments outside the United States. Since 1970, participants had to travel to Las Vegas if they wanted to compete in the World Series of Poker (WSOP). Although the WSOP held circuit events in other locations, the main tournaments, which awarded bracelets to the winners, were exclusively held in Las Vegas. The inaugural WSOPE, held in 2007, marked the first time that a WSOP bracelet was awarded outside of Las Vegas. Since its inception, players from six countries Denmark , Afghanistan, Germany, Italy, Norway and USA have won bracelets. Entering the 2009 tournament, the host country, England, has yet to win.
Because the size of Casinos in England are smaller than those in Las Vegas, the number of participants at the WSOPE is limited. This results in a field wherein more of the top poker players and fewer amateurs participate. For example, at the first event of the 2007 tournament had a starting table with Tony G, Andy Bloch, Jeff Madsen, Jennifer Harman and Brandon Adams. Another starting table included poker super stars such as Allen Cunningham, Gus Hansen, Marcel Luske and Justin Bonomo. Four of the five people that made it to the first final table had all previously won a WSOP bracelet.
In 2004, Harrah’s Casinos purchased the rights to the WSOP label. Harrah’s later purchased London Clubs International (LCI). LCI operates three casinos in the London area—Fifty, Leicester Square, and The Sportsman. After the purchase of these casinos, Harrah’s decided to expand its WSOP label into Europe. European casinos typically have a different environment than those in the U.S. Jeffrey Pollack, the WSOP Commissioner, indicated that the WSOPE would have a “style and flair that is both unique and appropriate to the setting. So don’t be surprised if we require participants to wear blazers at the tables. If James Bond were hosting a poker tournament it may look like the World Series of Poker Europe.”
The WSOPE was entering a crowded field as many major poker tournaments were already established in Europe. Pollack, however, believed that brand recognition of the WSOP and that the “WSOP bracelet is the most recognized poker hardware globally will allow the WSOPE to quickly catch up.”