World Series of Poker History and Popularity
World Series of Poker is a multi-million dollar business that started out in 1970 when Benny Binion owner of Horseshoe Casino invited seven of the best-known poker players for a single tournament with a set start time and set stop time. The winner was not the one with the largest pot but decided by a secret ballot by the players. Selected by his peers Johnny Moss won the First World Championship of Poker. The prize a silver cup.
From this small event, the World Series of Poker grew into a large enterprise. The annual event held annually since 2004 in Las Vegas sponsored by Caesar’s Entertainment formerly known as Harrah’s Entertainment until 2010 continues to grow in popularity worldwide.
Rules set forth that each winner of each event receives a World Series of Poker bracelet and monetary prize based on the number of entries, buy-in amounts and minus costs. Both the number of events and number of participants have continued to grow over the years. The event takes place over one to several consecutive days in June and July with the Main Event on a later date.
Since 2004, all events culminate with a $10,000 buy-in, no limit Texas hold’em Main Event. The winner of the Main Event final table can win multi-millions of dollars and the covenant bracelet along with the title World Champion of Poker. The first bracelet was awarded at the 1976 game.
Between 2000 and 2006, steady increase of players at the Main Event occurred but in 2006, new online gambling laws restricted the number of online players who could qualify for the event. 2007 was the first time in the 21st century that number of players decreased but the number of player rebound in 2008.
In 2008, the online gambling laws changed making it legal to gamble for money in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.
Part of the increase in popularity of this event is a direct result of TV stations like ESPN in the mid-90’s broadcasting the events. Soon Travel Channel, Bravo, and Fox Sports Net started to air the games. This acceptance of the event into the mainstream also assisted the world from viewing the Event as a game but as a sport to watch and play.
In 2011, the World Series of Poker and Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque du Soleil received permission to use the game as a fundraiser known as The Big One for One Drop. The game started on July 1, 2012 with a record 1 million dollars entry fee and 11% of the money going directly to the charity One Drop Foundation. World Series of Poker waived their usual 10%.
In 2003, amateur Chris Moneymaker a 27-year-old accountant was the final winner of the Main Event leading to many people believing that they too could win.