The World Series of Poker Overview

The World Series of Poker, a multi week live event held annually in Las Vegas, is by far the world’s most famous poker event. It isn’t just a single poker tournament however, as many people think, but a collection of many separate tournaments, each with its own particular format. They all lead up to the main event, the No Limit Hold’em Championship, where the winner gets crowned the World Champion of Poker for that year, as well as receiving several million dollars in prize money, which varies from year to year depending on the number of entrants, and the coveted gold bracelet, emblematic of poker supremacy.

Gold bracelets and significant prize money are also awarded to the champions of the other events, with separate championships for many different poker variations, as well as quite a few smaller buy-in tournaments. In all, for 2011, 58 separate events are scheduled, generally running for 3 days in duration. The amount of the buy-ins do vary as well, ranging from the $500 casino employees championship, all the way to the $50,000 buy in Poker Players Championship, where 8 different variations of poker will be played Most major events are set at $10,000 a seat, including the granddaddy of them all, the Main Event.

Interest in the World Series of Poker has exploded over the years, from the series’ very modest beginning over 40 years ago, which was little more than a get-together of a very few road gamblers, to where it is today, the biggest poker event in the world by far. Once limited to top professional players, due to the growth of online poker, the tournament now consists mostly of everyday people who are pursuing their ultimate poker fantasy of the fame and fortune that goes along with competing for the world championship. In spite of the fact that only pros or wealthy amateurs can plunk down ten grand for a single poker tournament, most players these days come from winning seats at the WSOP though satellite tournaments, where for as little as a few dollars or even for free, players can get a shot at prize packages including the buy in, accommodations, and expenses.

Past winners of the WSOP have even become household names, like Chris Moneymaker, an online player who was completely unknown prior to the 2003 WSOP, and then achieved instant fame and became one of the most recognizable players in the world. Being the first true unknown to win the tournament, this had a huge effect of whetting the dreams and fantasies of millions of online poker players around the world, and several have followed in his footsteps since and reached the ultimate pinnacle of poker as well.

Online poker qualifiers comprise a huge contingent at the main event each year these days, comprising of both amateur players in addition to a large contingent of online professionals. These online players were not long ago regarded as second tier or lower players by land based professionals, and while it’s true that many online qualifiers are a bit out of their element compared to seasoned pros, the better of the online players successfully make the transition to live poker during the event and end up doing very well. For instance, last year’s main event winner, Jonathan Duhamel, qualified at PokerStars and ended up winning it all, raking in almost $9 million for his efforts.

The total amount of entrants for the main event has averaged at around 7000 participants in recent years, and although many may not have a realistic shot at the world championship, just surviving to finish in the top ten percent of the field produces some very generous payouts in itself. Just making it to the final table will generally net you close to a million dollars, with the minimum prize money escalating rapidly as each player exits the tournament. This certainly makes for a huge amount of excitement, both for the players involved and for viewers as well.

At one time, the only poker shown on television was an annual recap program of the WSOP main event. Interest in the event has increased dramatically over the last few years, coinciding with the increased popularity of the game of poker in general, and in online poker in particular. In 2010, the format of the WSOP changed, where the action was suspended for several months once the final table was set, who then became known as the November 9. This allowed for the coverage of the play that led up to the final table to be spread out over a longer period of time, and more importantly, it allowed for live coverage to finally be offered. This certainly added a lot to the excitement of the final table, as in years past, most viewers knew the outcome prior to watching the programming, and this change certainly made things more entertaining.

Perhaps the most exciting feature of the World Series of Poker is that, unlike every other event, everyday people sitting at home can aspire to be World Champion and have a realistic shot at it. As online poker players, we may not have the opportunity to compete as regulars on the World Poker Tour as the world’s most famous professionals do, but it’s said that the rigors of online poker allow us to work on, study, and improve our game to a very high level, and then provide us an opportunity to get in the biggest game in the world with a fairly modest investment. The WSOP is clearly the world’s most exciting series of poker tournaments, and the best thing is that we can not only watch, we can also play, and we can also win.