If you were to ask the average casual poker fan which is the greatest live poker tournament series, most would tell you the World Series of Poker. For decades, the WSOP has been the granddaddy of all tournament events and draws in more players than any other series in the world.
There are many reasons why players love the WSOP over other events and today we look at five reasons why the WSOP is the most talked about live poker tournament.
No other modern poker series in the world has the history of the World Series of Poker. Dating back to 1970, the WSOP has crowned the World Champion of Poker each year as well as other champions of the game.
Consider the names that have been associated with WSOP greatness – Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, Bobby Baldwin, Johnny Moss, Johnny Chan, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Amarillo Slim Preston, Erik Seidel, Billy Baxter, Barbara Enright and many, many more.
The WSOP has made good players into household names and great players into superstars. Best of all, modern day players can compete with many of the current legends of the game during the WSOP.
What’s better than being at the same table as Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan or even Phil Ivey? For some players, this is the highlight of their event and maybe even their poker career.
It is also the most televised poker series in history. Broadcasts for the Main Event have dated back to the 70’s and the event has been broadcast annually since 2003. ESPN’s broadcasts have acted as a living chronicle of the WSOP and that helped further the legacy of the event.
The WSOP Bracelet is the Gold Standard Tournament Players are Measured By
In all major sports, athletes are judged by how many titles they won during their career. In poker, tournament players are largely judged by how many WSOP bracelet that they’ve won. While the number of bracelets awarded each year has exploded since the 1990’s, the importance is nearly the same as always.
A poker player may be great but failing to win a bracelet almost carries a stigma that looms over them as they progress through their career. Even Chip Reese recognized the importance of winning bracelets and started playing more tournaments later in his career. Many casual players would have never heard of him if not for his 2006 $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. title.
While it is true there are tournaments that are considered tougher than the standard WSOP event, none have the history or the prestige. That’s why certain pros only play the WSOP and nowhere else during the year.
Perceived Equal Footing With the Pros
“The Armenian Express” Chris Grigorian has a hat that simply says W.S.O.P. Anyone Can Win. The World Series of Poker is the one major poker series where amateur and pro players are perceived to be on equal footing. For a few years following Chris Moneymaker’s 2003 Main Event win, amateur players took a large number of bracelets.
Starting around 2006, the pros started coming back due to a focus on mixed game play. Some of the younger pros also started taking down NL bracelets and suddenly the WSOP once again became the showcase of the pros.
That doesn’t mean that amateurs don’t win anymore. They do. Just look at Jeffrey Tomlinson, the high school football coach who won the $5,000 NL Event during the 2015 WSOP. Every summer there are still a few amateur or semi-pros that defy the odds to win a bracelet. There aren’t as many as in the years following the Boom, but they still win.
Everyone Wants to be the Next Moneymaker – or Duhamel – or Jacobson
In the years following the Poker Boom, most everyone that flocked to the game wanted to be the next Chris Moneymaker. While there are a few with that same mentality, many instead now hold the mindset that they want to be the next Greg Merson, Jonathan Duhamel or Peter Jacobson.
The WSOP Main Event winner is the “World Champion of Poker” and the defacto ambassador for the game of poker for at least a year. The life-changing money that’s associated with the win isn’t bad either.
Winning the Main Event makes you an instant superstar and you become immortalized in the game’s history. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
It’s Where You Can Play All Forms of Poker
For many players, including pro players, the World Series of Poker is one of the last live poker series that offer most forms of poker. Many live tournament series have placed most of their focus on NL Hold’em with a couple of Omaha tournaments or maybe a mixed game here or there.
The World Series of Poker spreads nearly every form of poker spread in live casinos and a few that aren’t. Where else can you play a live Razz tournament during the year? Can you think of anywhere spreading Dealers Choice or NL 2-7 Draw?
The WSOP has helped to revive certain games and keeps others alive as part of their annual schedule. This offers a unique opportunity for fans of certain variants and gives old school pros one more place they can still compete against the new school youth of today’s modern era.