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Ten Interesting Facts About the World Series of Poker

The World Series of Poker, or WSOP, is the most famous poker event on the entire planet. Players from all around the world gather for the showpiece event every year, with millions of dollars on the line.

Some of the greatest poker players in history have cemented their legacies by winning the grand prize at WSOP on the final table. While these legends have written their own stories, WSOP is popular and well-regarded within the poker community.

Below is our rundown of the ten most interesting facts about the WSOP that most people, even poker enthusiasts, may not know. These facts range from the WSOP’s origin story to its most revered and celebrated champions.

Source: Michal Parzuchowski via Unsplash

Inaugural Humble Beginnings

The first WSOP event was nowhere near as glamorous or interesting as people might think. While you can now play poker online with hundreds of players worldwide, WSOP was limited to only seven players in 1970.

Even though WSOP had very humble beginnings, the tournament grew in popularity within a few short years. By the time we reached the mid-1970s, there was already substantial interest in seeing how the best poker players in the world fared against each other.

Source: Michal Parzuchowski, via Unsplash

The Birth of the Bracelet

One sign that WSOP was here to stay was the birth of the bracelet, which occurred in 1976. The iconic WSOP gold bracelet — the most coveted non-monetary prize any poker player can win in their career — added a degree of elegance and sophistication to this event.

When poker enthusiasts realized that the WSOP was a serious event that attracted big money, many players were eager to participate, and the tournament grew tremendously by the 1980s.

Senior Triumph

The oldest player to ever win the WSOP bracelet was Paul McKinney in 2005. McKinney, who had an excellent career as a poker player, won the bracelet at 80. No player has come close to matching his beat, as poker is often considered a young person’s sport.

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Youthful Victory

Only a couple of years after the impressive triumph of McKinney, we saw the other end of the scale, with a teenager winning the bracelet. Annette Obrestad made history at 18 in the 2007 edition of WSOP, becoming the youngest poker player ever to win the iconic prize.

A Norwegian YouTuber who has built a solid career around her favorite game, Obrestad became an overnight household name among poker enthusiasts.

Moneymaker Effect

The famous win at WSOP by Christopher Moneymaker in 2003 has gone down in poker legend for the way it popularized the game worldwide. Many poker enthusiasts refer to this as the “Moneymaker Effect,” as so many people took up the game after they were impressed by the playstyle and charisma of Moneymaker. Events such as WSOP often rely on the popularity of their biggest stars to be successful.

Phil Hellmuth’s Dominance

One of the most dominant forces in the history of the World Series of Poker is Phil Hellmuth, who won 15 WSOP bracelets before he retired. No other poker star has come close to this level of dominance, as Phil came out on top at a rate that has never been seen before or since.

Despite all the top players of his generation wanting to get one over the great Phil Hellmuth, he still managed to rack up so many WSOP titles. Doyle Brunson, another poker legend, won 10 WSOP titles in his career.

Global Expansion

Most people associate the World Series of Poker with the United States and the glamor of Las Vegas, but poker is a global game. There are WSOP international circuits in Europe and Asia that have become highly prestigious over the past few years.

While the best players from WSOP Europe and Asia eventually compete at the WSOP finals in Las Vegas, they spend most of the year playing tournaments within those continental circuits.

Charitable Connection

The World Series of Poker does its best to give back to the community whenever possible, primarily through its One Drop Foundation. WSOP works with One Drop Foundation to ensure that water-related charities worldwide receive the donations they need to fulfill their missions. Poker enthusiasts who enjoy watching WSOP tournaments will be happy to know that a percentage of the money WSOP makes from each event goes to charity.

Women Breaking Barriers

One of the areas where the poker industry can improve is inclusion and diversity, as men make up the vast majority of poker players in the United States and worldwide. Even though there are no restrictions on women competing at WSOP events, Barbara Enright from 1995 is still the only woman to ever reach the Main Event final table at a WSOP final.

November Nine Drama

The Main Event final table at the World Series of Poker showpiece event in Las Vegas has become the one event every poker enthusiast wants to watch. The format of this final table, which includes the nine players, was first introduced in 2008.

WSOP: Stronger and Stronger

The World Series of Poker has gone from strength to strength over the past decade. As online poker becomes more mainstream worldwide, even more eyes are tuning in to see the greatest poker superstars compete yearly in Las Vegas.

The 54th edition of this event was a great success at the Horseshoe Las Vegas and Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino this year, while the 2024 edition is also penciled in for the coming summer.

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