Despite the emergence of several other major poker tours and events in the last decade, the World Series of Poker continues to be the granddaddy of them all when it comes to poker festivals.
And, just when you thought you knew everything about this event, we’ve created a list of seven World Series of Poker facts that we’re sure you didn’t know until now.
With the $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker Main Event just around the corner, with cards going in the air for the first of 4 starting flights on July 3rd, the action is heating up at Bally’s and Paris, the new home of the WSOP. With so much poker action in Las Vegas during the summer, it is hard to stand out from the crowd, but this year, the World Series of Poker is off to a record-breaking start and is demolishing the competition.
The move from the Rio, where the annual WSOP had been held every year since 2005, has been a great one for poker players in search of those elusive championship bracelets, as the fields have been massive, and the payouts have been life changing.
What makes the World Series of Poker so special, outside of the fame and fortune that players receive when they win an event, is the history.
In a town that is painfully light on history and tradition, winning a World Series of Poker gold bracelet is akin to a golfer winning the Masters and receiving his green jacket or a hockey player getting to hoist the Stanley Cup after winning an NHL title.
7 Things You Didn’t Know About The World Series Of Poker
In this article, we are going to highlight some of that history and tradition by highlighting 7 things you didn’t know about the World Series of Poker. We will kick off our WSOP coverage by taking a look at the most coveted prize in all of poker, the World Series of Poker champion’s gold bracelet.
All WSOP Tournament Winners Receive A Gold Bracelet
There is no bigger flex in the poker world than being able to say that you have won a tournament at the World Series of Poker. Winning a WSOP event is the highlight of any poker player’s career and the list of the players with the most WSOP wins on their resume features a who’s who of poker legends. Poker legends Phil Helmuth, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Phil Ivey sit atop the leaderboard for the most ever WSOP titles, and all of those players have one thing in common. They have a lot of jewelry!
The World Series of Poker started awarding gold bracelets to its tournament winners shortly after the event debuted in 1970, with the first bracelets being handed out in 1976. To this day, rocking a WSOP championship bracelet in any poker room on the planet will get you immediate street cred and plenty of attention from other players. And, that’s one of the WSOP facts that we’re giving for free.
The bracelets themselves had a modest start, as a simple gold plated bracelet that was valued at right around $500 bucks, but these days the bracelets truly are priceless. While players that win any event at the World Series of Poker receive a gold bracelet for their trophy case, the winner of the $10,000 Main Event is awarded a truly special bracelet that is simply stunning.
Having already gotten a sneak peek at this year’s Main Event bracelet, I can tell you that it is truly awe-inspiring, and players are going to be blown away by the craftsmanship. The 2022 Main Event bracelet, designed and made by high-end jeweler Jostens, features over 2,000 diamonds and other precious gemstones and has a total weight of over 40 carats.
When you compare that to a Super Bowl ring, which “only” has about 300 diamonds and 15 total carats, you can see why the main event bracelet is so special. There isn’t a more valuable prize in all of sports, and whichever player takes it home this year is going to have a truly remarkable work of art to dangle from their wrist.
The Sheer Size Of The Event
If you never got a chance to walk the halls of the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino during the World Series of Poker’s long tenure at the property, you truly missed out, as it was a spectacle in every way imaginable.
But now that the annual event has moved to the Las Vegas strip, with the event hosted at both Bally’s (soon to be Horseshoe Las Vegas) and Paris, the sheer size of the event is truly staggering. To pull off what is certain to be the biggest WSOP ever this year, the event needed more space and with the tournament now housed at multiple properties, they got just what they needed.
Let’s take a look at the numbers behind the 2022 World Series of Poker.
597 Total Tables
The 2022 World Series of Poker features 597 total tables. That includes 65 cash game tables, 14 exclusive high limit cash game tables at King’s Room, 3 featured tables, and the final table, known as the mothership, where champions are made.
1,800 Total Employees
To pull off the WSOP, they need a ton of help! The 2022 event has over 1,100 dealers, 160 supervisors, 250 cage cashiers, and 200 tournament clerks. All told, it takes about 1,800 total employees to operate the WSOP.
Over $300 Million In Expected Payouts
The record for the most payouts ever in a single WSOP came back in 2019 when players competed for $293 million in cash. This year, payouts are expected to be record breaking and are currently projected at over $300 million!
150,000 Square Feet Of Convention Space
It is a testament to the size of the WSOP, that when Caesars Entertainment sold the Rio, and needed a new place for WSOP to call home, there wasn’t any one casino large enough to hold the event. This year’s event is being held at both Bally’s and Paris, the properties are attached so no need to go outside when going between the properties, and is spread across 3 convention rooms. There are 2 rooms in play at Ballys and 1 at Paris and combined there is more than 150,000 square feet of floor space in use.
4 Players Have Won Double Digit Bracelets
There are 4 players that have won at least 10 World Series of Poker bracelets. It is a career accomplishment to win just a single WSOP event, so the poker players with 10 or more WSOP bracelets in their trophy case are truly the elite of the elite.
Phil Helmuth – 16 Bracelets
Phil Helmuth leads the way with his record 16 WSOP gold bracelets, the most in World Series of Poker history. The self-proclaimed Poker Brat is the king is the WSOP, with 184 total cashes for a whopping $16.4 million in prize money.
Helmuth has had a nice start to his summer already, with 3 cashes, including making the final tables of the $10,000 buy-in no limit 2-7 lowball draw event and the $10,000 buy-in limit 2-7 triple draw event.
Phil Ivey – 10 Bracelets
Phil Ivey was noticeably missing from last year’s WSOP, the rumor was that it was in defiance of the 2021 edition’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement, which has now been lifted. But he is making up for that lost time already this year, as he has already cashed 5 times, with 3 final tables, and nearly $1.3 million in earnings.
Ivey was oh so close to breaking the 3-way tie for 2nd place on the all-time bracelet leaderboard, by winning his 11th bracelet, getting head’s up in event #42, the $100,000 buy-in high roller, before coming up just short with a 2nd place finish. Ivey also had a close call in the $10K 7 Card Stud event, with a 3rd place finish.
Doyle Brunson– 10 Bracelets
If you had to name the single most famous poker player of all time, it would be Doyle Brunson without a doubt. Affectionately known as Texas Dolly, Doyle has been hustling players at the poker table for over 60 years.
At the ripe old age of 88 years, Brunson is still playing cards several times a week, but he has mostly given up on tournament poker, as he doesn’t have the stamina required to play the hours that WSOP events demand.
After announcing that he would return to the WSOP this summer to play the Main Event, Brunson has since pulled back on that due to COVID-19-related concerns.
Johnny Chan – 10 Bracelets
Johnny Chan was immortalized in the classic poker movie Rounders, as Matt Damon’s character, Mike McD, decided to take his shot at rolling up a stake and heading to Vegas after a chance encounter with Chan at an Atlantic City casino.
Rounders helped launch the poker boom of the early 2000s, and Chan was the first mainstream rockstar of poker, after being highlighted in the movie as the greatest player in the world.
Chan was certainly deserving of the attention after winning back-to-back World Series of Poker Main Event titles in 1987 and 1988. Chan got heads up for the world championship again in 1989, with a shot at 3 consecutive titles, only to lose to a young, then unknown player, named Phil Helmuth.
The 2020 Main Event Was Played Online, Kinda
As the WSOP Main Event serves as the tournament to decide the world champion of poker, the WSOP wanted to ensure that even a worldwide pandemic didn’t stop the tradition of crowing a world champ each year.
The COVID-19 pandemic made that particularly tough to do, as many casinos were shuttered, and there were strict restrictions in place in the few casinos that were open. While the rest of the 2020 WSOP was canceled, they did hold the Main Event, with 1,379 players paying the $10,000 buy-in. But with so many restrictions on travel and casinos, the WSOP decided to host the event online. To ensure that the event continued to be a true world championship, the event was split in half, with starting flights held in Europe on GG Poker and in the US on WSOP.com. Once the players played down to the final table, those final 9 players then played down to a winner in person.
The final table for the European half of the main event was played at King’s Casino in the city of Rosvadov in the Czech Republic. While the US final table battled it out at the Rio in Las Vegas.
Damian Salas won the European final table and Joseph Herbert won the US final table, and in order to call just a single player the 2021 world champion, the two winners squared off in a made for TV heads up event, with a million dollars on the line. Salas won that battle and took home a total of $2.5 million for his win. $2.5 million pales in comparison to the standard main event winner’s payout, which has averaged north of $8 million a year in the last 10 years, but it is still a ton of cash and nothing to sniff at for sure.
The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc in many areas, and the WSOP was not immune, but at the end of the day, they were able to crown a world champion and keep the tradition started in 1970 alive.
The Largest WSOP Payout Ever Was Over $18 million
The main event is the crown jewel of the World Series of Poker every year. Players flock to Las Vegas vying for a shot at winning the big one, but what if I told you that the largest 1st place payout ever didn’t come from the main event?
The most money ever given away to a single winner in poker history actually came in 2012, in an event with an astounding million-dollar buy-in! The event was known as the Big One for One Drop, as the tournament was actually a charity event, where a percentage of the proceeds were paid out to clean water charity, One Drop. The event attracted 48 players willing to post the million dollar buy-in and generated a prize pool of almost $43 million dollars. Seasoned poker pro, Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari, won the event, taking home a record-breaking $18.35 million.
The Big One for One Drop tournament has since been discontinued, and the magician’s win is going to hold up as the biggest win ever for quite some time and may never be eclipsed.
The WSOP Is Truly A Worldwide Event
In 2019, the World Series of Poker welcomed players from over 100 different countries. There are few sporting events in the world that have the reach of the WSOP and winning a bracelet truly does make you one of the top players in the world.
The WSOP had nearly 188K total entries for bracelet events, generating $293 million in total prize pools. This year, it’s looking like the WSOP will smash all 3 of those numbers, as more international players than ever are in action, and the event is expected to generate north of 200K total buy-ins and $300 million in payouts. Many sports claim to crown a world champion each year, but until the other major sports leagues like the NFL, NBA, and MLB start inviting teams from all over the world to participate, it is a bit of a dubious claim that any of those winners are truly world champs.
That isn’t the case for the World Series of Poker, as in order to win a WSOP bracelet, you are going to have to beat players from every corner of the planet.
The WSOP Is Headed Home in 2023
Here’s one of the WSOP Texas holdem facts that we’re sure most of you didn’t know.
Technically the first time that poker players gathered to decide who was the best, was in Reno in 1969. The event was then known as the Texas Gambling Reunion. The owner of Binion’s Horseshoe in Las Vegas, Benny Binion, loved the idea of bringing all of the top poker players to Las Vegas each year, and after the Texas Gambling Reunion, he invited players to the Horseshoe for the very first World Series of Poker in 1970. The event was played in downtown Las Vegas at Binion’s Horseshoe every year from 1970 to 2004, steadily growing in size each year. In 2004, Caesars Entertainment bought the Horseshoe and acquired the rights to the World Series of Poker and promptly moved the event to the Rio, where it hosted the event from 2005-2021.
This year, the event has moved to its new home on the Las Vegas strip, with the event being played at both Ballys and Paris. So far, the move seems to be a grand slam home run, as the Rio was showing its age, and was no longer considered a premier property.
Moving the event to the strip was a no-brainer for the WSOP and one would only expect the tournament to continue to grow for years to come.
While the WSOP won’t be moving again next year, there is something special slated to happen in 2023. Bally’s, where the final tables are played and where the bracelets are handed out, is undergoing renovations and will be rebranded as Horseshoe Las Vegas later this year.
That is the very same Horseshoe brand where WSOP got its start, and in 2023, the World Series of Poker heads home. Caesars Entertainment has used the Horseshoe brand that it acquired when it bought out Binion’s back in 2005, at many of their regional properties outside of Las Vegas. But for the first time, Caesars will brand one of their Las Vegas casinos as the Horseshoe, and it is only fitting that Horseshoe Las Vegas will host the WSOP. If you are in Vegas for this year’s event, you likely have already seen this transformation start to take shape, as the property just opened up Jack Binion’s Steak House in anticipation of this year’s tournament.
There is a lot more work still to do, but the renovation is expected to be completed by the start of the 2023 WSOP and having the event head back to the Horseshoe after all of these years certainly feels special.
There is no event like the World Series of Poker. If you call yourself a serious poker player, you owe it to yourself to make the annual pilgrimage to the WSOP and take your shot at becoming a world champion. Do you want to play at the World Series of Poker, but you don’t have the bankroll to get in on the action?
Don’t worry, as there are lots of options to win your way to the WSOP online!
Online poker is still booming, and there are all kinds of ways to roll up a stake and head to Vegas for your shot at poker immortality. If you are looking to give online poker a try, make sure that you swing by TheSportsGeek’s online poker sites page, where we bring you exclusive deals at all of the top online poker rooms.
Thanks for reading and make sure that you don’t miss out on the 2022 World Series of Poker Main Event, set to be held early next month on the Las Vegas strip!
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