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The History of WSOP (World Series of Poker) 1970 – 1989

Date Added: May 20, 2011 07:55:54 PM
Author: admin
Category: Poker
The new WSOP is just 10 days away and while looking forward and getting ready to the new series we would like to remember the history of this magnificent event to and see how it grew to become the most desirable and iconic live poker tournament. This year over 70,000 players from every corner of the world will compete for $280,000,000 of the prize money in 58 different events. It is hard to believe that 1970, when the first World Series of Poker began, the entire state of Nevada had only 70 poker tables and on 50 of them in the whole city of Las Vegas. Although Benny Binion is universally thought of as the founder of the Series the story began a year earlier in 1969, when Vic Vickrey and Tom Moore set up a “Texas Gamblers Reunion” in Reno. A few high profiled Texan players joined the series of high rolling gaming including Benny Binion himself, Jimmy Snyder, Doyle Brunson, “Amarilo Slim” Preston, Johny Moss and Puggy Pearson. Although the original plan was to have this gathering an annual event 1969 reunion became the first and the last in history. However is gave Binion an idea to set up World Series of Poker in his Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas the following year.

1970 WSOP attracted only 6 players. The first champion Johny Moss was not even the tournament winner, as he was selected as the best player by mutual agreement of the other players. There was no attention or interest in the event from either press or public. What’s more Horseshoe Casino did not even have a poker room and the event to place in a little alcove about the size of a small hotel room.

1971 WSOP was set up as a freeze-out. The tournament fee was $5,000 and again only seven attendants. Johny Moss defended his title and won the top prize. In those days the tournament was run on “winner-takes-it-all” basis. Once again nobody outside and in fact most people in Las Vegas new anything of what was going on.

1972 WSOP became the turning point, although still with only twelve participants joining the table. When “Amarillo Slim” Preston won the event, he took this opportunity to turn his victory into a huge publicity whirlpool and became live poker’s greatest ambassador, telling the nation about this amazing new opportunity.

Preston’s promotional efforts paid off and 1973 was the first time in history when live poker tournament made an appearance on CBS Sports. It was also the first year when other poker variations such as Razz, Seven Card Stud and lower limits of Texas Hold’em events were introduced. Puggy Pearson was the main even winner that year.

Johny Moss made a history and won his third title in 1974 and Doyle Brunson got the bracelet in three consecutive years 1975,1976, 1977.

It was 1978 when the tournament format was changed again to spilt the prize money and award top five players with progressive amounts. Also the same year the first woman, Barbara Freer, joined the tables to compete against all male clubs. Hal Fowler became the first unknown amateur player to win the bracelet in 1979 to shock the famous professional hard core. His victory became a real aspiration for many new players, who had never thought of it before, to go Las Vegas and test their skills.

Young New Yorker Stu “The Kid” Ungar was another surprise for old school Texan dominated fraternity when he won in 1980 and then again the following year. His achievements where so exciting for the nation, that NBC Sports did the coverage of the whole event.

1982 WSOP offered eleven events, including Ladies World Championship. The main event buy-in became $10,000 and 260 players joined in.

In order to make WSOP participation more popular and achievable for all poker players from all backgrounds Eric Drache, WSOP tournament director at the time, introduced an idea of satellite qualifications in 1983. This idea was exactly what was needed attract universal interest and to move WSOP into a different league. From that point on the Series’ popularity shot through the roof. The old Horseshoe Casino could no longer host the event alone and Binion even had to buy next door Mint Casino to accommodate some of the tournaments. Sadly Binion died in 1989 on Christmas Day.

If you have not secured your place in Las Vegas this year yet don’t worry there is still time to qualify to live poker events WSOP online with a Poker room as well as many other online poker promotions running now.
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