What has evolved into the World Series of Poker
of today was initially created by Tom Morehead of the Riverside Casino in Reno and held as a strictly invitational event. The concept was soon taken over by Benny Binion, the founder of Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas who organized the first WSOP at his casino in 1970 with just seven players.
The winner was determined by votes with Johnny Moss being chosen by his peers as the champion of the year for which he was awarded a silver cup. Since the following year the WSOP has been held with cash prizes and soon thereafter a $10,000 buy-in. Already in its 4th installation five-card stud was added to the roster as the first side event.
Since then new poker variations have been added and removed as the years have gone by with the 2006 World Series of Poker being slated to feature 42 events including special tournaments for women and seniors.
Not only has the number of games grown but so has the number of participants pushed by the help of the online poker boom and other televised events such as the World Poker Tour
with the total number of entrants for all events going from 4,780 in 2000 to over 23,000 in 2005 and the main $10,000 buy-in event from 839 participants in 2003 to 5,619 in 2005.
A lot of these players qualified online at popular online poker rooms such as Poker Stars
which alone sent an amazing 1,116 or close 20% of the entrants last year!
Among the WSOP champions only a handful have ever managed to win more than once with the late Stu Ungar the only one to do so more than twice, winning all three times he entered in 1980, 1981 and 1997 before a life of drug abuse finally ended his career.
Not far behind him is Johnny Chan who won in 1987 and 1988 and finished 2nd in 1989 behind Phil Hellmuth who at the time was the youngest ever to win the World Series of Poker.
The late Johnny Moss is also credited as having won the WSOP three times but one of them was by votes and the field of players was extremely small back then compared to in later years.