WSOP Tournaments – Your Questions Answered

There are many tournament poker festivals on this Earth, but none as legendary as the World Series of Poker. Originally made popular by Benny Binion at the former Binon’s Horseshoe in Las Vegas the WSOP has grown to include over 100 different poker games both live and online, attracting thousands of players every year from over 100 countries.

The winner of the annual WSOP Main Event, a No-Limit Texas Hold’Em tournament with a $10,000 buy-in, is crowned the unofficial World Champion of Poker. All WSOP winners receive a coveted bracelet made of precious metals like gold or platinum, and inlaid with diamonds and other gems. Aside from those huge stacks of cash, a WSOP bracelet the best prize a poker player can get!

WSOP History

Believe it or not, the WSOP champion was originally chosen by a player vote. In 1970, Johnny Moss earned the respect of his opponents and was elected the World Champion of Poker after playing a series of cash games; his prize was a silver cup.

The following year, Binion changed poker forever by switching the WSOP format from cash games to “freeze-out” tournaments. The No-Limit Texas Hold’Em Main Event emerged as the most popular of these tournaments , and poker grew over the years until its “coming out” party at the 2003 WSOP, where Chris Moneymaker became a household name for poker players around the world.

Moneymaker was an accountant and a struggling poker player/sports bettor when he qualified for the 2003 Main Event through an online satellite, and battled all the way to a heads-up showdown with poker legend Sammy Farha, all of this playing out in front of millions of viewers on ESPN.

In the end, Moneymaker got the better of Farha and took home the top prize of $2,500,000, and just like that, the poker boom was officially ignited.

WSOP Main Event Winners

In the early years, Johnny Moss was the terror of the tables, winning the Main Event in 1971 and 1974 to give him three WSOP championships. “Texas Dolly” Doyle Brunson eventually broke through and won back-to-back titles in 1976 and 1977, then Stu Ungar repeated this feat in 1980 and ’1981 before adding a third title in 1997.

Johnny Chan was the last player to win back-to-back WSOP Main Events, bagging the top prize in 1987 and 1988. As the years rolled by and the number of entrants grew into the thousands, it became harder for these champions to defend their crown, even with top players like Phil Hellmuth (1989), Dan Harrington (1995), Huck Seed (1996) and Scotty Nguyen (1998) giving it their best.

Since the Moneymaker-fueled poker boom of the early 2000s, the list of WSOP champions has included both professional and recreational players alike – roughly half of them from the United States, and the rest from far-flung places across the globe, where poker has caught on like wildfire.

How many WSOP tournaments are there?

Just like the poker tournaments at Ignition, there are a huge variety of games available at the WSOP. For 2023, there were 95 live bracelet events and 20 online bracelets to be won. These took place through June and most of July, and included:

  • $25,000 High Roller Six Handed No-Limit Hold’em
  • WSOP Tournament of Champions (for previous winners on the WSOP Circuit)
  • $1,500 Dealers Choice 6-Handed
  • $25,000 Heads Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship
  • $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship
  • $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better
  • $1,500 Badugi

Of course, the highlight of the year was the 2023 WSOP Main Event, and the big winner was Daniel Weinman, a professional player from Atlanta who took home a record $12,100,000 after outlasting the largest field in Main Event history: 10.043 players.

A Few Rules at the WSOP to Know

The full WSOP rulebook runs 26 pages, so you will want to familiarize yourself with it if you’re going to buy in. The penalties for violations include forfeiture of chips and prize money, ejection from the tournament, loss of privilege to participate in WSOP events, and getting banned from the premises at the Horseshoe Las Vegas and Paris Las Vegas, which took over hosting duties in 2023.

To give you an idea of what rules to expect, “excessive chatter” is punishable at the WSOP, so be careful with the trash talk; mind games are part of poker, but you can’t harass opponents endlessly. You also aren’t allowed to wear any sponsor “patches” you like. Certain types of companies, like cryptocurrency and cannabis providers, and not permitted. And the WSOP officially recommends, but does not require, that you arrange your chips in stacks of 20 to facilitate quick counting for everyone at the table.

Cost to enter the WSOP

The Main Event buy in is $10,000, but as you can see from the list above, there are many tournaments will smaller buy-ins. The smallest of these for 2023 was the $300 Gladiators of Poker No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which drew 23,088 entrants; Jason Simon beat them all to win the top prize of nearly $500,000.


Do you have to qualify for the WSOP? Can anyone play the WSOP?

Anyone who can pay the $10,000, or who has earned a ticket through a valid satellite, can play the WSOP Main Event. Tournaments with smaller (and larger) buy-ins are available.

What channel will the WSOP be on?

In 2023, the WSOP was live-streamed through PokerGO, an app available on many platforms, as well as the PokerGO YouTube channel. CBS Sports Network also provided coverage for selected events.

How many people enter the WSOP?

Thousands enter the Main Event alone, over 10,000 of them in 2023. The smallest tournament on the WSOP schedule drew 64 entrants, while the largest had over 23,000.

What is the WSOP Circuit?

The WSOP Circuit is a series of poker events taking place across North America throughout the year. Winners of these events, and others from around the world may be invited to the WSOP Tournament of Champions.

Who has won the most Main Events?

Johnny Moss and Stu Ungar are tied with three wins apiece.

Who has the most money finishes?

Following the 2023 series, Phil Hellmuth was at the top of the list with 175 lifetime WSOP cashes, followed by Daniel Negreanu with 167.

Who has the highest career WSOP earnings?

Antonio Esfandiari has earned nearly $22 million at the WSOP. Negreanu is second on the all-time money list with $20.7 million.

Who has the most bracelets?

The “Poker Brat” himself, Phil Hellmuth, has 17 WSOP bracelets to his name. Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan and Phil Ivey are tied for second with 10.