Since its birth sometime in the 19th century, poker has grown crazy popular. There are numerous poker events happening every day, all over the world. This article lists the five major poker events that are held offline as well as online.
The epic WSOP tournament was established in 1970 by Lester Ben “Benny” Binion, a gambler and a mob boss from Texas. In 1951, he opened the Binion's Horseshoe casino in Las Vegas and set the table limit for craps 10 times higher than any of his competitors. At first, they sent him death threats, then they raised their own limits. It is the high limits that instantly made the casino popular. Benny was the first to introduce a lot of things to the casino that we now take for granted. For example, he put the carpets on the floor instead of the traditional sawdust, he offered the players free drinks and would transport the important customers to the casino in limousines. All in all, what Binion came up with was the customer-first approach, offering the casino clients exactly what they needed to have a good time: “Good food, good whiskey cheap, and a good gamble”.
In 1970, 6 high-stakes players were invited to play in a poker tournament with a set beginning and ending time. Next year, Binion introduced the freezeout format with a buy-in of $10,000. Since then, the tournament has been held annually in Las Vegas, United States. The winners of the tournaments are awarded a personalized bracelet and a sum of money the size of which depends on the number of buy-ins. The tournament takes place in June and July and consists of multiple events that include most of the popular variants of poker. The Main Event of the tournament is the No Limit Hold’em. Whoever wins this event is named the World Champion of Poker.
To this date, the biggest cash prize won at the Main Event is $12,067,292. This astonishing record belongs to Jamie M. Gold, an American tv producer, who won the World Series of Poker in 2006. This is the 4th largest payout in the history of poker tournaments.
2. European Poker Tour (EPT)
European Poker Tour tv series that was launched in 2004 is now the largest and the most famous poker tournament in Europe. It hosts the biggest number of players and has the largest prize pool. The series tournaments are held in various places, from London to Sochi, and are broadcast on tv and the Internet.
John Duthie, the founder of the EPT, is an English tv director and poker player. In 2000, he won the Poker Million tournament and earned £1,000,000. He also took part in the Late Night Poker tv series and several other tournaments including the European Heads-Up Championships in Paris in 2003. The next year, Duthie created the EPT which has, since then, run for fourteen seasons.
In 2010, the EPT event in Berlin became a crime scene. On the 6th of March, 4 men wearing masks robbed the event or approximately €200,000, threatening the guards and the participants with knives and a gun. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured during the incident, and the robbers were apprehended soon afterward.
The winner of the 2018 EPT Sochi Main Event, Arseniy Karmatskiy, won $464,100, having defeated a field of 861 entries. The largest cash prize that has ever been paid in Europe, $3,198,500, went to Glen Chornyj, who won the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo in 2008.
3. Crown Australian Poker Championship
Crown Australian Poker Championship, otherwise known as “Aussie Millions”, is the richest poker championship in the Southern Hemisphere. It is held annually in Melbourne, Australia, at the Crown Casino, and its prize pool is over A$7, 000, 000.
The first championship at the Crown was held in July 2008. The Main Event was fairly modest, with a thousand-dollar buy-in and a prize pool of only $74,000. It became an international event in 2003, and the prize pool had grown to impressive $1,200,000. In just two years, the largest prize pool in the Southern Hemisphere was generated: $2,630,000. The players came from all over the world: Ireland, Norway, Italy, Lebanon, Canada, etc. Aussie Millions 2006 Championship hosted more than four hundred players including the world-famous professionals such as Phil Ivey, Joe Hachem, and Daniel Negreanu.
The Championship’s high roller tournaments launched in 2006. The No Limit Hold’em Challenge had the highest buy-in in history at that time - $100,000, plus the entry fee of $500. It started with only 10 entrants, but the number grew steadily, and the 2011 Challenge saw a record number of 38 players. However, the organizers did not stop at that. In 2011, they established the Super High Roller game with a buy-in of $250,000.
4. World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP)
The WCOOP tournament series has been played every September since 2002. It is the largest online poker tournament.
The series includes different popular poker varieties, such as Pot Limit Omaha High, Limit, and Seven Card Stud. The Main Event of the Series is the game of No Limit Hold’em. Just like at to the World Series of Poker, the WCOOP winners used to get a special 14-carat gold bracelet with a personal engraving in addition to the cash prize. However, since 2015, the organizers decided to save costs, and the custom of awarding bracelets was discontinued.
In 2005, $12,783,900 of prize money was assembled, which made WCOOP the biggest online poker tournament ever, as well as the 3d biggest poker event of that year.
5. Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS)
The FTOPS was first played in 2006 and has been held every 3 months since then. It started with Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em, but has grown to include Razz, Stud, and a number of other games. In 2009, it added a charity event for the benefit of Ante Up for Africa that raises money for Darfur.
There are also several ongoing challenges in the series. The players are rewarded for such specific achievements as, for example, winning thirty hands without a showdown. Those who get to the final table receive the FTOPS jacket, and the winners get the FTOPS gold jersey and are represented at the tables by a gold jersey avatar.
Words: Jelena Schmidt