THE HISTORY OF THE WSOP MAIN EVENT (II)0 Comments
In the 1990s, participation in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker continued to grow and became increasingly international. In fact, in 1990, an Iranian living in London, named Mansour Matloubi, became the first non-USA to win the Main Event. The following year, the field was 215 buy-in and allowed the winner, Brad Daugherty, to take for the first time a prize of one million dollars.
Over the next few years, the Main Event winners also won $ 1 million. In 1995, Dan Harrington won the tournament, the author of a tournaments manual, Harrington on Hold’em, which would become a classic for several generations of players. That same year, Barbara Enright became the first woman to reach a final table of the ME, finishing in the 5th position.
In 1997, the field surpassed for the first time the 300 players. However, that year’s edition passed into history of poker because it crowned for the 3rd time a genius, Stu Ungar.
“KidPoker” died the following year, causing a great commotion in the poker world. The decade ended with the triumphs of Scotty Nguyen (1998) and Noel Furlong (1999).
The year 2000 marked a new participation record in the Main Event: 512 players. The final victory was for a quaint player named Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, who a few years later would be hated by most of the poker community for his involvement in the FullTiltPoker case.
Carlos Mortensen, “El Matador”, became in 2001 the only Spaniard to have won a WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas. Mortensen won a million and a half dollars prize. His victory hardly had repercussion in Spain, where the poker still didn’t enjoy great popularity.
In 2002 came the victory of a new amateur player, Robert Varkonyi. No non-professional had won the ME since the victory of Hal Fowler in 1979.
The 2003 Main Event represented a before and after in the history of world poker. The tournament was won in a very surprising way by another amateur player, named Chris Moneymaker, who had gotten his entry into a $40 satellite organized by an online poker room called PokerStars. Moneymaker got a $2,5m prize. The news spread to the media and Moneymaker’s American dream became the target of thousands of amateur poker players from the United States, first, and around the world, shortly thereafter.
ESPN broadcasts improved in media and quality, and the use of cameras to show hole cards added even more appeal to their broadcasts. The poker boom had come. The Moneymaker Effect was felt in the 2004 Main Event. The field went from 839 participants to 2,576. The winner, Greg Raymer, won a prize of $5 million, twice as much as Moneymaker.
The ME numbers continued to grow in later years. In 2005, the victory went to Joe Hachem, who won a $7,5m prize after beating a field of 5,619 players. And in 2006, Jamie Gold won the biggest prize in the history of the WSOP Main Events, $12 million, after beating a field of 8,773 players.
The 2006 WSOP marked a cap that could not be beaten in later years. Even so, the prizes won by Jerry Yang ($ 8,25m), Peter Eastgate ($ 9,15m) and Joe Cada ($ 8,5m) showed that the WSOP had established itself as the true World Poker Championship. Another important milestone of this decade was the creation of the World Series of Poker Europe, which haven’t got a permanent headquarters. From 2007 to 2010 they took place in London and crowned as winners Annette Obrestad, John Juanda, Barry Shulman and James Bord. The fields were around 350 people and the winners took away prizes close to a million pounds sterling. From the United Kingdom they moved to France; in 2011 and 2012 were played in Cannes (with victories of Elio Fox and Phil Hellmuth); and in 2013 they were played in Paris, where Adrián Mateos (who won a prize of 1 million euros) got the win. They were not organized in 2014, and in 2015 took place in Berlin, where Kevin MacPhee won the Main Event. In 2016 they rested again and this year 2017, will take place in Rozvadov.
The WSOP organization also set up a parallel series in the Far East, the WSOP Asia Pacific. Daniel Negreanu and Scott Davies won the Main Event editions of 2013 and 2014.
Returning to Las Vegas, the World Series of Poker has given a consolidated festival image this decade. The Main Events have surpassed every single year the number of 6,000 players and the prize pools have been superior to the 8 million dollars. Television broadcasts on ESPN have helped to popularize the Main Event worldwide. And right now, playing and winning the Main Event is the dream of most poker players. Jonathan Duhamel, Pius Heinz, Greg Merson, Ryan Riess, Martin Jacobson, Joe McKeehen and Qui Nguyen made their wishes come true. Maybe you’re the next Main Event winner. In poker everything is possible, with effort and dedication.