It’s that time of year again! Summer is here, and so is another World Series of Poker.

Another WSOP means another Main Event, and a new champion must be crowned. 2021 winner Koray Aldemir may feel a little hard done by the fact that he can only be champion for eight months (unless he does the unthinkable and repeats). Still, we’re sure he’ll be able to wipe away his tears with the $8,000,000 he won last year.

This year’s Main Event starts with Day 1a on Saturday, July 3rd, and three additional Day 1s will be played on successive days. All Day 1s will start at 11 am and play five 120-minute levels. Each player is given a 60,000 chip starting stack when they register. The buy-in for the Main Event is $10,000, as it has been since 1972.

 

The players who make it through from Days 1a and 1b will play on Day 2ab on Thursday, July 7th, and the players who make it through from Days 1c and 1d will play on Day 2cd on Friday July 8th. Players will have the opportunity to late register for the event until the end of the second level of either Day 2ab or Day 2cd. The Main Event is a freezeout tournament, so you may not buy back in if you are eliminated during the registration period.

All the players who make it through from Days 2ab and 2cd will combine for Day 3 on Saturday, July 9th. From there, players will play every day until Wednesday, July 13th, when the tournament reaches the final table.

Players lucky enough to reach the final table will have a rest day on Thursday, July 14th, before playing out the rest of the event over the next two days – with the champions being crowned on Saturday, July 16th.

After the success of 2021’s “Reunion” series, everyone expects the 2022 WSOP to be one of the biggest yet. Could this be the year we break the record for the most Main Event participants?

Complete List of WSOP Main Event Winners

The Main Event has changed a lot since its inception in 1970. In the first iteration of the event, it wasn’t even a tournament! Instead, the seven entrants played a cash game and voted on the best player. Johnny Moss took home the silver cup that day (no bracelets back then!) and became the first-ever Main Event champ.

Fast forward to today, and thousands of players come from all over the world to play in the Main Event. The buy-in has remained $10,000 ever since it was first introduced in 1972, but the prizes have reached astronomical heights. The prize for the Main Event champ has hit eight figures on three separate occasions, and with poker’s popularity growing, we can only see that number increasing.

As well as the prize money, people play for the prestige of being the Main Event champ. The names of those players live on through the annals of history. For those who might be unaware of the Main Event champions before the Moneymaker era, here’s the complete list of WSOP winners from 1970 to 2021:

YearChampionGrand PrizeEntries
2021Koray Aldemir$8,000,0006,650
2020Damian Salas$1,550,9691,379
2019Hossein Ensan$10,000,0008,569
2018John Cynn$8,800,0007,874
2017Scott Blumstein$8,150,0007,221
2016Qui Nguyen$8,005,3106,737
2015Joe McKeehen$7,683,3466,420
2014Martin Jacobson$10,000,0006,683
2013Ryan Riess$8,359,5316,352
2012Greg Merson$8,531,8536,598
2011Pius Heinz$8,715,6386,865
2010Jonathan Duhamel$8,944,1387,319
2009Joe Cada[f]$8,574,6496,494
2008Peter Eastgate[e]$9,152,4166,844
2007Jerry Yang$8,250,0006,358
2006Jamie Gold[e]$12,000,0008,773
2005Joe Hachem[e]$7,500,0005,619
2004Greg Raymer$5,000,0002,576
2003Chris Moneymaker[d]$2,500,000839
2002Robert Varkonyi$2,000,000631
2001Carlos Mortensen$1,500,000613
2000Chris Ferguson$1,500,000512
1999Noel Furlong$1,000,000393
1998Scotty Nguyen$1,000,000350
1997Stu Ungar$1,000,000312
1996Huck Seed$1,000,000295
1995Dan Harrington$1,000,000273
1994Russ Hamilton$1,000,000268
1993Jim Bechtel$1,000,000220
1992Hamid Dastmalchi$1,000,000201
1991Brad Daugherty$1,000,000215
1990Mansour Matloubi$895,000194
1989Phil Hellmuth$755,000178
1988Johnny Chan$700,000167
1987Johnny Chan$625,000152
1986Berry Johnston$570,000141
1985Bill Smith$700,000140
1984Jack Keller$660,000132
1983Tom McEvoy$540,000108
1982Jack Straus[c]$520,000104
1981Stu Ungar$375,00075
1980Stu Ungar$385,00073
1979Hal Fowler$270,00054
1978Bobby Baldwin$210,00042
1977Doyle Brunson$340,00034
1976Doyle Brunson$220,00022
1975Brian Roberts$210,00021
1974Johnny Moss$160,00016
1973Walter Pearson$130,00013
1972Thomas Preston$80,0008
1971Johnny Moss$30,0006
1970Johnny Moss$07

 

History of the Main Event

The idea for the WSOP and the Main Event was first thought up by a group of Texan card players in Reno back in 1969. Tom Moore, a Texan magnate, invited some of his poker-loving friends–including Benny Binion–to the Texas Gambling Reunion. Seeing how much action this get-together brought to the cash games, Benny Binion decided to start his own event, which he called the World Series of Poker, at the Binion’s Horseshoe in 1970.

The very first WSOP was very different from how we know it today. To start with, there weren’t any tournaments–not a single one! The only event played was the Main Event, which was decided over a cash game. Over three days, a range of games was played, including five-card draw, seven-card stud, razz, and, of course, Texas Hold ’em. At the end of the three days, the winner was decided by a vote. The legend goes that two votes had to be held, as, after the first one, every player voted for themselves, resulting in a 7-way tie!

WSOP bracelets on a poker table

Eventually, Johnny Moss was voted the Main Event champion, and he took home the silver cup–bracelets weren’t introduced until 1976. There was no prize money either, though it’s rumored that Johnny won a good amount from the other players over those three days.

Since that day, the WSOP has grown in size and reputation. Players from all over the world come to play in its tournaments, notably the Main Event. Naturally, everyone wants their chance to become a world champ and put their names alongside all-time greats like Johnny Moss, Puggy Pearson, and Doyle Brunson. With so many players wanting to play the Main Event, the World Series eventually outgrew Binion’s Horseshoe and has been on quite the journey ever since…

The Main Event’s Las Vegas Journey

In 2005, just as the poker boom was gaining momentum in the US and across the world, the WSOP made its first venue change from Binion’s Horseshoe to The Rio. Harrah’s (now Caesar’s Entertainment) bought Binion’s back in 2004, but only made the change to The Rio in 2005. Even during that first year at The Rio, the Main Event’s final table was played back at Binion’s.

The decision to move the WSOP to The Rio was made out of practicality. Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 Main Event, and after that famous day, the WSOP (and poker as a whole) exploded in popularity. Everyone wanted to become the next Chris Moneymaker and win millions of dollars. The year Chris won the Main Event, there were 839 players; the following year, that grew to 2576 players; by 2006, there were 8773 players, a record that’s yet to be topped!

There simply wasn’t the room at Binion’s to keep up with the demand, while The Rio had plenty of space in its colossal convention center. So The Rio became the permanent home for the World Series until 2021, when it was announced that the series would have a new home the following year.

For the first time in its history, the World Series will be played on the Las Vegas strip! From 2022 onwards, it will be hosted by Paris Las Vegas and Bally’s Las Vegas, with Paris hosting the majority of the action and Bally’s focusing on the TV tables. This move was in the cards ever since The Rio was sold to a New York investment group back in 2020, as Caesar’s wanted to keep the WSOP “in-house.” We’re all excited to see how playing in these new locations will impact the series and whether the party atmosphere of the strip may liven up the games!

While the original Main Event and World Series have stayed in Vegas since its inception, the WSOP brand has traveled across the globe.

European Expansion

As the poker boom was taking the world by storm, the WSOP decided to expand its brand beyond the US, and in 2007, WSOP Europe was born. The World Series teamed up with sportsbook/online casino Betfair to host the first-ever WSOP Europe Main Event at The Sportsman Casino in London, England. The event was a great success, the £10,000 buy-in had 362 entrants, and the winner, Annette Obrestad, took home a cool £1,000,000.

Annette became a record-breaker when she won the title, becoming the youngest person ever to win a WSOP Main Event at just 18 years old. It’s a record that still stands to this day!

The WSOP Europe is a much smaller series than the one held in Vegas each year, but it still creates a lot of interest and big prize pools. The series has moved around a lot since its inception. Starting in London, it has been hosted in Cannes, Berlin, and finally Rozvadov, where it seems to have found a permanent home.

The 2022 WSOP Europe is set to run from October 12th to November 3rd, with 15 bracelet events on offer, including the €10,000 Main Event.

G’Day Australia!

After the rousing success of WSOP Europe, the World Series brand expanded even further… into the land down under!

The first Asia Pacific (APAC) WSOP took place in Melbourne in 2013, where Daniel Negraneau beat out over 400 players to win the inaugural Main Event for more than AU$1,000,000. The following year the WSOP APAC returned to Melbourne, but the event’s popularity dwindled as only 329 players fought to win the 2014 Main Event.

It was decided by the WSOP that WSOP Europe and WSOP APAC would be held biennially, with the European series being held in odd-numbered years and the APAC series being held in even-numbered years. However, when 2016 came around, no plans were made for WSOP APAC, and it was quietly dropped from the brand.

World Series of Online Poker

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic meant that the World Series could not go on as usual for the first time since 1970. The majority of countries worldwide went into lockdown, airports stopped taking international flights, and casinos everywhere shut their doors. It was a disaster for the WSOP as the number of entrants to the Main Event had been steadily growing since 2015, and all of a sudden, they couldn’t even open the doors of The Rio to let people play.

While it tried to hold out as long as possible, Caesar’s eventually canceled the 2020 World Series. So instead, they announced an online version of the WSOP. Split between WSOP.com and GG Poker, 85 bracelet events were held from July 1st to September 8th. One of the events on the schedule holds the record for the lowest buy-in WSOP event in history–the $50 “Big 50” event, which was won by Huahuan Feng for a staggering $211,282; not bad for a $50 investment!

The series came to a head with the $5000 Main Event. This is the first time the Main Event cost $5000 to enter since 1971 and is the first and only time in its history that it has been a re-entry tournament, with players having the option to re-enter up to three times. It broke the record for the largest prize pool for an online poker tournament and was won by Stoyan Madanzhiev for $3,904,686.

The eagle-eyed readers among you may have noticed that Stoyan’s name was not on our list of WSOP Main Event winners. Why’s that, you ask? In November 2020, the WSOP announced that the $10,000 Main Event would still be held but in a unique format.

Tula, Russia - March 02, 2021: World Series of Poker logo on iPhone display.

International players would play on GG Poker, starting on November 29th, and American players would play on WSOP.com, beginning December 13th. Once both tournaments reached a final table of 9 players, each final table was played in person–the GG Poker final table being held in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, and the WSOP.com final table being held at the Rio, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The winner of these final tables would then face each other in a winner-takes-all heads-up match for the bracelet and an additional $1 million.

Damian Salas overcame Joseph Herbert to claim the official WSOP 2020 Main Event title.

While the 2021 WSOP wasn’t exactly back to normal–it was played over the winter rather than the summer–it was played in person at The Rio. Over 6,500 people returned to Vegas for the 2021 Main Event. Everyone is anticipating even higher numbers this year; maybe we can finally beat the record set in 2006?

If you’d like more information on the WSOP schedule for 2022, check out our dedicated WSOP Schedule page, and if you’re looking to satellite your way into the Main Event, you can find all the information you need on our WSOP Satellites page.