The World Series of Poker is now a popular poker tournament that takes place every year in Las Vegas. It was until the ’80s when what are known as poker satellite tournaments that the World Series of Poker truly blew up in number. These tournaments allowed any player, of any skill level, to have a chance at playing in the main event for free. By the mid-1980s, this number had grown to over 2,000.
In the 1970s the first broadcasts of the WSOP were aired. These were produced and broadcasted as documentaries as opposed to a sporting event being narrated by Jimmy Snyder. CBS sometimes showed the main event in the ’70s and ’80s only showing action from the final table of the World Series of Poker.
By the end of the ’80s ESPN had positioned themselves as the goto broadcaster of this poker event, airing continuous footage of each stage of the tournament. The Discovery Channel briefly covered the event from 2000-2001 but ESPN resumed the reigns just as the poker phenomenon was erupting.
The power of computers and the World Wide Web was redefining the poker world. The game was more accessible to the masses than it had ever been. With the emergence of online poker rooms anyone living in any country on the globe could take part in the action 24 hours a day. This created a sensation that has peaked but remains very much alive today.
As this phenomenon began its ascent, interest in The World Series of Poker, highest profile Texas Hold Em Poker game, ascended with it. Being aware of the true, increasing popularity of poker, ESPN stepped in to become the leading television broadcaster of the World Series of Poker. Not only did they televise the various days of the main event but also many of the other poker events that are run throughout the WSOP. Unfortunately, due to the need to keep players’ hole cards a secret throughout the tournament, the winner of the tournament is often known before the event is aired on tv. In 2006, the WSOP peaked with 8,773 players participating.
Although fans are likely to remember the events from 2002-2008 as the WSOP’s signature moments, the event has a long and illustrious history. Tons of attention is place on those amateur players, many who have won cheap WSOP Satellites, that make it to the final table and win the coveted braclet. However, the first non-pro to win was Hal Fowler and he did it back in 1979. Some WSOP historians assert that Benny Binnion, the father of the WSOP, had to lend him the money for the entry fee.
During the 2000 WSOP, female poker player Annie Duke made it to the final ten, just four short of the final table that year. Coming close in 2006, reaching the final 88, ESPN took the opportunity to congratulate and publicize Annie’s feat. At the time a poker commentator stated that Annie Duke could even become the very first female to ever make it to the final table of the main event. However, the truth is that Barbara Enright had already become a legend, earning that distinction in 1995.
Likewise, fans often believe that famous World Series of Poker participant Johnny Chan is the only player to reach the final two, three years in a row. But the first player to ever win consecutive WSOP main events was Puggy Pearson, winning in ’71, ’72 and ’73. Eventually claiming the title in ’73, he was the very first poker player not from the state of Texas to win the World Series of Poker.