The World Series of Poker began in 1949 when three men, Nick “the Greek” Dandalos, Lester “Benny” Binion, owner of the Horseshoe Casino, and Johnny Moss, the best poker player in the world at the time, came together to play the largest poker game ever.
Nick Dandalos faced off against Johnny Moss in a gruelling five month long match where hundreds of thousands of dollars were constantly on the table in a wide variety of poker games. At the end of the match, Moss had emerged victorious.
This led to Benny Binion deciding to call together all the best poker players in the world to come together for a large match with very large pots. In 1970, this first match was finally organized and is regarded to as the first World Series of Poker. Those present at the fist WSOP included Johnny Moss, Carl Cannon, Brian Roberts, Puggy Pearson, Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim Preston, Crandall Addington, and a few others. They played No-Limit Texas Holdem and instead of playing the traditional game until one player had acquired all the chips, the players played for a while before unanimously voting that Johnny Moss was still the best poker player in the world.
Johnny Moss won the World Series of Poker again in 1971 and over the years, the World Series of Poker has taken place every year with new stars constantly arising. At first, to get a seat, a player had to pay the $10,000 “buy in” to get a seat, but now, by using smaller local tournaments, players start at the bottom with relatively low “buy ins” and work their way into the World Series of Poker without having to pay the $10,000 fee.
Since 1970 there has been many winners in the WSOP and here is the full list of WSOP winners.
In the recent years, with all the coverage Poker, especially Texas Holdem, has gotten on television (ESPN) and a number of print and online sources, the WSOP has grown into an international phenomenon with hundreds of thousands of fans watching on television or making the trip to see the tournament live.