The Las Vegas World Series of Poker - A Brief History

The Las Vegas World Series of Poker - A Brief History


The "satellite" competitions have already gotten under way and casino poker players worldwide have begun to set their hopes high on the $10 million top prize. Las Vegas will once again be hosting the World Series of poker (WSOP) this summer.

The summer serves as an opportune time for many to pack their bags, request that time off from work, and head to sin city- tournament or no tournament. But when the World Series of Poker, or WSOP, is in town, all eyes and all cameras shift to the poker tables and everyone in casino town knows that the main event is arriving.

The Beginning

On one bright Nevada day in 1949, a fairly known poker player named Nicholas Dandolos approached local poker hotshot Benny Binion with a proposal. Dandolos, also known as “Nick the Geek” suggested to Binion that the two launch a poker marathon and invite the top-rated and most well-known poker players around to compete for a large casino pot.

"Mr. Moss, I have to let you go"

The idea was accepted and a casino poker tournament was on its way in front of local fans. It was called “the biggest game in town” in its last stages. A five month dual between Dandolos and Johnny Moss was the last event and the sum of the betting reached $2 million, an almost-astronomical figure for those days. Moss eventually defeated Dandolos in what would be known as one of the greatest poker matches. Nick the Geek ended the match by uttering his famous phrase after losing his final pot.

The event, which did not yet receive its modern name, stood still for several decades, and Johnny Moss was in effect the default world champion of poker throughout that time. Perhaps because of organizational problems, or lack of commitment by the organizing parties, it was not until much later that the event began to realize its potential.


The WSOP is now one of the highlighted events of the summer on network television and cable sports channels. Harrah’s Hotel and Casino will once again be hosting the tournament and its pot is expected to stand at $10 million. Several past winners such as Chris Moneymaker and Johnny Chang have already become celebrities and can be heard on the radio and even mentioned in Playboy magazine.

After many thousands compete on their personal computers in what are called "satellite events" for a place in the Las Vegas event and a shot at the Texas Hold’em main event, only the best of the best are granted a seat at the poker tables in what becomes in July-August the hottest casino in town.

It can be said that the WSOP received its official entrance into stardom status in 2004 when Harrah’s Entertainment, the Las Vegas-based gaming corporation, purchased Binion’s horseshoe. Partly out of nostalgic respect for the old host of the tournament, Harrah’s decided to retain the name while taking over the job of hosting the casino tournament.

The Rio Hotel and Casino , located slightly off the Las Vegas Strip, will be hosting the event this summer and rest assured, local restaurants and entertainment clubs are getting set to receive the influx of fans and guests to their venue.

What to Expect

The 23,000 participants in the 2005 WSOP serve as proof of the constantly-growing popularity of the casino poker tournament. This summer will undoubtedly bring an even greater population of poker buffs to Vegas and each will vie for the honor of receiving the coveted championship ring.