Why the World Series of Poker is Among the Most Fascinating Sporting Events You can Attend

Caption: John Cynn won $8.8 million in the 2018 Main Event.

When it comes to sporting events specifically geared towards spectators, the Champions League and Premier League in soccer are prime examples of competitions that attract a high number of viewers. But in the modern age, more people are turning towards watching other types of sporting contests. Mind sports, in particular, are on the rise, with poker being one of the most popular examples of this style of competition. The biggest event on the sport’s calendar is the World Series of Poker, which takes place every year in Las Vegas. The event attracts increasing numbers of players and spectators each year and is also available to watch on television internationally.

What is the World Series of Poker?

The World Series of Poker, otherwise known as WSOP, is an annual poker event in which there is a series of different poker competitions. It culminates in the massive Main Event, which is the best-known Texas Hold’em tournament in the world. The inaugural event occurred in 1970, and it involved a mere seven players. This game wasn’t yet in a tournament format and, instead, the players voted for the winner at the end of a number of different games featuring varied poker styles. Johnny Moss, the Grand Old Man of Poker, was named the very first winner.

The tournament format was brought in a year later, and Moss managed to prevail again in the event which featured six entrants. The WSOP remained a relatively small event throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, during which time the number of participants never even exceeded 400.

The internet brought about a huge boom in the number of online poker players in the mid-2000s, and this led to a sudden spike in playing numbers at the WSOP. Indeed, in 2003 there were 839 players, and that number shot up to 2,576 the next year. This was helped by the fact that the 2003 winner was Chris Moneymaker, an amateur player who had qualified via an online satellite.

Aside from the Main Event, there are around eighty other games and tournaments at the Las Vegas poker festival. Some of the other events include a competition for casino employees only, a super turbo bounty game, and the Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better contest.

What Happened at WSOP 2019?

Caption: Hossein Ensan won $10 million in the 2019 Main Event.

The 2019 Main Event was the second biggest WSOP competition in history, with 8,569 players competing for a share of the prize pool which totaled over $30 million. The biggest event in the tournament’s history was in 2006 when there were 8,773 players in total. That year, Jamie Gold took down the grand prize of $12 million. In the 2019 competition, it was Hossein Ensan who prevailed over all the other competitors to bag the ultimate prize in poker. The Iranian player took home $10 million and was the first player in WSOP history to win the competition with pocket kings.

Aside from some of the usual side tournaments at the WSOP, one of the most intriguing events in the 2019 edition was the Crazy 888s competition. This was a Texas Hold’em tournament hosted by the popular online poker site 888poker. The buy-in was $888 and the grand prize for the winner was $888,888. Prior to the WSOP, the poker site ran a competition to provide a lucky winner with tickets to Las Vegas and entry to the tournament.

What are the Benefits of Watching a Poker Event?
Whether you choose to watch an event like the WSOP in person or on television, there are numerous benefits. The number one reason to watch the game is that it’s highly entertaining, and almost every hand provides some nail-biting tension and excitement. There is so much at stake for the players involved, and the sums of money can be life-changing. This is why every one of their decisions has to be deliberated on carefully.
As the players are competing, there is also detailed commentary to explain to viewers what exactly is going on. This gives an insight as to what thought processes could be going on in the players’ heads when they are making these tough choices. The fact that viewers can also see the cards that each player is holding means they have an excellent vantage point to take in and evaluate all of the action.

Watching professional poker players in action is an excellent way for beginners to improve their game. There is only so much you can learn from playing games online, and watching the best in the business is always going to give people some inspiration. Looking at players like Martin Jacobson and Vivian Saliba, aspiring poker sharks can learn about how to play a position on the table, correct bet sizing, and what kind of hands to risk a bluff on.
Successful players like these have risen to the top, not through luck, because they have turned poker into a science. By sticking with mathematically sound strategies, they give themselves a stronger chance of winning in each game.

Jacobson is a prime example of someone who learned from his mistakes on his rise to the top of the game. The Swedish player only managed three hands in his first WSOP Main Event in 2008 before being knocked out of the Las Vegas tournament. He admitted to overplaying his hand and put it down to inexperience. The 32-year-old refined his game and bounced back a few years later, winning the jackpot of $10 million in the 2014 Main Event.

Living vicariously through other players as they stake huge sums of money on the turn of the cards can be a hugely exciting and satisfying experience. This is why viewing figures for the WSOP are on the rise. Watching the event on TV should provide sufficient drama, but actually going to Las Vegas and living through the magic of it all would be the ultimate trip.