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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2009 | Poker Personalities

History a Big Player at 40th Annual WSOP

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There are many years of history involved in the World Series of Poker, and the 2009 events will commemorate its 40th anniversary. It has been and continues to be the leader in poker tournaments, as each year it grows and seems to accumulate more prestige, higher attendance, and greater notoriety. The opportunity for everyone to compete on the highest levels of a game that has been America’s pastime for centuries is one that attracts people of both genders, all ages from 21 and up, and all ethnicities and backgrounds to the biggest poker stage in the world.

When the World Series of Poker began, it was actually 1949 and consisted of nothing more than a poker marathon between Nicholas “Nick the Greek” Dandolos that was organized by Benny Binion. There was $2 million at stake, and Johnny Moss emerged the champion of the mixed game series that took approximately five months to complete. That was enough to give Binion the idea to organize something a bit more formal for poker players, though the formation of it did not take place until 1970.

From that point forward, each year boasted of a new and improved World Series of Poker, as 1971 consisted of a freeze-out tournament won by Moss and 1972 found Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston as its champion. But it was at that point that the WSOP began to grow in popularity, as Preston began to discuss his victory on talk shows like The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

The subsequent years saw attendance grow as more players became aware and additional tournaments were added to the series. And with the introduction of satellite tournaments in the 1980’s, which provided the opportunity for lower stakes players to win a seat into a bigger buy-in event at a fraction of the cost, fields of players began to see record growth. And after Chris Moneymaker, an unknown in the poker community, won his seat and eventually the $2.5 million main event prize money from an inexpensive online poker satellite, the WSOP grew into a phenomenon that has demonstrated the exponential growth of tournaments and the game of poker in general.

As the 40th Annual World Series of Poker kicks off this week, it does so with a grand total of 57 bracelet events, a Champions Invitational, a celebrity-filled Ante Up for Africa charity tournament, and a Poker Palooza of poker-related products and services. The seven weeks of tournaments has become a can’t-miss summer of events for poker players around the world.

There are high expectations for the 2009 WSOP, despite a global financial crisis and a recent downturn in most tournament arenas. Why the optimism? It is the World Series, after all, and poker continues to grow no matter the economic or political atmosphere. And merely taking a look at the history of the WSOP demonstrates its tenacity and long-term prospects for success.

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