Every year about this time a mass exodus occurs. People from all over the world make their way to Las Vegas to spend their time huddled in with thousands of nervous, sweat stained men and women in one room. It doesn't sound all that appealing when it's put that way, but the World Series of Poker is THE one trip and tournament that any serious poker player makes in a given year. Why is that?
It's kind of like in golf or tennis where there are major tournaments like the PGA or Australian Open but everyone knows the big one is the Masters and Wimbledon. That's the prestige and allure a WSOP bracelet carries with it. Ask Gus Hansen how he feels about never having won a bracelet? He might publicly say it's not a big deal since he's won so much on the WPT but inside it's probably eating away at him. When Erick Lindgren won his first bracelet last year he admitted that it was a huge weight off of his shoulders. Make no mistake about it; if you're a professional (or even amateur) poker player, there is no greater honor than winning a WSOP bracelet.
There is of course the history of the event. The WSOP is the longest standing poker tournament in the world. Long before there was ESPN, the WPT, or High Stakes Poker, there was the WSOP. This sense of history is present throughout the tournament, either through the gigantic portraits of past main event winners or in rubbing shoulders with poker legends. It's not often you'll see a big name professional playing in a $1,500 buy in event, but at the WSOP it's not uncommon at all and amateur players are often thrilled at the chance to be playing next to one of their poker heroes.
Another reason so many poker professionals mark the WSOP down on their calendar is that there is more to offer than just NLHE. Too many poker tournaments have taken the path of being just about hold em, with the occasional token Omaha or Stud tournament. While the WSOP has increased the amount of NLHE tournaments they run (they'd be foolish not to with the amount of rake it brings in and the demand), they have stayed true to poker and offered a multitude of events that truly make the WSOP a “poker” tournament and not just a NLHE tournament.
One last reason, and believe it or not it's as compelling as the previous ones, is that it's the one time of the year where every poker player is in the same area. Yea, you might run into one half of your poker buds at the WPT event in Biloxi, but at the WSOP every one is here. Parties and social gatherings are a big part of the fun of the tournament. Oh, and there's always the drama. It's not the WSOP if there isn't some form of drama going on, and drama is much more fun if you're there to personally witness it.