Texas Holdem Events
The first major poker event wasn't so major since it involved a small group of players gathering in Las Vegas for the 1970 World Series of Poker.
Today is a much different story, though, because poker is filled with huge tournaments, big prize pools, and glamorous events.
Many tournaments revolve around Texas holdem, which is a simple and extremely popular poker variation. In fact, most of the largest tournament prize pools have been offered through Texas holdem tourneys.
How do you avoid such rogues?
Find out as we discuss them along with the organizations that hold these mega Texas holdem tournaments.
1- World Series of Poker (WSOP)
In 1970, Jack Binion, owner of the iconic Binion's Horseshoe casino in Las Vegas, invited a group of poker players to the first-ever WSOP.
Players included "Amarillo Slim" Preston, Carl Cannon, Crandell Addington, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, Puggy Pearson, and Sailor Roberts.
The 1970 WSOP wasn't a tournament, but rather a series of cash games played between the group. At the conclusion of the event, players voted on the best player, and Preston won.
The following year, the 6 players each paid a $5,000 buy-in to enter a Texas holdem tournament. Moss won the 1972 WSOP along with a $30,000 top prize.
The World Series of Poker slowly grew over the next decade, drawing 100 players to a holdem tournament for the first time in 1982. CBS also began broadcasting the WSOP on television, with broadcasting rights eventually going to ESPN.
The defining year for the WSOP happened in 2003, when Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event and $2.5 million. What stood out about Moneymaker is that he was an average accountant who only played poker recreationally.
Moneymaker's story, combined with the emergence of online poker satellites, helped propel the WSOP to the huge event that it is today.
Thanks to growing prize pools and ESPN's coverage, the WSOP has become a massive event.
It now features dozens of tournaments, over 100,000 total entrants, and more than $200 million in combined prize money each year.
The majority of the tournaments are Texas holdem events, but the WSOP has expanded to offer a variety of other games, like 7 Card Stud, Dealer's Choice, Draw Lowball, Eight Game, H.O.R.S.E., Omaha, and Pot-Limit Omaha.
No WSOP tourney is more important than the Main Event, a $10,000 buy-in Texas holdem tournament that draws thousands of players.
Thanks to the large number of entrants, the top Main Event prizes are multi-million dollar payouts that make top finishers instantly rich.
The WSOP Main Event has become a popular TV affair, with the final table receiving primetime coverage by ESPN.
The late Johnny Moss became the first 3-time Main Event champion, winning in 1970, '71, and '74.
Doyle Brunson, who still grinds in high stakes cash games today, won the Main Event in 1976 and '77.
The late Stu Ungar became the second player to win 3 Main Events, doing so 1980, '81, and '97.
Johnny Chan is another notable champion, winning back-to-back Main Events in 1987 and '88. Chan's second victory was immortalized as a scene in the 1998 cult classic Rounders.
The biggest Main Event winner in history is Jamie Gold, who won a $12 million prize after defeating an 8,773-player field. Gold's top payout was the culmination of the height of the poker boom.
Ever since 2004, the WSOP has used a points system to determine the Player of the Year POY. Players earn points based on tournament cashes/finishes, with bigger tourneys being worth more points.
Daniel Negreanu was the first player to win the POY award, winning one event and final tabling five total tournaments. Negreanu would win again in 2013, collecting two gold bracelets and final tabling 4 total events.
Jeff Lisandro in 2009 and George Danzer in 2014 both won the POY on the strength of 3 WSOP victories within the same year.
2- World Poker Tour (WPT)
The WPT was started in 2002 by attorney/TV producers Steven Lipscomb. The organization not only has different tournament stops around the world, but also televises the events.
The first season aired on the Travel Channel from 2002-03. The show has since appeared on FOX Sports Net, GSN, and NBC.
The WPT got off to a quick start since it began on the cusp of the poker boom. Along with ESPN's Main Event coverage, the WPT was one of the first Texas holdem poker shows to capture the attention of audiences.
Stops on the early seasons of the WPT included California, Connecticut, Costa Rica, Las Vegas, Mississippi, Paris, and Reno.
The WPT has done an excellent job of living up to its name in recent years, expanding to more stops outside of the U.S.
Some of the stops in recent seasons include Austria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, England, Italy, the Netherlands, St. Maarten, South Africa, and South Korea.
Formerly known as the WPT Championship, the Tournament of Champions crowns the winner each season.
Carlos Mortensen won the biggest WPT Championship in history, taking down the Season V Championship in 2007 along with $3,970,415.
David Chui followed this up in 2008 by winning the Season VI Championship and $3,389,190.
Other famous players who've won this tourney include David Williams Season 8, $1.53m, Marvin Rettenmaier Season 10, $1.2m, and David 'Chino' Rheem Season 11, $1.15m.
Every season the WPT crowns a Player of the Year (POY) based on points earned throughout the season. Almost every winner has been a world-famous poker player.
The first WPT POY was Howard Lederer, followed by Erick Lindgren, Daniel Negreanu, Gavin Smith, J.C. Tran, Jonathan Little, Bertrand Grospellier, Faraz Jaka, and Andy Frankenberger.
3- Crown Australian Poker Championship (Aussie Millions)
The Crown Australian Poker Championship, a.k.a. Aussie Millions is a series of poker tournaments that was started in 1998. The Aussie Millions event has been held at Melbourne's Crown Casino every year since it launched.
The 1998 Aussie Millions was a small affair that only drew 74 players to the $1,000 buy-in Main Event. Alex Horowitz was the inaugural champion, winning a $25,900 top payout.
The Main Event has since grown much larger than this and has paid some multi-million prizes.
In 2006, the Crown Poker Championship added a $100,000 High Roller. John Juanda won the initial High Roller along with $1 million.
By 2011, the Aussie Millions added a $250,000 Super High Roller. Phil Ivey notably won this tournament in 2014, collecting a $4 million payout, which is the largest ever awarded at the event.
Not much has changed with the Aussie Millions over the years, other than it getting larger.
The most-noteworthy change is that the Main Event buy-in has grown from $1,000 in 1998, to $10,600 today.
The Crown Australian Poker Championship remains the premiere event in the Southern Hemisphere, drawing thousands of players every year to a variety of tournaments.
As mentioned before, the Aussie Millions was a small poker affair when it began in 1998. But the Main Event has since produced some very big winners.
Notable Aussie Millions Main Event champs include Lee Nelson 2006, $1.3m, Gus Hansen 2007, $1.5m, Alexander Kostritsyn 2008, $1.65m, Stewart Scott 2009, $2m, Tyron Krost 2010, $2m, David Gorr 2011, $2m, and Oliver Speidel 2012, $1.6m.
4- European Poker Tour (EPT)
The European Poker Tour was started by poker player/businessman John Duthie in 2004.
The EPT is much like the WPT, with televised events and stops around the world. But the main difference was that the EPT buy-ins were cheaper than WPT buy-ins.
This quickly elevated the EPT's status and made it one of the most-popular poker tours. But due to a lack of space in participating casinos, Duthie raised buy-ins to €8,000, putting it more in line with WPT events.
Stops during the first season included Barcelona, Copenhagen, Deauville, Dublin, London, Monte Carlo, and Vienna. The only stops remaining from the original schedule today include EPT Barcelona, Dublin and London.
As of 2011, the EPT is owned and sponsored by PokerStars (Amaya Gaming), and European TV production work is performed by Sunset + Vine.
One exciting thing about the EPT is that it not only includes exotic international destinations, but also different stops as the years go by.
Some of the most-recent stops include Malta, Prague, Sanremo, in addition to long-standing destinations like Barcelona, Dublin, and London.
The EPT is highlighted by two of the biggest tournaments in poker – the EPT Grand Final Main Event and PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event.
Currently held in Monte Carlo, the Grand Final Main Event concludes every season of the EPT.
Pieter de Korver is the biggest winner of the Main Event, taking down the Season 5 championship along with €2,300,000. Other big winners include Gavin Griffin Season 3, €1.83m, Glen Chorny Season 4, €2.02m, and Nicolas Chouity Season 6, €1.7m.
The Caribbean Adventure has taken place in Paradise Island, Bahamas ever since starting in 2004. This series of tournaments is highlighted by the Main event, which offers huge prizes to the winner.
Some of the most-notable champions include Bertrand Grospellier 2008, $2m, Poorya Nazari 2009, $3m, Harrison Gimbel 2010, $2.2m, and Galen Hall 2011, $2.3m.
5, 6, 7 and 8- Other PokerStars Events
Beyond the European Poker Championship, PokerStars also sponsors a number of smaller, regional tournament organizations. Here's a quick overview of three of these organizations along with PokerStars' biggest online event.
Founded in 2007, the Asia Pacific Poker Tour holds Texas holdem events across destinations in the Asia Pacific.
The first season featured four stops, including Macau, China, Manila, Philippines, Seoul, South Korea, and Sydney, Australia. The highlight of this first season included the APPT holding the first government-sanctioned Texas holdem tournaments in China and South Korea.
The biggest winners in APPT history include: Amichai Barer, winner of APPT8 Melbourne and $1.4 million; Alan Engel, winner of APPT10 Melbourne and $1.12 million; and Aristomenis Stavropoulos, winner of APPT9 Melbourne and $1.09 million.
Launched in 2008, the Latin American Poker Tour features Texas holdem tournaments in Central and South America.
The first season only had 3 stops, including Rio de Janeiro, San José, Costa Rica, and Punta del Este, Uruguay. Since the first season, the LAPT has continued rotating stops to different cities, such as Lima, Peru, Mar del Plato, Argentina, Medellin, Colombia, Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Each LAPT season is capped by the Grand Final, a Texas holdem tournament that decides the season's champion.
José Miguel Espinar won the Season 1 Grand Final in 2007 along with $241,725. The following year, Dominik Nitsche won the Season 2 Grand Final and $381,030 – the largest prize in LAPT history.
Founded in 2009, the UKIPT features Texas holdem tournaments across the UK and Ireland.
Season 1 featured stops in Galway, Manchester, Coventry, Nottingham, Killarney, Brighton, Edinburgh, Dublin, and London. Scotland's David Vamplew was the first season's biggest winner, colleting €900,000 at the London finale.
Season 2 saw tournaments held in most of the same locations, with the exceptions of Cork and Newcastle being added. Germany's Benny Spindler won the London event along with €750,000, making him the season's biggest winner.
No prizes in subsequent seasons have come close to matching what Spindler and Vamplew have earned. But the UKIPT keeps rolling along with multiple stops across the UK every season.
Started in 2002, the WCOOP has become the largest online poker series in the world. Most of the tourneys are based on Texas holdem, but, like the WSOP, there are a number of other games and formats included.
The WCOOP Main Event, a $5,200 buy-in Texas holdem event, highlights the action.
In 2010, Tyson "POTTERPOKER" Marks won the largest WCOOP Main Event payout ever when he collected $2.28 million.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice cracked down on some of the largest online poker sites, including PokerStars. They were forced to stop accepting American players, which reduced the size of the WCOOP.
While the Main Event is still a huge online tournament today, nobody has won a prize as big as Marks' in the aftermath.
The Super High Roller Bowl is a $500,000 buy-in Texas holdem tournament that takes place at the ARIA casino in Las Vegas.
This event was started in 2015 to help kick off the Poker Central network, the world's first 24/7 poker channel. The first Super High Roller Bowl drew 43 players, and Brian Rast won the tourney along with $7.525 million.
The 2016 Super High Roller Bowl featured 49 players, and Germany's Rainer Kempe won the tournament and the $5 million top prize.
The Super High Roller Bowl is currently the most-expensive poker tournament in the world, making it ideal for high rollers who want to compete against a small field size for massive payouts.