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
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?
What are the biggest Texas holdem events?
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
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
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.
Most Notable Event: WSOP Main Event
No WSOP tourney is more important than the Main Event, a
$10,000 buy-in Texas holdem tournament that draws thousands of
Thanks to the large number of entrants, the top Main Event
prizes are multi-million dollar payouts that make top finishers
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
WSOP Player of the Year
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
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
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.
Most Notable Event: WPT Tournament of Champions
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
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.
WPT Player of the Year
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
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
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.
Modern Aussie Millions
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.
Most-Notable Event: Aussie Millions Main Event
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.
Most Notable Events: EPT Grand Final and PokerStars Caribbean Adventure
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
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.
5- Asia Pacific Poker Tour APPT
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.
6- Latin American Poker Tour LAPT
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
7- UK and Ireland Poker Tour UKIPT
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.
8- World Championship of Online Poker WCOOP
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.
9- Super High Roller Bowl
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
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
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