As with all sports, poker has several different types of national and local tournaments and a number of “super-tournaments” that – at least in theory – determine who is the national champion of a given discipline. The World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the World Poker Tour (WPT) are two such events. These events are organized differently in terms of player participation and tournament development, but let’s proceed in order.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP)
This event was born first, dating back to 1968 (and not 1970 as most people think). It was initially created by Tom Morehead in Reno at his casino – The Riverside. Still, it only achieved fame in 1970, when it was transferred to Las Vegas by the legendary Benny Binion, who organized it at his Horseshoe Casino, inviting seven of the best poker players in the world to its first edition. And the victory in the first edition was decided by a vote of the players themselves.
Today, things have changed a lot. From an exclusive invitational event, the WSOP – an event that lasts a couple of weeks, held every year in Las Vegas – has become open to everyone. Anyone who can afford a buy-in between $1,500 and $5,000 can sign up for one of the tournaments, but it is also possible to participate for free.
In addition, winning specific tournaments organized by online gambling portals, such as GGPoker, allows you to get a free seat in one of the WSOP tournaments (but remember that it is not easy, as these qualifying tournaments last several months). Online poker players can win one of the sought-after WSOP bracelets and participate in the main event in Vegas. Additionally, online poker platforms make for a good opportunity where aspiring poker players can practise their game.
The winner of one of the WSOP tournaments wins a cash prize – often seven figures – and a commemorative gold bracelet. One of the tournaments – the $10,000 no-limit hold ’em – is considered the Main Event, and the winner is that year’s World Poker Champion.
The World Poker Tour (WPT)
Unlike the WSOP, the WPT takes place all year round, with a series of continuous tournaments that are televised. The WPT dates back to 2002, the golden years of poker passion, and was first organized by a television producer, Steven Lipscomb, who covered the event with his production company until 2009.
While the structure of the WSOP allows virtually anyone to participate, the WPT is more aimed at professional players who can play all year round.
The WPT also has a buy-in ranging from $2,500 to $25,000, and there are free seats that you can win by participating in live and online tournaments. In addition, the television presence could add an extra pressure factor on players, as the different matches are broadcast on channels such as Travel Channel, CBS, NBC, GSN, and Fox Sports Net.
At a glance
As we can see, these are two different events with different purposes. While the WPT is aimed at professional players who play all year round – a bit like the ATP tennis tournament – the WSOP is more “egalitarian” and allows even complete strangers to come in and “hit” the tournament, which is what happened in 2003 with the famous Chris Moneymaker case. The Latinos would say “nomen est omen” – in the name lies the destiny – and in Moneymaker’s case, it was so.
Moneymaker won a seat at the WSOP in 2003 after winning an online tournament with a $39 buy-in, and as a complete unknown, he went on to win the World Series (and a $2.5 million purse). His case is considered one of the big reasons why online poker has had such a boom since 2000. In short, the American Dream, fulfilled through Poker.