It's a festival, a season, and an institution.
It's an annual pilgrimage for some and a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for others.
It's high-buyin events for the top pros and wealthy businessmen who can afford them and satellites into lower-buyin events for those who can't.
It's the ultimate individual competition that tests a multitude of skills including probability-calculation, people-reading, and patience.
It's the camaraderie of friends, family, and complete strangers rooting from behind the rail.
It's special events for teams, employees, seniors, and women. It's open events for anyone with a dream.1
At least for everyone over 21 in the U.S. or 18 for the WSOP Europe.
It's about the immortality granted by a world championship title, or the prestige of a coveted bracelet, or the accomplishment of reaching a final table, or the satisfaction of cashing, or the thrill of rubbing elbows with celebrities and top pros, or just the joy of playing.
It's so many things to so many different people that it would take a book to describe... Or even more. The Poker Omnibus W50P, slices and dices, examines and explains, and investigates and interprets half a century of the World Series of Poker in ways that have never been done before.
The "World Series of Poker" will be used to refer to the events in Las Vegas most of the time. But it also encompasses the WSOP Europe, the WSOP Asia-Pacific, and the WSOP Satellite tour.
But as the festival grew, it took on a life of its own. The number of events and the number of players in each event continued to grow almost every year until the Horseshoe had to borrow tables and floor space from other casinos to handle them all. One-day tournaments expanded into multiple days, with the Main Event even stretching to a full fortnight of action.
The WSOP outlasted the Horseshoe itself. In 2004, Harrah's bought both the struggling Horseshoe and the World Series of Poker, sold off the casino, and moved the WSOP to the Rio. The timing couldn't have been better. Poker was booming, and the 2004 festival, despite a reduction in the number of events, nearly doubled the total number of players and more than doubled its prize pool in large part due to the explosion of online poker and a humble accountant-turned-world-champion named Chris Moneymaker.
The number of players in Las Vegas WSOP events topped 50,000 in 2007, 100,000 in 2015, and 180,000 in 2019. The number of events has grown almost every year, topping 50 in 2007, 60 in 2012, 70 in 2017, and would have topped 100 in 2020 if not for COVID-19, which has pushed the festival back to the fall.
Along the way, the WSOP added a Ladies Championship (1977), satellite tourneys (1982), a Seniors Championship (2001), a WSOP Circuit (2005), a European festival (2008), an Asia-Pacific festival (2013), a Super Seniors Championship (2015), an online event (2015), and much more.
The journey has been incredible, and each year, each event, and each player has many stories to tell.