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World Series of Poker History

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) was born out of a high-stake dare in the summer of 1949. As the story goes, Nicholas “Nick the Greek” Dandolos approached Horseshoe owner Benny Binion with an unusual request — to challenge the world’s best poker player in a public marathon.

Binion did set up a match between Dandolos and the legendary Johnny Moss, the poker marathon lasted five months. The two played every poker variation imaginable. Moss ultimately won $2 million in what was dubbed as “the biggest game in town”.

Throughout the five-month marathon, Binion noticed that the match garnered massive public attention. People gathered in the casino to watch the games.

But it took Binion 20 years to attempt a recreation of this historic event. In 1970, the World Series of Poker was born with some of the country’s best poker players assembled to determine who would be worthy of the title “World Champion”. Johnny Moss came on top by popular vote.

The following year, the winner was determined through a freezeout competition where players were systematically eliminated until only one remained— the last man standing and winner of the pot. Again, Moss took home the title. Then in 1972, Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston won the tournament. He went around talk shows talking about WSOP and the tournament began to gain a wider following.

WSOP’s popularity continued its rise until the next decade. It is now considered the most prestigious poker tournament. Binion died on Christmas Day in 1989 at the age of 85 leaving behind a great legacy.

In 2004, Harrah’s took over the Horseshoe and, yes, the WSOP. The world poker tournament continues to attract more and more participants every year. Harrah’s also introduced the World Tournament of Champions that same year where a woman, Annie Duke, came out as winner.

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