Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Poker’s Past: Four-Plus Decades of the WSOP Main Event

Like the rest of the poker world, my interest is gradually turning back toward Las Vegas and the World Series of Poker Main Event final table, due to get started next Monday afternoon at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.

We’re running a few different WSOP-related pieces this week over on Learn.PokerNews, including some concerning the history of the WSOP Main Event. I’ve posted two installments thus far, “Learning Poker History: WSOP Main Event, 1970-79” and “Learning Poker History: WSOP Main Event, 1980-89,” trying to give the broad history while also including a few nuggets that might not be so common to the usual rehearsals of WSOP history.

I was partly inspired to do something about the WSOP Main Event and its history after picking up on some folks expressing uncertainty about what exactly the “November Nine” really was.

I know for a fact that some following the weekly edited version of what happened back in July on ESPN aren’t entirely aware how the final table works -- or even if perhaps it has already been played and will be shown in the same fashion as play from Days 3 through 7 have been. Realizing this, I thought further about how some may not be familiar with the WSOP Main Event in its pre-November Nine iteration, and so thought I could help to spell that out somewhat.

On one level, the WSOP Main Event is wholly unlike other sporting events like the Super Bowl, baseball’s World Series, the Stanley Cup, the NBA playoffs, and so on, as well as other individual sports’ championships like the majors in tennis and golf and the like. While many of those who have won the WSOP ME are considered among poker’s greatest players, there is never a consensus regarding the winner being the best poker player in a given year, particularly these days.

That said, the WSOP has managed over the course of 44 years to create a sports-like tradition with its Main Event, and digging through the history and all of the names and stories does help further that impression. It’s kind of fun, too, for those who enjoy trivia and other interesting anecdotes having to do with our favorite card game.

So if you want to read along about the WSOP Main Event while watching the last part of Day 7 play out on ESPN tonight, check out those pieces on Learn.PokerNews. Also, let me know if there are any other subjects which you might like to see explored under that “Learning Poker History” heading.

(The photo above from the 1979 WSOP as well as the one to the left of Ken “What a Player!” Smith courtesy the UNLV Special Collections on the World Series of Poker.)

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