New poker players are often surprised to learn that the game they've just discovered has actually been around for over a hundred years. Tournaments on the other hand are relatively new and first gained popularity among the original pros of the 1970’s. These tournaments have set the scene for many exciting moments in the game of poker. Without further ado, here are a few of our favorite historical poker games.
The First World Series of Poker
The first World Series of Poker took place in 1970 in a dark poker room at Binion’s Horseshoe in Las Vegas. Only a handful of players were invited—players like Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, and Amarillo Slim—players that would one day become legends. At that first WSOP tournament, the competitors sat at a public table and played in front of a crowd. At the end of several rounds, it was not the stack size but the players themselves that chose the winner. The first World Series of Poker champion, by unanimous decision, was none other than Johnny Moss. He would return the following year to claim the title again in a more traditional, winner-take-all style tournament.
Beal vs. the Corporation
The story of Andrew Beal and the Corporation incorporates not one but several poker games. Back in 2006, poker-obsessed billionaire Andrew Beal started playing “The Big Game” at the Bellagio poker room in Vegas. His strategy was to use his huge bankroll to outbet his opponents, repeatedly forcing them to fold or go all-in. Eventually, some of the natives got tired of this act and decided to pool their bankrolls so they could challenge Beal head on. This partnership included pros as prestigious as Phil Ivey, David Oppenheim, Erik Sagstrom, Jennifer Harman, and Todd Brunson. They called themselves called the Corporation.
The stage was set. From February 12-15, Andrew Beal successfully challenged several players in the Corporation. At the end of his run, he flew out of Vegas $10 million richer. Determined to give him a taste of his own medicine, The Corporation invited him to return to Bellagio later that year. Against the advice of his friends and advisors, Beal returned to Vegas to face his newest Corporation competitor, Phil Ivey. Over the course of three days and backed by the Corporation’s sizable combined bankroll, Ivey not only met Beal’s aggressive bets but outright dominated him on strategy. Beal left Vegas a staggering $16 million down and vowed never to return to the poker table again.
The 2003 WSOP
We felt that the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event was worth mentioning since it has already served as inspiration to millions of new online players. While the tournament itself is not held online, online poker room members have the opportunity to win entry to various events via sponsored satellite tournaments. Though the final table action was indisputably tense, the big news at the 2003 WSOP was not so much about how the tournament was won but about who won it. Newcomer Chris Moneymaker had earned his entry to the WSOP through a satellite tournament on PokerStars. The 2003 Main Event was his first live tournament. Moneymaker’s win was the realization not only of his own dream but of the dreams of millions of online poker players worldwide. His 2003 WSOP championship was proof that with determination and skill anyone can become a champion (and a millionaire).
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