Inside the US’s Biggest Poker Competitions

When it comes to American pastimes, poker is one of the classic options. The game likely has itsorigin in the Ancient Persian card game of As-Nas, which then evolved in France into a game called ‘poque’. Regardless of its origin, poker eventually became synonymous with America’s Wild West. From the mid-1800s until the early 20 th century, the game was popular in the rugged settlements dotting the American West. From there, multiple variations started to gain traction. The cowboys of yore were playing three-card stud, but the most popular variation played today is Texas Hold’em.

In fact, since poker’s boom in the Wild West, it’s been regularly played countrywide. Passion for poker culminated in World Series of Poker events, which started in the late 1960s while the Vegas Strip was still expanding. Since then, major competitions have continued to grow and diversify. Some, like Global Poker, mentioned below, have even moved online. Still, when it comes to in-person competitions, no group has managed to top the number of contestants who enter the World Series of Poker annually. Keep reading for more inside information on the largest poker competitions held in the US. First, we’ll cover one of the largest online formats.

A New Virtual Platform: Global Poker

Aside from retail locations countrywide, online poker sites that deliver on large player pools also have killer tournament offerings. There are even free poker online events, which are popular battlegrounds for players looking to build out new strategies or even learn the ropes for the first time. One company, Global Poker, has over 250,000 online players that are funneled into tournaments. This makes it an incredibly popular platform for those looking to enter large competitions, all from the comfort of their own homes. There’s another caveat that makes Global Poker a bit more beginner-friendly: its poker school. Rather than be thrown to the wolves on the casino floor with thousands of others, poker players can ease into large-scale tournaments this way.

The Main Event: World Series of Poker (WSOP)

As the flagship poker competition, WSOP has no shortage of competition types. There’s the Housewarming event, which is a No-Limit Hold’em tournament that regularly sees over 10,000 entrants. There’s also the Tag Team event, which lets players compete in teams; in 2021, there were nearly 650 teams who entered. However, the largest competition is the Main Event. The world’s top players regularly enter to compete for a slice of glory. However, because it’s the top event of the entire series, the number of contestants is slightly less than events like the Housewarming, with only around 6,500 entrants last year.

The Championships: World Poker Tour (WPT)

The World Poker Tour got its start in 2002, at which time many poker players started looking for quality online platforms. However, WPT remains one of the most popular broadcasted events when it comes to live, in-person tournaments. Events are held year-round in various locations, such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The largest event the WPT organizes is the Championships, which is the culmination of previous events from the same year. Winners walk away as part of the WPT Champions Club, who then have their name engraved on the Champions Cup. The idea behind the WPT is to add more degrees of competition to help build hype around certain players and events, similar to traditional sports.

Outside the US: European Poker Tour (EPT)

The WPT focuses on the US (and North America), while the European Poker Tour organizes the same for European locations. Top events include the Barcelona Open, the Scandinavian Open (Copenhagen), and the Irish Winter Tournament (Dublin). While in-person competitions tend to pull similar entrant numbers as the WSOP and WPT (a few thousand competitors per event), the EPT has a larger viewing base worldwide. In fact, over  970 million people tuned in for the EPT’s major events back in 2021.


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