Biggest Poker Tournaments Worldwide – Play with the Best
The idea of winning hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout a single poker tournament is probably one of the things that draw the most players into the game, and the TV coverage of major poker events has popularized the game beyond what we thought was possible.
Back in the day, poker used to be a game played on the fringes of human society, but today it has made its way into the mainstream and is played on all corners of the globe.
Poker owes much of its popularity to tournament series like the WSOP, WPT, and EPT, which have attracted huge fan bases and made the game what it is today.
We take a look at some of the biggest poker series around, focusing on both the more affordable events any recreational player can sit in and the massive high roller series reserved for the richest players out there.
1. World Series of Poker (WSOP)
First started in 1970 by the legendary Benny Binion, the World Series of Poker is the biggest poker tournament series in size, popularity, and amount of prestige it carries.
In its early days, the WSOP was made for professional poker players, rounders as they called themselves, who would meet up once a year in Las Vegas to square up.
Initially, the series was held in the popular Binion’s Horseshoe, which remains a legendary name in the world of poker to these days.
In the initial WSOP in 1970, the winner was decided by a secret ballot, among the seven players that Binion decided to call up, as he believed they were the best poker players in the world, and Johnny Moss was named the champion.
Over the years, the WSOP increased in popularity, and tournaments were added to the series to make it a true World Series, allowing players to play different types of poker and letting anyone ready to pay the buy-in to enter the tournaments.
Of all the WSOP tournaments, it was always the Main Event that carried the most prestige, with the likes of Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, Brian “Sailor” Roberts, Stu Ungar, Johnny Chan, Phil Hellmuth, and Scotty Nguyen, all winning it at least once and marking their name into poker history.
Covering the series, there is a date that just has to be mentioned. The WSOP exploded in 2003 when the Main Event was won by Chris Moneymaker, an accountant, and recreational poker player, who showed the world that dreams could come true at the poker table.
Over the years, the WSOP went from a one tournament event to a series with over 100 events, each awarding a special gold bracelet to the winner.
In 2007, the WSOPE (World Series of Poker Europe) was introduced, allowing players to play for bracelets on European soil, while additional WSOPAPAC bracelets were awarded in Asia and Australia between 2013 and 2015.
Today, the WSOP has a legendary status among poker players, who flock to Las Vegas during the summer for a true festival of poker that is unmatched by any other series.
2. European Poker Tour (EPT)
Founded in 2004, just as poker was making its entrance into the mainstream, the European Poker Tour (EPT) has made a name for itself as one of the world’s most prestigious tournament poker series.
The EPT was created by another poker legend, John Duthie, who recognized that poker was about to explode in popularity and decided to capitalize on it.
The series was designed to match the popularity of the WPT, which was also catching on, and give European players a similar chance to compete as the Americans had with WPT and the WSOP.
The events were a success from the early seasons, and while the buy-ins for the EPT were slightly lower than the WTP tournaments, their popularity was immense.
Each year since 2004, the EPT has launched a series of stops, with each stop having one Main Event and several side events along with it.
Over the years, the EPT Main Events were won by poker greats like Patrik Antonius, Roland De Wolfe, Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier, Liv Boeree, Roberto Romanello, and Steve O’Dweyer.
The EPT events are fully open, and they could be your way to make it into the big leagues if you decide to play at one of the stops, which I highly recommend you do if ever given a chance.
3. World Poker Tour (WPT)
The World Poker Tour (WPT) was launched slightly before the EPT, with the team behind it being visionary enough to see that poker was going places.
Ever since 2002, the WPT has been a place for the pros to compete and play against the best players in the world, mixed in with a growing number of recreational players over the years.
The series names a Players of the Year each season, with points accumulated across all WPT stops.
Players like Daniel Negreanu, Howard Lederer, Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier, and Anthony Zino have all had their names appear on this prestigious list of elite poker players.
While the WPT is an international tour, most of its events happen on American soil, which is why the biggest number of winners over the years have also been Americans.
If you are lucky enough to play in a WPT tournament, you will experience elite poker play mixed with some of the best organizations in the world of poker, guaranteed.
4. Triton Poker Series
Aimed at the wealthiest poker players in the world and the most successful professionals, Triton Poker Series is the invention of Chinese billionaire and poker enthusiast Paul Phua.
Triton Series looks to change poker from a game in which everyone competes on the same level into a sport where elite players get a table of their own and one you must earn your entry into.
The first Triton Poker tournaments were held back in 2016, and the Series has grown since, offering several major stops every year.
These tournaments have somewhat faster structures and force faster play with the implementation of clocks, limiting the amount of time every player has to act.
However, the most recognizable feature of Triton Poker is the massive buy-ins for the tournaments, as the series has even hosted the biggest tournament ever held, with a buy-in of £1.000.000.
While I would certainly recommend giving Triton Poker Series a shot, most people can’t really afford it, but it is a series that any aspiring poker player can look forward to playing someday if they can blast through the ranks of less skilled players at lower levels.
5. Poker Masters
If you deem yourself a truly elite poker player and want to compete only against the best, then Poker Masters is a tournament series you should look to play in.
Unlike other tournament series that are often entered by just about anybody, Poker Masters is a series reserved almost exclusively for high-stakes players who have already shown the world what they can do at the tables.
This is not to say that Poker Masters is a closed series, but you will rarely see recreational players enter Poker Masters due to several important factors.
Most importantly, it is nearly impossible to win at the Poker Masters if you are not a true poker monster, so I recommend learning everything you possibly can about the game before you even think about giving this one a shot.
Poker Masters tournaments have buy-ins ranging from $10.000 to $100.000, and the fields are much smaller than those in tours like WSOP or EPT, so if winning a title is the most important thing to you, Poker Masters may actually be a good place to look.