Due to its nature, it's normal for many new poker fans to wonder how does the World Series of Poker work. The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is many things all at once; it's a series of poker tournaments held each year in Las Vegas but it's also the unofficial world championship of poker, with the winner of the $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker Main Event generally viewed as poker's world champ for that year.
The very first World Series of Poker was held in 1970 and was the brainchild of Benny Binion, the owner of Binion's Horseshoe Casino. Binion invited six of the best poker players in the world who battled it out to see who the world's best No Limit Texas Hold'em player was. Taking a page from baseball's World Series, Binion called his tournament the World Series of Poker and positioned it as a yearly tournament that would crown poker's best player each and every year.
In its early years, how does the World Series of Poker work was a tricky question to answer, as the format changed yearly as Binion tried different things. Other events were added to showcase poker games such as 7 Card Stud and Omaha, and the World Series of Poker grew to be a series of tournaments played over more than a month each summer in Las Vegas that would culminate in the $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker Main Event.
Starting in 1976, each winner of the preliminary events would win a gold bracelet in addition to prize money, and these bracelets became coveted status symbols among poker players, as the only way to win a bracelet was to win a World Series of Poker event. Bracelets became a key factor in how the World Series of Poker works, as they added an element of prestige that would see top players enter every single WSOP event in order to try to outdo one another by winning more bracelets.
As far as answering how does the World Series of Poker work today, in 2009 there were more than 40 preliminary WSOP events, featuring buy-ins that ranged from $1,000 all the way up to $40,000. While Phil Ivey and Jeff Lisandro each won three bracelets during the 2009 WSOP, it was Joe Cada who won the Main Event, pocketing $8,546,435 and the unofficial title of poker's world champion.