Major Poker Tournaments: A Guide to Winning Millions
Taking down a tournament is by far the most exhilarating experience in the poker world and no matter what your level of skill there's an MTT to suit your needs. From high buy-in majors to small stakes affairs, there's a huge range of live and online tournaments aimed at bankrolls of all sizes. Whether it's the WSOP or the EPT, we've got your guide to the most lucrative poker tournaments on the planet:
- The grand daddy: the World Series of Poker.
- The little brother: the World Series of Poker Europe.
- Spanning the continent and beyond: the European Poker Tour.
- Gold down under: the Aussie Millions.
- Virtual tournament heaven: the World Championship of Online Poker.
Becoming an MTT master and scooping as many WSOP bracelets as Phil Hellmuth isn't an easy task but the first step on the road to success is choosing the right path. Every major poker tournament has a different vibe and depending on your preference you could be jetting off to locations as varied as Las Vegas, Monte Carlo or Melbourne.
Aside from harbouring different structures, prizepools and demographics, every major poker tournament will have a different satellite system. Offering everything from prize packages that include travel and accommodation to cheap seats in big buy-in events, there's a plethora of options available for all aspiring MTT pros.
To give you a better idea of the best live and online tournaments taking place across the world, we've compiled the following list:
The World Series of Poker
Otherwise known as the WSOP, this festival is by far the largest the poker world has to offer and takes place once a year under the bright lights of Las Vegas. The official World Series of Poker first took place in 1970 and featured a handful of the world's best players including Doyle Brunson and Amarillo Slim. In those days the "best player in the world" was decided by a vote and that first title went to Johnny Moss.
From humble beginnings the WSOP soon grew and after the original cast of grinders decided to play a tournament to find out who the best was that year, the event grew and grew. As time passed and the poker industry grew the WSOP would provide the catalyst for one of the game's most important performances.
After qualifying online for less than $50, Chris Moneymaker, an accountant from Tennessee, managed to outlast 838 players to claim the 2003 WSOP Main Event title and $2.5 million. That victory captivated players across the world and in subsequent years the WSOP grew to epic proportions and today you'll regularly see more than 8,000 hopefuls take part in the Main Event.
Indeed, since moving from its original home (Binion's Horseshoe) to the Rio, the WSOP now comprises of more than 60 bracelet events (bracelets and money being the winner's prize) with buy-ins ranging from $1,000 to $1 million. However, the most popular event during the May to July festival is the $10,000 Main Event. Each year the winner is named as the World Champion and regular receives a top prize exceeding $8 million.
The World Series of Poker Europe:
Dubbed the little brother of the WSOP, the WSOPE is a testament to the growing success of the brand. Taking place in Europe and seen as a scaled down version of the Las Vegas festival, the WSOPE first took place in London and now calls France home.
The first WSOPE festival consisted of three tournaments with the £10,000 Main Event being the major highlight. That year 362 players took to the felt and when the betting was over Norway's Annette Obrestad became the youngest player to win a WSOP title as well as £1 million.
Today the WSOPE has grown to encompass seven bracelet events with buy-ins ranging from €1,100 to €10,450. Although the European incarnation of the WSOP will never match the level of action seen in Las Vegas, it's still seen as one of the most prestigious events on the poker calendar.
The European Poker Tour:
Founded in 2004 by John Duthie, the European Poker Tour (EPT) is a series of tournaments that take place in various locations across the world throughout the year. Whilst primarily located in Europe, the tour also encompasses a stop in the Bahamas which is known as PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA).
Each EPT stop centres on a Main Event priced at €5,000+€300 and running alongside this tournament is a range of side events costing from €100+€10 to €10,000+€300 known as high rollers.
From the Czech Republic and Spain to the UK, France and Italy, the EPT has become a breeding ground for emerging talent and helped launch the careers of grinders such as Jake Cody, Liv Boeree and Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier.
The Aussie Millions:
The colloquial term for what was originally known as the Australian Poker Championship is known as the largest poker event in the Southern Hemisphere. Dating back to 1998 and now frequented by the world's top players, this festival traditionally takes place in January and the centrepiece is always an AUD$10,000 Main Event.
In recent years the increased desire for elite events has prompted the organisers of the Aussie Millions to introduce Super High Rollers costing AUD$100,000 and AUD$250,000. This was a unique move at the time and that helped the Aussie Millions attract the likes of Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu and Patrik Antonius to Melbourne's Crown Casino.
The World Championship of Online Poker:
While live events have traditionally dominated the tournament scene, there has been a growth of major online festivals in recent years. By far the most prestigious and impressive virtual showpiece is PokerStars' World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP).
When launching WCOOP in 2002 PokerStars was looking to emulate the WSOP in an online setting and so they made sure a slew of minor events flanked a single Main Event. Since the inaugural festival the price of the Main Event has increased from $1,050 to $5,200 and prizepools now exceed $10 million. On top of the enhanced prizepools, WCOOP now features more than 60 tournaments and in terms of terms of participants and prizes its now one of the largest tournament festivals in the world.