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WSOP - The Origin of the World Series of Poker

10 April 2008, By:

In 1949 the owner of the Binion's Horseshoe Casino in downtown Las Vegas, Benny Binion, was approached by Nick "the Greek" to arrange a unique poker game. The Greek wanted to play very high-stakes no-limit poker against a single opponent. He was a well known New York gambler at the time and was said to have broken most of the high-stakes players at the east coast. Binion could see the marketing value in such a game and agreed to arrange it on the condition that it was played in front of a live audience.

Benny Binion only knew one person that would be up for the challenge and he called his old friend Johnny Moss. He agreed right away, broke up from a two day poker game, hopped on a plane, flew straight to Las Vegas, shock hand with the Greek and sat down at the poker table.

The game between Johnny Moss and Nick "the Greek" lasted for five months. Several other players sat in during these months both were usually broken by Moss or the Greek. They could play for days straight and the Greek always pestered Moss when he wanted to get some sleep. According to popular history the Greek lost close to $2 million to Moss. In the end the Greek rose up from the table uttering the famous words: "Mr. Moss, I have to let you go." Walked to his room and slept for two days straight.

Benny Binion never forgot the great publicity he got from the game. Inspired by the legendary game he wanted to create a similar event in 1970. Benny invited some of the best poker players in the world to Las Vegas, many of whom was his personal friends. Seven players entered the competition the first year and the World Series of Poker (WSOP) was born. The players decided on a champion by popular vote and the first champ was none other than Johnny Moss - a feat that he repeated the year after.

No one could have guessed have big the WSOP eventually would become. But it kept growing steady over the years. In 2006 almost 6,000 players entered the main event and the rest is as we say - history.

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