The Biggest Live Poker Tournaments

Poker is one of the most lucrative games in the world. While most simply play for fun, or for very low stakes, others choose to indulge in the thrill fully and put up life-changing amounts of money in big events. To do this requires immense skill and nerve, and the best players have earned themselves a celebrity status amongst those within the poker community as many of the high-profile events are televised. The ever-growing buzz surrounding poker has seen these events become bigger and bigger over recent years. 

Here are a few of the biggest live poker tournaments that take place each year. 

World Series of Poker

The World Series of Poker is the biggest annual poker event and it holds many of the records for the highest prize pots. The event first started in 1970 and takes place every year in the gambling centre of the world, Las Vegas. Winners of a World Series of Poker event are given a World Series of Poker bracelet, and not to mention, they also go home with staggering amounts of money. World-renowned poker player Phil Hellmuth has won 14 bracelets, while Stu Ungar and Johnny Moss hold the record for the most victories in the main World Series of Poker event, with three apiece. The Main Event is the highest stakes World Series of Poker game, and takes a $10,000 no-limit hold'em format.

The World Series of Poker has grown over the years and the 2015 edition was one of the biggest yet. Over 6000 poker players entered the event, which was won by Joe McKeehen, who took home nearly $7.7 million - not bad for a few days work.  

To give you an idea of how much you can win at the World Series of Poker, Antonio Esfandiari has won over $21 million playing the event, the most of all-time. Since the event was founded, more than 40 players have been inaugurated into the Poker Hall of Fame.  

The World Series of Poker has been broadcast throughout its near-five decade history. Since 2002, the event has been shown on ESPN, and is broadcast around the world and reported on at just about every poker website in the world. 

World Poker Tour

The World Poker Tour is a huge series of poker events that is based in the United States. Founded by Steve Heller in 2002, the World Poker Tour plays Texas hold'em and hosts tournaments all over the world. The World Poker Tour offers some of the most lucrative prizes in poker, with the winner of the 2005 season-ending Championships claiming nearly $4 million in prize money. Gus Hansen, Anthony Zinno and Carlos Mortensen are the World Poker Tour's best players, with three titles each. 

The World Poker Tour is just another of the events to have capitalised on the huge boom in poker in the United States and across the globe. The events are broadcast by Fox Sports Networks, NBC and more. 

European Poker Tour

The European Poker Tour is another massive series of poker events that occurs using the ever-popular Texas hold'em format. The tour as founded by John Duthie in 2004, and has gone from strength to strength. Most of the buy-ins for European Poker Tour events is €8,000, which is very similar to the buy-ins for World Series of Poker events. In contrast to World Poker Tour events, the final table typically consists of eight players rather than six. The European Poker Tour is partnered with Sunset & Vine, and broadcasts its events across Europe and around the globe.  

The tour hosts massive events across Europe, with the annual finale taking place in Monte-Carlo, Monaco, the land of the rich and famous. In 2015, Spain's Adrian Mateos scooped the big jackpot, winning €1,082,000. The United States and United Kingdom have proven to be the most successful nations at the European Poker Tour, with 85 and 76 of their nations' players respectively earning a seat at the final table.  

The event grabbed the news headlines in 2010, when a group of armed robbers stole over €240,000 when they robbed an EPT event in Berlin. 

Final Thoughts

For budding poker players, watching or attending poker events is a great way to pick up new tips and tricks that will help your own game out. To see the professionals duke it out and be present at the biggest events, such as the World Series of Poker, is sure to be exciting, and a great way to get yourself to Las Vegas.