You’ve studied, practised and dominated your low-stakes games. What’s next? Low-stakes success can give any player a taste for something greater. The natural progression for a talented player is poker tournaments, both online and live ones.
Read on to discover the most thrilling poker tournaments across the US and UK.
World Series of Poker (WSOP)
As one of the world’s longest-running and most successful poker tournaments, it’s no surprise that WSOP is topping our list. Established in 1970, this tournament began with just a few poker enthusiasts duking it out in a Las Vegas hotel room to discover who’s the best player.
Since then, WSOP has grown to become a global poker phenomenon consisting of more than 90 online and live events. Among professional and amateur players alike, the WSOP bracelet awarded to the winner of these tournaments is the most coveted token of poker greatness.
Currently, Stu ‘the kid’ Ungar holds the record for most wins at the main event for WSOP. Still, even those who haven’t won the infamous WSOP bracelet have gone down in poker history thanks to the tournament. In fact, WSOP has been responsible for some of the most iconic moments in poker history.
Of course, the most infamous moment in WSOP record came in 2003. It was here that an amateur qualifier with no live tournament experience dominated the main event. His name was Chris Moneymaker and his win gave hope to a slew of poker amateurs who held onto high hopes of hitting it big. Thanks to television streaming, they all were able to watch an average Joe (like them) achieve greatness. By winning the biggest poker tournament in the world, Chris inspired a storm of amateurs to ask, “If Moneymaker can do it, why can’t I?”
Another event as momentous as Moneymaker’s occurred in 1982 when Jack Strauss went all-in and suffered a devastating loss at the hands of his rivals. Except of course (much to his surprise), he didn’t go all-in. He, in fact, had a single chip left in his arsenal which he’d been casually using as a card protector. With this lone chip, Strauss miraculously prevailed and won the entire tournament. Thanks to this iconic moment in poker history, the phrase “all you need is a chip and a chair” will ring out in poker circles for generations to come.
World Poker Tour (WPT)
The World Poker Tour (WPT) is an internationally televised gaming and entertainment brand. Since 2002, the WPT has operated a series of international poker tournaments alongside an associated television series broadcasting playdown and the final table of each tournament.
The World Poker Tour Felt the benefits of the poker boom within a mere couple of years after launch. PartyGaming acquired WPT for over $12M in 2009, then subsequently passed the company off to Ourgame International in 2015 for $35M. Their good fortune didn’t end there, however. More recently in 2021, a private investment group bought the illustrious WPT for no less than an impressive $105M.
WPT has attracted some notable poker names to their tables throughout the years, leading to thrilling gameplay. The 2015 WPT Legends of Poker head’s up game between Eskandari and Arutyunyan is a prime example. What made this tournament so compelling was Eskandari’s generous chip lead for the majority of the tournament. This lasted until the final heads-up play with Arutyunyan. Then, as they say, the tables turned. Four thrilling hours later, Arutyunyan eventually triumphed, taking home $575,000. Not only does this story serve as a top poker moment for WPT but a cautionary tale towards players who count their winnings before all the chips are down.
Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT)
The original vision for the MSPT was formed around a tour dedicated specifically to players in Minnesota. Yet, given the quality of the set-up and the hunger for the game, poker enthusiasts in nearby states quickly campaigned for inclusion. Now, the MSPT services skilled players in casinos across middle America - a region often forgotten by more high-profile poker tournaments. With the Mid-States Poker Tour now serving as the primary competitor for the WSOP Circuit, more poker enthusiasts follow the MSPT in 2022 than ever before.
The Grosvenor UK Poker Tour (GUKPT)
On the other side of the pond, the most prestigious poker tournament is GUKPT. As the name suggests, this tournament was founded and made great by Grosvenor Casinos. While this tournament has only been around since 2007, given their long-term ownership of casinos across the UK, Grosvenor had the experience to propel it to greatness. The entirety of the tournament spans multiple countries beginning and ending in The Poker Room, London. The 2022 GUKPT calendar also lasts from January right through to December - ensuring the poker thrills last all year round.
[Subheading] European Poker Tour (EPT)
The EPT is without question the most significant and famous poker tournament in Europe. This Texas Hold’em tournament has been running since 2004, a time when this particular poker game was experiencing a global boom in popularity. Since then, the scale of this tournament grew exponentially. In 2011 the organisers of EPT brokered a deal to have iconic online poker brand, PokerStars become their sole sponsor.
While this tournament has had its share of excitement many may know it from the one event that had little to do with poker itself. Of course, we’re speaking about the events that took place at the 2010 tournament which saw four armed, masked men enter the Berlin arena. They proceeded to relieve the tournament attendees of no less than €242,000. Thankfully, the culprits were caught several days after the robbery and later convicted and sentenced to three years in prison.
The UK and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT)
If you’re in the UK or Ireland and looking for a worthwhile poker tournament UKIPT could be the answer to your prayers. Starting in 2009, this regional tournament comes from the same talent that brought us the EPT, PokerStars. As with the EPT, this is a Texas Hold’em tournament which initially ran for several years, ending in 2016. But if it closed up shop, how did UKIPT make its way onto our list? Thankfully, 2022 saw the return of UKIPT to the Emerald Isle in early May. Given the enthusiasm for the return of this beloved tournament, we can't see it going away again anytime soon.