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The World Series of Poker, back in 1982, drew 52 entrants. Five years later, there were 2,141 participants, and the 2002 event attracted 7,595 entries. The prize money has increased proportionately, from $7,769,000 a decade ago to a staggering $19,599,230 in 2002.

Whereas only 12 events, mostly Texas hold'em and seven-card stud, were scheduled as recently as 1988, the 2004 World Series of Poker tournament offers 33 competitions that feature a wide variety of games.

The World Series of Poker has had its share of drama and excitement. In a story that should give every poker player hope, Other historical highlights include Jack Strauss's win, which was a comeback after having lost all but one chip of his stake early in the tournament.

Proving that it is never too late to be great again, Stu Ungar picked up his third win 16 years after his repeat, having spent many of the intervening years out of competition and addicted to cocaine.

One of the leading money winners in the World Series of Poker has been T. J. Cloutier. Over the years, he has finished in the money in over 30 WSOP poker game events. He has also won five first place the World Series Of Poker gold bracelets in various events.

In the main Championship event of Texas Hold'em, he has finished twice in second-place, and once each in third place and fifth place.

Billy Baxter, one of the other big names in poker, dominated the deuce-to-seven draw poker WSOP tournament for many years, with five first place finishes and two second place finishes.

Many other household poker names have graced the World Series of Poker over the years. Names such as Mickey Appleman, Bobby Baldwin, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Johnny Moss, and "Amarillo Slim" Preston.

On January 9, 2004, agents from the U.S. Marshalls Service, the Internal Revenue Service and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept raided the Binion's Horseshoe and seized less than $1 million dollars of $1.9 million dollars owed to the Culinary Workers Union.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board also met in an Emergency session on January 10, 2004 and suspended the gaming license of Binion's Horseshoe until such time as owners Becky Binion Behnen and her husband Nick can show that they have sufficient funds to operate and cover all wagers and bills incurred by the property. On January 12, the Shoe was purchased by Harrah's Entertainment. Harrah's has announced that the 2004 World Series of Poker will take place, but its location has not been decided.

Today, the legacy Benny Binion left the poker community ranks as the oldest, largest, most prestigious, and most media-hyped gaming competition in the world, and no doubt it holds the promise of an even brighter future.

But equally important, The World Series of Poker has touched thousands of lives over the years, affording talented players the opportunity to follow their dreams, reach for the stars, and perhaps one day achieve greatness in their chosen endeavor.

Who do you think will win in 2009?

Posted in: WSOP

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