Top 6 Poker Tournaments in the World

While playing poker is always fun, doing so in a tournament setup can be even more exciting. Namely, outside of the regular thrill of playing poker in a tournament, you also get to experience the excitement of climbing up the leaderboard and the prospect of taking all that prize money. Still, what are some of the top poker tournaments out there? Let’s find out!

Disclaimer: We’re not arranging these tournaments by our order of preference, number of participants, or the prize pool. The number assigned to them is completely arbitrary. Also, we aimed for this list to contain tournaments great for beginners and top players alike. With that in mind, here are some of the world’s leading poker tournaments you should watch (or join) in 2023.

1.   World Series of Poker

The first item on our list is the world’s biggest poker tournament. Now, calling this a tournament is a bit unfair since, from 2020 onward, this tournament consists of 101 events and has contests in almost every major poker variant. The game’s most popular variant, Texas Hold’em, accounts for nearly half of the games played.

It’s hard to tell the prize pool and the total number of participants today, but last year’s figures were quite impressive. In 2022, there were 197,626 participants in the tournament, and the total prize pool was as much as $347.9 million. Now, while some big tournaments are further down the list, nothing comes close to this figure.

It’s not just about the money either. You see, the winners of the WSOP get special bracelets, which are poker’s equivalent of NBA championship rings. The bracelet is worth about $1,500 unless we’re talking about Main Event bracelets, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

2.   European Poker Tour

In 2023, the European Poker Tour will take place in Barcelona, Cyprus, and Prague, giving you another reason (or three) to pick this tournament. Other than Paris (where events have already been held earlier this year), one more new location was added to the tour this year – Cyprus. Events were also held in April-May in Europe’s gambling capital – Monte-Carlo.

The tournament has been active since 2004, although, in 2017, it was briefly rebranded as the PokerStars Championship. Still, this only lasted about a year until the brand returned to its original name.

It’s worth noting, you don’t have to be located in Europe to practice for or enter the EPT – it’s open to players around the world. Even in countries like Malaysia where online gambling is somewhat of a gray area, there are successful poker players. Take for example Chin Wei Lim, who won the European Poker Tour Prague €25,000 Single Day High Roller and took home €378,160. America’s Shaun Deeb similarly performed well, placing third in 2022’s Final Table, despite being based in another country outside of Europe with tight restrictions on both online and in-person gambling.

There are two ways to get in. First, you could play satellite qualifiers through the site or buy seats in the competition. Since satellite tournaments are mostly online, you shouldn’t need too much trouble.

The first option would require a lot of practice; fortunately, it’s not hard to find a site to play poker on if you haven’t played for a while. For those determined to pursue this course of action, here’s an updated list for July 2023 showing some of the best places to play poker online—even in countries like Malaysia and other Asian nations with strict laws about online gambling.

The games played in the tournament are:

  • Texas Hold’em
  • Omaha
  • Seven-Card Stud

The last EPT prize pool was €5,325,300, and the tournament had a participation of 1,098 players.

3.   WPT World Championship

Unlike some of the previous tournaments, which relocate every year, the WPT World Championship is held at Wynn Las Vegas every year.

While the entry fee for this tournament is a bit higher ($10,400 per participant), last year’s prize pool was worth about $15 million. It’s still early to tell this year, but last year, there were 2,290 entries in this tournament, which should help you figure out the scale of the event.

The most important thing to mention is that the tournament is in December, which gives you a lot of time to practice your poker skills, raise funds, and plan the trip.

Similarly to the situation with the bracelets, there’s a non-material accomplishment here, too. Namely, the winner’s name is engraved onto the Champions Cup perpetually. In other words, it’s a way to become a poker legend.

4.   Super High Roller Bowl

When discussing poker tournaments, the first thing that comes to mind is the category of high-rollers. Today, the buy-in for one to play at this tournament is $250,000 (in 2022), hence the name of the event. 

The cost of the buy-in has evolved over the years. Initially, it was at $500,000. Then, in 2016, it came down to $300,000. The historic low was in 2020 when the buy-in cost was “just” $102,000. Remember, nonetheless, that this was always supposed to be an exclusive event and that this inaccessibility to the general public always served as a part of its brand/appeal.

This is a small tournament (in terms of the number of participants) and hosts less than 100 players (often much fewer). The payout for main events is usually around $3 million.

While this is a tournament that the majority of people can’t afford to participate in, there’s this side of human nature that just loves peeking into the lives of those more affluent than them. Spectating this tournament online or tracking its results may help satisfy this hidden desire. 

5.   WCOOP

Not all tournaments need to occur in person, and WCOOP is one of the biggest online poker tournaments. It’s in November, meaning you have plenty of time during the year to practice and decide whether you want to participate or spectate.

Since it’s an online tournament, there’s no space limitation, and logistical issues are much easier to handle, so the number of entries is exceptionally high. Also, it’s worth mentioning that this is more of a collection of tournaments in different poker variants, much like the WSOP. 

This is also why there are two buy-ins:

  • $55
  • $5,200

In other words, this is a fantastic opportunity for those still unsure whether this is right for them. It’s an excellent opportunity to participate in a poker tournament for the first time. Sure, it’s not the same as playing poker in person, but you must start somewhere.

6.   World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE)

While Europe has a higher population than North America, the latter continent leads, by far, regarding the number of poker tables. Still, as a European, you don’t have to travel too far to enjoy partaking in the World Series of Poker brand.

Since 2007, there’s been a European extension of this tournament, allowing players to compete at the highest level without traveling to Las Vegas. Sure, this tournament is for only the most affluent and passionate poker players, but even they may prefer a local event over international travel.

Last year’s main event prize of €1,380,129 went to Sweden’s Omar Eljach, and it’s no small feat, seeing as last year’s tournament had the most participants in history (763).

You can enjoy poker both as a spectator and a player

Streaming platforms like Twitch are the best example that poker is not just fun when you play it. You can also watch your favorite celebrities play it or follow your favorite poker player streamer. Either way, this is the most fun when there’s a tournament going on. Fortunately, they’re spread over the year, so you’ll never have to wait too long for the opportunity, and there are plenty of sites where you can practice your own skills in the meantime.

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