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The Major Texas Holdem Tournaments

Invented in the early 20th century, Texas Holdem has become a media-driven, cultural phenomenon. Once played solely in a few Texan cities, it has since spread to a worldwide audience. Today, fans watch with anticipation as their favorite players advance through the major tournament rounds. Aspiring players can enter online satellite tournaments, hoping to qualify for a seat at the table of the most prestigious events. Meanwhile, tournaments are broadcast into millions of homes around the globe as people of all ages enjoy the exploits of the sports' more flamboyant contenders. Below, you'll learn about a few of the most popular Texas Holdem tournaments as well as how you can qualify for a seat at the table.

World Series Of Poker

Of the major tournament events, the World Series Of Poker convention is one of the most prestigious. Though it was created in 1968, it wasn't until 1970 that it was brought to Las Vegas and hosted at Binion's Horseshoe Casino. For decades, the event remained at Binion's. However, in 2005, Harrah's purchased Binion's and began hosting the WSOP event at the Rio, one of their sister casinos.

The WSOP tournament is held each year and lasts an entire month. Players can buy a seat at the table for $10,000 or they can qualify for seats by winning satellite tournaments in local casinos and on online poker sites. Over the years, the number of participants has exploded. While 1971 boasted 8 entrants to the tournament, 2006 boasted several thousands of people. Many of them were inspired by Chris Moneymaker's famous victory at the event in 2003 after qualifying through a satellite competition for $39.

Today, the WSOP tournament is broadcast by ESPN as fans watch the players fight for a top prize that has reached as much as $12 million.

World Poker Tour Event

Also held in Las Vegas each year, the World Poker Tour is hosted at the Bellagio. Most of the world's professional poker players attend. The WPT tournament is regarded by gamblers with the same respect and prestige as given the WSOP event.

The World Poker Tour was started in 2002 with the first event broadcast on cable TV's Travel Channel. It was an instant success and helped lead to a major boom in the Texas Holdem craze that was sweeping the nation. The televised WPT tournament quickly became one of the most popular cable TV shows as fans tuned in to watch their favorite players' hands.

Like the WSOP event, the World Poker Tour is open to anyone who would like to buy a seat. The buy-in amount required can vary from $2,500 to $25,000. Many players choose to compete in satellite tournaments, hoping to progress far enough to qualify for the WPT event. Tournament players fight for a piece of the prize money with first place typically winning over a $1 million.

European Poker Million Event

In 2000, the Poker Million Tournament was created in the Isle of Man. Held each year in England, the PMT event is the largest European poker tour and is watched by millions of fans. Though smaller than the WSOP and WPT tours, the Poker Million competition draws many of the world's professional gamblers. Professional players are usually sponsored and compete with players who have qualified through online tournaments held at the Ladbroke's poker site.

Since 2003, the prize money has grown exponentially as interest in Texas Holdem has increased. While the 2003 winner walked away with $150,000, the winner in 2006 was awarded $1.2 million. As corporate and sponsor interest in the PMT increases, it's likely the prize money will do the same.

Professional Poker Tournaments Spark Interest

Texas Holdem poker has gained a following since it was created nearly 100 years ago. But, it was the combination of 3 things that allowed it to capture the minds of people and help launch the current poker phenomenon: (1) a growth in the number of online poker sites, (2) cable TV and (3) professional poker tournaments. Today, millions of fans watch these poker tournaments with the same excitement that other sports enjoy. Meanwhile, the poker craze continues to gain steam.