The World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) is the first expansion effort of World Series of Poker-branded poker tournaments outside the United States. Since 1970, participants had to travel to Las Vegas if they wanted to compete in the World Series of Poker (WSOP). Although the WSOP held circuit events in other locations, the main tournaments, which awarded bracelets to the winners, were exclusively held in Las Vegas. The inaugural WSOPE, held in 2007, marked the first time that a WSOP bracelet was awarded outside of Las Vegas. Since its inception, players from six countries—Denmark (2) , Afghanistan, Germany, Italy, Norway and USA—have won bracelets. Entering the 2009 tournament, the host country, England, has yet to win.
Because the size of Casinos in England are smaller than those in Las Vegas, the number of participants at the WSOPE is limited. This results in a field wherein more of the top poker players and fewer amateurs participate. For example, at the first event of the 2007 tournament had a starting table with Tony G, Andy Bloch, Jeff Madsen, Jennifer Harman and Brandon Adams. Another starting table included poker super stars such as Allen Cunningham, Gus Hansen, Marcel Luske and Justin Bonomo. Four of the five people that made it to the first final table had all previously won a WSOP bracelet.
In 2004, Harrah's Casinos purchased the rights to the WSOP label. Harrah's later purchased London Clubs International (LCI). LCI operates three casinos in the London area—Fifty, Leicester Square, and The Sportsman. After the purchase of these casinos, Harrah's decided to expand its WSOP label into Europe. European casinos typically have a different environment than those in the U.S. Jeffrey Pollack, the WSOP Commissioner, indicated that the WSOPE would have a "style and flair that is both unique and appropriate to the setting. So don't be surprised if we require participants to wear blazers at the tables. If James Bond were hosting a poker tournament it may look like the World Series of Poker Europe."
The WSOPE was entering a crowded field as many major poker tournaments were already established in Europe. Pollack, however, believed that brand recognition of the WSOP and that the "WSOP bracelet is the most recognized poker hardware globally will allow the WSOPE to quickly catch up."
In marketing the WSOPE, Harrah's Casino did not rely upon the reputation of Harrah's or the WSOP alone. On July 5, 2007, Harrah's announced its alliance with England-based Betfair, one of the largest online gaming companies in the world. The agreement builds on Betfair's European reputation in advertising the WSOPE while creating the largest agreement between a web-based and brick-and-mortar casinos. Due to changes in U.S. laws, effective in 2007, the WSOP could no longer accept money from online gambling companies. This prevented the WSOP from acknowledging WSOP qualifiers from online events. The WSOPE is not bound by this limitation. The United Kingdom Gambling Act of 2005 allows for legal regulated online poker sites. Furthermore, as the laws that govern the age of gambling differ in England than the U.S., the WSOPE admits younger players. In 2007, four of the five finalists at the first event of the WSOPE had won bracelets. Thomas Bihl, however, outlasted each of them to claim the first-ever WSOPE bracelet. No previous bracelet winners played at the second final table; Dario Alioto won the bracelet. Annette "Annette_15" Obrestad, became the youngest player to win a WSOP bracelet event at 18 years and 364 days old in the final event of the tournament.
In 2008, the WSOPE added a fourth event and was held at the Casino at the Empire in Leicester Square, London. The 2008 WSOPE was particularly notable, as Jesper Hougaard became the first person to win a bracelet at both the WSOP and WSOPE, let alone winning both in a single year. The WSOPE Main Event included several big name stars including Ivan Demidov, John Juanda and Daniel Negreanu. Demidov's appearance at the WSOPE final table was of particular interest. While sitting at the WSOPE Main event final table, he was one of the November Nine players scheduled to play in November for the WSOP Main Event. This meant that for a period of time there was a chance that the same person could win both Main Events. As it was, he was the first player to make it to the final table at both the WSOP and WSOPE Main Events. Three-time bracelet winner John Juanda won his fourth bracelet in the WSOPE Main Event. Theo Jørgensen, who made it to the 2007 WSOPE Main Event final table, won his first bracelet in the £5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event. Sherkhan Farnood, undoubtably had the most challenging final table as four of his final six opponents (Ivo Donev, Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, and Jeff Lisandro) had a combined 9 WSOP bracelets between them. The 2008 WSOPE also marked a technological advance with the advent of the mobile hole card camera. At previous tournaments, the viewing audience could only see the hole cards at select tables. In 2008, a special camera was used that enabled roaming camera crews to capture the action at adjacent tables.
The 2009 WSOPE was held from September 17 to October 1 at the Casino at the Empire in London, England. It consisted of four bracelet events including a £1,000 No-Limit Hold'em, a £2,500 Pot Limit Hold'em/Pot-Limit Omaha, a £5,000 Pot Limit Omaha, and a £10,000 World Championship No-Limit Hold'em "Main Event." ESPN has announced that they will include ten hours of coverage of the WSOPE in their 2009 WSOP coverage.
Alongside the 4 more traditional events, it has been announced that there will be two special events at the 2009 World Series of Poker - The Caesars Cup and the Betfair Free Million Dollar Game
|Year||Winner / Winning Hand||Prize (£)||Entrants||Runner-Up / Losing Hand|
|2007||Annette Obrestad 7♥ 7♠||£1,000,000||362||John Tabatabai 5♠ 6♦|
|2008||John Juanda K♠ 6♣||£868,800||362||Stanislav Alekhin A♣ 9♠|
|2009||Barry Shulman 10♣ 10♠||£801,603||334||Daniel Negreanu 4♠ 4♦|