The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is now a high profilepoker tournament that takes place annually in Las Vegas.However, the first event in 1970 involved only sevenplayers and it was not until the early 1980s, when theWSOP introduced satellite tournaments, that the eventdrew greater than fifty people. Visit Annie Duke formore info. By the mid-1980s, this number had grown toover 2,000.
Television coverage of the series began as early as 1973in the form of a documentary-style special narrated byJimmy "The Greek" Snyder, the legendary Las Vegasbookie and American sports commentator. Throughoutthe 1970s and 1980s, CBS continued to provide lightcoverage of the event, which included tape-delayedbroadcast of the final table some years.
In the late 1980s, ESPN took over duties from CBS andbegan providing fans extensive coverage of the event,albeit primitive compared to modern accessibility. TheDiscovery Channel briefly covered the event from2000-2001 but ESPN resumed the reigns just as thepoker phenomenon was erupting.
The Internet was changing the poker landscape. Thegame was more accessible to the masses than it everbeen. Thanks to numerous online poker rooms, peoplefrom all over the world could play poker for money atany time. This created a sensation that has peaked butremains very much alive today.
As this phenomenon began its ascent, interest in TheWorld Series of Poker, pokers highest profile game,ascended with it. ESPN was ready every step of the wayto increase coverage to meet demand and evenorchestrated a delayed final table in 2008 in order tomaximize ratings. Most years viewers will haveknowledge of the winner ahead of time, sapping some ofthe drama from broadcast. In 2006, the WSOP peakedwith 8,773 players participating.
During the 2000 WSOP, female poker player AnnieDuke made it to the final ten, just four short of thefinal table that year. Therefore, in 2006, when AnnieDuke got as far as the final 88, ESPN celebrated hersuccess. One of their announcers even commented thatDuke might be the first woman to reach the final table.However, the truth is that Barbara Enright had alreadybecome a legend earning that distinction in 1995.