WSOP Events With The Best Odds of Winning


Winning a WSOP
tournament is a lifelong dream of many poker players, amateurs, and pros alike.

In addition to
the prestige that comes with it, there is usually a hefty amount of money on
the line for the winner.

The problem is, for an event to have a big prize pool, it usually needs to have a big field or a massive buy-in.

Since the latter
is something most players can’t afford, the former remains the only realistic
option for a majority of poker enthusiasts.

This begs the
natural question – what are your odds of actually winning a major WSOP
tournament like the Main Event?

Being just one
of the thousands of players that descend upon Las Vegas every year, what are
the odds you’ll be the one to make it all the way to the final table and close
the deal?

What Are My Odds Of Winning The Main Event?

2020 Winner Damian Salas. [Image:]

Every player
that takes their seat at one of the countless Main Event tables believes they
could be the one this year. With a bit of luck in the right spots and your skills,
the dream doesn’t seem that far out of reach.

I hate to be the
one to shatter this, but the odds of winning the Main Event are pretty long.

Let’s see how
this looks in practice.

There were 8,569
individual players in the field in the last Main Event. If we accept that poker
is a skill game but assume that all players are equally skilled, your odds of
winning are 1 in 8,569.

Simply put, out
of 8,569 Main Events played, you’re supposed to win one.

These odds aren’t nearly as bad as those of winning a lottery but still aren’t particularly encouraging.

If you’re an
amateur or recreational player who doesn’t actually study the game, it gets even

Almost everyone
will agree that a player like Phil Ivey or Daniel Negreanu will have better
chances of winning the WSOP Main Event than an average player. In fact, all
pros have a slight edge over the competition, which boosts their odds by a few

This means the
odds of winning for the rest of the field are reduced.

So in the above
example, if we factor in these deviations, your odds of winning are probably
closer to 1 in 10,000 or worse, depending on the individual skill level.

To give you a
better idea, for the 2018 Main Event, some major bookmakers put the two
aforementioned players at +5,000 to win. Taking into account their skills,
experience, and previous track record, the bookies believe that Negreanu and
Ivey should win one out of 5,000 Main Events they play.

Of course, your
odds of winning directly correlate with the number of players in the field.

So, if
bookmakers are giving these odds for someone like Ivey in a field they expected
to be somewhere around 7,000 players (the 2018 Main Event ended up having 7,874
entries), they’d certainly give much lower odds of winning for your average

Long Shot Worth

Looking at the
odds alone, the WSOP Main Event doesn’t seem to be a very appealing prospect.
It’s not as difficult as winning the lottery, but for all practical purposes,
it’s not that far off, either.

On the other
hand, the reward is well worth trying to beat the unfavorable odds.

Winning the Main
Event comes with a huge prize and many great opportunities down the line.

It is also worth
noting that most people overestimate their poker abilities. So, if you actually
are a good player, you’ll be a slight favorite over the field as well. This
particular event tends to attract numerous amateurs who don’t know much about
the game at all.

The bottom line
is, you’re not likely to win the Main Event in your lifetime, even if you start
playing as soon as you turn 21 and play every single one for the next 40 or 50

Of course, this
only applies if the current trend continues and the fields continue to be

Back in 2003, when Moneymaker took down the ME, the field consisted of just 839 players, so your odds of winning were much better. The top prize was smaller, but winning a couple of million is nothing to sneeze at.

Back in the 70s
and the 80s, Main Events attracted anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred
players, so everyone had much bigger chances of becoming the world champion of

It was still a
prestigious title, but the money you’d take home wasn’t anywhere close to
today’s insane amounts.

A useful guide if you’re on a budget:
5 Cheapest Ways To Get Yourself Into The Main Event

Best WSOP Odds: Value for Money

Hossein Ensan - 2019 WSOP winner
2019 Winner Hossein Ensan [Image: Twitter/InspiringIranis]

While the Main
Event is almost everyone’s first thought when discussing the World Series of
Poker, the fact remains that the Series features dozens of tournaments every

Some of them
actually offer much better odds of winning and solid prizes.

The Championship
WSOP events offer good winning odds, provided you are proficient in one of the
non-Hold’em formats.

These are
$10,000 buy-in tournaments featuring Pot Limit Omaha, Omaha 8, Seven Card Stud,
and other variations.

Fields in these
tournaments are often quite small, sometimes featuring fewer than 100 entries,
and this is especially true for the games that aren’t very popular today, like
Seven Card Stud 8.

So, if your goal
is simply winning a bracelet and you have a decent bankroll to work with, these
tournaments provide the best odds, at least on the surface.

At the same
time, these particular tournaments tend to attract real sharks.

You’ll come
across players who are experts in the particular format, so you’d better be
very proficient yourself. Otherwise, despite the small field, your odds will
still be pretty bad, simply because the skill gap will be so big.

Unlike large
Hold’em events, which are often filled with inexperienced players, Championship
tournaments have very few soft spots. There won’t be many opportunities to get
any easy chips, and almost every hand you play will be a challenge.

On the other
hand, if you’re a good Omaha 8 or Stud 8 player, you might run into some good
Hold’em pros who aren’t that familiar with other variations but are chasing
bracelets for whatever reason (prop bets, prestige, etc.).

Being solid in
Hold’em doesn’t necessarily translate into being a good Omaha 8 or Stud player.

It’s not all about Vegas, either. Find out where else you can play and where you may have better chances of winning in our recent post about other World Series Events.

Odds of Winning Other Massive WSOP Tournaments

The Main Event
isn’t the only big-field tournament you’ll find on the WSOP schedule.

As the series became more popular, it started to attract more and more players every year. Thanks to this, the organizers can add more tournaments with small buy-ins and big guarantees.

The Colossus is
a great example of such an event.

In 2019, the
tournament featured a buy-in of just $400, but the winner took home more than

If you’re
wondering what your odds of winning the Colossus are, they’re pretty wild. The
2019 edition of the tournament saw more than 13,000 entrants, so your winning
chances certainly aren’t great.

On the flip
side, tournaments with small buy-ins and big guarantees tend to attract all
player profiles, so there were quite a few inexperienced players in there as

If you’re a
decent player yourself, your odds of winning are better than 1 in 13,000, but
probably still not much better than 1 in 10,000.

Another similar
example is the Millionaire Maker event.

This tournament
has been on the WSOP schedule for a few years now, featuring the buy-in of just
$1,500 and promising at least $1 million for the winner.

In 2019, there
were 8,809 runners, so your fundamental odds of winning would be lower than
those in the Main Event.

However, because
the field is probably not as tough, your actual odds are probably better. How
better exactly, it’s hard to say, as there are so many different variables to

What Are the Odds Of Winning At Least One WSOP

WSOP bracelet 2011
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Chasing after a
WSOP bracelet can be a demanding endeavor, but it’s a worthy goal, considering
a bracelet is pretty much the ultimate poker trophy.

But what are
your odds of winning one?

The basic math
is pretty simple – the more you play, the better your odds get.

If you were to
play every WSOP tournament for a decade, you’d have a decent shot at winning at
least one.

However, that’s
provided you’re actually a solid player and have a good bankroll to support
playing a full schedule every year.

Of course, you
can always luck out and win a bracelet against the odds – it happens all the

There have even
been examples of people registering for a wrong tournament and playing a game
they didn’t know anything about and winning.

Summary: Poker Tournaments And Odds – Do They Really Matter?

If you want to
play poker tournaments, you shouldn’t be fixated on the odds of winning. Those
numbers can seem pretty scary – and they are.

You could go for
1,000 tournaments without winning one if you’re playing in big-field events.

However, the
better you get, the better your odds will be, so there are many ways to improve
your winning chances in poker tournaments.

Also, just like
you could go on a long losing run, it’s entirely possible to defy the odds and
win two or three big events in a short time span. This happens all the time.

Variance plays a huge role in poker, and there is no telling what will happen in any individual tournament. If you go into the day thinking your odds of winning are just 1 in 5,000 or 10,000, you probably won’t play your best game.

Instead, try to
focus on every single hand and do your best every time you’re faced with a

That’s the only
correct way to think about poker, be it tournaments, cash games, or whatever
other format you might prefer.

The math says
you’re unlikely to win the Main Event, but the math says that for every player,
not just you.

Yet, someone wins every year, defying the odds. If you look at things that way, there is absolutely no reason why you couldn’t be the next WSOP champion!

Lead image: Twitter/CaesarsEnt

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