WSOP Events With The Biggest Prize Pool – Payouts & Prizes


While most World Series of Poker events have their appeal, especially for those looking to add a WSOP bracelet to their résumé, a few tournaments usually steal the spotlight.

These are the ones with a large prize pool and
life-changing money up top, be it due to a big buy-in, extremely large fields,
or the combination of the two.

If you’ve been wondering which WSOP events have
the biggest prize pools, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I’ll go over some of the
largest and most significant tournaments that have traditionally had huge prize
pools and will likely continue to do so in the years to come.

The Main Event

The Main Event has always been the pinnacle of the World Series, but after the 2003 boom created by Moneymaker’s surprise win, the tournament has seen a huge surge in interest and reached new heights.

Image: Wikipedia

The number of players in 2004 more than
tripled, with 2,576 entries taking it to the felt, each paying the admittance
fee of $10,000. In 2005, the Main Event saw 5,619 entrants, indicating what the
future would look like.

Then came 2006 and the largest Main Event in

A total of 8,773 players descended to Las Vegas
in their search for poker glory, generating a massive prize pool of just over
$82.5 million.

The winner would take home $12,000,000, which
was by far the biggest prize in any individual poker tournament up to that

As some of you might know, the person who ended up pocketing the impressive $12 million prize was none other than Jamie Gold, a recreational poker player who caught a very lucky run of cards at just the right time.

In the years to follow, the Main Event numbers
have fluctuated between 6,000 and 7,000 entrants. Then, in 2019, the field once
again exceeded 8,500 players.

With these numbers and given the fact that all
players have to pay $10,000 to enter, the Main Event is the largest and most
lucrative of all WSOP tournaments.

All winners have pocketed at least $8,000,000, except Joe McKeehen, who “only” got $7.6 million for his triumph in the 2015 WSOP Main Event.

The Millionaire Maker

There are two ways to look at which WSOP events
have the largest prize pool. One is to look at the sheer amount of money, and
the other option is to look at the overall prize pool in comparison to the

If we focus on the latter, the Millionaire
Maker tournament certainly deserves a place on this list.

This event is one of the more recent additions
to the WSOP schedule, and it has been happening only for a few years. The
buy-in is just $1,500 but the winner is guaranteed a cool million.

The event debuted in 2015, and right off the
bat, it attracted 7,275 entries, generating a prize pool of over $9.8 million.
Instead of the promised million, the eventual winner took home an amount of

Motivated by the initial success, WSOP
organizers kept the Millionaire Maker on the schedule for the years to come,
and it’s proven to be a very sound decision. Every year since, the tournament
has grown in the number of entries and, subsequently, the overall prize pool.

The last live instance of the Millionaire Maker took place in 2019 (as the whole 2020 WSOP took place online), and it attracted a total of 8,809 runners.

The final prize pool was $11,892,150, and the winner, John Gorsuch, pocketed $1,344,930 for his impressive run through the massive field.

If you’re looking for a WSOP tournament with a
really big prize pool and with an affordable buy-in, the Millionaire Maker is
the one to check out.

WSOP prize money
Image: Twitter/WSOP

The Colossus

If you thought the Millionaire Maker was
impressive, what would you say about a $565 tournament featuring a $5 million
guarantee? You have to be either very crazy or very brave to come up with this
idea, but the WSOP went on and did that in 2015 with the Colossus event.

The organizers didn’t have to worry too much
about generating enough interest.

With dozens of thousands of players in Las
Vegas for the summer and the very small buy-in, this wasn’t the main issue.
From the logistical standpoint, though, organizing such an event was a proper

In the end, the WSOP pulled it off.

While there were a few bumps along the road,
the whole tournament went down much better than expected.

The final tally was 22,374 entries, and the
prize pool was just shy of $11.2 million, which is mind-boggling for a live
tournament with a $500 buy-in.

The winner, Cord Garcia, took home $638,880.

Cord Garcia - Colossus winner
Image: Joe Giron/WSOP

Although some people were against it, the
overall feedback for the Colossus was largely positive, so the WSOP decided to
keep it.

In 2016, the event attracted a similar number
of players and offered the final prize pool of $10.8 million. Then, in 2017,
there was a slight dip in interest, as there were “only” 18,054
entries, generating a prize pool of slightly over $9 million.

Numbers continued to dwindle, as 2018 saw a
turnout of 13,070 entries.

This inspired the organizers to drop the buy-in
further, so the 2019 edition of the Colossus featured a buy-in of just $400.

This didn’t change things much, though, as the
number of entries was almost identical to that from the last year, but the
prize pool was smaller. Still, the winner pocketed more than $541,000.

Just like the Millionaire Maker, the Colossus
is back on the 2021 WSOP schedule, and the buy-in is once again $400.

Little One for One

The Little One for One Drop is a rather popular WSOP event, which generates a decent amount of donations every year for the charity One Drop.

Seeing as it’s just $1,111 to enter, and there
is a charitable element to it, it gets a very good number of runners each year,
which, naturally, results in a rather hefty prize pool.

The Little One for One Drop was added to the
WSOP schedule in 2013, after the debut of the Big One for One Drop in 2012.

The organizers, WSOP and the One Drop
Foundation, figured creating a smaller event would be a nice way to give all
players a chance to contribute if they wanted to and raise additional funds.

The event regularly gets close to 5,000 entries
and prize pools in excess of $4,000,000. On top of that, in 2019, there was a
really great turnout, with 6,248 entries to create a massive prize pool of over
$5.6 million.

The winner took home $690,000 and change, which
is a pretty impressive return on investment.

This event really has it all for a very
affordable price, so it’s the one to circle on your calendars if you’re
planning on playing the WSOP but don’t have a huge bankroll to work with.

I guess you could argue that this event isn’t great value for money as you’re giving up some equity by paying an extra fee on top of the rake, which is technically correct.

However, you should also know that players
often don’t take the tournament too seriously and play it primarily because of
the charitable component, so the play is much softer than you might expect.

The Big One for One

If we’re talking about WSOP events with the
largest prize pools, it’s impossible not to mention the notorious Big One for
One Drop.

Making its debut in 2012, this event is out of
most players’ reach as it features a massive $1 million buy-in, but this
article just wouldn’t be complete without it.

However, it must be said that, unlike other
events mentioned here, The Big One for One Drop hasn’t been a regular feature
in the Series, and it’s uncertain if the tournament will even return to Las

The first $1 million WSOP tournament that took
place in 2012 was really something else.

Everyone was talking about it, and it was the
kind of spectacle that all fans wanted to see. In the end, 48 players paid the
hefty entry fee and generated a prize pool of $42,666,672.

Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari was the last man standing, pocketing $18.3 million as well as the custom-made bracelet.

Antonio Esfandiari winning Big One for One Drop
Image: Twitter/RunItOnce

Sam Trickett, the runner-up, pocketed $10 million.

After skipping a year, the Big One for One Drop
returned to Las Vegas in 2014, under very similar rules.

This time around, the turnout wasn’t as big as
for the initial event. A total of 37 players registered to play, and it was the
online heads-up specialist Dan Colman who took the title and the $15.3 million

The bitter-sweet honor of the runner-up went to
none other than Daniel “KidPoker” Negreanu, who boosted his tournament earnings
by $8,288,001.

After a long hiatus and even being held in
Monte Carlo in 2016, The Big One for One Drop appeared once again on the 2018
WSOP schedule. Despite the long break, the tournament failed to generate huge
interest, as only 27 players turned up.

The final skirmish took place between two poker phenoms, Justin Bonomo and Fedor Holz.

In the end, Bonomo managed to outlast the German, taking the title and the $10 million first-place prize. Holz pocketed $6 million for his efforts.

Will we see the Big One come back to the WSOP

It’s hard to say. The organizers definitely
don’t have it planned for 2021, and trying to venture any guess for 2022 and
beyond would just be making things up.

Although all three events featured some of the
biggest WSOP prize pools, it wasn’t all that impressive given the fact players
had to pay a cool million to get involved.

It’s definitely good for TV, though, and it does contribute to the One Drop Foundation, so there might be some plans for the future.

Prize Pool Distribution In WSOP Tournaments

A big question that many novice players have
is: How is the prize money actually distributed? What percentage goes to the
winner, how much money ends up on the final table, and how is the rest of the
money divided?

WSOP tournaments traditionally pay 15 percent
of the field, so if there are 2,000 entries, you can expect to make money if
you make it into the final 300 players.

This is a bit more of a top-heavy structure than what’s found in some other live events, but it’s still quite friendly to casual players and gives them a decent chance to walk away with some money.

The min-cash is about 150 percent of the original buy-in, so if you do survive the bubble, you should be walking away with some profit for your troubles.

Of course, most money is reserved for the final

In most tournaments, over 40 percent of the entire prize pool is divided by the players who make it to the final table. Of that amount, around 60 percent is divided by the top three finishers.

This is why you’ll often hear how important it
is to make the final table and play for the win instead of trying to just
squeeze into the money.

The eventual winner will take home around 14 percent of the overall prize pool, which is a really huge amount.

The difference between the first and second place is often quite substantial, although the runner-up usually takes home close to 9 percent of the total prize pool.

The bottom line is, even if you don’t make it
to any final tables, you have a decent shot at making money at least in some of
the events you play in, which will help offset your losses or give you a chance
to try your luck in a few more tournaments.

Get Involved With
Large WSOP Events

There were a few different ways I could have
gone about writing this article, but I took the one that I think makes the most
sense. If a $100K tournament generates a prize pool of $5 million, that’s
hardly impressive. In fact, you could even say it’s underwhelming.

But, when a tournament with a $500 buy-in
generates that same prize pool, that’s something to take note of.

So, if you’ve been wondering which WSOP
tournaments have the biggest prize pools that won’t come at the cost of your
house mortgage, you now have your answer.

Beyond the Main Event, which is always massive
for obvious reasons, there are quite a few events where you can compete for a
big prize pool without a huge risk.

It goes without saying that winning or even
making the final table in these tournaments isn’t easy. You’ll have to outlast
thousands of players, bring your best game, and have a lot of luck along the

However, the combination of affordable buy-ins,
the fact you’ll have a lot of fun either way, and massive cash prizes for the
top spots make these tournaments well worth your time!

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