The World’s Most Lucrative Poker Tournaments


Even half a century ago the most lucrative poker tournaments on the planet were often played behind closed doors, in darkened rooms away from the gaze of the authorities. Now, thanks to legalisation and televised tournaments, poker is one of the most popular pastimes on the planet with millions of players across the globe.

Whilst your Friday night game with your pals may be exciting, what we’re interested with in this article are the most lucrative poker tournaments in the world. The ones that cost a fortune to enter and the ones that can catapult players to riches beyond their wildest dreams with one lucky turn of a card.

Read on to find out the five most lucrative poker tournaments anywhere on the planet…

#1 The World Series of Poker (WSOP)

The biggest and most well-known poker tournament in the world has humble beginnings. In 1970 Benny Binion invited seven of the best-known poker players in the country to the Horseshoe Casino to take part in a one-off tournament.

Back then the winner of the tournament was decided by a secret ballot but nowadays it is dog eat dog with the winner of the final table scooping the title. The most recent winner of the tournament was Hossein Ensan, an Iranian German who beat off the competition to secure the $10 million main event prize pot.

The most famous winner of the tournament was American Chris Moneymaker who bluffed his way past seasoned card-shark Sammy Farha in 2003. What made Moneymaker’s victory all the more impressive was the fact that he was an amateur who had only qualified for the tournament through an $86 online satellite event.

The victory not only catapulted him to worldwide stardom, but it bolstered his bank balance by a cool $2.5 million.

#2 The World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP)

Established in 2002 The WCOOP is the online equivalent of The WSOP and is the largest of its kind anywhere on the internet. The growth in the popularity of online poker games meant that just three years after its conception, the tournament generated a combined prize amount of just under $13 million, making it the third biggest poker tournament of the year.

Since then the prize pool for The WCOOP has soared, breaching $100 million in 2018 and hitting $105 million last year becoming the only online poker tournament to have ever reached nine figures. Unlike The WSOP, The WCOOP is made up of a series of smaller tournaments which spreads the total prize pool out somewhat.

In 2018 for example, Dutch user ‘wann2play’ won the main event but only scooped $1.35 million in prize money. Whilst this approach lessens the financial gains of the main event winners, it does make The WCOOP more inclusive to all skill brackets – even beginner players can buy-in to tournaments and dream of winning big.

#3 Triton Poker

Triton is a poker franchise just like WSOP, but it isn’t a franchise that caters for the ordinary person, instead it caters almost solely for the incredibly wealthy. In 2019 ‘Triton Million’ was launched, a poker tournament that was held in London with a £1 million buy-in.

The only way to secure a seat at the tournament was through special invite, either by the tournament organisers themselves or by an invitation holder. The tournament therefore was a mixture of world class poker players and high rolling businessmen and women.

Chinese professional Aaron Zang was the lucky winner, scooping £13.7 million for his final table exploits. Most importantly though, the tournament helped to raise £2.4 million for charitable causes.

#4 The World Poker Tour (WPT)

The success of The WSOP inspired a number of spin-off tournaments and one that has done exceptionally well is The WPT which started out in 2002. The tournament travels around the world taking part in some of the most prestigious casinos on the tournament.

Every tournament has its own main event with buy in prices ranging from $3,500 to $25,000. Depending on the size of the tournament, winnings for the main events can often exceed a million dollars.

Sponsorship plays a big part in boosting WPT prize money as every tournament is televised, usually to dozens of countries around the globe.

#5 Tiger Jam

Golfing superstar Tiger Woods founded his charity fundraiser Tiger Jam in 1998 with the aim of raising money for his charitable organisation. The weekend event which is staged in Las Vegas every year sees a series of rich donors get private golfing lessons from Tiger.

In addition to this there is a musical concert with some of the biggest names in the industry on show and a high stakes poker tournament that sees poker professionals and celebrities battle it out to scoop the jackpot.

Last year’s action saw Tiger bounced from his own tournament by NBA superstar Russell Westbrook who bluffed his way to victory. Most notably, a couple of years ago poker megastar Phil Hellmuth donated his winnings to Tigers charity.