The Main Event of the WSOP has been the $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold 'Em (TXHE) tournament since 1972. (In 1971, the buy-in was $5,000.) Winners of the event not only get the largest prize of the tournament and a gold bracelet, but additionally their picture is placed into the Gallery of Champions at Binion's.
The winner of the Main Event has traditionally been given the unofficial title of World Champion. However the game's top professionals[who?] have stated that the recently-added $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event is the one which ultimately decides the world's best player. The $50,000 buy-in, being five times larger than the buy-in for the Main Event, has thus far tended to deter amateurs from playing in the H.O.R.S.E. The H.O.R.S.E. tournament was won by Chip Reese in 2006, Freddy Deeb in 2007, and Scotty Nguyen in 2008. Since Reese's death in December 2007, the winner of this event wins the David 'Chip' Reese Memorial Trophy in addition to the bracelet and the prize money.
The Gallery of Champions in 1979There have been many memorable moments during the main events, including Jack Straus's 1982 comeback win after discovering he had one $500 chip left when he thought he was out of the tournament.
The end of the 1988 main event was featured in the movie Rounders.
Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, the winners in 2003 and 2004, both qualified for the main event through satellite tournaments at the PokerStars online cardroom.
Jerry Yang, the winner in 2007, had only been playing poker for two years prior to his victory. He won his seat at a $225 satellite tournament at Pechanga Resort & Casino.
With passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 online poker sites have been barred from purchasing entrance directly for their users. This may have been the cause of the smaller field size in 2007.
With the exception of winners of the World Series Of Poker Main Event satellite tournaments (who automatically win a spot in the main event), all remaining players (including former champions, celebrities, and professional poker players) must supply the $10,000 buy-in in order to participate.