Horse Poker WSOP
H.O.R.S.E Poker was first introduced to the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in 2002, which marked the 33rd annual World Series of Poker. This event was hosted for three consecutive years as a $2,000 buy-in side event. The first HORSE WSOP bracelet winners in order were John Hennigan, Doyle Brunson and Scott Fishman. H.O.R.S.E then went on a one year hiatus before returning as the biggest championship event in WSOP history.
During the first 36 years of the World Series of Poker, the largest buy-in events ever hosted were $10,000, as well as some $5,000+ rebuy events. In what many believed would be too large of a jump to gather much interest, the WSOP announced a $50,000 buy-in tournament for the 2006 World Series that was played during the preliminary rounds as H.O.R.S.E. and then converted to No Limit Texas Hold’em for the ESPN televised final table. Billed as the biggest event in poker history, 143 of poker’s top stars entered creating a $6,864,000. The final table was a huge success for both the WSOP and ESPN as it included all big name pros. The final results were as follows.
1st David “Chip” Reese $1,716,000
2nd Andy Bloch $1,029,000
3rd Phil Ivey $617,760
4th Jim Bechtel $549,120
5th T. J. Cloutier $480,480
6th David Singer $411,840
7th Dewey Tomko $343,200
8th Doyle Brunson $274,560
9th Patrik Antonius $205,920
This event truly helped put H.O.R.S.E poker on the map, and within a few months all major online poker sites were offering H.O.R.S.E. tournament play, and eventually it was added as an option to their ring game tables.
In 2007, the HORSE Championship also had a $50,000 buy-in, and this time it was played as H.O.R.S.E. during the preliminary rounds and the final table. In the end, Freddy Deeb picked up $2,276,832 by outlasting the events 147 other entrants.
Chip Reese who won the first ever HORSE Poker Championship and was considered by many players the greatest cash game player to have ever lived passed away tragically on December 4, 2007, at his Las Vegas home. The news stories posted at the time claimed Reese died in his sleep due to complications from pneumonia, while his friends Barry Greenstein and Doyle Brunson speculate that his death might have been related to an earlier gastric bypass which caused a blood clot.
The WSOP stepped up immediately with a Tribute to Chip Reese, declaring that going forward the winner of each $50,000 WSOP championship would be given the “Chip Reese Memorial Trophy”. The first of these trophies was won by Scotty Nguyen at the 2008 WSOP, and the following year it was won by David Bach.
$50,000 HORSE Event Replaced
Starting in the 2010 WSOP, the $50,000 buy-in HORSE Event will be replaced with an event called the Players Championship. This event has the same $50,000 buy-in, but uses an 8-Game mixed format during the preliminary rounds, and then has the final table played out exclusively as No Limit Holdem. The 8-Game mix format uses all the H.O.R.S.E games, but also includes No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha and 2-7 Triple Draw. An edited version of the event’s final table will air on ESPN.
As of 2010, the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy will be given to the winner of the Players Championship, rather than HORSE. There are still however three HORSE events on the 2010 WSOP schedule which are a $1,500 buy-in event, a $3,000 buy-in event and a $10,000 championship event.