History of WSOP Europe Part I: The London Years
4 October 2018
PokerBrave (2768 articles)
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The World Series of Poker Europe is just around the corner on Oct. 9 to Nov. 2 at Europe’s biggest poker room King’s Casino, located on the border of German in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. The series will attract some of the biggest names in poker from around the world with 10 WSOP gold bracelet events.

The series has a long and storied tradition starting with Norwegian online phenom Annette “Annette_15″ Obrestad taking the world by storm winning the first WSOP Europe Main Event in 2007. A decade later, Marti Roca de Torres became the latest winner.

Here is a look back at the history of the WSOP Europe.

WSOPE 2007 (London)

The WSOP Europe all began during the poker boom in 2007 when the WSOP partnered with British gaming giant Betfair for three events at the Casino at the Empire, located in the heart of the British capital in Leicester Square. This marked the first time the WSOP held its festival anywhere outside of the United States.

Germany’s Thomas Bihl was the first player to win a WSOP Europe gold bracelet after he navigated through a field of 105 entrants and bested Jennifer Harmen heads-up to win the WSOP Europe £2,650 H.O.R.S.E. event for £70,875 ($142,723). A decade later, this stands as Bihl’s biggest win and his only time appearing at a final table in a WSOP event.

Italy’s Dario Alioto won his first and only WSOP gold bracelet in the festival’s second event after shipping the WSOP Europe £5,250 Pot Limit Omaha Event for £234,390 ($471,999).

However, this festival will be remembered for Norwegian teenager Annette Obrestad, who at age 18 years and 364 days made WSOP history at the time by becoming the youngest player to win a WSOP gold bracelet. Obrestad, who was well-known for dominating opponents online at the time, outlasted a field of 362 entrants to win the seven-figure top prize of £1,000,000 ($2,013,733). While this is Obrestad’s only time in the WSOP winner’s circle, she has been successful for years and has nearly $4 million in total live cashes to her name.

2007 WSOPE Events and Winners

Buy-in Event Entries Winner Country Prize Prize in $
£2,650 H.O.R.S.E 105 Thomas Bihl Germany £70,875 $142,723
£5,250 Pot-Limit Omaha 156 Dario Alioto Italy £234,390 $471,999
£10,350 Main Event 362 Annette Obrestad Norway £1,000,000 $2,013,733

WSOPE 2008 (London)

The WSOP Europe returned to the Casino at the Empire the following year, and a fourth event was added to the schedule with the WSOP Europe £1,575 No-Limit Hold’em event kicking off the schedule.

Denmark’s Jesper Hougaard, who earlier in the year found WSOP gold in Las Vegas, won his second gold bracelet of the year (and poker career) after outlasting a field of 410 players to bank £144,218 ($262,291).

Afghanistan’s biggest live tournament winner Sherkhan Farnood shipped the WSOP Europe £2,650 H.O.R.S.E. for £76,999 ($140,039). This was his last cash record by The Hendon Mob before he was put under house arrest a couple of years later. Farnood reportedly died of natural causes this past summer while in prison.

Norwegian poker legend Theo Jørgensen won his only WSOP gold bracelet in his storied poker career after shipping the WSOP Europe £5,250 Pot Limit Omaha Event for £218,626 ($397,617).

The Main Event attracted 362 entrants; the same number as the inaugural event the year before. It was Indonesia’s John Juanda, who is 11th on The Hendon Mob All Time Money list with almost $24.1 million in cashes, who was the star of the show after he binked the WSOP Europe £10,350 Main Event for £868,800 ($1,580,096). This was the fourth of five WSOP gold bracelets Juanda has won.

2008 WSOPE Events and Winners

Buy-in Event Entries Winner Country Prize Prize in $
£1,575 No-Limit Hold’em 410 Jesper Hougaard Denmark £144,218 $262,291
£2,650 H.O.R.S.E. 110 Sherkhan Farnood Afghanistan £76,999 $140,039
£5,250 Pot-Limit Omaha 165 Theo Jorgensen Denmark £218,626 $397,617
£10,350 Main Event 362 John Juanda Indonesia £868,800 $1,580,096

WSOPE 2009 (London)

For a third straight year, the WSOP Europe returned to London in 2009. As was the case in 2008, the festival featured four bracelet events.

It was déjà vu all over again. In 2008, Hougaard won the opening event after claiming his first WSOP victory earlier in the year in Sin City. England’s JP Kelly repeated the same feat by winning his first WSOP gold bracelet in Las Vegas before winning his second gold bracelet in London, shipping the WSOP Europe £1,075 No-Limit Hold’em event for £136,803 ($225,535). Kelly also became the first winner of a WSOP gold bracelet on home soil in a WSOP held outside of the United States.

Canada’s Erik Cajelais became the first player born in North America to win a WSOPE bracelet after he won the WSOP Europe £2,650 Pot Limit Hold’em/Omaha event for £104,677 ($172,572).

Finland’s Jani Vilmunen notched the biggest win in his poker career after winning the £5,250 Pot Limit Omaha event for £204,048 ($336,396).

Meanwhile, CardPlayer CEO Barry Shulman won his second WSOP gold bracelet in a big way after shipping the WSOP Europe £10,350 Main Event for £801,603 ($1,321,534). He defeated Daniel Negreanu heads-up (£495,589/$817,035). His son Jeff Shulman finished 5th in the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas that year, taking home $1,953,452.

2009 WSOPE Events and Winners

Buy-in Event Entries Winner Country Prize Prize in $
£1,075 No-Limit Hold’em 608 JP Kelly United Kingdom £136,803 $225,535
£2,650 Pot-Limit Hold’em/Omaha 158 Erik Cajelais Canada £104,677 $172,572
£5,250 Pot-Limit Omaha 154 Jani Vilmunen Finland £204,048 $336,396
£10,350 Main Event 334 Barry Shulman £801,603 $1,321,534

WSOPE 2010 (London)

In 2010, the WSOP Europe returned to London for the final time with an expanded schedule of five gold bracelet events.

Many big names found WSOP gold bracelets in this festival including American Phil Laak, Australia’s Jeff Lisandro, England’s Scott Shelley, and Denmark’s Gus Hansen.

England’s James Bord became the first English player to win a WSOP Europe Main Event with his gold bracelet coming with a massive cheque of £830,401 ($1,281,048).

2010 WSOPE Events and Winners

Buy-in Event Entries Winner Country Prize Prize in $
£2,650 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed 244 Phil Laak United States £170,802 $263,494
£5,250 Pot-Limit Omaha 120 Jeff Lisandro Australia £159,000 $245,287
£1,075 No-Limit Hold’em 582 Scott Shelley United Kingdom £133,857 $206,499
£10,350 Heads-Up 103 Gus Hansen Denmark £288,409 $444,925
£10,350 Main Event 346 James Bord United Kingdom £830,401 $1,281,048