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07 Dec 2018

How the WSOP became the centre of European poker

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The World Series of Poker is the biggest and most prestigious poker tournament in the world. Nearly 50 years since the first tournament, this American institution has evolved to become the centre of European poker.

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The World Series of Poker was the brainchild of Benny Binion, a casino owner in Las Vegas. Inspired by an invitation-only tournament he attended, he hosted the first WSOP in 1970.

As a talented promoter, Binion knew how to sell his new poker tournament. A few decades before, he hosted the highest stakes poker battle in history between Nick “The Greek” Dandolos and Johnny Moss.

Millions of dollars were won and lost between the two notorious players across five months, all at the same table in Binion’s casino.

In 1970, Binion invited over 10 of the most legendary poker players – involving Johnny Moss once again. They played a range of card games across three days, including the ever-popular Texas Hold ‘em.

When all the games came to an end, the players were gathered together to vote for the all-round best player. To no one’s surprise, Moss was declared the first WSOP champion.

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The WSOP’s expansion into Europe is a relatively recent development and signals its first efforts to branch outside the USA.

The WSOPE was held after Harrah’s Casinos (now Caesars Entertainment) purchased the WSOP brand and London Clubs International, a company that operated three casinos in London. The acquisitions made way for the first World Series of Poker Europe tournament in 2007, complete with the first golden bracelets awarded outside of Las Vegas.

For the first few years, the event bounced between casinos in the UK, France and Germany. But in 2017, it found a new home: King’s Casino in Rozvadov, a small Czech village near the German border.

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So how did Rozvadov come to host Europe’s largest poker tournament? The answer: Leon Tsoukernik.

Leon Tsoukernik is a professional gambler and entrepreneur who launched his own casino in his native country, the Czech Republic. After purchasing the land and commissioning construction, King’s Casino opened in 2003.

Armed with the largest poker room in Europe and luxury hotel facilities, the casino rose to enormous success and gained a reputation as the number one poker destination in Europe.

Tsoukernik was quick to use this renown as ammunition to convince his friends stateside in the WSOP to make his casino the venue for their International Circuit events from 2016 until 2020.

When it became clear that King’s Casino could handle the prestige and popularity of a WSOP event, Tsoukernik was contracted to host the WSOPE in 2017, and every following year until 2022. Through his efforts, the once biennial event became a yearly fixture of European poker.

Under Tsoukernik’s leadership, King’s Casino has set European records for the most entrants of any WSOPE. But it’s clear that his vision is to make the event an even greater triumph.


Now that King’s Casino is firmly established as Europe’s most popular poker venue, we have doubled down and have made a bigger commitment to bring WSOP Europe to Rozvadov annually.

Leon Tsoukernik


This commitment has come in the form of a series of improvements to WSOPE 2018, with King’s Casino undergoing substantial renovations so it can accommodate the tournament’s crowds.

And If that isn’t enough to pull in the players, the €13 million in prize pool guarantees should do the trick.

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