If you’re searching for the top USA poker tournaments then let us draw you a map. Thanks to many years of experience in the industry, we’ve been able to dissect the best MTT products the US has to offer and give you an insight into what makes them tick.
Suitable for high rollers and aspiring amateurs alike, our list of top US poker tournaments will be enough to point you in the right direction if you’re looking to make your fortune on the live circuit.
The World Series of Poker: WSOP
Arguably the most impressive live poker tournament in the US, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is an annual event that comprises of more than 60 tournaments. Held between the end of May and the start of July, the mega festival is one of the top USA poker tournaments for a number of reasons. Aside from offering a slew of money-making opportunities, it serves as a proving ground for the every grinder in the world.
Each WSOP event offers a bracelet and over the years these have become synonymous with success. Although some bracelets may be more “prestigious” than others, anyone who has managed to win one will be forever noted amongst poker’s finest.
The WSOP was started back in 1970 when a group of the world’s best poker players decided to crown a champion. Initially decided by a vote inside Binion’s Horseshoe, the annual gathering soon turned into a tournament that would later become known as the Main Event.
Since that time the Main Event has evolved into the largest tournament on the US poker calendar. In fact, that only thing that hasn’t changed since the MTT was founded is the buy-in which has always been $10,000.
Each year the Main Event is flanked by a host of side events with buy-ins ranging from $1,000 to $1 million. All offering bracelets, these tournaments are a chance for players to prove the prowess across every poker variant imaginable, including: Texas Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, Stud, Draw and H.O.R.S.E.
WSOP Circuit: WSOP-C
Born out of the WSOP’s success, World Series of Poker Circuit events are basically smaller versions of the main festival. Featuring a variety of tournament with a Main Event heading the schedule, WSOP-C events take place in various locations across America.
In total the tour boasts 21 stops, including some of the top live poker rooms in the US such as Foxwoods and They Bicycle Casino, and players are given WSOP-C rings for winning an event. Mimicking the bracelets given out to WSOP winners, the rings are now established as a symbol of success for many players.
Although the WSOP-C lacks some of the gravitas its bigger brother holds, many American grinders still see it as one of the top USA poker tournaments. The reason it’s loved by novices and aspiring pros is that it offers a steppingstone to the elite levels of the game. Typical buy-ins for a WSOP-C event will run from $300 to $1,000 and the structures are such that those with a job can still enjoy the action without impacting on the work.
The World Poker Tour: WPT
One of the US poker tournaments that helped spark a global poker boom, the World Poker Tour (WPT) is still one of the top organizations in the industry. Starting off as a handful of elite level tournaments, the WPT has since evolved to offer a mixture of high, medium and low level MTTs.
One of the main reasons why the WPT captured the imagination of the general public is that it was one of the first US poker tournaments to be shown on live TV. Utilizing Henry Orenstein’s invention, the hole card, the WPT was able to produce highly entertaining shows that aired on national TV.
Hosted by Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten, each $10,000 WPT event would feature the world’s best players fighting for prizes worth in excess of $1 million. Gus Hansen, Daniel Negreanu, Mike Matusow, John Juanda and Phil Ivey all became household names thanks to the WPT.
Today the WPT isn’t just a top US poker tournament. Visiting countries as diverse as the UK, South Africa and Cyprus, the tour is now a global powerhouse that gives punters the opportunity to play high quality tournaments from as little as $3,000.
In the same way the WSOP-C grew out of the success of a larger festival, the WPT’s DeepStacks offering was a way for low stakes players to enjoy a slice of the action. However, unlike the WSOP-C, WPT DeepStacks took an existing tour, the DeepStacks Poker Tour, and gave it a new edge.
Featuring the same high quality structures and organization as the WPT’s main tour, each DeepStacks festival has become a proving ground for aspiring pros. In recent years a host of players, most notably Dwight Pilgrim, have won cash and critical acclaim on the WPT’s smaller shows.
Travelling across the USA to venues in Oregon, Central California, Los Angeles and San Diego, the tour’s Main Events cost $1,000 to play and everyone that cashes in an event will earn points towards the Player of the Season title. The person who clinches this title at the end of the season will win a seat in the WPT World Championship as well as a WPT DeepStacks sponsorship package which includes free entry to a selection of US poker tournaments.
Heartland Poker Tour
Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) is a syndicated poker-based TV show that airs 52 weeks each year. Following the top low stakes poker tour in the USA, the show was created by Greg Lang and Todd Anderson in 2005.
At first the tournaments were aimed squarely at players in the Midwest, but since the HPT has grown in popularity its spread to numerous locations across the country. The tagline for the tour is “Real People, Unreal Money” and refers to its affordability for the average poker players.
Depending on the venue, each HPT Main Event will cost around $1,500 to enter, but during each festival there will be a slew of side events with buy-ins starting from $200. Thanks to the accessibility and popularity of the HPT, the show is now shown across hundreds of TV stations in America, Europe and the Caribbean. Moreover, the organization now provides a high quality tournament product for thousands of low stakes poker lovers across the US.
The top poker tournaments in the US attract a huge number of players, but if you make it to one of these tournament’s final tables, you can win millions!