Each World Series Poker Tournament is a table stakes freeze-out Hold Em game in which contestants battle each other for eight hours a day. Players draw cards for tables and table position. Nine, ten, or eleven players are usually seated at each table. The tournament starts with each player anteing $10, and there's a $50 blind opening bet and a $100 blind raise. At each table during the play of the tournament, betting limits and antes are raised according to a predetermined time schedule, and as players are eliminated, tables will be systematically combined until it's down to the final two players and each player must blind-bet $1,000 and blind-raise it for $2,000. These two blind bets may increase to $3,000 and $6,000 or more according to the discretion of the tournament director.
For the first eight years of this Hold Em Tournament, the winner took everything. Doyle Brunson, winner of the 1976 and 1977 World Hold Em Tournaments, took home a total of $560,000 in new crisp $100 bills for winning both events. However, in the ninth annual World Series of Poker, held in May 1978, with 42 entrants and $420,000 going to the winners, the prize money distribution rules were changed, giving Bobby Baldwin, the winner, half or $210,000; the remaining $210,000 was divided among the four runner-upsó20% or $84,000 to the second longest-lasting player, 15% or $63,000 to the third, 10% or $42,000 to the fourth, and 5% or $21,000 to the fifth longest-lasting player. Having five finalists rather than one share in the tournament prize money will no doubt increase the number of contestants entered in the World Series of Poker each year.