For the last eight years, the largest tournament in the world has been the World Series of Poker Main Event. With the exception of 1992, the US$10,000 buy-in tournament has increased in prize pool year-over-year from its start in 1970 until 2007 (the latter a result of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which reduced the number of players winning their seats via online play).
The first tournament to reach a million dollar prize pool was the 1983 WSOP Main Event. The WSOP Main Event of 2004 had the first prize pool of above $10,000,000.
The largest non Hold'em Tournament has been the 2008 WSOP $50K HORSE with a prize pool of $7,104,000 and the first prize of $1,989,120 going to Scotty Nguyen.
Currently, the 11 largest prize pools in history have been WSOP Main Events. The largest prize pool outside of the Main Event is the 2012 WSOP event known as The Big One for One Drop, held from July 1-3. It featured a buy-in of US$1 million, the largest in poker history. Of the buy-in, $111,111 was a charitable donation to the One Drop Foundation, and the WSOP took no rake. All 48 seats available for that event were filled, resulting in a prize pool of $42,666,672, with over 5 million dollars donated. The largest pool for any event outside of the WSOP was the 2012 Macau High Stakes Challenge, with a HK$2 million (US$260,000) buy-in plus a rebuy option. The event drew a field of 73, of which 21 made a rebuy, resulting in a prize pool of HK$182,360,000 (slightly over US$23.5 million).
All of the 30 richest tournaments to date were played in No Limit Hold'em.
|Event||Prize Pool (US$)||Winner||1st Prize||Ref.|
|2006 WSOP Main Event||$82,512,162||Jamie Gold||$12,000,000|
|2010 WSOP Main Event||$68,799,059||Jonathan Duhamel||$8,944,310|
|2011 WSOP Main Event||$64,531,000||Pius Heinz||$8,711,956|
|2008 WSOP Main Event||$64,333,600||Peter Eastgate||$9,152,416|
|2014 WSOP Main Event||$62,820,200||Martin Jacobson||$10,000,000|
|2012 WSOP Main Event||$62,021,200||Greg Merson||$8,527,982|
|2009 WSOP Main Event||$61,043,600||Joe Cada||$8,547,042|
|2015 WSOP Main Event||$60,348,000||Joe McKeehen||$7,680,021|
|2007 WSOP Main Event||$59,784,954||Jerry Yang||$8,250,000|
|2013 WSOP Main Event||$59,708,800||Ryan Riess||$8,359,531|
|2005 WSOP Main Event||$52,818,610||Joe Hachem||$7,500,000|
|2012 WSOP Event 55 - The Big One for One Drop||$42,666,672||Antonio Esfandiari||$18,346,673|
|2014 WSOP Event 57 - The Big One for One Drop||$37,333,338||Daniel Colman||$15,306,668|
|2004 WSOP Main Event||$24,224,400||Greg Raymer||$5,000,000|
|2012 Macau High Stakes Challenge Super High Roller||$23,511,128||Stanley Choi||$6,465,560|
|2013 WSOP Event 47 - One Drop High Roller||$17,891,148||Anthony Gregg||$4,830,619|
|2007 WPT Championship||$15,495,750||Carlos Mortensen||$3,970,415|
|2013 GuangDong Ltd Asia Millions Main Event||$15,376,897||Niklas Heinecker||$4,456,885|
|2011 Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure||$15,132,000||Galen Hall||$2,300,000|
|2010 Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure||$14,831,300||Harrison Gimbel||$2,200,000|
|2006 WPT Championship||$14,671,250||Joe Bartholdi, Jr.||$3,760,165|
|2015 WSOP Event 58 - High Roller for One Drop||$14,249,925||Jonathan Duhamel||$3,989,985|
|2008 EPT Grand Final||$13,323,417||Glen Chorny||$3,196,354|
|2008 WPT Championship||$13,216,250||David Chiu||$3,389,140|
|2009 EPT Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure||$12,674,000||Poorya Nazari||$3,000,000|
|2011 PokerStars 10th Anniversary Celebration - Sunday Million||$12,423,200||Kyle Weir ('First-Eagle')||$1,146,574.65||online|
|2009 EPT Grand Final||$12,293,896||Pieter De Korver||$3,024,167|
|2010 World Championship of Online Poker||$12,215,000||Tyson Marks ('POTTERPOKER')||$2,278,097.50||online|
|Seminole Hard Rock 2013 Poker Open Championship Event||$11,920,000||Blair Hinkle||$1,745,245|
|2011 PokerStars 5th Anniversary Sunday Million||$11,825,600||Luke Vrabel ('Bdbeatslayer')||$671,093.81||online, added Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 for first place|