** Editor’s Note: A panel of industry peers helped assemble the 20 Greatest Poker Pics of All Time. A new picture will be posted daily until we get to #1.
By 1974, the World Series of Poker had become a mild media sensation.
When the WSOP was first held in 1970, it was more of a Jack Binion publicity stunt than some long-term strategy to become poker’s annual trek to Mecca. Binion invited the seven best poker players in the world to the Horseshoe in Vegas. A cash game session was played, and Johnny Moss was voted the best of the bunch and awarded the first championship trophy.
In 1972, Amarillo Slim won the Main Event (albeit under dubious circumstances). Slim became poker’s first superstar. He was like a 1970’s non-child-molesting version of Daniel Negreanu. From ’72-73, Slim even appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson three times. Partly propelled by Slim’s popularity, CBS’s Wide World of Sports covered the WSOP for the first time in ’73.
By 1974, just two years after Slim’s win, the WSOP had gone from two events to six and the Main Event doubled in size from 8 to 16. For those wondering, a $10,000 buy-in in 1974 equals $47,447 in 2014 money, essentially making it the equivalent of a modern high-roller event–and definitely worthy of some media-attention. There was nothing else like it in sports.
It was during this first mini-boom that our #8 Greatest Poker Pic of All Time was taken. From left to right, this WSOP promotional photo shows Johnny Moss, Chill Wills, Amarillo Slim, Jack Binion, and Puggy Pearson in front of Binion’s Horseshoe.
What’s most interesting about the pic is the utter lack of youth. Poker was a game for seasoned road warriors–not math whizzes like today. At the time of the pic, all of the pro players were just shy of 50 or just north of it. At 37, Jack Binion was the baby of the group.
Regardless, this is just an awesome, iconic shot. It also shows how far poker has come in a relatively short amount of time–and showcases some of the faces that helped pave the way for the industry today.
Review pics 20-09: