2014 WSOP Main Event Polarized Payouts

[SS] “You know what else will probably be polarized?”1 Stan the Stat teased. “The payouts for the Main Event.”

[SS] “Because they decided to guarantee $10,000,000 for first place, a larger percentage of the prize pool goes to a single player. If we’re close to last year’s 6,352 players, it won’t matter much ($1,640,768 more to first at the expense of a little from every other prize). Despite the nearly steady drop from a peak of 8,773 entries in 2006, I think they took a fairly safe marketing gamble. The four-year trend2 said that we’d have just over 6,000 players this year, which is safe enough. With the extra attraction of the ten million dollar prize, they may have managed to stop the slide.”

[LL] “But even if the number of players bounces back, we’ll never know why”, Leroy the Lion argued. “It could be because people got their Full Tilt Poker funds back.”

[RR] “Or the economy in general”, Roderick the Rock suggested.

[SS] “True enough. It’s almost impossible to analyze anything with a sample size of one.”

[LL] “And no control to compare against.”

[SS] “At least the winner will be happy! If the field size doesn’t rise or fall, everyone but first place will win 3.3% less, with the places 19 and below being hurt a little less and 2nd to 18th place hurt a little more (16th to 18th get the worst of it at -7.3%).”

[RR] “I don’t like it at all. One player gets more at the expense of every other player who cashes.”

[SS] “But it’s only recently that first place paid so little percentage-wise. Until 1977, the WSOP Main Event was a winner-take-all tournament. For the next eight years, first prize was half of the prize pool. The percentage remained in the forties through 1993, then wandered lower to 25.2% in 2001 before rebounding to 33.7% in 2002 and 32.0% Chris Moneymaker’s year. Only with the following boom in field sizes did first prize drop to just over 20% before ranging from thirteen and fifteen percent ever since.”

First Prize as Percentage of Main Event Prize Pool3

Year Winner Prize Pool 1st Prize %
1971 Johnny Moss $30,000 $30,000 100.0%
1972 Amarillo Slim Preston $80,000 $80,000 100.0%
1973 Puggy Pearson $130,000 $130,000 100.0%
1974 Johnny Moss $160,000 $160,000 100.0%
1975 Sailor Roberts $210,000 $210,000 100.0%
1976 Doyle Brunson $220,000 $220,000 100.0%
1977 Doyle Brunson $340,000 $340,000 100.0%
1978 Bobby Baldwin $420,000 $210,000 50.0%
1979 Hal Fowler $540,000 $270,000 50.0%
1980 Stu Ungar $730,000 $365,000 50.0%
1981 Stu Ungar $750,000 $375,000 50.0%
1982 Jack Straus $1,040,000 $520,000 50.0%
1983 Tom McEvoy $1,080,000 $540,000 50.0%
1984 Jack Keller $1,320,000 $660,000 50.0%
1985 Bill Smith $1,400,000 $700,000 50.0%
1986 Berry Johnston $1,410,000 $570,000 40.4%
1987 Johnny Chan $1,520,000 $625,000 41.1%
1988 Johnny Chan $1,670,000 $700,000 41.9%
1989 Phil Hellmuth, Jr. $1,780,000 $755,000 42.4%
1990 Mansour Matloubi $1,940,000 $895,000 46.1%
1991 Brad Daugherty $2,150,000 $1,000,000 46.5%
1992 Hamid Dastmalchi $2,010,000 $1,000,000 49.8%
1993 Jim Bechtel $2,200,000 $1,000,000 45.5%
1994 Russ Hamilton $2,680,000 $1,000,000 37.3%
1995 Dan Harrington $2,730,000 $1,000,000 36.6%
1996 Huck Seed $2,950,000 $1,000,000 33.9%
1997 Stu Ungar $3,120,000 $1,000,000 32.1%
1998 Scotty Nguyen $3,500,000 $1,000,000 28.6%
1999 Noel Furlong $3,930,000 $1,000,000 25.4%
2000 Chris Ferguson $5,120,000 $1,500,000 29.3%
2001 Carlos Mortensen $5,946,100 $1,500,000 25.2%
2002 Robert Varkonyi $5,936,400 $2,000,000 33.7%
2003 Chris Moneymaker $7,802,700 $2,500,000 32.0%
2004 Greg Raymer $24,229,400 $5,000,000 20.6%
2005 Joe Hachem $52,818,610 $7,500,000 14.2%
2006 Jamie Gold $82,512,162 $12,000,000 14.5%
2007 Jerry Yang $59,784,954 $8,250,000 13.8%
2008 Peter Eastgate $64,333,600 $9,152,416 14.2%
2009 Joe Cada $61,043,600 $8,546,435 14.0%
2010 Jonathan Duhamel $68,799,059 $8,944,310 13.0%
2011 Pius Heinz $64,531,000 $8,715,638 13.5%
2012 Greg Merson $62,021,200 $8,527,982 13.8%
2013 Ryan Riess $59,708,800 $8,359,531 14.0%
2014 ? $59,708,800 $10,000,000 16.7%

[SS] “With 6,352 players, the winner would take home one-sixth of the prize pool. It would take a major jump to 7,000 entries for the winner to get just 15% of the prize pool, which would be the highest in the last decade but still lower than every year before that. On the other hand, the field would have to drop to an unlikely low of 5,200 players for the winner to take over 20%.”

[SS] “Doesn’t look so bad when you put it in historical context now, does it?”

[RR] “I guess we’re just going to have to live with our polarized opinions on this.”


  1. See the previous discussion on the 2014 WSOP Schedule, with its polarized buyins.
  2. Main Event entries from 2010 to 2013: 7,319, 6,865, 6,598, and 6,352.
  3. In 1970, the first year of the WSOP, Johnny Moss was given a silver cup and got to keep his winnings from playing. The 2014 prize pool and 1st place percentage are hypothetical based on 6,352 entries.


WSOP Main Event Streaks

[SS] “Speaking of streakers. I don’t think there’s ever been one at the Major League Baseball World Series1, but there was one at the 2008 College Baseball World Series. I wonder if anyone’s ever done it at the World Series of Poker?”

[LL] “Plenty of people have lost their shirts playing poker.”

[RR] “I’ve lost way more than my shirt playing strip poker.”

[LL] “So glad I wasn’t there to see that.”

[SS] “Poker may not be famous for streakers, GoldenPalace.com notwithstanding,2 but here are a few Hold ‘Em players famous for their Main Event streaks.”

Consecutive WSOP Main Event Wins

[SS] “I already mentioned this; four players have won the Main Event in consecutive years: Johnny Moss (1970-71), Doyle Brunson (1976-77), Stu Ungar (1980-81), and Johnny Chan (1987-88). Obviously, Ryan Riess can join them this year, which would be a phenomenally more impressive achievement.”

Consecutive WSOP Main Event Final Tables

[SS] “Technically, lots of players reached multiple consecutive final tables in the early years of the event, but let’s be stricter and restrict this list to the winners until 1977 (when the event was winner-take-all), the top five from 1978 to 1980 (when only the top five cashed), the top six from 1981 to 2000, and the top nine since 2001 (when the final table expanded from six to nine players).”

[SS] “Under these rules, only Jesse Alto (1984-86) and Johnny Chan (1987-89) have reached three consecutive final tables. Seven players have reached back-to-back final tables: Berry Johnston (1985-86), Bill Smith (1985-86), Dan Harrington (2003-04), Doyle Brunson (1976-77 and 1982-83), Jay Heimowitz (1980-81), Johnny Moss (1970-71 and 1979-80), and Stu Ungar (1980-81). Ryan Riess and the other 2013 November Niners can become the first to repeat since Harrington in 2004.”

Update: July 15, 2014

Mark Newhouse made the 2014 November Nine to join this list of Final Table repeaters. His impressive back-to-back runs were in fields of 6,352 and 6,683 players.

Consecutive WSOP Main Event Cashes

[SS] “Ronnie Bardah set a new record by cashing in his fifth consecutive Main Event in 2014.3 Six players have cashed in four in a row: Robert Turner (1991-94; 6th in 1994), Bo Sehlstedt (2004-07), Theodore Park (2005-08), Chris Bjorin (2008-11), Diogo Borges (2008-11), and Christian Harder (2010-13). Only 34 players have cashed more than four times in their entire careers (41 more have cashed exactly four times).4

Consecutive WSOP Main Event Tournaments Played

[SS] “Howard Andrew has played in 40 consecutive Main Events (since 1974), which is also tied with Doyle Brunson for the most Main Events total (every year since 1971 except 1999-2001; Brunson also played in 1970 when there was no Main Event per se).”


  1. Even Morganna, the Kissing Bandit, never crashed the World Series; she was arrested after jumping onto the field at an All-Star game, however.
  2. Online poker site GoldenPalace.com ran a streaker marketing campaign and stayed in the news in early to mid 2000s by purchasing various random items at auctions.
  3. Updated on July 11, 2014, when Bardah reached the final 693 players. {July 9, 2015: He failed to cash in 2015.}
  4. See the Hendon Mob’s career cashes list. Bjorin is tied for 5th place with seven. Bardah and Harder are incorrectly listed with just three cashes, however [before the 2014 Main Event].

Related Links:


WPT Career Records

[RR] “What about career WPT records?” Roderick the Rock inquired.

[SS] “Here you go”, Stan the Stat offered. “The current1 Top Ten for Career Player of the Year Points, Career Earnings, Tournaments Played, Cashes, Final Tables, Wins, Cash Rate, Final Table Rate, Win Rate, and Earnings Per Event, with rate statistics requiring a minimum of 30 events.”2

WPT Career Player of the Year Points

Rank Player POY Points
1 Daniel Negreanu 6,100
2 Antonio Esfandiari 5,650
3 Gus Hansen 5,300
4 Phil Ivey 5,250
5 Erick Lindgren 4,850
6 Carlos Mortensen 4,750
7 Hoyt Corkins 4,675
8 Michael Mizrachi 4,450
9 Jonathan Little 4,400
10 David Pham 4,300

[SS] “I know they changed how POY points are tabulated along the way, but the totals are still an interesting career scoreboard. Esfandiari is very highly ranked (2nd) compared to his career earnings (18th). Lindgren (5th) is also relatively high (15th in earnings).”

WPT Career Earnings

Rank Player Earnings
1 Carlos Mortensen $6,733,506
2 Daniel Negreanu $5,743,899
3 Michael Mizrachi $4,667,683
4 Tuan Le $4,514,063
5 Gus Hansen $4,110,801
6 Alan Goehring $3,942,344
7 Joseph Bartholdi $3,760,165
8 Jonathan Little $3,714,750
9 David Chiu $3,680,511
10 Nick Schulman $3,548,956

[SS] “Mizrachi and Negreanu are the only two who are also currently in the Top 20 in World Series of Poker earnings, at #14 ($7,339,923) and #15 ($6,851,500), respectively. Along with Phil Ivey, Mortensen, J.C. Tran, Chiu, and Erick Lindgren, they’re the only seven players who have won three million dollars on both the WPT and WSOP (Antonio Esfandiari and David Williams are each one medium WPT cash short). Esfandiari, of course, leads the combined earnings list by far because of his $18,346,673 Big One for One Drop win in 2012, with Phil Hellmuth, Negreanu, Jamie Gold, and Mizrachi rounding out the Top 5.

A total of sixteen players have won over three million dollars on the WPT, 42 over two million, and 158 at least one million.”

WPT Tournaments Played

Rank Player Events
1 Kathy Liebert 124
2 Erik Seidel 118
3 Barry Greenstein 117
4 Allen Kessler 114
5 Lee Markholt 110
6 Daniel Negreanu 105
Steve Brecher
8 John Juanda 102
Curt Kohlberg
10 Gavin Smith 99

[SS] “A total of 206 WPT events have been held through Season XII, so Liebert has played in just over sixty percent of them. Season I had the fewest events, 11, while Season XI had the most, 24. Four events have been held every season: the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic, the Legends of Poker, the L.A. Poker Classic, and the WPT World Championship. Three missed only the first season: the Borgata Poker Open, Grand Prix de Paris, and Bay 101 Shooting Star. One lasted through the first ten seasons: the World Poker Finals.”

WPT Cashes

Rank Player Cashes
1 Lee Markholt 24
2 Erik Seidel 20
Barry Greenstein
Allen Kessler
Jonathan Little
6 Daniel Negreanu 19
John Juanda
Hoyt Corkins
9 Kathy Liebert 18
Erick Lindgren
Carlos Mortensen

WPT Final Tables

Rank Player Final Tables
1 Phil Ivey 9
2 Scotty Nguyen 8
3 Daniel Negreanu 7
David Pham
Gus Hansen
6 John Juanda 6
Hoyt Corkins
Kathy Liebert
Erick Lindgren
Nam Le
J.C. Tran
Antonio Esfandiari

WPT Titles

[SS] “Darren Elias is the only player to win four events.3 Hansen, Mortensen, Rheem, and Zinno have each won three, while 19 players have won two: Mohsin Charania, Cimpan, Scott Clements, Corkins, Freddy Deeb, Esfandiari, Randal Flowers, Giannetti, Goehring, Greenstein, Le, Lederer, Lindgren, Little, Mizrachi, Negreanu, Rettenmaier, Tran, and Vedes.

Ten players have won multiple WPT titles and multiple World Series of Poker bracelets: Corkins, Deeb, Esfandiari, Greenstein, Lederer, Lindgren, Mizrachi, Mortensen, Negreanu, and Tran.4

No woman has won an open event, although Van Nguyen took down the 2006 WPT Invitational charity event.

{ February 15, 2017 update: Canada’s own Ema Zajmovic captured the 2017 WPT Playground Main Event in Kahnawake, Quebec to etch her name in the record books and take home $200,769. }”

WPT Cash Rate

Rank Player Cash %
1 Joe Serock 34.1%
2 Vivek Rajkumar 32.3%
3 Mohsin Charania 31.8%
4 Byron Kaverman 31.4%
5 Matt Salsberg 29.4%
6 Dave Ulliott 27.0%
7 Christian Harder 26.2%
8 Keven Stammen 25.7%
9 Nenad Medic 25.4%
10 Justin Young 25.0%
Roy Winston

[SS] “Joe Hachem has cashed in 42.9% of the 21 events he’s played and Abraham Gray in 56.3% of 16.”

WPT Final Table Rate3

Rank Player Final Table %
1 Gus Hansen 14.9%
2 Marvin Rettenmaier 10.5%
3 Phil Ivey 10.3%
4 Vivek Rajkumar 9.7%
5 Scotty Nguyen 9.3%
6 Matt Salsberg 8.8%
7 Ted Forrest 8.6%
8 Byron Kaverman 8.6%
Keven Stammen
10 Humberto Brenes 8.3%
Tommy Vedes

[SS] “Jared Jaffee has final tabled 16.0% of the 25 events he’s played; if he goes 0-for-his-next-5 that only drops to 13.3%, which would rank him second. Alessio Isaia has final tabled 27.3% of 11.”

WPT Win Rate3

Rank Player Win %
1 Gus Hansen 6.4%
2 Tommy Vedes 5.6%
3 Marvin Rettenmaier 5.3%
4 Cornel Cimpan 5.1%
5 Chino Rheem 4.5%
6 Carlos Mortensen 4.1%
7 Matt Giannetti 3.8%
8 Howard Lederer 3.4%
9 Vivek Rajkumar 3.2%
10 Roy Winston 3.1%
Eric Hershler
Tuan Le

[SS] “Jordan Cristos has two victories in 18 events (11.1%), so if he played in a dozen more events without winning, he’d still be at 6.7%, which would rank first. Likewise, Randal Flowers has two victories in 21 events (9.5%).”

WPT Earnings Per Event3

Rank Player Average Earnings
1 Vivek Rajkumar $93,627.13
2 Eric Hershler $88,667.44
3 Carlos Mortensen $88,328.22
4 Gus Hansen $86,208.13
5 Martin de Knijff $79,680.62
6 Tuan Le $70,532.23
7 Cornel Cimpan $67,431.51
8 David Chiu $63,315.10
9 Elky Grospellier $61,995.24
10 Chino Rheem $61,850.75

[SS] “Vanessa Selbst is the top woman, at $30,570.10. Joseph Bartholdi has an average of $170,916.59 in 22 events. If he failed to cash in his next eight events, that would only drop to $125,338.83, which would rank first. Yevgeniy Timoshenko has an average of $77,398.14 in 29 events, which would drop to $74,818.20, good for sixth.”

[LL] “Just…” {counting on fingers} “ten lists?” Leroy the Lion teased.

[SS] “I have some others that I didn’t think were interesting enough. Here are some of the leaders though:”

  • Highest Career Earnings Without a Final Table: Glenn Lafaye, $721,378 (Jimmy Tran, $718,056)5
  • Highest Career Earnings Without a Title: Hasan Habib, $2,750,597 (David Pham, $2,355,611)
  • Most Tournaments Without a Cash: Narendra Banwari, 39 (Juan Mortenson, 27)
  • Most Tournaments Without a Final Table: Tony Cousineau, 100 (Tom McCormick, 88)
  • Most Tournaments Without a Title: Kathy Liebert, 124 (Allen Kessler, 114)
  • Most Cashes Without a Final Table: Casey Kastle, 18 (Jimmy Tran, 15)
  • Most Cashes Without a Title: Allen Kessler, 20 (John Juanda, 19)
  • Most Final Tables Without a Title: David Pham, 7 (Kathy Liebert and John Juanda, 6)
  • Most Consecutive Cashes: Daniel Negreanu and Kirk Morrison, 4 (both in 2007)


  1. Data is updated through the end of Season XII (April 2014). For the latest midseason information, see the official WPT Career Stats. {May 5, 2015: Sorry, this doesn’t seem to be updated anymore.}
  2. The 30-event minimum comes from Daniel Negreanu, who tabulated some of these numbers in 2009 but doesn’t seem to have kept his data up to date.

    Career Player of the Year Points only tabulated through Season XII, as the system changed for Season XIII to use data from the Global Poker Index.

  3. Anthony Zinno became the third three-time WPT winner on March 9, 2015. Amazingly, he’s never reached a WPT final table he didn’t win, taking down his third title in one fewer final table than Mortensen and Hansen. Zinno also joined Darren Elias and Marvin Rettenmaier as the only players to win consecutive events, and jumps to the top of the WPT Final Table Rate and Win Rate boards (both 18.75% [3 out of 16]) as well as the Earnings Per Event rankings.

    { April 21, 2016 Update: Chino Rheem became the fourth player to win three WPT Main Events by defeating 341 opponents in the Seminole Hard Rock finale, earning $705,885. }

    { February 25, 2017 Update: Darren Elias became the fifth player to win three WPT Main Events by defeating 488 opponents in the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic Main Event, earning $335,436. }

    { May 23, 2018 Update: Darren Elias became the first player to win four WPT Main Events by defeating 161 opponents in the inaugural Bobby Baldwin Classic, earning $387,580. }

  4. J.C. Tran became the tenth member of the double-multiple list on March 15, 2014. 55 players have won at least one WPT and one WSOP title.
  5. Lafaye and Tran have played in 2 and 71 events respectively.

    The official site lists Chris Moorman with no cashes at the same time it says he won the 2014 L.A. Poker Classic. The latter is the truth. Daniel Perper’s stats are also inconsistent. The WPT has been contacted about these discrepancies.


WPT World Championships

[RR] “So what kind of World Poker Tour lists do you have?” Roderick the Rock asked Stan the Stat.

[SS] “Well, since the WPT World Championship was just last week, let’s start with that”, Stan replied. “Congratulations to Keven Stammen for joining the list of champions. In 2009, he had captured the $2,500 No Limit Hold’em at the World Series of Poker for over half a million dollars, but this was by far the biggest win of the Buckeye’s eight-year tournament career.”

[LL] “Do you know why Ohio residents are called Buckeyes?” Leroy the Lion interjected.

[SS] “It’s a local tree, right?”

[LL] “Yes, the Ohio buckeye tree, which is related to a variety of horse chestnut trees. The Ohio buckeye is smaller, so I guess it resembles a deer’s eye more than a horse’s. But while horse chestnuts are edible, buckeyes are poisonous!”1

[RR] “Especially to University of Michigan fans…”

WPT World Championship Winners2

Season Winner Prize Entrants Cashed Runner-Up
1 Alan Goehring $1,011,886 111 28 Kirill Gerasimov
2 Martin De Knijff $2,728,356 343 50 Hasan Habib
3 Tuan Le $2,856,150 453 100 Paul Maxfield
4 Joe Bartholdi $3,760,165 605 100 Davidson Matthew
5 Carlos Mortensen $3,970,415 639 100 Kirk Morrison
6 David Chiu $3,389,140 545 100 Gus Hansen
7 Yevgeniy Timoshenko $2,143,655 338 50 Ran Azor
8 David Williams $1,530,537 195 18 Eric Baldwin
9 Scott Seiver $1,618,344 220 27 Farzad Bonyadi
10 Marvin Rettenmaier $1,196,858 152 18 Philippe Ktorza
11 David Rheem $1,150,297 146 15 Erick Lindgren
12 Keven Stammen $1,350,000 328 36 Byron Kaverman
13 Asher Conniff $973,683 239 27 Alexander Lakhov

[SS] “Some interesting factoids from the event:”

  • Only two players have reached more than one WPT World Championship final table (last six players); Hasin Habib finished 2nd in Season II and 3rd in Season III, while Phil Ivey finished 3rd in Season I and 6th in Season III. Justin Young and Scotty Nguyen came very close, both finishing 6th (Season IX and Season VI) and 8th (Season VII and Season VIII).3
  • Carlos Mortensen is the only player who has won both the World Series of Poker Main Event (2001) and the WPT World Championship (2007). Alan Goehring and David Williams both just missed; each won the WPT World Championship (2003 and 2010, respectively) and finished second at the WSOP Main Event (1999 and 2004). David Rheem final tabled the 2008 WSOP Main Event (7th place) then won the 2013 WPT World Championship. Doyle Brunson won the WSOP Main Event in 1976 and 1977 and placed 4th in the first WPT World Championship in 2003. Scotty Nguyen won the WSOP Main Event in 1998 and was the first to bust from the 2009 WPT World Championship final table.
  • Nine players have cashed four times: David Grey (III, IV, VI, VIII), David Williams (III, IV, VIII [1st], IX [14th]), Jeff Shulman (I, II, III, VI [all in top 20 except II]), Jennifer Harman (II, III, IV, VII [11th]), Jimmy Tran (I [12th], III, V [10th], VII), Justin Young (V, VII [8th], IX [6th], XII [15th]), Matthew Hyman (VI, VII, IX, XI [4th]), Phil Hellmuth (I, IV, V [18th], VIII [7th]), and Ross Boatman (II, IV, V, VII [all in Top 20 except V]).
  • Fifteen other players have cashed three times: Billy Baxter (IV, VI, VIII [5th]), Bob Stupak (III, V, VI), Daniel Negreanu (II, VI, XI [7th]), David Kim (II, IV, VI), Doyle Brunson (I [4th], IV, IX), Farzad Bonyadi (VII, IX [2nd], X), Johan Storakers (III, IV, V), Kenny Tran (IV, VI [10th], IX), Martin De Knijff (I [15th], II [1st], VI), Mikael Thuritz (IV, V, VI), Phil Ivey (I [3rd], III [6th], VII), Shawn Buchanan (IV, V, VIII [3rd]), Surinder Sunar (I, III, IV), Thomas Wahlroos (IV, V [7th], VI), and Tom McCormick (VI, IX [18th], X [14th]).4
  • Four of those players cashed in three consecutive years: Shulman (I-III), Harman (II-IV), Thuritz (IV-VI), and Wahlroos (IV-VI).

[SS] “The WPT World Championship ends the WPT season. Here are the hands that ended each of the championships.”

WPT World Championship Final Hands

Season Winner Hand Value Runner-Up Hand Value Board
1 Alan Goehring 8♥5♦ Full house,
8s over 5s
Kirill Gerasimov 8♦6♠ Straight,
2 Martin De Knijff T♠T♦ Pair of Tens Hasan Habib A♣5♣ Pair of 5s 4♥5♥2♣Q♦7♠
3 Tuan Le K♦J♦ Pair of Jacks Paul Maxfield K♠5♦ King-high J♥T♥3♠Q♥7♥
4 Joe Bartholdi 9♦5♥ Two Pairs,
Aces over 9s
Davidson Matthew T♥4♥ Pair of Aces A♥9♣8♥2♦A♦
5 Carlos Mortensen K♥J♥ Two Pairs,
Jacks over 3s
Kirk Morrison A♠4♦ Two Pairs,
4s over 3s
6 David Chiu A♠9♠ Three Aces Gus Hansen T♠8♥ Two Pairs,
Aces over Tens
7 Yevgeniy Timoshenko A♠3♣ Straight,
Ran Azor Q♣T♦ Two Pairs,
Queens over Tens
8 David Williams 2♦2♣ Three 2s Eric Baldwin A♥5♥ Pair of Aces A♦7♣6♠2♥4♣
9 Scott Seiver J♠9♦ Straight,
Farzad Bonyadi Q♠T♥ Two Pairs,
Queens over Tens
10 Marvin Rettenmaier K♠K♣ Two Pairs,
Aces over Kings
Philippe Ktorza J♥J♦ Two Pairs,
Aces over Jacks
11 David Rheem K♦9♣ Ace-high,
King kicker
Erick Lindgren Q♦9♦ Ace-high,
Queen kicker
12 Keven Stammen A♣8♠ Pair of Aces Byron Kaverman 4♠4♦ Pair of 4s Q♥9♣6♣3♥A♥
13 Asher Conniff A♠Q♥ Ace-high Alexander Lakhov T♥6♥ King-high 7♥5♦2♠4♠K♠

[SS] “Some final hand notes:”

  • The money has gone all-in before the flop every year except Seasons I and IV (flop), VI (turn), and IX (river).
  • 2014 marked the fifth time in the twelve years that the champion has rivered the winning hand, all with eight or fewer outs; Season I: Goehring filled his boat (3 outs), VI: Chiu hit a third Ace (8 outs, as he also could have hit a higher two-pair), VII: Timoshenko hit an inside straight (3 outs), IX: Seiver hit an open-ended straight (8 outs), and XII: Stammen rivered a higher pair (6 outs).
  • The best winning hand and the best losing hand were both in the first season, when Goehring’s boat overcame Gerasimov’s straight.
  • The worst winning hand was Rheem’s Ace-high in Season XI, when he outkicked Lindgren’s Ace-high, which was the second worst losing hand behind only Maxfield’s King-high in Season III.4
  • A flush has never appeared in the final hand (despite four hearts on the board in Season III).


  1. See this eHow article about the difference between buckeyes and horse chestnuts.
  2. In 2014, the event moved from Las Vegas’s Bellagio to Atlantic City’s Borgata, and the buyin was reduced from $25,000 to $15,000. That’s why the number of entries more than doubled while the payouts barely increased. Also known as the 2014 Borgata Spring Poker Open, the event promised five million dollars in payouts guaranteed, but Poker News reported only $4,852,400 while listing 36 prizes totaling $4,892,254. Where did the other hundred-plus thousand dollars go?

    The event was known as the WPT Championship for the first eight seasons.

    April 30, 2015 update: Asher Conniff won the Season XIII WPT World Championship.

  3. Two players joined this list in 2015. Carlos Mortensen added a 4th place finish to his Season V victory, while Tony Dunst joined Hasan Habib as the only back-to-back final tablists, finishing 6th this year and 3rd last year.
  4. Alexander Lakhov’s King-high, Ten kicker in 2015 is now the worst losing hand as Maxfield had a Queen kicker in 2005.
  5. Carlos Mortensen added his third WPT World Championship cash in 2015.

Related Links:


Irish Open

[SS] “Do you guys know what the second oldest still-running Texas Hold ‘Em event is?” Stan the Stat teased.

[RR] “After the World Series of Poker?” Roderick the Rock surmised.

[SS] “Yep.”

[RR] “I have no idea.”

[LL] “Isn’t it the Irish Open?” Leroy the Lion offered. “A bunch of the Irish guys at the pub tournament talk about it occasionally.”

[SS] “Right you are. Irish bookmaker Terry Rogers was in Las Vegas on a business trip when the 1979 World Series of Poker was happening and befriended Irish American Benny Binion. The Red Menace, Rogers’ nickname on account of his flaming hair, had already been running charity tournaments with ‘Gentleman’ Liam Flood at their Eccentrics Club,1 so the following year they transformed the events into the Irish Open, usually held each year on Easter weekend.2 The event became the Paddy Poker Irish Open in 2005 but is now back to being just the Irish Open.”

[SS] “The Main Event of the 32nd3 Irish Open begins today, with a €2,000+250 entry fee and will run for four days to crown a champion to add to this winners’ list.”

Irish Open Champions4

Year Winner Prize5 Entrants Cashed6 Runner-Up
1980 Colette Doherty $22,000 36 ? ?
1981 Sean Kelly ? ? ? ?
1982 Frank Conway ? ? ? ?
1983 Jimmy Langan ? ? ? ?
1984 Tony Byrne $25,578 ~36 ? Liam Flood
1985 Irene Tier ? ? ? Frank Mifsud
1986 Bryan McCarthy ? ? ? ?
1987 Noel Furlong ? ? ? ?
1988 Jimmy Langan ? ? ? ?
1989 Noel Furlong ? ? ? ?
1990 Liam Flood $19,646 ? ? ?
1991 Colette Doherty ? ? ? ?
1992 Noel Furlong ? ? ? ?
1993 Christy Smith ? ? ? ?
1994 Mickey Finn $22,110 39 9 George McKeever
1996 Liam Flood ? ? ? ?
1999 Liam Barker $26,067 76 13 Jenny Hegarty
2000 Alan Betson $26,443 79 12 Julian Gardner
2001 Jenny Hegarty $31,922 92 8 Paul Cryan
2002 Nick Beirne $18,521 67 9 Allan Gallagher
2003 Joe Beevers $54,971 105 9 Frank Callaghan
2004 Ivan Donaghy $80,068 107 9 Robert McGuirk
2005 John Falconer $189,421 170 18 Alan Betson
2006 Vincent Melinn $423,647 339 36 Ian Woodley
2007 Marty Smyth $867,546 708 72 Roland De Wolfe
2008 Neil Channing $1,263,261 667 72 Donal Norton
2009 Christer Johansson $793,882 700 72 Kara Scott
2010 James Mitchell $809,094 708 72 Paul Carr
2011 Niall Smyth $790,580 615 64 Surinder Sunar
2012 Kevin Vandersmissen $553,316 502 54 Thomas Beer
2013 Ian Simpson $339,604 505 54 Michael Farrelly
2014 Patrick Clarke $276,380 411 47 Dave Pollock
2015 Ioannis Triantafyllakis $226,684 321 36 Kevin Killeen
2016 Daniel Wilson $167,920 802 95 Michael Conaty
2017 Griffin Benger $212,000 1,129 135 Michael Mazilu

[SS] “Some interesting factoids from the event:”

  • After Colette Doherty won the first Irish Open in 1980, Rogers convinced her to enter the World Series of Poker Main Event even though she didn’t know how to play Texas Hold ‘Em (the Irish Open was 5-card stud that first year). She was the first woman and the first European to play in the WSOP Main Event but didn’t survive the first day when Bob Hooks upended her full house with a bigger boat. In 2000, she finished 12th in the WSOP $1,000+60 Women’s Championship (Limit Hold’em/7 Card Stud).
  • Two other women have won the Irish Open: Irene Tier in 1985 and Jenny Hegarty, who became the event’s oldest winner as a 72-year old grandmother in 2001! She had previously finished 2nd in 1999 and 8th in 1994.
  • Jimmy Langan became the first two-time champion in 1988. Noel Furlong joined him the next year, Doherty in 1991, and Liam Flood in 1996.3
  • Noel Furlong became the only three-time champion in 1992 and conquered the WSOP Main Event seven years later (fellow Irishmen Padraig Parkinson [3rd] and George McKeever [7th] also did well). Furlong also finished 2nd in his first Irish Open in 1984, 3rd in 2002, and 32nd in 2011; he also finished 6th in the WSOP Main Event in 1989. Rogers is credited with teaching Furlong how to play poker.
  • Julian Gardner was runner-up at both the 2000 Irish Open and the 2002 WSOP Main Events.
  • Englishman Neil Channing won the biggest first prize in the Irish Open in 2008, when the entry fee peaked at 4,200€+300, as he survived a field of 667 players to take home the event’s only million-dollar prize of $1,263,261 (801,400€).
  • The largest field, however, was a tie between 2007 and 2010, with 708 players, just eight more than in 2009. The 2007 event set a record for the largest Hold ‘Em tournament in Europe.
  • While the majority of the champions have been Irish, there have been three Americans (Kelly, Byrne, and Beirne), five Englishmen (Beevers, Falconer, Channing, Mitchell, and Simpson), a Swede (Johansson), and a Belgian (Vandersmissen).
  • The entry fee has jumped around even more than the venue, including 500£ in 1994, 250I£ in 1999, 700+70€ in 2002, a peak of 4,200+300€ in 2008, and a drop down from 3,200+300€ to the current 2,000+250€ in 2013.
  • In 2012, Ian Simpson finished fourth. The following year, he made it to heads up before finishing off Michael Farrelly in a mere three hands. Simpson then proposed successfully to his girlfriend, Emma Rodham. Not what you usually mean when you say someone has a trophy wife.

[LL] “And not the usual ring game for a poker player.”

[RR] “Nor winning a hand.”

[SS] “Speaking of winning hands… Information is very scarce before 2007, but here are all of the winning hands since then:”

Irish Open Final Hands Since 20074

Year Winner Hand Value Runner-Up Hand Value Board
2007 Marty Smyth K♥9♥ Flush,
Ace King-high
Roland De Wolfe T♥3♥ Flush,
Ace Ten-high
2008 Neil Channing A♣9♥ Three Aces Donal Norton 5♠5♣ Two Pairs,
Aces and 5s
2009 Christer Johansson K♣3♥ Pair of Kings Kara Scott J♣9♥ Pair of Jacks J♦7♠K♦Q♠A♦
2010 James Mitchell A♥8♥ Full House,
8s over Jacks
Paul Carr Q♠5♦ Two Pairs,
Jacks and 8s
2011 Niall Smyth Q♣5♠ Two Pairs,
5s and 3s
Surinder Sunar A♣9♠ Pair of 3s T♥3♣3♦2♦5♥
2012 Kevin Vandersmissen 9♦7♣ Three 9s Thomas Beer A♣K♥ Pair of 9s 9♠4♥3♣8♦9♥
2013 Ian Simpson 4♦3♦ Flush,
Michael Farrelly 7♦4♠ Straight,
2014 Patrick Clarke K♦8♦ Pair of Kings Dave Pollock Q♠7♣ Pair of 7s K♠7♠2♥4♥J♥
2015 Ioannis Triantafyllakis Q♠T♦ Two Pairs,
Qs and 7s
Kevin Killeen A♠2♣ Pair of 7s 7♣4♣Q♦7♥3♥
2016 Daniel Wilson A♣K♣ Two Pairs,
Aces and 6s
Michael Conaty 9♥9♣ Two Pairs,
9s and 6s
2017 Griffin Benger K♥8♦ Two Pairs,
8s and 2s,
King kicker
Michael Mazilu T♣8♠ Two Pairs,
8s and 2s,
Ten kicker

[RR] “Was that the Kara Scott, from the poker shows on TV?”

[SS] “Indeed. She won over four hundred thousand dollars for the best result of her poker career.”


  1. The Irish Open stayed at the Eccentrics Club until 1996. After Rogers passed away in 1999, it moved to the Merrion Casino Club, which remained its home until 2005. The event then bounced around to Jury’s Ballsbridge Hotel in 2006, the Burlington Hotel in 2007, and Citywest Hotel in 2008 and 2009, before returning to the Burlington for good in 2010. The Burlington was renamed the Double Tree by Hilton in 2014. All of the sites have been in Dublin.
  2. The Irish Open’s Main Event has started on Good Friday, or the day before or after, every year that I know of except 2002, when it was held on June 1.
  3. The Irish Open wasn’t held in 1995, 1997, or 1998. Some sources give Charlie Power as the 1995 winner, but Hendon lists that event as the Real Irish Open on March 1, 1995, a small-buyin event (just 50£) with only a 2,500£ first prize (furthermore, Good Friday wasn’t until April 14 in 1995). Other sources say Mickey Finn won his second title in 1998, but with no details like first prize, field size, or his heads-up opponent; Liam Flood himself said there was no event in 1998. That makes this the 32nd event, not the 33rd.
  4. 2014 winners and final hands added on April 26, 2014. 2015 winners and final hands added on April 8, 2015. 2016 winners and final hands added on May 13, 2016. With the entry fee lowered to 1,025+125€, the number of entries jumped from 321 to a record 802. 2017 winners and final hands added on April 4, 2017.
  5. All prizes are given in approximate dollar equivalents. Actual prizes were in pounds until 1994 or 1996, in Irish pounds until 2001, and in euros since.
  6. The number of players who cashed is higher than usual from 1994 to 2002 because the tournament allowed one or two rebuys in those years (e.g., there were 11 rebuys in 2000 and 22 in 2001).

Related Links:


Poker Players on Reality Shows

[SS] “There are reality poker shows, and there are reality shows with poker players on them”, Stan the Stat stated.

[RR] “Disproportionately represented by women”, Roderick the Rock noted, “not that I’m complaining.”

[LL] “I can’t really stand any of those shows, but I have to say, Annie Duke was robbed”, Leroy the Lion contributed.

[SS] “Now, of course, lots of people play poker, so this list only includes poker pros. I didn’t count amateurs like Adam Gersh on Unan1mous and Dan Barbour on I Survived a Japanese Game Show.

Poker Players on U.S. Reality Game Shows1

Show (Wikipedia link) Network Year (IMDB link) Poker Player Notes
MasterChef 72 Fox 2016 David Williams Spoiler (highlight to see): finished third out of 20
Survivor 32: Kaoh Rong3 CBS 2016 Anna Khait Spoiler (highlight to see): fifth person voted off out of 18
Big Brother 174 CBS 2015 Vanessa Rousso Spoiler (highlight to see): finished 3rd out of 17
Survivor 28: Cagayan CBS 2014 Garrett Adelstein Adelstein has $122,766 in career tournament earnings according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database but is more of a cash game player; Spoiler (highlight to see): Adelstein was the second contestant voted out
The Millionaire Matchmaker Bravo 2013 Daniel Negreanu Video of “Wounded Wally and the Mama’s Boy” (1/10/13); Spoiler (highlight to see): seemed happy with his choice of Lindsay Blalock, but the relationship was already history by the time the episode aired
Worst Cooks in America Bravo 2012 Tiffany Michelle Spoiler (highlight to see): finished 5th out of 16
The Millionaire Matchmaker Bravo 2010 Beth Shak Video of “House of Cards” (11/9/10) for $1.99; Spoiler (highlight to see): She picked the millionaire (1,200 pairs of shoes cost a lot, you know), but none of the three men Patty set her up with were “so great” and she met someone else shortly after the episode was filmed; Shak also appeared on Celebrity Nightmares Decoded.
The Amazing Race 15 CBS 2009 Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle Spoiler (highlight to see): finished 6th out of 12 two-player teams
Celebrity Apprentice NBC 2009 Annie Duke Spoiler (highlight to see): finished 2nd out of 16 (to Joan Rivers)
2 Months, $2 Million G4TV 2009 Dani Stern, Jay Rosenkrantz, Brian Roberts, and Emil Patel The four players share a house in Las Vegas and try to make $2 million playing online poker in only two months; Video of the first of ten episodes; Spoiler (highlight to see): ended up making $676,700
Rob and Amber: Against the Odds FOX Reality Channel 2007 Rob Mariano Survivor and The Amazing Race contestant Rob Mariano tries to make it as a professional poker, with Daniel Negreanu as his tutor
Survivor 15: China CBS 2007 Jean Robert Bellande Spoiler (highlight to see): finished 9th out of 16

[RR] “How does Rob Mariano belong on the list?”

[SS] “Believe it or not, he won $50,000 in 2006 by placing sixth in the Calvin Ayre Wild Card Poker Tournament. For that, Boston Rob got into Hendon’s Database and earned a wild card onto this list.”

[SS] “Poker pros have also appeared on reality lifestyle shows. I may have seen some of these, but you’ll never get me to admit it:”

Poker Players on U.S. Reality Lifestyle Shows1

Show (Wikipedia link) Network Year (IMDB link) Poker Player Notes
Sin City Rules TLC 2012-13 Jennifer Harman Harman and four other somewhat important Vegas women (Lana Fuchs [daughter of a famous mobster], Amy Hanley [entrepreneur], Alicia Jacobs [reporter], and Lori Montoya [cosmetics line]); f.k.a. Vegas High Rollers; 5 episodes aired and 3 were posted to the web site
I Bet My Life Travel Channel 2012 Liv Boeree and Kevin MacPhee The Iron Maiden and ImaLuckSac play in a European Poker Tour $14,000 buy-in tournament in Monte Carlo, Monaco; trailer (pilot only); Spoiler (highlight to see): neither player made the money
NY Ink TLC 2012 Beth Shak Clip from the “Poker Hottie” episode
I Bet You MOJO HD 2007-08 Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak YouTube Playlist; 2 seasons with a total of 24 episodes; 3rd season filmed but never aired as iN Demand cancelled the entire network
My Life on the D List Bravo 2007 Mike Matusow In the “Loose Cannon” episode, the Mouth has a blind date with the show’s star, comedienne Kathy Griffin; 4-minute YouTube video

[LL] “I Bet You was quite funny at times; pairing Laak and Esfandiari was a good bet. But I think the people who produced some of these other shows need a reality check.”

[RR] “No surprise that the other shows all folded pretty quickly.”


  1. The tables are sorted by recency. Tap on the header to sort by any column. You need to view the post by itself for this to work.
  2. September 15, 2016 Update: Added David Williams’s appearance on MasterChef 7.
  3. March 17, 2016 Update: Added Anna Khait’s appearance on Survivor 32: Kaoh Rong.
  4. September 24, 2015 Update: Added Vanessa Rousso’s appearance on Big Brother 17.


Poker Reality Television Shows

[RR] “Speaking of entertaining, what about reality poker television shows? I have to admit that I’m a sucker for them”, claimed Roderick the Rock.

[SS] “I consider them a guilty pleasure; more of a pointless primetime puff piece than a poker production”, Stan the Stat admitted.

[LL] “I enjoyed some of the shows but couldn’t stand others”, Leroy the Lion added, “depending mostly on how much actual poker content there was.”

[SS] “Yeah, it’s a pretty wide assortment of shows. Somebody must have liked them though, because I have a list of proposed shows that’s even longer!”

Reality Poker Shows on U.S. Television1

Show (Wikipedia link) Network Years (IMDB link) Location2 Commentators Notes
Best Damn Poker Show Fox Sports Net 2008-09 Pechanga Resort (2008; Temecula, CA), San Manuel Casino (2009; Highland, CA) Chris Rose (2008), Dave Stann (2009) Two 7-week seasons, starting with 24 players, eventually split into Team Duke and Team Hellmuth; a.k.a. Best Damn Poker Challenge and a sequel to Ultimatepoker.com Showdown in the U.K. in 2005 with Duke, Hellmuth, and 5 players, including Liv Boeree
Face the Ace NBC 2009 Cin City Studios Steve Schirrpa and Ali Nejad Amateurs face one to three poker pros in heads-up matches (for $40K, $200K, and $1M, all-or-nothing)
Ace in the House GSN 2007 various homes Cory Zeidman Five amateur poker players play a single-table tournament against each other and a random pro (e.g., Mike Matusow in the first episode) for $10,000 ($20,000 if the pro has to rebuy for half of the starting stack); video playlist of the first and only episode
Annie Duke Takes On the World GSN 2006 ? Annie Duke and Regan Burns Four amateur poker players play each other for a chance at $10,000 against Annie Duke, who also advises them
King of Vegas Spike 2006 Bally’s Casino Resort Max Kellerman and Wayne Allyn Root Six amateurs, three professional blackjack players, and three professional poker players compete in eight different games, four per episode (starting with blackjack, two of Caribbean Stud Poker/Craps/Horse racing/Mini-Baccarat/Pai Gow Poker/Red Dog/Roulette, and ending with Hold ‘Em)

Proposed Reality Poker Shows1

Show (web link) Status Year (video link) Notes
Big Slick Poker Academy to be filmed during WSOP in June 2014 2014 Reality show could just be overpromised marketing fluff from the poker training company
Poker Entertainment Network entire poker network planned but already delayed a year 2014 New network was supposed to debut in December 2013 but now delayed until December 2014; 24/7 with Poker Tournaments, Reality, Poker News, Documentary, and Movies
Poker Night in America in production? 2014 Poker playing and behind-the-scenes footage with Kristy Arnett, David “ODB” Baker, Lauren Billings, Shawn Buchanan, Eli Elezra, Layne Flack, Phil Laak, Mike “the Mouth” Matusow, David Levi, Greg “FBT” Mueller, Tom “Donkeybomber” Schneider, Gavin Smith, David Williams; Arnett and Billings won an open casting call
Pool, Poker & Pain casting call in 2011 then nothing 2014 16 to 20 contestants learn and compete in pool, MMA fighting, and poker; created by Blair Thein with Doug Stanley, producer of Deadliest Catch
Great American Poker Challenge tournaments were held but no show was produced 2013 Events happened early November 2013 at Planet Hollywood, but the promise of a reality TV show seems to have been lost
Queens Are Wild announced by E! Network then nothing 2013 Follows four top female poker pros, including Maria Ho
Full House with Johnny Chan sizzle reel created 2012 Five “up-and-coming” poker players (all Las Vegas cash game grinders) compete and get trained by Johnny Chan
Fatty’s: Where the Game Gets REAL casting call then nothing 2010 Combines poker and fantasy sports but never seems to have gotten off the ground; Created by Scott “Mayhem” Einiger, who knocked Phil Ivey out on Day Two of the 2010 WSOP Main Event
Young Guns 5-1/2 minute trailer created 2010 Follows four online poker pros (Chris Sparks, Chris “The Captain” Jackson, Jurran “The Kid” Joshu, and Seth Otterstad) for two months living together in a Hollywood Hills villa


  1. The tables are sorted by recency. Tap on the header to sort by any column. You need to view the post by itself for this to work.
  2. All locations are in Las Vegas, Nevada unless specified otherwise.

Related Links:

  • Special props to Poker Tube for their amazing collection of poker videos.


“Poker Plays You Can Use” Review

[SS] “Perfect timing that you joined us just now, Iggy”, greeted Stan the Stat. “We were just discussing New Year’s Resolutions, and the first section was about improving your game!”

[II] “Oh, yeah. Half of my resolutions this year are about getting better at Hold ‘Em!” Iggy the Improver volunteered.

[RR] “What about the other fifty? {Chuckles.} How many new poker books did you get for Christmas?” Roderick the Rock asked.

[II] “Just two, but they’re really good ones.”

[SS] “Do tell.”

[II] “The first one is Poker Plays You Can Use by Doug Hull.”

[RR] “I’ve never heard of it…, or him.”

[II] “He’s not famous… yet. But his advice is very sensible without being obvious, straightforward without being dull. And, Stan, you’d really like the way he’s organized his book! Each ‘play’ is categorized by the weaknesses it exploits, the skills it uses, and a difficulty level.”

[SS] “That sounds awesome.”

[II] “Hull groups the plays by type and indicates the most closely related plays.”

[RR] “Can you give us an example?”

[II] “The sections are ‘Bluffs and Semi-bluffs’, ‘Getting Value’, ‘Good Folds’, and ‘Three-bet pots’.1 Since the first section contains almost sixty percent of the plays, here’s a medium-difficulty play from there.”

[II] “‘When a bad barreling card comes, wait for the river.’ This play takes advantage of tight, predictable opponents by utilizing the two-barrel bluff in your arsenal. After raising preflop and getting your continuation bet called by a nit, it may make sense to check the turn and bluff the river instead. For example, out of position, holding 8♥8♦ on a 3♠7♦9♥6♣ board, your opponent is likely ahead with top pair or an overpair and will call if you semi-bluff the turn with your straight draw and second pair. If he checks behind, however, when a K♣ appears on the river, you can represent top pair and take down the pot with a healthy river bet.”

Title Poker Plays You Can Use
Author Doug Hull
Year 2013
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Pros Very well organized. Provides immediately useful suggestions. Includes in-game exercises to improve your skills.
Cons Too brief despite containing 306 pages (as that includes the exercises and appendixes)! With almost fifty plays, each play gets only about five pages. Also a tad pricey (list price $49.99 paperback, $44.99 ebook), although it has gone on sale at least once.
Rating 4.5


  1. Both Rod and Stan would have had a minor quibble with the inconsistent capitalization, but that’s the wrong type of nit to pick on in this blog.

Poker Player Catchphrases

[RR] “At least a couple of your poker player taglines, like Hachem’s ‘Pass the sugar!’, are also catchphrases”, Roderick the Rock remarked, “Do you have a list of those?”

[SS] “Of course I do”, Stan the Stat confirmed, “albeit with a wide range of catchiness.”

[RR] “Hold ‘Em is full of catches. You can catch a couple cards on the turn and river to catch up and catch your opponent off guard. Catch fire by doing that a few times, catch the chip leaders, and you can catch your big break by making the final table of the WSOP Main Event. That would certainly catch the eye of the poker world, but the break before the November Nine will let you catch your breath, catch forty winks, catch a plane home, and catch up with your life.”

[SS] “Sure. But if you win, don’t catch flak1 by stiffing your partner, like Jamie Gold in 2006,2 or the IRS, whose army can catch tax evaders like Jerry Yang the next year.”3

Poker Player Catchphrases

Player Catchphrase Notes
Mattias Andersson “Jaaaa!” Screamed this every time he won a big pot on his way to finishing in 8th place in the 2004 WSOP Main Event
Jean Robert Bellande “Excellent laydown” Whenever an opponent folds to his bet/raise; also “Good laydown”
Chris Bigler “Yeah, baby!” His yell could be heard at the beginning of World Poker Tour episodes
Doyle Brunson “May the flop be with you!” His sign-off/signature; also “We’re playing poker, not solitaire!” and “You only live once. If you work it right, once is enough.”
Norman Chad “He’s got squadoosh!” Also, “Mazel Tov!” after someone says “Nice hand”, “Whamboozled!”, “Pay the man, Shirley!”, and “The 4 of clubs on the turn has never changed anything.”
Johnny Chan “What’s yours is yours.” After losing a decent-sized pot; He said it after folding to Mike McDermott in Rounders, but the line didn’t make the movie’s final cut.
Sammy Farha “Raisy daisy” Also, “Foldy moldy”, “Are you serious?”, and “You gotta gamble to win”
Tony G “On Yer Bike” When sending someone to the rail; also “Bring on the Russians”, “I have the heeeaarrt”, “I played it like a set”, and “I am qualified”
Joe Hachem “Pass the sugar!” After Hachem won the 2005 Main Event, WSOP commentator Norman Chad declared, “Hachem turned 7-3 offsuit into $7.5 million. Pass the sugar!”; Became the name of his autobiography with Peter Ralph in 2009
Phil Hellmuth “I can dodge bullets, baby!” After avoiding busting out during the 2005 WSOP Main Event; also “Do you know who I am?”, “The guy can’t even spell poker”, etc.
Cliff Josephy “Fwaatchaaaa!” “JohnnyBax”, the #1 ranked online player in 2006, says this repeatedly for all-ins in his PokerXFactor training videos
Mike Matusow “The Kiddie Game is down the street” After showing a successful bluff during the 2005 WSOP Main Event
Tom McEvoy “I get no respect” The 1993 WSOP Main Event winner’s line is similar to comedian Rodney Dangerfield’s “I don’t get no respect”
Jim Meehan “We’re all God’s children” Ironic, as “Minneapolis Jim” was given a timeout during Ultimate Poker Challenge first season championship for foul language, he drinks alcohol at the poker table, and keeps an unlit cigarette in his mouth
Men Nguyen “All you can eat, baby!” I.e., “I’m all-in”; when a waitress brings his Corona, he may say, “All you can drink, baby”; also “Good laydown, sir”
Scotty Nguyen “That’s poker, baby” After a bad beat; also, “What’s up, baby?”, “You call, it’s all over, baby!”, and pretty much any phrase ending in “baby”
Rob Salaburu “Huevos Rancheros” Instead of saying the “nuts”, he references Mexican breakfast food; also, “You lost, bro” when David Balkin thought he’d beaten Gaelle Baumann at showdown but his flopped set of Tens had actually lost to a rivered flush during the 2012 WSOP Main Event.
Marat Sharafutdinov “I wont million” The Russian cab driver “maratik” typed this in the chat box while heads up for the 2012 WCOOP Main Event for $1,000,907, which he won
Kenny Smith “Whatta Player!” Also his nickname, which he earned by yelling the phrase repeatedly while finishing sixth in the 1978 WSOP Main Event and 4th in 1981
Amir Vahedi “In order to live, you must be willing to die” The Iranian pro, with over $3 million in tournament earnings, also says “pull the trigger” instead of “die”
Cory Waaland “GL myself” The young pro, whose nickname “MJ23STYLEz” honors Michael Jordan, is probably a lot more honest than most of the players who type “gl” for “good luck” in the chat box


  1. Or, if you prefer, “H-E-double hockey sticks”, as long as we’re channeling M*A*S*H today.
  2. Gold had promised half of his winnings, tried to renege, but eventually conceded an unknown amount, but probably the intended $6 million.
  3. Yang’s championship bracelet was put up for auction to help pay his taxes.

English Idioms from Poker

[RR] “Just saw the tweet of the year this weekend, comparing the end of the Vikings-Ravens football game to a Texas Hold ‘Em hand. Stan, you’d really get along well with the guy, Bill Bowen!”

[SS] “I’m sure I would”, Stan the Stat agreed. “I didn’t see the game, but I caught the highlights, and they were ridiculous! 36 points in two and half minutes!?”1

[RR] “The craziness began with the Vikings up 12-7, but with 1:27 to go in the game, the Vikings led 19-15 and had a win probability2 of 88.8%, which is like holding A♥A♦ all-in preflop against 7♥K♠ (87.7% for the Aces). When Jacoby Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown with 1:16 left, the odds swung to 84.0% in Baltimore’s favor, which would be like a flop of K♦K♥3♠ for a set of Kings (91.4% for the King-Seven). When Matt Cassel hit Cordarrelle Patterson for a 79-yard touchdown with 45 seconds to go, the odds swung back to 96.4% for the Vikings, which is close to the odds after an Ace (A♠) on the turn for a better set (97.7% for the Aces). Finally, the last Ravens drive resulted in a 9-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Marlon Brown with four seconds on the game clock (win probability 98.4%, but the ensuing kickoff killed the final seconds of the game uneventfully), like spiking the case King (K♣) on the river for winning quads.”

[SS] “Who says poker isn’t as exciting as football ;-)?”

[RR] “Poker lingo has seeped into our everyday English lexicon for a long time now, but that was a magnificent modern metaphor.”

[SS] “Speaking of which, here’s my list of poker terms that are now commonly used outside the game.”


  • above board: on the level (from keeping your cards above the table in poker so opponents can see that you’re not cheating)
  • ace in the hole: a resource unknown to your opponent (from stud poker, where you have cards that your opponents can’t see)
  • ace up your sleeve: your hidden, possibly unfair, advantage (also “card” instead of “ace”)
  • four-flusher: cheater (from players trying to represent a flush despite having only four instead of five of one suit)
  • have something down pat: well-practiced or memorized (from being dealt a made hand in draw poker, which allows you stand pat and not draw any cards)
  • hold all the cards: control the situation (also, “aces” instead of “cards”)
  • hold your cards close to your vest: keep your thoughts and plans secret (in casinos, this is no longer an acceptable way of hiding your cards’ identities; also “chest” instead of “vest”)
  • lay all your cards on the table: tell the complete truth (from the end of a poker hand when everyone shows their cards)
  • the nuts: the best of something (from Hold ‘Em and other stud games)
  • play the hand you’re dealt: don’t worry about what you can’t change (or “can’t tell what kind of hand you’re playing”)
  • play your cards right: use your resources effectively (the obvious poker advice)
  • showdown: final confrontation (from when players reveal their cards at the end of a poker hand)
  • tip your hand: reveal your intended action (from accidentally revealing your hidden cards to your opponents)
  • wasn’t in the cards: inevitable, possibly because of luck (from the obvious)
  • wild card: unknown variable in a situation (from draw poker and other games with wild cards that can represent any other card)


  • blue-chip: valuable (from the most valuable poker chips such as when white, red, and blue chips are used; e.g., “blue-chip stock”)
  • cash in your chips: dying; taking a profit (from converting your chips back into legal tender)
  • chip in: contribute (especially from the ante at the beginning of a hand, where each player puts in the same amount of chips)
  • in the chips: rich, or at least currently winning (from the obvious possession of lots of chips)
  • jackpot: a large prize (from jacks-or-better draw poker, where the pot would be “jacked-up” due to the opening qualifier [via slot machines in 1932])
  • stack up against something: compare two items or ideas (from comparing chip stacks physically instead of having to count all the chips)
  • when the chips are down: in a difficult situation (from the obvious lack of poker chips)


  • big deal: important (from a hand with a large pot)
  • deal me in: let me participate (from the start of a poker hand)
  • deal off the bottom: cheat (from one way to cheat at cards)
  • dealt a bad hand: unlucky (from the obvious)
  • double dealing: cheating (from dealing a cheating confederate an extra card)
  • lost in the shuffle: easily overlooked amid confusion (from the intentional randomness created when shuffling playing cards)
  • luck of the draw: a result beyond your control (from draw poker, where you discard from your hand and get new cards from the deck)
  • pass the buck: foist responsibility onto another person (from the dealer button, which at times in the 19th century was a buck’s horn-handled hunting knife [via Buckhorn Poker or Buck Poker]3; similarly, “the buck stops here”
  • square deal: honest transaction (from the squaring up of the playing card deck to prevent cheating)
  • stack the deck: arrange things unfairly (from one way of cheating at poker; also “cards” instead of “deck”)


  • ante up: contribute (from the start of a hand in some poker games)
  • all-in: committed to an action (from the act of betting all of your chips)
  • bet the farm: stake everything on an action (possibly from before table stakes were common, so you could literally bet any of your possessions in a poker game; or “ranch” instead of “farm”)
  • bet your bottom dollar: all-in (from the bottom dollar representing your whole stack of money or chips)
  • bluff: represent something that isn’t true (from the Dutch bluffen “to brag, boast” or verbluffen “to baffle, mislead”4)
  • fold: quit (from the obvious)
  • know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em: able to tell when to compete and when to give up (from the obvious poker advice and made famous by Kenny Rogers)
  • overplay your hand: pretend to be stronger than you are (from bad poker playing)
  • penny ante: small stakes (from the smallest poker stakes)
  • raise the ante: increase the stakes (from cash games; in most tournaments, you raise the blinds instead; also “stakes” instead of “ante”)
  • sandbag: intentionally play a strong hand weakly (a.k.a. slowplaying in poker)
  • stand pat: take no action (from draw poker, where a pat hand is a straight or better)
  • sweeten the pot: increase the wager (from a bet which is intended to increase the pot size rather than cause anyone to fold)
  • you bet!: agreed (from the obvious)


  • freeroll: a chance at winning something for no cost (from freeroll tournaments which have prizes but no entry fee)
  • on the bubble: on the fence (from the point in a poker tournament where everyone remaining will win money after one more player busts out)
  • poker face: emotionless (from the act of not letting your expression reveal how strong your hand is)
  • tell: mannerism that indicates your position (from any emotion, mannerism, gesture, or oral indication that reveals how strong your hand is)


  1. Also, a record five touchdowns in 2:01, well under half the four decade-old previous record of 5:40 (Bengals-Oilers in 1972).
  2. You can calculate the win probability given the score, down, field position, and time left in any NFL game (except kickoffs, apparently). {December 24, 2015 update: alas, the real-time calculator no longer seems to be available. December 28, 2021 update: replaced deprecated link}
  3. When silver dollars were used as buttons, they became known as bucks.
  4. Source: bluff entry in the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Flash replayer version of the “hand”

Full Tilt Poker formatted version, suitable for inputting into various poker analysis tools

Full Tilt Poker Game #0000001410: Table M&T Bank Stadium - 50,000/100,000 - No Limit Hold'em - 15:43:21 EDT - 2013/12/08
Seat 1: Minnesota (500,000)
Seat 2: Baltimore (500,000)
Minnesota posts the big blind of 100,000
Baltimore posts the small blind of 50,000
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Baltimore raises to 500,000, and is all in
Minnesota calls 400,000, and is all in
*** FLOP *** [Kd Kh 3s]
*** TURN *** [Kd Kh 3s] [As]
*** RIVER *** [Kd Kh 3s As] [Kc]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Minnesota shows [Ah Ad] full house, Kings over Aces
Baltimore shows [7h Ks] four Kings
Baltimore wins the pot (1,000,000) with four Kings
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 1,000,000 | Rake 0
Board: [Kd Kh 3s As Kc]
Seat 1: Minnesota (button) showed [Ah Ad] and lost with full house, Kings over Aces
Seat 2: Baltimore (big blind) showed [7h Ks] and won (1,000,000) with four Kings