“The Noble Hustle” Review

Colson Whitehead is one of a number of authors who have been fortunate enough to have his publisher pay him1 to write about playing in the World Series of Main Event. But he’s the only Pulitzer Prize winner2 in the group, making The Noble Hustle3 a delightful read. Unfortunately, he isn’t a very good poker player, regularly joining other writers only in very low-stakes dealer’s choice home games and completely lacking in tournament experience.

More than a decade into the poker boom and a month after Black Friday has effectively killed internet poker in the U.S., Whitehead still lays out the basics of Texas Hold ‘Em and explains how tournaments work, but at least he does so more entertainingly than anyone else has. A driver’s license-less native of the Big Apple, he takes the bus to Atlantic City, accepts his complimentary chips and tangles with denizens of the $1/$2 Hold ‘Em tables. This is a step up from his usual game but still far from where he’s going.

Despite hiring a poker coach,4 he isn’t able to learn fast enough to impress anyone with his skills or results. Fortunately, he is honest with us about this, deprecatingly describing his style as “Tight Incompetent”.5 His two strongest features are his poker face, which he wears as a self-declared member of the Republic of Anhedonia,6, and his patience. These help him book a nice win at the $1/$2 Limit Hold ‘Em table at the Tropicana and a decent cash in a $50 buyin tournament there.

But just six weeks later he’s made the massive jumps to Las Vegas, the No-Limit Main Event, and a $10,000 buyin. Despite additional advice from Matt Matros, a writer-turned-successful-poker-player, Whitehead is far from ready. His Main Event story unfolds over the last fifty pages of the book. His demise is fully expected yet still disappointing to him, the now defunct Grantland, and the reader, who is left wishing there was more for him to tell.

Title The Noble Hustle
Author Colson Whitehead
Year 2014
Skill Level any
Pros Quick, enjoyable, easy read from a great writer.
Cons Maybe too quick, despite the content being padded unchronologically by events a year after the main narrative.
Rating 3.0

Footnotes:

  1. And yes, they’ve all been men so far (see the “Journals by writers” section of Books About the WSOP Main Event). That is definitely a glaring hole in the literature. Maria Konnikova certainly could have already done it had she not gotten sidetracked by learning to play poker too well (but it’s still not too late).
  2. The Underground Railroad won the Pulitzer in 2017 a year after winning the National Book Award.
  3. The subtitle of the book is “Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death”. “Death refers to busting out of a poker tournament, while beef jerky is one of the preferred snacks of poker players who may not be able to get away from the table long enough for a proper meal.
  4. Helen Ellis is also a writer by trade, but she has over $100,000 in live poker tournament cashes.
  5. On page 183, Whitehead admits to folding out of turn and unintentionally putting in an insufficient raise because he confused the chips.
  6. “Anhedonia”, meaning “the inability to feel pleasure” is a real word but a fictitious location.
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Card Player Player of the Year

[SS] “Happy New Year!” Stan the Stat exclaimed.

[LL] “More importantly, good riddance to 2017!” Leroy the Lion insisted.

[SS] “You said the same thing last year.”

[LL] “I didn’t expect 2017 to be so much worse than 2016.”

[SS] “Well, you may not have had a great year, but Spaniard Adrian Mateos, at a mere 23 years old, certainly did. As did American Bryn Kenney, whom he edged out for Card Player Player of the Year honors in the closest race ever.1 Kenney tied the record of 5 titles and set the record with 23 final tables, one more than Mateos, and even won a year-high $8,201,128, over $2.5 million more than Mateos, who notably became the first non-American to win the title.2

Kudos also to Fedor Holz who followed a runner-up finish last year with third place this year.”

Card Player Player of the Year – 1997 to 2003

Year Winner
1997 Men Nguyen
1998 T.J. Cloutier
1999 Tony Ma
2000 David Pham
2001 Men Nguyen
2002 T.J. Cloutier
2003 Men Nguyen

Card Player Player of the Year – 2004 to Present

Year Winner Points Runner-Up Points Margin
2004 Daniel Negreanu 8,764 David Pham 7,068 19.4%
2005 Men Nguyen 5,204 John Phan 4,428 14.9%
2006 Michael Mizrachi 5,989 Nam Le 5,215 12.9%
2007 David Pham 6,562 J.C. Tran 5,748 12.4%
2008 John Phan 6,704 David Pham 6,022 10.2%
2009 Eric Baldwin 6,994 Cornel Cimpan 5,934 15.2%
2010 Tom Marchese 6,738 Dwyte Pilgrim 5,576 17.2%
2011 Ben Lamb 6,036 Chris Moorman 5,875 2.7%
2012 Greg Merson 5,100 Dan Smith 5,040 1.2%
2013 Daniel Negreanu 5,140 Paul Volpe 4,298 16.4%
2014 Daniel Colman 5,498 Ami Barer 5,042 8.3%
2015 Anthony Zinno 6,632 Joe Kuether 6,070 8.5%
2016 David Peters 8,601 Fedor Holz 7,058 17.9%
2017 Adrian Mateos 7,220 Bryn Kenney 7,173 0.7%

Notes:

  • Men Nguyen won the award a record four times (1997, 2001, 2003, and 2005).
  • T.J. Cloutier (1998 and 2002), David Pham (2000 and 2007), and Daniel Negreanu (2004 and 2013) have won twice each.
  • Negreanu outpointed second place by the largest (2004) and third largest (2013) margins. Merson (2012) eked by with the smallest margin. { January 4, 2018 update: Mateos edged Kenney by a mere 47 points (0.7%) for the 2017 crown. Fedor Holz finished third for a second consecutive medal finish. }

Here are the all-time records for Points, Titles, and Final Tables with data going back to the rule changes of 2004.

Most Player of the Year Points

Rank Year Player Points Titles Final Tables Winnings
1 2004 Daniel Negreanu 8,764 4 11 $4,420,221
2 2016 David Peters 8,601 5 22 $7,370,255
3 2017 Adrian Mateos 7,220 4 22 $5,664,635
4 2017 Bryn Kenney 7,173 5 23 $8,201,128
5 2004 David Pham 7,068 5 15 $1,533,268
6 2016 Fedor Holz 7,058 6 15 $16,288,714
7 2009 Eric Baldwin 6,994 4 17 $1,494,494
8 2010 Tom Marchese 6,738 2 11 $2,068,658
9 2008 John Phan 6,704 3 8 $2,075,323
10 2015 Anthony Zinno 6,632 5 11 $3,442,769

Notes:

  • David Pham was the first player to finish in the Top 10 three times (2004 [2nd], 2007 [1st], and 2008 [1st]). Jason Mercier matched him in 2015 and Justin Bonomo and David Peters in 2016. Many players (16 through 2017) have done it twice.
  • Erik Seidel and Jason Mercier are the only players to finish in the Top 25 five times. Phan, Peters, Dan Smith, Daniel Negreanu, J.C. Tran, John Juanda, Steve O’Dwyer, Erick Lindgren, and Joseph Mckeehen have each done it four times.
  • Vanessa Selbst is the only women to finish in the Top 25, which she had done three times with two Top 10 finishes before retiring at the start of 2018.

Most Titles

Rank Year Player Points Titles Final Tables Winnings
1 2005 John Hoang 3,267 6 17 $492,817
2008 Men Nguyen 3,662 10 $776,832
2012 Dan Smith 5,040 9 $3,673,806
4 2017 Bryn Kenney 7,173 5 23 $8,201,128
2016 David Peters 8,601 22 $7,370,255
2005 Men Nguyen 5,204 17 $1,004,718
2004 David Pham 7,068 15 $1,533,268
2010 Dwyte Pilgrim 5,576 13 $1,074,997
2004 Can Kim Hua 4,495 12 $785,779
2015 Anthony Zinno 6,632 11 $3,442,769
2014 Joseph Mckeehen 3,266 11 $1,223,852
2004 John Phan 3,080 10 $677,045
2009 Jason Mercier 4,130 9 $1,245,876

Most Final Tables

Rank Year Player Points Titles Final Tables Winnings
1 2017 Bryn Kenney 7,173 5 23 $8,201,128
2 2016 David Peters 8,601 5 22 $7,370,255
2017 Adrian Mateos 7,220 $5,664,635
2004 Gioi Luong 5,006 $504,004
5 2004 John Cernuto 3,631 3 19 $460,789
6 2005 John Hoang 3,267 6 17 $492,817
2005 Men Nguyen 5,204 5 $1,004,718
2009 Eric Baldwin 6,994 4 $1,494,494
10 2010 Sorel Mizzi 4,851 4 16 $1,524,371

Notes:

  • Luong tops this list but is hardly a household name. The Californian has never won a WSOP bracelet, and his biggest cash was $290,792 for a runner-up finish in a WSOP circuit event in 2007.
  • While it seems obvious to have another list with the top ten in Winnings, it’s a rather uninteresting list topped by the 2014 and 2012 One Drop winners followed by eight WSOP Main Event champs.

Footnotes:

  1. In 2012, Greg Merson beat Dan Smith by 60 points (5,100 to 5,040) for a 1.18% margin, while Mateos overcame Kenney by just 57 points and a mere 0.65%.
  2. Mateos first made a name for himself by winning the 2013 WSOP Europe Main Event in 2013 when he was just 19.

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European Poker Tour Career Leaders

[SS] “Here are the career leaders in earnings, cashes, final tables, and titles at the end of the European Poker Tour’s eleventh complete season. { Note: updated below }

EPT Career Earnings

Rank Player Earnings
1 Bertrand Grospellier $5,794,666
2 Jason Mercier $5,792,782
3 Scott Seiver $5,681,622
4 Steve O’Dwyer $5,455,589
5 Mike McDonald $5,177,101
6 Igor Kurganov $4,881,439
7 Tobias Reinkemeier $4,406,326
8 Philipp Gruissem $4,100,541
9 Martin Finger $4,087,326
10 Olivier Busquet $4,065,442

Notes:

  • Other notable players in the top 20: Eugene Katchalov (12th: $3,874,218), Daniel Negreanu (14th: $3,703,145), Erik Seidel (17th: $3,555,153), and Daniel Colman (19th: $3,469,849).
  • The top three women are Vanessa Selbst (11th: $3,959,891), Victoria Coren Mitchell (55th: $2,062,619) and Liv Boeree (59th: $1,995,160).

EPT Career Cashes

Rank Player Cashes
1 Konstantin Puchkov 72
2 Marcin Horecki 47
3 Pierre Neuville 45
4 Jan Bendik 43
5 Roberto Romanello 40
Bertrand Grospellier
7 Mihails Morozovs 39
8 Rumen Nanev 38
9 Ole Schemion 37
10 Andrew Chen 36
Alexander Orlov

Notes:

  • Romanello and Grospellier are the only players on this list who have won an EPT title.
  • Ana Laura Marquez Esteban leads all women with 24 Cashes (tied for 72nd). Florence Allera has 22 (tied for 89th).

EPT Career Final Tables

Rank Player Final Tables
1 Konstantin Puchkov 31
2 Ole Schemion 25
3 Marcin Horecki 23
Juha Helppi
5 Jan Bendik 21
6 Mihails Morozovs 20
Mike McDonald
Alexander Orlov
Bryn Kenney
10 Anton Wigg 19
Andrew Chen
Steve O’Dwyer
Dario Alioto
Marcel Luske

Notes:

  • EPT final tables consist of eight players.
  • Despite leading in both Cashes and Final Tables, Konstantin Puchkov ranks only 164nd in Earnings ($1,173,368).
  • McDonald, Wigg, and O’Dwyer are the only players on this list who have won an EPT title.
  • Vanessa Selbst leads all women with 13 Final Tables (tied for 47th). Victoria Coren Mitchell has 10 (tied for 79th).
  • The United States has reached the final table the most times, followed by the United Kingdom and France.

EPT Career Titles

Victoria Coren Mitchell is the only player with two EPT titles, having taken down the EPT London Main Event on September 24, 2006 and the EPT Sanremo Main Event on April 20, 2014.

Notes:

  • Sandra Naujoks (2009 EPT German Open) and Liv Boeree (2010 EPT Sanremo) are the only other women to win an EPT main event.
  • The United States and United Kingdom are currently tied with 16 winners each, three ahead of Germany.”

[LL] “Epic Poker Tables, Stan!” Leroy the Lion admired.

{ December 28, 2016: Final Update. With the EPT being rebranded as PokerStars Championships in 2017, the above Top Ten tables have been updated one last time below. }

Final EPT Career Earnings

Rank Player Earnings
1 Steve O’Dwyer $9,608,236
2 Ole Schemion $6,725,657
3 Mike McDonald $6,461,551
4 Igor Kurganov $6,349,727
5 Scott Seiver $6,030,039
6 Mustapha Kanit $6,001,495
7 Jason Mercier $5,980,237
8 Bertrand Grospellier $5,855,951
9 Martin Finger $5,423,635
10 Bryn Kenney $5,042,835

Final EPT Career Cashes

Rank Player Cashes
1 Konstantin Puchkov 87
2 Pierre Neuville 67
3 Jan Bendik 63
4 Georgios Zisimopoulos 58
5 Marcin Horecki 57
6 Mike McDonald 56
7 Atanas Kavrakov 55
8 Ole Schemion 54
9 Steve O’Dwyer 52
Andrew Chen

Final EPT Career Final Tables

Rank Player Final Tables
1 Konstantin Puchkov 38
2 Ole Schemion 35
3 Steve O’Dwyer 32
4 Tobias Hausen 29
Marcin Horecki
Jan Bendik
7 Georgios Zisimopoulos 28
Alexander Orlov
Mike McDonald
10 Juha Helppi 27
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European Poker Tour Grand Final


[SS] “The EPT Grand Final1 has always had a 10,000-euro buy-in, but its rake has slowly crept up from 0 to 300 to 600 euros”, Stan the Stat continued. “The tournament originally ended the EPT season in March, but that has been in late April or early May since 2009.

European Poker Tour Grand Final Champions

Year Winner Prize Players Cashed Runner Up
2005 Rob Hollink $845,190 211 27 Brandon Schaefer
2006 Jeff Williams $1,084,037 298 27 Arshad Hussain
2007 Gavin Griffin $2,434,060 706 64 Marc Karam
2008 Glen Chorny $3,196,354 842 64 Denes Kalo
2009 Pieter De-Korver $3,024,167 935 88 Matt Woodward
2010 Nicolas Chouity $2,263,166 848 128 Josef Klinger
2011 Ivan Freitez-Rosales $2,226,345 686 104 Torsten Brinkmann
2012 Mohsin Charania $1,782,343 665 96 Lucille Cailly
2013 Steve O’Dwyer $1,604,972 531 80 Andrew Pantling
2014 Antonio Buonanno $1,715,526 650 95 Jack Salter
2015 Adrian Mateos2 $1,211,836 564 79 Muhyedine Fares
2016 Jan Bendik3 $1,096,568 1,098 159 Adrien Allain

Notes:

  • Three Americans have won the EPT Grand Final — Williams, Griffin, and Charania — but you could also include O’Dwyer, who moved to Ireland after the major online poker sites shut down in the U.S. on Black Friday. No other country has won more than twice; Hollink and De-Korver both hail from the Netherlands.
  • 2007 runner-up Marc Karam is the only player who has reached the final table multiple times, finishing 4th the year before. Ben Grundy almost matched him, finishing 7th in 2005 and bubbling (9th) the following year.4
  • 2012 runner-up Frenchwoman Lucille Cailly is the only female to make the final table.
  • The 2008 event featured the largest first prize in EPT history ($3,196,354), but the following year had the most players (935).
  • After paying fewer than 10% of the players from 2006 to 2009, including a low of 7.6% in 2008, the EPT has rewarded about 15% of the field since 2010.

European Poker Tour Grand Final Final Hands

Year Winner Hand Value Runner Up Hand Value Board
2005 Rob Hollink J♠8♠ Two Pairs,
Jacks and 8s
Brandon Schaefer K♦7♠ Pair of Kings K♣9♦5♥8♣J♣
2006 Jeff Williams A♦T♣ Pair of 7s,
Ace Ten-kicker
Arshad Hussain A♥8♦ Pair of 7s,
Ace 9-kicker
5♥9♥7♠7♦3♣
2007 Gavin Griffin K♦5♣ Two Pairs,
Kings and 3s
Marc Karam 7♠4♠ Two Pairs,
4s and 3s
4♦3♣2♠3♥K♥
2008 Glen Chorny A♥5♥ Two Pairs,
Aces and 6s
Denes Kalo K♥Q♦ Two Pairs,
Queens and 6s
A♠Q♠6♠6♣T♦
2009 Pieter De-Korver 9♠6♠ Pair of 6s,
Queen Ten 9-kicker
Matt Woodward 6♦4♥ Pair of 6s,
Queen Ten 7-kicker
5♥T♥6♥Q♠7♠
2010 Nicolas Chouity A♦A♣ Pair of Aces Josef Klinger 8♦8♣ Pair of 8s K♦T♠9♥4♠Q♣
2011 Ivan Freitez-Rosales T♦9♦ Pair of 9s Torsten Brinkmann A♥K♦ Ace-high 9♠2♠5♥6♦8♣
2012 Mohsin Charania Q♠Q♥ Two Pairs,
Queens and 2s
Lucille Cailly A♦K♣ Pair of 2s 9♣3♥2♣7♠2♥
2013 Steve O’Dwyer T♣8♥ Four 8s Andrew Pantling K♠5♠ Flush,
King-high
J♠8♠8♦4♠8♣
2014 Antonio Buonanno A♠4♥ Ace-high Jack Salter K♦7♦ King-high J♥9♠2♥Q♦3♠
2015 Adrian Mateos2 A♥8♠ Two Pairs,
Queens and 8s
Muhyedine Fares A♠6♠ Pair of Queens 9♥8♥2♦Q♠Q♣
2016 Jan Bendik3 T♠T♦ Three Tens Adrien Allain 8♥8♦ Three Eights A♥8♣4♠T♥3♦

Notes:

  • The chips went all-in preflop every year except 2005 (river), 2007 (flop), 2009 (flop), and 2013 (turn).
  • The eventual winner got his money in good every time except 2007 (45%), 2011 (40%), and 2013 (23%, hitting a 10-outer on the river). In 2009, De-Korver was ahead on the flop, but Woodward actually had a better chance of winning (44% to 32% with a 24% chance of a push) because of his nine flush outs.”

Footnotes:

  1. The season-ending EPT championship was officially called the European Poker Tour Grand Final from 2004 to 2011 but has been referred to as the EPT Monte Carlo Grand Final since 2012.
  2. Adrian Mateos took down the 2015 title just hours after this article was posted.
  3. Jan Bendik won the final 2016 title on May 6, 2016.
  4. Johnny Lodden joined Karam with a third place finish in 2014 and a fourth in 2015.

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Aussie Millions

[SS] “Did you guys see that Phil Ivey won the Aussie Millions Super High Roller again?” Stan the Stat queried.

[RR] “The guy’s not human”, Roderick the Rock noted in assent.

[LL] “How many times has he won it now?” Leroy the Lion inquired.

[SS] “Three times in the last four years, although he also played in the first event in 2011.”

[RR] “That’s insane.”

[SS] “Yeah, even with the small fields — 20, 16, 18, 30, and 25 — three wins over such a tough group of pros is incredible. I don’t know what secrets he’s figured out, but he’s taken in almost a third of his career tournament earnings here1.”

[RR] “Who won the Main Event this year?”

[SS] “Manny Stavropoulos, a local from South Melbourne. He’s a cash game player who also plays in many of the big tournaments in Australia but previously had only amassed about $135,000 in tournament earnings and never won an event. He returned the crown to the home country after three years:

Aussie Millions Champions

Year Winner Prize Players Cashed Runner Up
1998 Alex Horowitz $15,693 74 9 Ken Eastwood
1999 Milo Nadalin $24,801 109 18 Adam Haman
2000 Leo Boxell $38,483 109 18 Gerry Fitt
2001 Sam Korman $28,368 101 18 Eric Sclavos
2002 John Maver $78,030 66 10 John Homann
2003 Peter Costa $221,862 122 18 Leo Boxell
2004 Tony Bloom $323,456 133 18 Jesse Jones
2005 Jamil Dia $777,442 263 40 Mike Simkin
2006 Lee Nelson $949,694 418 48 Robert Neary
2007 Gus Hansen2 $1,192,919 747 80 Jimmy Fricke
2008 Alexander Kostritsyn $1,450,396 780 80 Erik Seidel
2009 Stewart Scott $1,420,737 681 64 Peter Rho
2010 Tyron Krost $1,845,921 746 72 Frederik Jensen
2011 David Gorr $1,978,044 721 72 James Keys
2012 Oliver Speidel $1,647,158 659 72 Kenneth Wong
2013 Mervin Chan $1,689,118 629 64 Joseph Cabret
2014 Ami Barer $1,399,739 668 72 Sorel Mizzi
2015 Manny Stavropoulos $1,264,222 648 72 Lennart Uphoff
2016 Ari Engel $1,120,110 732 80 Tony Dunst
2017 Shurane Vijayaram $1,208,368 725 80 Ben Heath
2018 Toby Lewis $1,156,205 800 88 Stefan Huber
2019 Bryn Kenney $916,271 822 88 Michael Del Vecchio

Notes:

  • An Australian has won the title 11 times: the first five from 1998 to 2002, four in a row from 2009 to 2012, 2015, and 2017.
  • No other country has won more than twice (England in 2003 and 2004; New Zealand 2005 and 2006). The remaining title have been captured by Denmark (2007), Russia (2008), Malaysia (2013), and Canada (2014).
  • An American was the runner-up every year from 2004 to 2009 before Ari Engel finally broke through and won it all in 2016.
  • The event was originally known as the [Crown] Australian Poker Championships, has also been referred to as the Australasian Poker Championships, and has officially been the Aussie Millions Poker Championship since 2003.
  • The events took place in the winter (July and August) the first four years before moving to the summer (January then late January to early February) in 2002.
  • The Main Event was contested in Limit Hold ‘Em in 1998 and Pot Limit Hold ‘Em in 1999 but has been No Limit ever since 2000.
  • The buy-in increased from $1,000 Australian dollars in 1998 to $1,500 in 2000 to $5,000 in 2002 to $10,000 since 2003.”

[SS] “Unfortunately, many of the final hands from the early years have been lost, at least as far as the Internet is concerned, but here’s what I could find:

Aussie Millions Final Hands3

Year Winner Hand Value Runner Up Hand Value Board
1998 Alex Horowitz unknown Ken Eastwood unknown
1999 Milo Nadalin Two Pairs,
6s and 5s
Adam Haman A♣7♥ Pair of 6s 6♣6♥4♠K♠
2000 Leo Boxell Three 6s Gerry Fitt Pair of 6s
2001 Sam Korman Q♣4♦ Flush,
Ace-high
Eric Sclavos 8♦7♦ Straight,
9-high
9♠5♣6♣9♣A♣
2002 John Maver unknown John Homann unknown
2003 Peter Costa unknown Leo Boxell unknown
2004 Tony Bloom Three 3s Jesse Jones Two Pairs,
Kings and 3s
3♠3♥7♦
2005 Jamil Dia unknown Mike Simkin unknown
2006 Lee Nelson J♣5♣ Flush,
Ace King Queen Jack-high
Robert Neary 4♣2♣ Flush,
Ace King Queen 4-high
A♣6♥Q♣K♣K♠
2007 Gus Hansen A♥A♣ Pair of Aces Jimmy Fricke 9♣7♣ Pair of 9s Q♦8♦6♣2♣9♠
2008 Alexander Kostritsyn J♥9♥ Pair of Jacks Erik Seidel A♠Q♣ Ace-high J♦8♠7♠3♥K♥
2009 Stewart Scott A♠A♦ Two Pairs,
Aces and 9s
Peter Rho A♥J♣ Pair of 9s 2♠9♦8♥4♦9♠
2010 Tyron Krost K♠9♦ Two Pairs,
Kings and 2s,
9 kicker
Frederik Jensen K♦6♠ Two Pairs,
Kings and 2s,
7 kicker
K♣3♥2♦7♥2♣
2011 David Gorr K♣4♣ Pair of 4s James Keys 7♣3♣ Pair of 3s 7♠6♣3♥K♥4♠
2012 Oliver Speidel A♠A♣ Pair of Aces Kenneth Wong 9♣9♥ Pair of 9s K♠T♠8♥4♣7♥
2013 Mervin Chan 8♠6♠ Three 8s Joseph Cabret A♦3♦ Two Pairs,
8s and 3s
8♣7♦3♣8♦K♥
2014 Ami Barer A♥A♠ Full House,
Aces over 2s
Sorel Mizzi Q♦8♦ Pair of 2s 2♣K♠2♥3♥A♦
2015 Manny Stavropoulos J♦T♠ Straight,
Jack-high
Lennart Uphoff T♦6♦ Straight,
Ten-high
A♦9♠8♦7♥8♥
2016 Ari Engel J♠7♣ Pair of Jacks Tony Dunst A♣4♣ Pair of 4s T♠4♦2♥J♣9♠
2017 Shurane Vijayaram 5♥5♦ Pair of 5s Ben Heath K♠8♣ King high 9♣7♠6♥3♥Q♠
2018 Toby Lewis Q♦T♦ Three Queens Stefan Huber A♠8♦ Pair of Queens Q♠Q♥8♥7♠5♠

Notes:

  • There was no deciding hand in 2019 as an ICM deal was struck three-way.
  • Pocket Aces won on the final hand four times from 2007 to 2014.
  • Stacks are still reasonably deep heads up. The chips went all-in preflop 4 times (1999, 2009, 2012, and 2014), on the flop 4 times (2004, 2007, 2008, and 2010), on the turn 3 times (2000, 2011, and 2013), and on the river 6 times (2001, 2006, and 2015-2018) [unknown the remaining 4 years (1998, 2002, 2003, and 2005)4].”

[SS] “Lastly, two players have reached three final tables,5 and nine have reached two.”

  • 3: Leo Boxell (1998 [4th], 2000 [1st], and 2003 [2nd]) and Martin Comer (2000 [5th], 2003 [7th], and 2005 [4th]).
  • 2: David Gorr (1998 [3rd] and 2011 [1st]), Gerry Fitt (2000 [2nd] and 2001 [7th]; the first back-to-back final tablist), Jamil Dia (2001 [6th] and 2005 [1st]), Jason Gray (1998 [6th] and 2000 [4th]), Lee Nelson (2002 [4th] and 2006 [1st]; also 8th in 2001), Mike Ivin (1998 [5th] and 2004 [7th]), Sam Khouiss (1999 [4th] and 2003 [4th]), Sorel Mizzi (2010 [3rd] and 2014 [2nd]), and Toby Atroshenko (2001 [4th] and 2002 [6th]; the second back-to-back final tablist).
  • Honorable Mention: Gary Benson (2000 [3rd] and 2005 [8th]) and Patrik Antonius (2011 [8th] and 2013 [3rd]).

Footnotes:

  1. Ivey’s career tournament earnings are now just over $22 million, of which $7.3 million have come from the Aussie Millions Super High Roller (in 2015, officially called The LK Boutique Challenge as it was sponsored by LK Jewellery).
  2. Amazingly, Gus Hansen planned to write a book about his 2007 Aussie Millions run and then went on to win the event! That certainly gave a huge boost to the sales of Every Hand Revealed in which Hansen shares his thoughts on every important hand he played.
  3. { Updates: } 2019 data added Feburary 27, 2019. 2018 data added February 8, 2018. 2017 data added February 3, 2017. 2016 data added March 16, 2016.
  4. Any information about the missing final hands would be most appreciated!
  5. Play starts eight-handed and drops to six-handed at 36 players, but the official final table is seven players according to Wikipedia’s Aussie Millions article.

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Texas Hold ‘Em for the Blind and Visually Impaired

[DD] “Did you guys notice Figaro the Fish trying to teach his nephew Flounder how to play Texas Hold ‘Em?” Deb the Duchess asked, still smiling from collecting her half-pot from their Main Event wager.

[RR] “I was very tempted to jump in to save the little guy from having to unlearn everything his uncle teaches him”, Roderick the Rock admitted. “But I managed to suppress the urge.”

[LL] “I don’t think they’d been here five minutes when I heard Figaro rambling on about coloring up, squeeze plays, and Post Oak bluffs”, Leroy the Lion added.

[TT] “You may think it’s the blind leading the blind / but the elder fish is sadly maligned”, Tyrone the Telephone complained.

[DD] “We’re just teasing him, you know.”

[RR] “Besides, what would Texas Hold ‘Em be without the blinds?”

[LL] “Even the blind can play Hold ‘Em.”

[SS] “Yeah, do you remember back in 2007, when Hal Lubarsky became the first blind player to cash in the World Series of Poker Main Event?” Stan the Stat contributed.

[RR] “I’m surprised I haven’t seen another blind player on TV since then. I guess that wasn’t enough to make the game popular in the blind and visually impaired community.”

[LL] “Braille playing cards and poker chips that come in different shapes aren’t that expensive, but I guess it’s still a big challenge to make sure you collect the entire pot and pick up all the cards each hand.”

[DD] “At least they have a great iPhone and iPad app to learn and practice Hold ‘Em with now. THETA Poker Pro has always been fully accessible, but most of the recent updates have been to improve accessibility. Apparently, you don’t even need to find your cards on the table to play anymore! I played with VoiceOver on for a while because it was cool to hear all the action announced, but sighted users gained that feature with iOS 7.”1

[RR] “So, Siri tells you what your hole cards are and announces the community cards and all the bets?”

[DD] “Yes. And the player who’s won the hand, their cards, and hand strength.”

[LL] “Can you ask Siri for advice on how to play the hand?”

[DD] “Very funny. You can tell her, ‘Launch THETA Poker’, but if you want more than that, try emailing the developer.”

[RR] “We’d certainly welcome blind players to our home tourney.”

[LL] “All new players for that matter. We’ll have Figaro teach them so they don’t get better than us too quickly.”

[TT] “When I find a blind player trying to steal my blind, I won’t be resigned / I’ll respond in kind, put him in a bind, take his chips with three-of-a-kind.”

Footnotes:

  1. Voice announcements were added to the game for iOS 7 users in Version 1.2.1 on September 23, 2013. Go to the “Options/Music & Sound/Announce” menu and select either “Messages Only” or “All”.

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Big One for One Drop 2014

[LL] “I’ve dreamt of playing in the World Series of Poker Main Event”, Leroy the Lion repeated, “but not even in my craziest fantasies have I considered dropping everything to play in the Big One for One Drop.”

[FF] “You’d have to sell everything you own,” Figaro the Fish commented, “which wouldn’t even be nearly enough in my case.”

[RR] “Even the best pros can’t enter the event at the drop of a hat”, suggested Roderick the Rock. “Most had to line up backers to lower their risk. Even the wealthy businessmen probably needed to shuffle their assets to arrange for a million dollars to enter.”

[FF] “It’s still incredible to me that those rich guys can drop a bundle to enter like it’s just a drop in the bucket to them.”

[LL] “Most of us would struggle just to come up with the deposit, which was $50,000!”

[SS] “Andrew Robl dropped a hint that he would play, but his early confirmation was premature as he dropped out without reserving his spot”, Stan the Stat noted.

[LL] “On the other hand, Bobby Baldwin, Fabian Quoss, and Vivek Rajkumar had promised to play but didn’t, so I think they all lost their deposits. They dropped $50,000, nearly the median household income in the U.S.1 to not play in a tournament. Quoss was last seen trying to satellite in during the event where Erick Lindgren and Connor Drinan won their seats.”

[RR] “And because the event sold out last time, they increased the cap from 48 players to 56.”

[LL] “Alas, though the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino may have changed its signage to the ‘Dew Drop Inn’, nobody dropped in at the last minute to play, even with late registration open for six hours after the tournament started. That left a field of just 42 players, a drop of six from two years ago.”

[SS] “A little disappointing, but in the end the event still raised nearly five million dollars for the One Drop foundation.”

[RR] “Talk about disappointing… I feel really bad for David Einhorn, who was drop-kicked out of the tournament by Sam Trickett just 45 minutes in! The businessman’s set of Jacks was done in by the 2012 runner-up’s Six-high straight.”

[LL] “No need to shed a single tear drop for Einhorn; he’s a hedge fund manager worth well over a billion dollars.”2

[SS] “It cost him $370 for every second he was in the tournament! But that jumpstarted Trickett on his way to ending Day One with the chip lead.”

[RR] “Which didn’t last long, as he dropped back to the pack on Day Two and was felted in 15th place when his pocket rockets were cracked by Negreanu’s trip Nines.”

[SS] “Then things got slow. With eight places being paid, they tried to play through the bubble on the middle day but eventually gave up with nine players remaining.”

[RR] “When the final day began, Negreanu was knocking people out like drop targets in a pinball game; he eventually ended the hopes of seven other players3, including bubble boy Tom Hall on the very first hand of the day, Cary Katz in 8th place, Scott Seiver in 6th, Tobias Reinkemeier in 5th, and Christoph Vogelsang in 3rd, who all dropped like flies within a few orbits of each other.”

[LL] “Fittingly, Negreanu made it to heads up, in a Duel of the Daniels against 24-year-old Daniel Colman. Colman had the drop on Negreanu with a 68,550,000 to 57,450,000 chip lead, but Kid Poker would grab the lead and soon have two-thirds of the chips.”

[SS] “Then Colman fought back and eventually built a big lead when his Ace-Four rivered a full house. Shortly thereafter, on the 46th heads-up hand, it would be Negreanu’s turn to hold Ace-Four.4 His two pairs had the lead on the flop when Colman dropped him to the canvas with a Ten on the turn to fill his inside straight, leaving the Canadian drawing unsuccessfully to four outs for a full house.”

[LL] “The 2014 Big One was definitely good to the last drop.”

[RR] “As much as I was rooting for Negreanu, I’m also happy that Colman won. He’s from Massachusetts, a small town called Holden near Worcester.”

[FF] “Maybe they should rename his home town from Holden to Holdem in his honor!”

[LL] “He wouldn’t want the publicity. He dropped a bombshell after winning by refusing interview requests.”

[SS] “Colman issued a statement5 but would just as soon drop out of sight.”

[LL] “Negreanu may have lost the heads-up battle, but he could teach the kid some a thing or two6 about handling fame.”

[SS] “Meanwhile, Negreanu’s own big payday moved him to the top of the all-time career tournament earnings list, dropping 2012 winner Antonio Esfandiari into second place.”

[SS] “Some other tidbits:

  • Only 17 players from the 2012 event returned in 2014. Five of them cashed the first time and five others the second time.
  • Of the ten amateur businessmen who entered the event, three cashed: Rick Salomon (4th), Paul Newey (7th), and Cary Katz (8th).
  • Germany was well-represented in the event. Five German pros played, and two cashed (Vogelsang in 3rd and Reinkemeier in 5th).
  • The all-time career earnings list is now headed by Negreanu (2nd place in 2014 One Drop) and Esfandiari (1st place in 2012 One Drop). Six of the top ten cashed in one of the two Big Ones (Colman jumped from 267th to 6th and Seiver from 19th to 10th; Trickett remained 5th, and Hellmuth dropped from 6th to 7th).
  • While World Series of Poker Main Event champions once dominated the career earnings list, only Hellmuth remains in the Top Ten. Eight former world champs now sit between 11th (Jonathan Duhamel) and 25th (Joe Cada).”7

Footnotes:

  1. The median annual household income in the U.S. was $51,017 in 2012.
  2. David Einhorn’s Wikipedia page says that he was worth $1.25 billion as of March 2013.
  3. Daniel Negreanu eliminated three more players than Ivey, Katz, and Salomon (4 each) and four more than Trickett and Colman (3 each).
  4. Third place finisher Vogelsang also busted out holding Ace-Four.
  5. Colman’s statement is quoted in this CardPlayer article.
  6. Negreanu commented at length in his blog.
  7. The others: Jamie Gold (13th), Joe Hachem (14th), Scotty Nguyen (15th), Carlos Mortensen (18th), Peter Eastgate (20th), and Gregory Merson (21st).
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Last Woman Standing at the World Series of Poker Main Event

[SS] “Do you two”, began Stan the Stat, addressing Mildred the Mouse and Deb the Duchess, “think it’s sexist that there’s a Ladies event at the WSOP or that we talk about the ‘Last Woman Standing’ in the WSOP Main Event?”

[MM] “No, why would we think that?” Mildred suggested.

[DD] “The topics themselves aren’t sexist, but how you talk about them could be”, added Deb.

[MM] “I’d love to play in a poker tournament with just women. I don’t think I’d have any better chance to win, but it would be more fun.”

[DD] “Yeah, I’m glad they finally figured out a practical and legal way to get those loser men out of the Ladies event.”1

[MM] “Like ladies’ night at a bar. I’m really surprised they didn’t figure it out sooner.”

[DD] “They’ve had a Women’s World Chess Championship since 1927, and I don’t remember any uproar about sexism there.”

[SS] “What about ‘Last Woman Standing’?”

[MM] “Someone has to be.”

[DD] “Until a woman wins the Main Event, it’s a reasonable thing to discuss. Once it happens, and it will happen, it won’t be very interesting anymore.”

[RR] “I’d even go so far as to say that some company should sponsor a prize for Last Woman Standing”, Roderick the Rock contributed. “If they can have a Jack Links Beef Jerky Wild Card Hand…”

[SS] “There was a Wicked Chops Last Woman Standing Cup, but that only lasted from 2009 to 2011.”

[DD] “Now that is a sexist poker site.2 I can see why that didn’t last. How about Go Girl, which sells a device to allow women to pee standing up?” Deb joked.

[RR] “And why isn’t it Last Woman Sitting anyway?”

[SS] “It’s just a twist on an old idiom, unfortunately of unknown origin.”

[RR] “But nobody stands up when they’re playing poker.”

[DD] “A lot of players stand up when they’re all in.”

[RR] “I stand corrected.”

[DD] “Glad to fix your misunderstanding.”

[MM] “I can’t stand any more of this.”

[SS] “Then it’s time for me to stand up and deliver. Here’s every Last Woman Standing and runner-up:”

Last Woman Standing at the WSOP Main Event3

Year Last Woman Place % 2nd to Last Woman Place %
1986 Wendeen Eolis 25 17.7%
1993 Marsha Waggoner 19 8.6% Wendeen Eolis 20 9.1%
1994 Barbara Samuelson 10 3.7% Annie Duke 26 9.7%
1995 Barbara Enright 5 1.8%
1996 Lucy Rokach 26 8.8%
1997 Marsha Waggoner 12 3.8%
1998 Susie Isaacs 10 2.9% Kathy Liebert 17 4.9%
2000 Annie Duke 10 2.0% Kathy Liebert 17 3.3%
2003 Annie Duke 47 5.6%
2004 Rose Richie 98 3.8% Lucy Rokach 159 6.2%
2005 Tiffany Williamson 15 0.3% Sarah Bilney 63 1.1%
2006 Sabyl Cohen-Landrum 56 0.6% Annie Duke 88 1.0%
2007 Maria Ho 38 0.6% Kelly Jo McGlothlin 95 1.5%
2008 Tiffany Michelle 17 0.2% Lisa Parsons 76 1.1%
2009 Leo Margets 27 0.4% Nichoel Peppe 75 1.2%
2010 Breeze Zuckerman 121 1.7% Dorothy Von Sachsen 273 3.7%
2011 Erika Moutinho 29 0.4% Amanda Musumeci 62 0.9%
2012 Gaelle Baumann 10 0.2% Elisabeth Hille 11 0.2%
2013 Jackie Glazier 31 0.5% Beverly Lange 86 1.4%
2014 Maria Ho4 77 1.2% Mikiyo Aoki 83 1.2%
2015 Kelly Minkin4 29 0.5% Diana Svensk 83 1.3%
2016 Gaelle Baumann4 102 1.5% Melanie Weisner 127 1.9%
2017 Yuan-Yuan Li4 105 1.5% Jessica Ngu 108 1.5%
2018 Kelly Minkin4 50 0.6% Natalie Teh 120 1.5%

[SS] “Some notes:

  • No women played in the World Series of Poker Main Event until Barbara Freer broke the ice in 1978.
  • In 1979, Betty Carey joined Freer, and in 1980 Colette Doherty made it a trio. That year’s field of 73 was 4.1% female, a level that wasn’t surpassed until 2013, when 298 of the 6,352 players (4.7%) were women.
  • Wendeen Eolis became the first woman to cash, partly because they went from paying only 9 players out of 140 in 1985 to 36 of 141 in 1986; she only won her entry fee back. There followed a drought of six years before she and Waggoner cashed in 1993 (albeit for just $12,000).
  • Enright and Isaacs both won the Ladies World Championship (in Seven-Card Stud) the year before they were the Last Woman Standing, and it was the second title for each (having also won in 1986 and 1996, respectively).
  • No women cashed in 1999, 2001, or 2002, which is the last year that will ever be true.
  • Annie Duke’s four appearances on this list are the most cashes for any woman in Main Event history, one more than Kathy Liebert (1998, 2000, and 2006), Jackie Glazier (2010, 2012, and 2013), and Kristy Gazes (2009, 2011, and 2013).
  • Erika Moutinho outlasted her then-boyfriend Doc Sands by one spot. They got married in 2013.”

[SS] “Barbara Enright’s fifth place finish in 1995 was the highest ever and the only final table for a woman, but as a percentage of the field, Gaelle Baumann’s tenth place finish in 2012 was the best and matched Elisabeth Hille for the largest cash. That gives us three ways to look at the best female results in the Main Event:”

Top Female Main Event Finishes by Place

Rank Year Player Place Field % Prize
1 1995 Barbara Enright 5 273 1.83% $114,180
2 2012 Gaelle Baumann 10 6,598 0.15% $590,442
2000 Annie Duke 512 1.95% $52,160
1998 Susie Isaacs 350 2.86% $40,000
1994 Barbara Samuelson 268 3.73% $26,880
6 2012 Elisabeth Hille 11 6,598 0.17% $590,442
7 1997 Marsha Waggoner 12 312 3.50% $33,920
8 2005 Tiffany Williamson 15 5,619 0.27% $400,000
9 2008 Tiffany Michelle 17 6,844 0.25% $334,534
2000 Kathy Liebert 512 3.32% $39,120
1998 350 4.86% $30,000

Top Female Main Event Finishes by Percent

Rank Year Player Place Field % Prize
1 2012 Gaelle Baumann 10 6,598 0.15% $590,442
2 2012 Elisabeth Hille 11 6,598 0.17% $590,442
3 2008 Tiffany Michelle 17 6,844 0.25% $334,534
4 2005 Tiffany Williamson 15 5,619 0.27% $400,000
5 2009 Leo Margets 27 6,494 0.42%4 $352,832
6 2011 Erika Moutinho 29 6,865 0.42%4 $242,636
7 2015 Kelly Minkin 29 6,420 0.45% $211,821
8 2013 Jackie Glazier 31 6,352 0.49% $229,281
9 2007 Maria Ho 38 6,358 0.60% $237,865
10 2006 Sabyl Cohen-Landrum 56 8,773 0.64% $123,699

Top Female Main Event Finishes by Prize

Rank Year Player Place Field % Prize
1 2012 Gaelle Baumann 10 6,598 0.15% $590,442
Elisabeth Hille 11 0.17%
3 2005 Tiffany Williamson 15 5,619

0.27% $400,000
4 2009 Leo Margets 27 6,494

0.42% $352,832
5 2008 Tiffany Michelle 17 6,844

0.25% $334,534
6 2011 Erika Moutinho 29 6,865

0.42% $242,636
7 2007 Maria Ho 38 6,358

0.60% $237,865
8 2013 Jackie Glazier 31 6,352

0.49% $229,281
9 2015 Kelly Minkin 29 6,420

0.45% $211,821
10 2005 Sarah Bilney 63 5,619

1.12% $145,875

Footnotes:

  1. After all these years, the solution was amazingly simple: make the event a $10,000 buy-in with a 90% discount for women. The Ladies World Championship started as a $100 Seven-Card Stud event in 1977, with the buy-in increasing to $1,000 by 1992. In 2000, the event switched to half stud and half Limit Hold ‘Em. In 2005, the tournament finally became No Limit Hold ‘Em.
  2. Wicked Chops Poker’s current tagline is “A daily dose of all things poker + girls”, and the header says, “Poker News, Gossip + Hot Girls”.
  3. The Last Woman Standing title is traditionally only bestowed if the player has made the money. The percentage columns are the percent of the field remaining.
  4. Table updated on July 13, 2014, as Maria Ho duplicated her 2007 feat and became the third woman to earn the crown twice (after Marsha Waggoner and Annie Duke). Updated July 15, 2015: Kelly Minkin settled for a $211,821 score. Updated July 17, 2016: Gaelle Baumann took home the crown for a second time. Updated July 17, 2017: Yuan-Yuan Li edged Jessica Ngu by just three places. Updated July 15, 2018: Kelly Minkin won her second crown in four years.
  5. Margets edged Moutinho out for the fifth spot, 0.416% to 0.422%.

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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.”

Footnotes:

  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.

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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).”

Footnotes:

  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].

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