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13 Staggering Stats from 47 Years of the WSOP

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How well do you know your World Series of Poker history?

After 47 years the fabled series, as you might imagine, has produced a truly mind-boggling array of facts and numbers.

As we're about to embark on another incredible WSOP in 2017, with its own historical poker moments set to play out before us, here's a look back at some of the more incredible feats accomplished over the years.

1. From 1 to 85 in 47

One event; no buy-in, no actual poker. Just a vote amongst themselves for the best player. That was the whole World Series of Poker in 1970. Johnny Moss won that vote back then.

WSOP Main Event Elect Johnny Moss

One year later actual poker tournaments were introduced to the WSOP and Moss proved to be a worthy elected champion as he won the Main Event in 1971, which back then had a buy-in of $5,000. Only six players participated.

Beginning in 1972 the Main Event had a buy-in of $10,000 - a number that has not changed since. Each year multiple side events have been added/held.

The total number of events grew to 70 in 2016. This year 74 events will be played in Las Vegas plus 11 events in Europe for a total of 85 bracelet events.

Not only has number of events grown, so has the number of players. Six entries in 1970 became thousands of entries in the nineties.

Over 50,000 entries followed the poker boom in 2005 and the totals soared over 100,000 in the past two years.

It goes without saying that the prizes increased tremendously alongside. Just $70,000 was distributed in 1971; now players battle for a quarter of a billion dollars in one year.

Here's how the number of players, tournaments and prize money have developed over the years:

Year Events Entries Rebuys Prize Pool
1970 1 6 0 $0
1971 5 46 0 $70,000
1972 2 10 0 $100,000
1973 7 89 0 $275,000
1974 6 106 0 $427,000
1975 5 124 0 $338,000
1976 8 198 0 $480,900
1977 13 324 0 $675,580
1978 11 294 0 $776,180
1979 12 421 0 $1,030,320
1980 12 846 0 $1,788,400
1981 13 876 0 $1,881,650
1982 14 1,199 0 $2,573,600
1983 14 1,442 0 $2,709,860
1984 13 1,513 0 $3,424,700
1985 13 1,939 0 $3,554,000
1986 13 1,993 0 $4,331,900
1987 12 1,793 0 $4,757,010
1988 12 2,247 0 $5,350,500
1989 14 2,611 0 $6,237,100
1990 15 2,746 0 $6,871,300
1991 18 3,122 0 $7,841,000
1992 20 3,061 0 $7,769,000
1993 21 3,109 0 $8,023,957
1994 22 3,850 117 $9,844,500
1995 24 4,146 205 $10,701,000
1996 24 4,267 266 $11,647,000
1997 21 4,053 279 $12,259,000
1998 21 4,101 206 $12,482,000
1999 16 3,755 62 $11,803,000
2000 24 4,780 238 $15,387,500
2001 26 5,912 267 $17,789,321
2002 35 7,256 107 $19,595,930
2003 36 7,572 293 $21,788,660
2004 33 13,036 1,379 $45,971,010
2005 43 31,714 4,898 $105,955,238
2006 46 48,041 3,833 $157,875,975
2007 58 54,967 5,256 $169,966,400
2008 60 60,043 6,599 $192,307,035
2009 63 62,287 0 $183,109,814
2010 64 74,576 0 $197,207,988
2011 65 78,298 0 $206,186,853
2012 69 76,733 0 $230,521,146
2013 76 83,393 0 $221,047,100
2014 76 84,648 0 $235,621,262
2015 79 108,556 0 $218,168,749
2016 70 107,850 2 $248,312,255

* All WSOP Events including WSOP Europe and WSOP APAC.

Below is how this looks in a chart. Can you guess when the poker boom was?

2. 1 Million Players, 1k Bracelet Winners

Kristen Bicknell has 2, even.

Let's quickly add up all those numbers to get an impression of how inconceivably huge the WSOP has become over the years.

  • 1,325 Events
  • 963,644 Entries
  • $2,626,823,144 distributed
  • 991 different bracelet winners

This means that at some point during the next month the WSOP will register its 1 millionth tournament entry and we will see the 1,000th person to win a bracelet. And, of course, dozens of people will win millions of dollars again.

3. 10 Gs Ain't What It Used To Be

$10,000. That's how much is costs to play the World Series of Poker Main Event. 

Money, money, money, money. Money!

That number has stayed the same for 46 years now. But back in the early 70's that same $10k bought a lot more than you can buy with it today.

Granted, 10 grand is still a huge amount of money to most. But going by the US consumer index, the inflation adjusted value for the Main Event buy-in in 1972 is $57,297 in today's dollars.

This explains why many professionals regard the $50k Players Championship Event, which was introduced in 2006. as the 'real' players Main Event in recent years

For players like Negreanu, Hellmuth and Holz the $10k is more like petty cash, anyway.

4. 29 Years and Counting

Let's move on to some player stats and the players with the best results over the years at the WSOP.

Of course there's always Phil Hellmuth, who's won a record-breaking 14 gold bracelets and cashed 119 times – more than anyone else.

Going for 30 years in a row!

But which player has cashed the most years in a row? It's not Hellmuth.

While Hellmuth has cashed in 27 different years, and at least once per year since 1996, there are several players even more consistent.

Right now two players share the record of most years cashed in a row. Berry Johnston cashed every year from 1982 until 2010 – that's 29 years!

Mike Sexton currently holds the same record. Starting in 1988 he's cashed at least once every year since.

If Sexton survives at least one bubble this year he'll become the record holder with 30 years cashed in a row.

Players with Most Years Cashed in a Row

Player Years First Last
Berry Johnston 29 1982 2010
Mike Sexton 29 1988 2016
Erik Seidel 26 1991 2016
John Anthony Cernuto 25 1992 2016
T.J. Cloutier 21 1987 2007
Phil Hellmuth Jr 21 1996 2016
Chris Bjorin 20 1994 2013
Dan Heimiller 20 1997 2016

* Players in bold can extend their record this year.

5. The Curious Case of Bill Boyd

Cashing many years in a row is one thing. Winning a bracelet in multiple consecutive years is a much tougher task. It's so tough, in fact, that only two players have managed to win a bracelet four years in a row.

Bro Grinder can make it 4 in 2017.

There's Doyle Brunson, who won two bracelets in 1976 (one being the Main Event), two more in 1977 (defending his Main Event title), one bracelet in 1978 and another in 1979.

In 1980 he barely missed his next bracelets; he finished 2nd in the Main Event and 2nd in the $10k Lowball event.

And then there's Bill Boyd. He, too, won a bracelet four years in a row. But his titles were impressive on another scale.

For one thing, Boyd has cashed exactly 4 times at the WSOP - and won all 4 times. Two bracelets were quite peculiar.

According to the Hendon Mob Database Boyd won the 1972 5-Card-Stud Event by beating exactly one opponent. In 1973 he won the same event - this time without an opponent at all.

Back then winning bracelets really was easier than today.

Multiple players have won a bracelet 3 years in a row, most notably the two Mizrachi brothers, Michael and Robert. The latter even has the chance to extend this streak if he wins a bracelet this year.

Rob won the Dealers Choice Event in 2014, the small Omaha-8 Event in 2015 and the big Stud Championship in 2016.

Table - Most Years in a Row Winning at Least One Bracelet

Player Years First Last
Dolye Brunson 4 1976 1979
Bill Boyd 4 1971 1974
Allen Cunningham 3 2005 2007
Erik Seidel 3 1992 1994
Matt Matros 3 2010 2012
Robert Mizrachi 3 2014 2016
Michael Mizrachi 3 2010 2012
Johnny Moss 3 1974 1976
Gary Berland 3 1977 1979
Lakewood Louie 3 1978 1980

6. 41 years: The WSOP Grand Elders

While the World Series has its 48th instalment this year, no single player has been part of the Series for every year since its inauguration.

WSOP Godfather, too.

Doyle Brunson was one of the players who elected Johnny Moss in 1970 and he's still around. But Brunson stopped playing the WSOP 4 years ago.

Nevertheless Brunson still holds the record for the longest time-span between his first and his last cash at the WSOP with 15,050 days.

In 1972 Brunson cashed for the first time, finishing 3rd in the Main Event and being paid most of the prize money due to a strange deal which allowed Amarillo Slim to win the event.

Brunson's last cash also was in the Main Event. In 2013 the then-79-year-old finished 409th, more than 41 years after his first cash at the World Series.

Two players also have 41 years at the WSOP on their resume: Bill Baxter and Jay Heimowitz. Both made their debut in 1975; both were active last year and can break Brunson's record this year.

Table - Longest Time-Span Between First and Most Recent Cash

Player Days Years First Last
Doyle Brunson 15,050 41 May 1, 1972 Jul 15, 2013
Bill Baxter 15,044 41 May 1, 1975 Jul 8, 2016
Jay Heimowitz 15,025 41 May 1, 1975 Jun 19, 2016
Perry Green 14,297 39 May 1, 1976 Jun 23, 2015
George Huber 13,932 38 May 1, 1977 Jun 23, 2015
Jim Bechtel 13,223 36 May 1, 1979 Jul 14, 2015
Vince Musso 13,190 36 May 1, 1979 Jun 11, 2015
Mickey Appleman 13,189 36 May 15, 1980 Jun 24, 2016
Howard Andrew 13,185 36 May 1, 1976 Jun 6, 2012
Walter Smiley 13,179 36 May 1, 1976 May 31, 2012
Eric Drache 13,177 36 May 4, 1973 Jun 1, 2009

7. Israelashvili and Bojang: Cash Machines

Some poker players only play to win; some play to cash.

Bojang: Pure cash machine.

Some are named Roland Israelishvili or Ismael Bojang. Those two are true in-the-money Heroes and pure cash machines at the WSOP.

In 2014 Bojang cashed in a record 13 events. In 2016 Israelashvili equalized, scoring as many cashes.

Even more impressive than those numbers is their consistency. Over the last three years Bojang has secured 30 cashes at the WSOP.

Israelashvili has 31. While neither has won a bracelet they'll certainly be in contention for most cashes again in 2017.

Table - Most WSOP Cashes Over 3 Years

Player Cashes Years
Roland Israelashvili 31 2014 - 2016
Ismael Bojang 30 2014 - 2016
Daniel Negreanu 27 2012 - 2014
Benjamin Yu 26 2014 - 2016
Mike Leah 26 2014 - 2016
Michael Watson 25 2013 - 2015
Daniel Kelly 25 2014 - 2016

8. And Then There's Berry Johnston

Since 1970 a total of 90,454 players have bought in to the Main Event. Only 7,498 unique players have cashed at least once.

Still cashing after all these years.

As a matter of fact, the vast majority of those players have cashed exactly once.

A few have cashed two or three times; a handful of selected professionals have cashed more often than that.

Among those that have cashed the Main Event most often are Johnny Chan, Chris Bjorin, Doyle Brunson and Phil Hellmuth

And then there's Berry Johnston.

Between 1982 and 2007 he made the money 10 times in the Main Event. He finished 3rd in 1982 and 1985, won the whole thing in 1986 and made another deep run in 1990 when he finished 5th.

That's truly impressive! Johnston is 81 now but still around. And except for 2011 he's cashed at least once in every single WSOP since 1982!

Table – Most Main-Event Cashes

Player ME Cashes
Berry Johnston 10
Doyle Brunson 9
Robert Baldwin 9
Humberto Brenes 9
Phil Hellmuth Jr 8
Johnny Chan 8
Johnny Moss 8
Chris Bjorin 8
Jay Heimowitz 7
Allen Cunningham 7
Justin Cuong Van Tran 7
Mike Sexton 7
Donnacha O'Dea 7
Jason Lester 7
John Esposito 7

9. Your Name Must Be Ronnie Bardah

Imagine you get into the money at the Main Event, make a deep run and bust on Day 4 or 5. Now imagine the same thing happens the next year.

His name is Ronnie Bardah! The actual Ronnie Bardah.

And the next year. And then once more. And, for good measureme, again for a 5th year in a row.

Congratulations! Your name must be Ronnie Bardah. He currently holds the record for the most Main Event cashes in a row between 2010 and 2014.

Two players could catch him this year: Aditya Agarwal from India and Croatian Goran Mandic. 

Both have cashed the Main Event 4 times in a row from 2013-2016. They'll be looking for their 5th consecutive cashes this year.

Another name we have to mention here is Andrew Brokos. He cashed the Main Event in 2006, '07, '08, '10 and '11. And not only did he cash, he finished in the Top 100 the last three times.

Table – Most Main Event Cashes in a Row

Player ME-Cashes Years
Ronnie Bardah 5 2011 - 2015
Aditya Agarwal 4 2013 - 2016
Goran Mandic 4 2013 - 2016
Evan Jarvis 4 2012 - 2015
Giuseppe Zarbo 4 2011 - 2014
Christian Harder 4 2010 - 2013
Chris Bjorin 4 2008 - 2011
Diogo Borges 4 2008 - 2011
Chris Overgard 4 2007 - 2010
Theodore Park 4 2005 - 2008
Bo Sehlstedt 4 2004 - 2007
Robert Turner 4 1991 - 1994

10. Unrequited Tony Cousineau

On the one hand, American Tony Cousineau is one of the biggest names in WSOP history.

On the one hand ...

Since 1999 he's cashed 74 times at the World Series. Only seven players have cashed more often than that.

But among all those cashes is not a single win. There's no 2nd place and no 3rd place either. 

His best result is a 4th place in an Omaha event in 2001.

This makes Cousineau the player with the most cashes by far without winning a single event.

Table – Most WSOP Cashes Without a Bracelet

Player Country Cashes 1st 2nd 3rd
Tony Cousineau United States 74 0 0 0
Roland Israelashvili United States 63 0 0 1
Tom McCormick United States 59 0 0 2
Yueqi Zhu United States 55 0 2 3
Shannon Shorr United States 54 0 1 2
Allen Kessler United States 51 0 3 0
Thomas Koral United States 47 0 0 0
Michael Watson Canada 46 0 4 0
Mark Gregorich United States 46 0 1 2
Nam Le United States 46 0 1 1
David Levi United States 46 0 0 3
Stephen Chidwick England 45 0 1 1
Annand Ramdin United States 45 0 0 0

11. More Assorted Numbers

Before coming to our country statistics, here are some milestone years and numbers which capture the vastness of the World Series of Poker: 

Year Milestone
1983 First Main Event with more than $1m
1991 First Main Event with more than $2m
1996 First Non-Main Event with more than $1m (a $2k Limit Hold'em Event)
1997 First Main Event with more than $3m
2000 First Main Event with more than $5m
2004 First Non-Hold'em Event with more than $1m (a $5k PLO)
2005 First Main Event with more than $50m
Number Fact
963,644 Total # of entries since 1970
103,349 Total # of cashes since 1970
90,454 Total # of Main Event entries since 1970
40,657 Number of different players to cash in any WSOP Event
22,374 Most entries ever: The Colossus 2015
9,784 Total # of Main Event cashes since 1970
7,498 Number of unique players to cash in any Main Event since 1970
2,483 Most entries in a Non-Hold'em Event ($565-PLO in 2016)
568 Tournaments with more than $1m prize pool
237 Tournaments with more than 1k players
49 Tournaments with more than $5m prize pool
23 Tournaments with more than 5k players
23 Tournaments with more than $10m prize pool
1 Fewest entries in one tournament (1973, 5 Card Stud, Bill Boyd)
$57,297 Today's equivalent of $10k in 1972
$7,104,000 Biggest Prize Pool for Non-Hold'em Event (2007 $50k-HORSE)
$8,317,612 Sum of all Buy-Ins since 1970 combined
$42,666,672 Biggest Prize Pool for Non-Main Event (2012 $1m One Drop)
$82,512,162 Biggest Prize Pool Ever (2006 ME)
$2,626,823,114 Total money distributed since 1970

12. The USOP

Poker was and still is a very American game. With the WSOP being held in Las Vegas it's only natural that most players are Americans.

Still an American game.

As a matter of fact roughly three quarters of all cashes belong to American players and 78% of all bracelets do too.

All tallied, US players have 1,040 gold bracelets – almost 20 times as much as the next best nation, Canada.

For the first 12 years no non-American made the money in any WSOP event. It wasn't until 1982 that the first non-US Players made it to the history books.

Most big countries made their WSOP debut in the late '80s or early '90s. Some followed even later. Russia, for example, had its first recorded cash only in 2003.

Now each year more and more countries debut at the WSOP. 2016 saw players from Egypt and Saudi Arabia cash for the first time and 2017 will certainly bring new countries to the tables.

13. The Greatest

Still the king.

There have been 1,325 WSOP events since 1970 and, while he certainly hasn't played all of them, Phil Hellmuth has still managed to cash a whopping 119 times.

That gives him an estimated ITM-rate of over 20%. Of course he's also won 14 bracelets, finished among the Top 3 27 times and made over 50 final tables.

So yes; the Brat is by far the best player in WSOP history.

We compiled a ranking of all 40,657 players that have cashed in a WSOP in the past 47 years. Here are the Top 25:

Player Country Cashes 1st 2nd 3rd FT (<10th) ME Cashes
Phil Hellmuth Jr United States 119 14 10 3 58 8
Johnny Chan United States 46 10 5 2 28 8
Doyle Brunson United States 37 10 4 5 26 9
Phil Ivey United States 56 10 4 3 30 5
Johnny Moss United States 26 9 2 1 21 8
Erik Seidel United States 101 8 3 5 41 3
Men Nguyen United States 85 7 6 7 41 4
Bill Baxter United States 34 7 2 1 15 3
Daniel Negreanu Canada 92 6 7 3 35 5
T.J. Cloutier United States 65 6 5 4 38 4
Ted Forrest United States 38 6 3 2 19 1
Jeff Lisandro Australia 61 6 2 2 23 1
Layne Flack United States 46 6 2 2 20 1
Jay Heimowitz United States 40 6 1 4 22 7
Chris Ferguson United States 74 5 5 1 33 3
David Chiu United States 71 5 4 2 24 4
Allen Cunningham United States 61 5 3 1 19 7
Tom McEvoy United States 46 5 2 6 21 3
Scotty Nguyen United States 52 5 2 2 23 5
Gary Berland United States 11 5 2 2 11 2
Jason Mercier United States 57 5 2 1 20 2
Stu Ungar United States 15 5 2 0 11 4
Berry Johnston United States 68 5 1 6 30 10
John Juanda Indonesia 65 5 1 2 33 3
Daniel Alaei United States 34 5 0 0 8 4

» Spreadsheet with a ranking of all WSOP players since 1970

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