Be a World Series of Poker champion of trivia

Poker Hall of Fame
Doyle Brunson watches as Crandell Addington (left) and Jack Binion (right) are inducted into the WSOP Hall of Fame in 2005.

The World Series of Poker is just 37 years old, but the legendary tournament has seen it all: larger-than-life legends, overnight sensations, tragic figures, bizarre happenings and innumerable cards turned.

Now more than ever, poker is in the public eye and everyone is a pundit. Maybe so, but how much do you really know about the history of the biggest game in town?

With the advent of the 2007 Main Event in sight, we've compiled 20 questions to test the savviest of World Series historians. Take the quiz to find out if you are the tried to enter in the 2006 Main Event?


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1. World Series of Poker Hall of Fame inductee Crandell Addington has made it to the top 10 of the $10,000 championship a remarkable eight times. The tony Texas millionaire finished fourth in 1972, eighth in 1973, second in 1974, third in 1975, fourth in 1976, second in 1978, seventh in 1979 and 10th in 1983.

2. There have been 31 unique world champions since the inception of the WSOP in 1970. Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar and Johnny Chan have all won multiple Main Events.

3. The saying comes from 1982 World Series of Poker apocrypha where, as the legend goes, Jack Straus bounced back from the brink of elimination to win the Main Event by doubling up on a $500 chip he found under his cigarette pack when he thought he had busted out of the tournament.

The tale makes for great poker lore but isn't necessarily accurate, Straus's son, Richard, wrote in response to a blogger's confusion over how a player's stack could sink to just one chip.

Though the bulk of the story is factual - Straus, who died in 1988, took a serious beating from Dewey Tomko before winning the championship - it has likely been colored with fiction.

"As far as the one chip story, I think it is exaggerated," the junior Straus wrote. "Maybe two chips! And hey, he never smoked, so it was not under his pack!"

4. The answer is Phil Gordon - author of the Little Blue Book and Little Green Book - who placed fourth in the 2001 WSOP Main Event. Positively Fifth Street author James McManus won a satellite for a championship seat and turned it into a final table appearance in 2000 before busting out in fifth. Renowned theorist David Sklansky might be the most respected strategist of the bunch, but he finishes in third, with a 27th place finish in 1988.

5. Harrah's added 10 tournaments. There are 55 events at the 2007 World Series of Poker, while 2006 saw 45.

6. The infamous Stu Ungar had never played Hold'em before entering the World Series of Poker championship in 1980. But what he lacked in experience, he made up for in natural talent.

This innate ability brought Ungar head-to-head with Doyle Brunson, a pro who'd already clocked thousands of hours with the felt of Texas cardrooms under his elbows. In what would be the final hand of the game, Ungar held 4s-5s to Brunson's Ah-7h. The flop came Ad-7d-2c, spurring Brunson to raise.

"There was $58,000 in the pot when I made a costly mistake," Brunson recounts in his 2007 memoir, My 50 Most Memorable Hands. "I bet $35,000, underbetting the pot and trying to suck Stu in."

Fourth street brought a 3h to make Ungar a straight and give him the nuts. When Brunson moved all-in, he called and a 2d on the river sealed his fate in poker history.

7. The first-ever WSOP was won by Johnny Moss, but the victory different greatly from that of Jamie Gold's 2006 win.

"There wasn't any structure to the tournament or anything," recalls old-time gambler Amarillo Slim Preston in his memoirs. "All we did was play for a while and in the end we all voted on who was the best player."

The idea, said Preston, belonged to founder Benny Binion, who invited some of America's most legendary gamblers to compete series of cash games and named it the World Series of Poker.

"Well, hell, that was kind of a joke, since we all knew that the best player was the one who got the most chips," Preston writes, "but we went along with Benny's plan and designated his old buddy Johnny Moss as the first World Series of Poker champion."

8. Johnny Chan is said to have coached Hollywood agent Jamie Gold prior to his controversial victory last year. Contrary to some reports, Chan denies having a piece of Gold in the tournament.

9. The street-wise Texas cowboy who ran the casino from a booth in the Horseshoe restaurant died of heart failure on Christmas day in 1989.

10. As a whole, Bobby Baldwin, Mike Caro, Joey Hawthorne, Chip Reese, David Sklansky and Doyle Brunson have 20 bracelets.

Brunson does most of the heavy lifting for the crew with 10 bracelets for taking first in the 1976 Main Event, the 1976 Deuce-to-Seven Draw, the 1977 $1,000 Seven-Card Stud Split, the 1977 championship, the 1978 $5,000 Seven-Card Stud, the 1979 $600 Mixed Doubles, the 1991 $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em, the 1998 $1,500 Seven-Card Razz, the 2003 $2,000 H.O.R.S.E, and the 2005 $5,000 Short-Handed No-Limit Hold'em.

Baldwin has four: the 1977 $5,000 Seven-Card Stud, the 1977 $10,000 Deuce-to-Seven Draw, the 1978 championship and the 1979 $10,000 Deuce-to-Seven Draw.

Reese has three - the 1978 Seven-Card Stud Split, the 1982 $5,000 Limit Seven-Card Stud and the 2006 $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. - as does Sklansky in the 1982 $800 Mixed Doubles, the 1982 $1,000 Draw High, and the 1982 $1,000 Limit Omaha events.

Mike "The Mad Genius" Caro has yet to win a WSOP bracelet, just as Super/System's lowball guru Joey Hawthorne failed to earn the honor before his death.

11. After Harrah's purchased Binion's Horseshoe in 2004, it moved the World Series of Poker to the Rio in 2005. That year, however, the final two days of the Main Event were held at its birthplace, Binion's, to celebrate the Las Vegas centennial. The entirety of the championship is now held at the Rio.

12. Following the 1972 championship, winner Amarillo Slim Preston went on the talk show circuit at the behest of Benny Binion. The idea was to improve the poker's reputation and move it from the backroom to centre stage. Preston was interviewed on television and in magazines, appeared on game shows and even made a cameo in Robert Altman's classic poker film, California Split.

These days, Preston might seem like an interesting choice to shoulder the task, but Binion had few options.

"Johnny Moss was 65 and had the type of personality that was suited to poker and not much else," Preston explains in his memoir. "Pug (Pearson) was always an abrasive sort; Doyle (Brunson) was a bit of a recluse; Sailor (Roberts) had a criminal record; and if there was one thing everyone knew I could do, it was run my mouth."

13. No, it's not Annie Duke or Kathy Liebert. Vera Richmond won the 1982, $1,000 Ace-to-Five Draw to become the first woman to wear a gold bracelet outside of the ladies event.

Despite this honor, Richmond is best known because of Amarillo Slim Preston's comment that he would slit his throat if she won the Main Event in 1973.

14. Inexplicably, Doyle Brunson's photograph at the new home of the World Series of Poker is in black and white.

15. Iranian Mansour Matloubi was the first non-American to wear the champion's bracelet following the 1990 WSOP. Two years later, another Iranian rounder, Hamid Dastmalchi, won the championship. Irishman Noel Furlong won in 1999, Spain's Carlos Mortensen won the 2001 series and Australian Joseph Hachem was the 2005 champ. Americans such as Johnny Chan, originally from China, and Scotty Nguyen of Vietnam have also won the Series.

16. Jeffrey Pollack was hired as commissioner January 2006 after working as Harrah's VP of sports and entertainment marketing. Prior to that, Pollack held down jobs with the NBA and NASCAR.

17. That would be Dewey Tomko, a former kindergarten teacher who holds three gold bracelets. He finished in second both in 1982 and in 2001. Tomko also holds the record for most World Series of Poker appearances.

Another correct repsonse is T.J. Cloutier, who was runner up in 1985 and 2000.

18. Kevin McBride was steamrolled by Nguyen's full house, later saying he called the champ's all-in thinking the board would produce a split pot.

Going into the hand, Nguyen held Jd-9c to McBride's Qh-10h. Nguyen slow played a flop showed 8c-9d-9h, check-calling McBride's $100,000 semi-bluff. He bet another $100,000 when the turn produced 8h to complete Nguyen's full house. Unfortunately for McBride, fifth street was the 8s, which gave them both a boat, but Nguyen the better one.

Nguyen bet $310,000 to put McBride all-in; as he mulled it over, the future champ spoke his oft-quoted phrase, "You call, gonna be all over, baby." Undeterred, McBride responded, "I call. I play the board."

19. Television crews have been a part of the World Series of Poker almost from the get-go, filming the first tournament in 1973. It was the year Puggy Pearson was made champion, also seeing him take down three of the series' five events.

20. The owners of Mikey the poker-playing chimpanzee hoped to enter the primate in the Main Event. But World Series organizers balked at the idea and denied Mikey entry into the championship because he couldn't provide the identification necessary to register for the $10,000 tournament.

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