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13 Staggering Stats from 47 Years of the WSOP

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.

Johnny Moss
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 (including 3 online bracelet events on WSOP Poker) 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:

YearEventsEntriesRebuysPrize Pool

* 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?

WSOP Prize Pool and Entries

2. 1 Million Players, 1k Bracelet Winners

Kristen Bicknell Bracelet
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.

WSOP Bracelet and Money
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.

Mike Sexton
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

Berry Johnston2919822010
Mike Sexton2919882016
Erik Seidel2619912016
John Anthony Cernuto2519922016
T.J. Cloutier2119872007
Phil Hellmuth Jr2119962016
Chris Bjorin2019942013
Dan Heimiller2019972016

* 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.

Robert Mizrachi
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

Doyle Brunson419761979
Bill Boyd419711974
Allen Cunningham320052007
Erik Seidel319921994
Matt Matros320102012
Robert Mizrachi320142016
Michael Mizrachi320102012
Johnny Moss319741976
Gary Berland319771979
Lakewood Louie319781980

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.

Doyle Brunson
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

Doyle Brunson15,05041May 1, 1972Jul 15, 2013
Bill Baxter15,04441May 1, 1975Jul 8, 2016
Jay Heimowitz15,02541May 1, 1975Jun 19, 2016
Perry Green14,29739May 1, 1976Jun 23, 2015
George Huber13,93238May 1, 1977Jun 23, 2015
Jim Bechtel13,22336May 1, 1979Jul 14, 2015
Vince Musso13,19036May 1, 1979Jun 11, 2015
Mickey Appleman13,18936May 15, 1980Jun 24, 2016
Howard Andrew13,18536May 1, 1976Jun 6, 2012
Walter Smiley13,17936May 1, 1976May 31, 2012
Eric Drache13,17736May 4, 1973Jun 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

Roland Israelashvili312014 - 2016
Ismael Bojang302014 - 2016
Daniel Negreanu272012 - 2014
Benjamin Yu262014 - 2016
Mike Leah262014 - 2016
Michael Watson252013 - 2015
Daniel Kelly252014 - 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.

Berry Johnston
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 ChanChris BjorinDoyle 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

PlayerME Cashes
Berry Johnston10
Doyle Brunson9
Robert Baldwin9
Humberto Brenes9
Phil Hellmuth Jr8
Johnny Chan8
Johnny Moss8
Chris Bjorin8
Jay Heimowitz7
Allen Cunningham7
Justin Cuong Van Tran7
Mike Sexton7
Donnacha O'Dea7
Jason Lester7
John Esposito7

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.

Ronnie Bardah
His name is Ronnie Bardah!

And the next year. And then once more. And, for good measure, 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

Ronnie Bardah52011 - 2015
Aditya Agarwal42013 - 2016
Goran Mandic42013 - 2016
Evan Jarvis42012 - 2015
Giuseppe Zarbo42011 - 2014
Christian Harder42010 - 2013
Chris Bjorin42008 - 2011
Diogo Borges42008 - 2011
Chris Overgard42007 - 2010
Theodore Park42005 - 2008
Bo Sehlstedt42004 - 2007
Robert Turner41991 - 1994

10. Unrequited Tony Cousineau

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

Tony Cousineau
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

Tony CousineauUnited States74000
Roland IsraelashviliUnited States63001
Tom McCormickUnited States59002
Yueqi ZhuUnited States55023
Shannon ShorrUnited States54012
Allen KesslerUnited States51030
Thomas KoralUnited States47000
Michael WatsonCanada46040
Mark GregorichUnited States46012
Nam LeUnited States46011
David LeviUnited States46003
Stephen ChidwickEngland45011
Annand RamdinUnited States45000

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: 

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

Phil Hellmuth
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:

PlayerCountryCashes1st2nd3rdFT (<10th)ME Cashes
Phil Hellmuth JrUnited States11914103588
Johnny ChanUnited States461052288
Doyle BrunsonUnited States371045269
Phil IveyUnited States561043305
Johnny MossUnited States26921218
Erik SeidelUnited States101835413
Men NguyenUnited States85767414
Bill BaxterUnited States34721153
Daniel NegreanuCanada92673355
T.J. CloutierUnited States65654384
Ted ForrestUnited States38632191
Jeff LisandroAustralia61622231
Layne FlackUnited States46622201
Jay HeimowitzUnited States40614227
Chris FergusonUnited States74551333
David ChiuUnited States71542244
Allen CunninghamUnited States61531197
Tom McEvoyUnited States46526213
Scotty NguyenUnited States52522235
Gary BerlandUnited States11522112
Jason MercierUnited States57521202
Stu UngarUnited States15520114
Berry JohnstonUnited States685163010
John JuandaIndonesia65512333
Daniel AlaeiUnited States3450084

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