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.
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:
* 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
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.
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.
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
|John Anthony Cernuto||25||1992||2016|
|Phil Hellmuth Jr||21||1996||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.
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
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 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 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.
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 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.
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
|Phil Hellmuth Jr||8|
|Justin Cuong Van Tran||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.
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 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.
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 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|
|Mark Gregorich||United States||46||0||1||2|
|Nam Le||United States||46||0||1||1|
|David Levi||United States||46||0||0||3|
|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:
|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|
|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.
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
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|
|T.J. Cloutier||United States||65||6||5||4||38||4|
|Ted Forrest||United States||38||6||3||2||19||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|
|Daniel Alaei||United States||34||5||0||0||8||4|