WSOP Champions of the Last 10 Years: Ranked!

Published On: 9 December 2009 / Modified: 27 June 2018
Created By: Daniel Skolovy

The WSOP Main Event is the biggest thing in the poker world.

Over the last decade we’ve seen poker explode and nowhere is that explosion more evident than in the amount of money and prestige now attached to the title of world champion.

But not all Main Event champions are created equal.

We've taken the liberty of ranking the last ten Main Event winners using a system that takes into account everything from how good they were for poker to the quality of their final table competition.

We’ve given each category a score and averaged them out to find each champion’s overall rank. The categories are:

  • How good they were for poker
  • Their success after winning the main event
  • Their popularity amongst poker fans
  • The total number of players in their Main Event
  • The quality of players at their final table
  • Their poker skill at time of their victory

Top 10 Main Event Winners of Last 10 Years

#10 - 2002 - Robert Varkonyi

Robert Varkonyi

Overall Score: 2.25

  • Good for poker factor: 2
  • After Main Event Success: 1
  • Popularity: 1
  • Number of entrants beat: 3.5
  • Quality of Final Table: 3
  • Poker Skill at time of Victory: 3

What can be said about Robert Varkonyi? Unfortunately not much. As Main Event winners go few are as forgettable as the 2002 champ.

A combination of questionable skill, mediocre final table line-up and lack of success since winning, Varkonyi comes in last on our countdown.

#9 - 2007 - Jerry Yang

Jerry Yang

Overall Score: 3.4

  • Good for poker factor: 3
  • After Main Event Success: 0
  • Popularity: 1
  • Number of entrants beat: 8.5
  • Quality of Final Table: 5
  • Poker Skill at time of Victory: 3

For a second it seemed like Jerry Yang winning the Main Event would be great for poker, being a well-spoken, upstanding man of religion.

Unfortunately we didn’t see a whole lot of him in the months after his victory.

Despite a huge field and an above-average final table roster, Jerry Yang lands in the #9 spot on our countdown.

#8 - 2006 - Jamie Gold

Jamie Gold

Overall Score: 3.6

  • Good for poker factor: 1
  • After Main Event Success: 1
  • Popularity: 1
  • Number of entrants beat: 10
  • Quality of Final Table: 6
  • Poker Skill at time of Victory: 3

Jamie Gold beat the largest Main Event field ever. In 2007 a staggering 8,773 players ponied up the $10,000 to play the main event. Gold outlasted them all and shipped the whole thing and the $12 million dollar first prize.

Unfortunately he dragged poker's name through the mud after getting caught up in a legal battle over his promises to split the winnings with a friend of his.

Not only that but he's had no tournament success since then and his second biggest claim is being cast as the live one whenever High Stakes Poker comes around. 

#7 – 2003 - Chris Moneymaker

Chris Moneymaker

Overall Score: 5.3

  • Good for poker factor: 10
  • After Main Event Success: 1
  • Popularity: 7
  • Number of entrants beat: 4
  • Quality of Final Table: 8
  • Poker Skill at time of Victory: 2

If this were on “good for poker factor” alone Chris Moneymaker would win hands down. Moneymaker's Main Event victory was the spark that ignited the poker boom.

His story of turning $40 into $2.5 million by outlasting 839 players and winning the Main Event is the reason why hundreds of thousands of people picked up the game of poker.

He's the reason I do what I do today.

Unfortunately outside of that he hasn't done a whole lot. He'll always have a big entry in the poker history books but he's had almost zero tournament success since 2003.

#6 – 2004 - Greg Raymer

Greg Raymer

Overall Score: 5.5

  • Good for poker factor: 7
  • After Main Event Success: 4
  • Popularity: 5
  • Number of entrants beat: 6
  • Quality of Final Table: 4
  • Poker Skill at time of Victory: 7

The Fossilman fought through what was, at the time, the largest field in WSOP history, a total of 2,576 players.

His affiliation with has given him a chance to travel the world playing the circuit. His biggest claim to fame is his deep run in the very next year placing 25th. He's also had good success in mixed cash games.

#5 - 2005 - Joe Hachem

Joseph Hachem

Overall Score: 6.2

  • Good for poker factor: 6
  • After Main Event Success: 6
  • Popularity: 7
  • Number of entrants beat: 8
  • Quality of Final Table: 4
  • Poker Skill at time of Victory: 6

Joe Hachem beat a huge field of 5,619 to become world champ. He's a likable guy who created a mini-Moneymaker effect in Australia, bringing thousands of Aussies to the game.

He's had post WSOP success with a win on the WPT and several other $100k cashes since 2005.

For these reasons he’s #5 on the list.

#4 - 2001 - Carlos Mortensen

Carlos Mortensen

Photo from

Overall Score: 6.25

  • Good for poker factor: 5
  • After Main Event Success: 10
  • Popularity: 6
  • Number of entrants beat: 3.5
  • Quality of Final Table: 6
  • Poker Skill at time of Victory: 7

Carlos Mortensen has got to be the most successful winner in terms of tournament success afterout lasting 613 players for the big win.

He's won one bracelet since then and two WPT titles, as well as countless other final tables around the world.

Like Cada, Mortensen's final table was no cake walk. He had to slay Phil Hellmuth, Dewey Tomko, and Mike Mattusow en route to victory. 

#3 – 2009 - Joe Cada


Overall Score:  6.7

  • Good for poker factor:6
  • After Main Event Success:X
  • Popularity:6
  • Number of entrants beat:8.5
  • Quality of Final Table: 7
  • Poker Skill at time of Victory: 6.5

The most recent Main Event winner, Joe Cada, had the toughest final table this decade. He played well throughout the tournament and ran extremely well when it counted to take it down.

It's too early to tell how much post Main Event success Cada will have but he's been on TV everywhere doing interviews and spreading our great game.

A proactive attitude towards the media and stiff competition at the final table give Joe Cada the #3 slot. 

#2 - 2008 - Peter Eastgate

peter eastgate 26543

Overall Score: 6.6

  • Good for poker factor: 6
  • After Main Event Success: 5
  • Popularity: 6
  • Number of entrants beat: 9
  • Quality of Final Table: 7
  • Poker Skill at time of Victory:7

When Peter Eastgate outlasted 6,844 players in 2008 he was the youngest Main Event champion since Phil Hellmuth.

We haven't had too much time to see what Eastgate can do after his win but preliminary results are decent. He's had one EPT final table and pretty strong cash game success.

His youth and the fact that he's the original November Nine champion prove that he's both good for poker and will always be popular with the fans.

#1 – 2000 – Chris “Jesus” Ferguson

Chris Ferguson

Overall Score: 6.8

  • Good for poker factor: 8
  • After Main Event Success:8
  • Popularity:8
  • Number of entrants beat: 3
  • Quality of Final Table: 7 
  • Poker Skill at time of Victory:7

Coming in numero uno is Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, one of the most recognizable faces in poker and the first world champion of the new millennium.

Chris outlasted 512 players and took home $1.5 million dollars. Since that time he’s won three more bracelets and an NBC Heads-Up Championship title.

Being one of the founders of Full Tilt Poker boosts his good-for-poker score and clinches the number one spot in our ranking of the decade’s Main Event winners.


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Celeste Imberton 2009-12-09 19:03:26

Good ranking system.

sorta surprised u have eastgate that high.

If this list was based on post wsop victory celebration photo you'd have to move varkonyi from the 10 spot up to #1.

that photo rules



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