If Spanish poker fans remember the 2001 WSOP fondly it’s because, way before the era of the November Nine, a Spaniard was crowned best player in the world.
It launched a trickle-down effect still being felt in Spain today with rising stars like Adrian Mateos a direct product.
As part of our continuing series on WSOP Main Event heads-up matches let's go back and look at the 2001 heads-up between Carlos Mortensen and Dewey Tomko.
We'll also look at their respective careers since.
The Decisive Hand
At this final table Tomko and Mortensen had to not only face each other but also Mike Matusow and Phil Hellmuth.
The latter came face-to-face with Mortensen with only five players left at the table, which only makes the Spaniard’s run even more impressive.
After the eliminations of Phil Gordon (by Mortensen) and Stan Schrier (by Tomko), the Spaniard and Tomko finally became the two finalists and gave a thrilling heads-up.
Mortensen was the chip leader and wanted to use it to his advantage, saying "I want to destroy the table" during an interview before the final table.
And so he did.
In the final hand Mortensen decided to up the ante after Tomko raised his flop bet. Mortensen shoved and the American went along, thus signing his death sentence.
Juan Carlos Mortensen: K K Q Q
Dewey Tomko: A A A A
Flop: 3 3 10 10 J J
Turn: 3 3
River: 9 9
The straight crowned Mortensen king and kickstarted his legacy. Watch the ESPN broadcast in its entirety below:
Post-Mortem: Tomko Doubles Up Hall of Fame
It's unfair to reduce Dewey Tomko’s career to just this 2001 heads-up against Mortensen, of course. After all, Tomko played in every single WSOP Main Event from 1974 to 2010 -- the longest streak in WSOP history.
Tomko is one of very few people with that kind of longevity in the game and in 2008 he was enshrined into the Poker Hall of Fame.
With almost $5m in tournament winnings and that very long career that includes three WSOP bracelets and countless final tables in the biggest events in the world, that's a no-brainer.
If there's something that sets Tomko apart from other players, though, it’s his passion for golf. And that’s how, in 2010, he also made his way into the Gamblers Golf Hall of Fame.
Another not-so-surprising achievement for a player who once bet a quarter of a million dollars on a golf game.
Tomko is also a renowned businessman. He created and headed the Southern Dunes Country Club in Florida (1992-2005) and owned the Horseshoe Casino in San José (Costa Rica).
Tomko decided to pursue his ultimate business dream by creating Dewey’s Indoor Golf & Sports Grill in Orlando, which opened in 2014. He now lives there with his wife and three children, one of which - Derek - also plays poker.
El Matador: The Best Spanish Player in History
Talking about Carlos Mortensen is simply talking about the best Spanish player in poker history. Or, at least, the most successful until now, as we know there are a lot of up-and-coming players.
Mortensen, nicknamed 'El Matador' after his big win, became the most successful Spanish player in the history of live tournaments -- a position that he still holds today and will for a while as he's $7.6m ahead of his closest pursuer, Adrián Mateos.
After winning his first bracelet at the Binion’s Horseshoe it took Mortensen two years to win his second bracelet in a $5,000 Limit Hold’em event.
That was in 2003 - a year that you’ll surely remember was fairly significant in poker history. You know, Moneymaker and all that.
One year later El Matador won the 2004 WPT Doyle Brunson North American No-Limit Hold’em Poker Championship for another $1 million.
Mortensen still isn’t in the Poker Hall of Fame but he should soon be. Among his amazing lifetime record - including bubbling the Main Event final table just three years ago - he's the only player to win both a WSOP Main Event (2001) and a WPT Championship (2007).
Mortensen is still playing today - likely as you read this - and adding huge titles to his record. His winnings are now close to $12m, but his legacy far exceeds his results.
More WSOP Heads-Up Flashbacks: