The World Series of Poker has produced some of the greatest moments in poker history. Having been run for almo0st 40 years there was bound to been some epic occasions that will be talked about forever.
With the 2012 WSOP coming to a close we take a look back at some of the memorable moments in WSOP history.
#10 You are an idiot!
What poker list would be complete without Phil Hellmuth? We didn’t want him at #10 but he whined profusely to be in this top 10. (Not really, but I’m sure if he knew about it he would have.)
In what has to be one of the most replayed videos of all time in poker, #10 on our list is the infamous blow up of Phil Hellmuth at the 2008 WSOP. Although my gut tells me he played this up to the cameras a bit, it’s still one of the greatest moments captured in poker history.
#9 November Nine
The “November Nine” was a concept introduced to the WSOP back in 2008. The idea was to extend the interest of the WSOP and was mainly a television marketing play. This would change the WSOP forever and cause one of the greatest debates in poker history.
Some argue it would give an unfair advantage and that it wasn’t fair. Others would argue that the Main Event is won due to the momentum gained during the process. In poker we all know how hot streaks work and if that streak is interrupted by a 4 month delay it could severely dampen your chances of winning.
The players themselves would have mixed emotions as most of them were new to this kind of exposure and they were just happy to know they were going to be millionaires. This delay did allow for players to get coaching, as Dennis Phillips did by hiring Phil Hellmuth. Others used the time to sign sponsors and earn extra money.
As of 2012 the November Nine is no longer and the format will go back to its original. It’s difficult to say whether this idea was good or bad. The controversy it caused is reason enough to make our list.
#8 WSOP Europe/WSOP Circuit
In 2007, Harrah’s, the company who purchased the rights to the WSOP in 2004 would start one of their best marketing campaigns. The introduction of a WSOP overseas gained the attention of players who would otherwise pay no mind to this event. It’s obvious that the WSOP Europe has had a major influence on the WSOP in Vegas. More and more Europeans have been entering the events in recent years.
The introduction of the Circuit Series has produced the same results. Although the prestige is no where near the same as the original WSOP, the exposure it receives from year round events keeps WSOP brand in everyone’s minds. Having year round exposure and an ever growing market will ensure the survival and success the WSOP has in the future.
#7 1973 WSOP
The WSOP officially began in 1972, with the great Amarillo Slim winning the event. In 1973 CBS Sports caught wind of this historic occasion and decided to capture the event for T.V. This would be the first ever televised footage of the WSOP. Watching this time capsule of poker history makes you appreciate where the game of poker is at today, not to mention where style has taken us.
#6 Stu Unger
Stu Unger is arguably the greatest poker player to ever live. In 1980 Unger would win the Main Event after only playing Hold ‘Em for a few months. He would repeat as champ the following year. This alone is a great feat, but what he did in 1997 and the events that surrounded it, would become poker legend.
A visibly ailing Unger would go on to win his third Main Event title in one the most iconic televised poker moments ever. A setting on the famous Freemont Street in Vegas would be the backdrop. Commentated by Gabe Kaplan who really captured the true essence of the moment in an interview after Unger’s win would be one of the last times the world would see Stu Unger. He would die a few months later from years of a hard lifestyle. One can’t say what poker would be like had he lived longer, but he would still be young enough to be playing today and for sure would have changed the record books and possibly the timeline of poker.
#5 Sorry John, I don’t remember
Although this next moment is not one of the greatest accomplishments in poker, it would become perhaps the most mimicked and recognizable scenes. Johnny Chan is a great poker player, but he is more known for his role in the movie “Rounder’s.” He would play a small role, but his impact on the poker world was huge.
The scene would introduce millions to the world of poker and some could say was the start of the poker boom. This would also make Chan only the 3rd player to win multiple Main Events. Even though Chan is one the most successful players in history, his role in the move and this scene will forever be his calling card
#4 Phil Hellmuth
Yes, we have Phil Hellmuth on our list again. We may love or him or as most do, hate him, there is no denying that Phil is one of the greatest poker players ever. If you look at his statistics, Hellmuth is the best ever at the WSOP as well. He has more bracelets than anyone and more winnings if you discount the past few Main Event winners. I add this caveat because the last few winners of the Main Event would instantly become top earners even though they were nowhere near as good as most poker players and only have this one win to their resume.
Phil was the youngest player to win the Main Event back in 1989, a record that would hold for 20 years. He brings in advertisers and keeps interest going. If you browse any poker forum or site, you’d be hard pressed to find someone talking about the WSOP without Hellmuth’s name involved. The fact is not as many people would be watching poker if it wasn’t for the self proclaimed “Poker Brat.” He is the villain of poker and makes for great T.V.
#3 The best bluff in poker history?
This is arguably the most recognized hand in poker. Sam Farha, who was a relative unknown, would face Chris Moneymaker heads up in the 2003 Main Event. In one hand both would become instant superstars.
In what Norman Chad would call “The bluff of the century”, Moneymaker would risk his tournament life by going all in on a stone cold bluff. In retrospect this play was pretty bad, but it made for great television and would set the tone for the match. This hand would be talked about for years and still to this day.
#2 The Big One
If you missed this event, you missed out on poker history. The Big One was the largest prize pool in poker history. It was actually the largest prize pool in sports history. The amazing part was it only featured 48 players. The buy in would be $1 million with over $18 million going to first. This would also be the largest ever first place payout in poker.
The event was an official WSOP event but its main cause was for the charity of Guy Laliberte’s One Drop Foundation. This charity provides water around the world for those in need. Its winner would be Antonio Esfandiari and his name will forever be in the record books.
#1 The Moneymaker effect
I think we all knew what #1 would be. If it wasn’t for the rise of Moneymaker it’s a guarantee we would not be playing poker the way we are today. A pudgy accountant from Tennessee with little experience would take on the world’s best and become the most famous poker player in the world.
His story is one for movies and would give rise to the poker boom. The way he won entry into the event gained interest in your average Joe looking to make it big. Players from around the world would begin playing online and poker would be everywhere. If you were fortunate enough to be playing during these times, the money seemed to flow out of computers. For anyone with basic knowledge of the game, making money would be effortless. These were the best times in poker and it’s safe to say they will never be as good.
I know when I find a fish at the tables, I always say to myself, “Thank You Chris Moneymaker!”