Every year, gamblers from all around the world flock to Vegas in order to compete in the World Series of Poker. At stake are millions of dollars and the coveted bracelets which are awarded to the champions of each event. Below, I’ve attempted to identify the ten men who may be the greatest to ever compete in (and win) the yearly event.
1. Doyle Brunson – “Texas Dolly” is arguably the greatest card player alive today. With over 40 years of poker experience under his belt, Brunson was the first man to earn 1 million dollars in poker tournaments. He’s won 10 WSOP bracelets, and is one of only four men to have won back to back main events. He’s a true legend of the game.
2. Johnny Chan – Having won over 5 million dollars in tournament play, any serious poker player knows the name of “The Orient Express.” A 2002 Poker Hall of Fame inductee, Chan has 10 WSOP bracelets, tying him for the lead. A clip of his heads up win at the 1988 WSOP final has even been featured in the Matt Damon movie Rounders (in which Chan also made a cameo).
3. Phil Hellmuth Jr.- Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Phil “Poker Brat” Hellmuth is one of the best in the world. And just in case you’re unconvinced, he’s got 10 WSOP bracelets which should change your mind. In fact, he won his 10th in 2006, and his live tournament winnings exceed over 8 million dollars.
4. Men Nguyen – Known by many as simply “The Master,” Nguyen has won an impressive 6 WSOP bracelets in his career. He’s considered one of the most fearsome cash game players in the world, but he also donates a portion of his winnings to charity, even helping to build a kindergarten in his native Vietnam.
5. T.J. Cloutier – Having won over 8 million in tournament play, Cloutier is one of the most well-rounded gamblers in the game. Despite having never won the main event (but placing in the top 5 on 4 different occasions), this wily Texan can boast an impressive 6 tournament bracelets.
6. Erik Seidel – Having won over 5 million dollars in live tournament play, Seidel’s 1988 showdown against Johnny Chan was immortalized in the film Rounders. He also excels at backgammon and playing the stock market.
7. Johnny Moss – With 8 WSOP bracelets, “The Grand Old Man” competed in every WSOP tournament from its creation in 1970 until his death in 1995 (at 88 years of age). Because he was one of the true innovators of the game, he was a charter inductee into the Poker Hall of Fame.
8. Billy Baxter – With 7 WSOP bracelets (all in lowball events), Baxter is one of the greats of the game. He even took the United States government to court and won, securing equal tax status for those who make a living at gambling.
9. Jay Heimowitz – He’s attended the WSOP every year since 1975 and has won 6 bracelets in the process (not to mention 35 in-the-money finishes). What’s even more impressive is that his lack of full-time tour experience categorizes him as an amateur.
10. Chris Ferguson – Known by the nickname “Jesus” for his long hair and beard, Ferguson is one of the great card players of the modern era. He also happens to hold a Ph.D. in computer science. To date, he has 5 WSOP bracelets and has earned over 5 million dollars in tournament play.
By Damien Chambers
When he’s not reviewing movies or losing money at the poker table, Damien Chambers can usually be found at http://www.gamblingchitchat.com/ or http://www.cinemathreads.com/