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Top Ten: Poker’s One-Hit Tournament Wonders

WSOP Main Event Champions Dominate the List

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Dec 01, 2011


It’s easy to look at a list of one-hit wonders and think they were simply lucky to win a major tournament and didn’t have the skills to win another. That could be a reasonable assumption for some, but completely wrong for others.

Some players win big and then never do again because they move on to other interests, possibly investing the money into more lucrative career paths. It’s hard to really know why someone is a one-hit wonder.

Nonetheless, for whatever reason, the following are your top 10 biggest one-hit tournament wonders over the past 10 years.

Jerry Yang1. Jerry Yang:

The man known as “The Shadow” has undoubtedly been one of poker’s biggest ambassadors since his World Series of Poker main event win in 2007, but he’s done so by touting the charitable side of the game. Yang donates his time to numerous causes, but has managed just over six-figures in cashes since he won the $8.25 million first-place prize. His biggest score in the last four years was for $75,000 for reaching the quarter finals of of the 2010 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship.

Jamie Gold2. Jamie Gold:

Jamie Gold won the biggest tournament in poker history for $12 million back in 2006, but has only managed 11 small cashes since. To be fair, Gold was a successful television producer before his big win and didn’t really need to hit the tournament trail too hard in the following years. After settling a lawsuit concerning his main event winnings out of court, Gold appeared on High Stakes Poker and has been the face of a couple different online sites.

Robert Varkonyi3. Robert Varkonyi:

This Allen Kessler doppelganger was considered poker’s first true amateur to win the WSOP main event. Phil Hellmuth was so confident that Varkonyi wouldn’t win, that he promised to shave his head if it happened. For his unlikely victory in 2002, Varkonyi earned $2 million and got to be the one who held the clippers as the poker brat lost his hair. Since then, however, the New York native has just 12 small cashes, the biggest of which was a $65,032 win at the 2010 Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza.

Poorya Nazari4. Poorya Nazari:

It might just be a tad too soon to label Poorya Nazari a one-hit wonder, but since he won the biggest prize ever awarded at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2009, he hasn’t record a single additional cash. Others at that final table, including Anthony Gregg, Benny Spindler, Alexandre Gomes, Dan Heimiller and Kevin Saul have all had other success on the felt, but Nazari hasn’t even made much of an effort to travel the circuit. That being said, if the $3 million he earned in the Bahamas is the last of his career, we don’t think he’ll be too upset.

Constant Rijkenberg5. Constant Rijkenberg

In 2009, Constant Rijkenberg won the European Poker Tour San Remo main event for just under $2 million. It remains as his one and only cash. Why? Well, the Dutch player was alleged to have oversold himself for the tournament, which means while gathering backing deals for the event, he collected more than the buy-in required in an effort to guarantee a profit. Of course, once he made the money and eventually went on to win, the percentages he owed to his backers added up to more cash than he was given. Why would anyone who has oversold themselves play well enough to make the money? We have no idea.

Joe Bartholdi6. Joe Bartholdi:

In many ways, Joe Bartholdi was the forgotten member of “The Crew,” a group of young poker pros who took the tournament circuit by storm in 2004. The group included Scott Fischman, Dutch Boyd and Brett Jungblut. Then in April of 2006, Bartholdi won the World Poker Tour Championship at Bellagio for $3,760,165. Since then, he’s cashed only 11 times for a total of just under $200,000.

7. Kyle Schroeder:

In 2007, Kyle Schroeder won the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) main event for $1,378,330 under the name “ka$ino.” The Aurora, Illionis resident has won less than $20,000 since and his big online score makes up over 98 percent of his lifetime earnings.

Paul Maxfield8. Paul Maxfield:

In 2005, Paul Maxfield finished second at the televised WPT Championship for $1,698,390, losing a heads-up battle to eventual winner Tuan Le. Later that year, he made a WSOP final table, cashing for $20,080. That score remains as the Stoke-On-Trent resident’s last in-the-money finish.

9. John Stolzmann:

Downey, California’s John Stolzmann won $1,491,444 for taking down the WPT World Poker Open in Tunica, Mississippi back in 2005, defeating a final table that included Michael Mizrachi, Scotty Nguyen, Daniel Negreanu and eventual runner up Chau Giang. Since then, he’s won just $25,000 on two additional cashes.

Stanley Weiss10. Stanley Weiss:

In 2006, Stanley Weiss won a $500 preliminary event at the WPT Mirage Poker Showdown for $75,549. He parlayed that success into the main event just a week later and wound up taking it down for an additional $1,320,255. The Nashvile, Tennessee resident made a WSOP final table the next year, but has just four total cashes since 2007.