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World Series of Poker Stats -- Who’s Been the Best Since the Boom? Part 1 of 3

A Detailed Look at the World Series Since Moneymaker’s Win

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The WSOP moved from Binion's to the Rio shortly after Moneymaker's win.If you don’t know it, Phil Hellmuth will gladly tell you. With 11 World Series of Poker bracelets, he is the all-time leader. No one has won more events in what is universally recognized as the most distinguished tournament series in the game.

Total number of bracelets — it’s the one statistic that seems to resonate in poker. With so many tournaments running every day all over the world, both live and online, WSOP stats are viewed as an imperfect but fair way of determining the relative success of poker players. A bracelet can now serve as the highlight of a pro’s career; a second bracelet often solidifies his stature in the eyes of the community.

Twenty-five players (including Chip Reese, Barry Greenstein, and Mike Matusow) have exactly three WSOP bracelets to their names, while 29 players have four bracelets or more.

Phil Hellmuth's signature pose has helped get him to the top of the all-time bracelet list.The top of that all-time list is well known. Phil Hellmuth with 11. Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan with 10. Johnny Moss with nine. Erik Seidel with eight. Phil Ivey and Billy Baxter with seven.

But there’s no denying that the World Series of Poker today is a vastly different beast than the World Series of decades past, when most of those bracelets were won. Just 10 years ago, in 2000, there were 25 events. Twenty-one of those 25 events attracted fewer than 250 players in the field.

High-stakes cash game pro Jennifer Harman won the $5,000 deuce-to-seven no-limit lowball event in 2000, beating out 29 other competitors for the first of her two bracelets. A bracelet was given away that year in a freeroll media tournament won by Tim Ellis, who received $5,000 in prize money for defeating 47 other players.

Go back further and the numbers shrink even more. In 1980, at the 11th annual WSOP (which was highlighted by Stu Ungar’s first of three main-event titles), not a single one of the 12 events contained a field of over 176 players. Nine of those events had 73 players or less, including a 13-player field in a $2,000 limit draw high event won by Pat Callihan.

Although there are more bracelet events today (62 in 2010, including WSOP Europe), with thousands of players entering the smallest buy-in events and hundreds of solid pros competing in the biggest buy-in events, the math is undeniable — it’s harder than ever to win a bracelet.

Chris Moneymaker after winning the 2003 WSOP main event.Some people might even claim that it’s a different game than it was years ago — that Chris Moneymaker changed everything with his 2003 main-event win, which was glorified on ESPN countless times for all the world to see, inspiring a new generation of poker players that would transform the pace of the action.

For those reasons, Card Player has decided to compile the WSOP stats of the post-Moneymaker era. From 2004-2009, we have created a top list for most bracelets, most cashes, and most prize money in the WSOP in that time period. We have set them side by side with the all-time lists as a comparison.

This exercise is by no means an attempt to diminish the accolades of poker players in decades past, but merely an attempt to recognize which poker players have simply been crushing it at the World Series ever since Moneymaker surprisingly but dramatically ushered in the new era of the game.

Without further ado, the stats:

Most WSOP Bracelets (2004-2009)

Rank Player Bracelets
1 Jeffrey Lisandro 4
2 Allen Cunningham 3
2 Barry Greenstein 3
2 Phil Ivey 3
5 Daniel Alaei 2
5 Rafi Amit 2
5 Farzad Bonyadi 2
5 Brandon Cantu 2
5 William Chen 2
5 Scott Clements 2
5 T.J. Cloutier 2
5 Scott Fischman 2
5 Ted Forrest 2
5 Eric Froehlich 2
5 Matt Graham 2
5 Phil Hellmuth 2
5 Jesper Hougaard 2
5 Ryan Hughes 2
5 Vitaly Lunkin 2
5 Thang Luu 2
5 John Paul Kelly 2
5 Jeff Madsen 2
5 Greg Mueller 2
5 Daniel Negreanu 2
5 Brock Parker 2
5 Max Pescatori 2
5 John Phan 2
5 Patrick Poels 2
5 James Richburg 2
5 Tom Schneider 2
5 Erik Seidel 2
5 Mark Seif 2
5 J.C. Tran 2
34 233 Other Players Tied 1

Looking at this list makes Jeffrey Lisandro’s 2009 performance all the more impressive. In the last six years combined, only three other players have been able to win three World Series of Poker bracelets. Lisandro completed that task in less than three weeks last summer. Along with another stud bracelet in 2007, Lisandro is No. 1 in bracelets in the post-Moneymaker era.

No player has as many bracelets in the modern era as Jeffrey Lisandro.Lisandro had a legitimate claim to the title of “best player to have never won a bracelet” before finally getting the monkey off his back to win a $2,000 seven-card stud event in 2007. Last year, he became the first and only player since the poker boom to win three WSOP bracelets in a single World Series. Four other players have done it in history, although all did it before the modern era (Puggy Pearson in 1973, Ted Forrest and Hellmuth both in 1993, and Ivey in 2002).

Ivey shares the No. 2 spot with two other popular and well-respected pros, Greenstein and Allen Cunningham. Widely recognized as one of the best in the game, Ivey won his post-boom bracelets in a $5,000 PLO event in 2005, a $2,500 deuce-to-seven no-limit event in 2009, and a $2,500 Omaha hi-lo/seven-card stud hi-lo mixed event in 2009.

Like Ivey, Cunningham has been a monster since 2004. Besides winning three WSOP bracelets, each player has final-tabled the mammoth main event (Ivey in 2009, Cunningham in 2006). All of Cunningham’s hold’em bracelets (which comprise three of his five) have come since 2005.

With nearly $7.3 million in lifetime tournament earnings that span over several years, many fans might be surprised to discover that all of Greenstein’s bracelets have come post-Moneymaker. Perhaps realizing early that tourneys were the wave of the future, the cash-game player has dedicated himself to MTTs and has won bracelets in no-limit deuce-to-seven draw, PLO, and razz.

Although over 300 bracelets have been awarded in the past six years, only those four players have won three bracelets or more. This becomes even more surprising when you consider how many double-bracelet winners the WSOP has featured. In 2009, improbably, five different players won multiple bracelets in the World Series. In fact, there has been at least one double-bracelet winner in every single WSOP since the boom (and even extending back to 2000).

However, Lisandro and Ivey remain the only two players who have won multiple bracelets in a single summer, but can still boast at least one other post-2003 win.

Jerry Yang is a prominent modern example of a player with exactly one WSOP bracelet and one WSOP cash.It is not uncommon for an unknown player to rise out of anonymity to win a WSOP bracelet, and then never be heard from again.

Hal Fowler did this in dramatic fashion when he became the first true amateur to win the main event in 1979. It was Fowler’s first and only WSOP cash in his lifetime.

Fowler isn’t the only one to complete a one-and-done performance at the WSOP. According to WSOP recordkeeping, 88 players have exactly one WSOP bracelet and one WSOP cash — meaning they had never cashed in the World Series prior to their win, and they never cashed again after it.

Since the poker boom, this trend only has grown. Twenty-nine individuals since the 2004 WSOP (including 2007 main-event champ Jerry Yang and Irish pro Ciaran O’Leary, whose ‘07 bracelet win was highlighted by ESPN’s coverage of his final table) have won just one bracelet with a single WSOP cash on their résumés. That’s nearly 10 percent of all the bracelet winners in the past six years.

Most WSOP Bracelets All-Time

Rank Player Bracelets
1 Phil Hellmuth 11
2 Doyle Brunson 10
2 Johnny Chan 10
4 Johnny Moss 9
5 Erik Seidel 8
6 Billy Baxter 7
6 Phil Ivey 7
8 TJ Cloutier 6
8 Layne Flack 6
8 Jay Heimowitz 6
8 Men Nguyen 6
12 Gary Berland 5
12 Allen Cunningham 5
12 Chris Ferguson 5
12 Ted Forrest 5
12 Berry Johnston 5
12 Scotty Nguyen 5
12 Stu Ungar 5
19 Mickey Appleman 4
19 Bobby Baldwin 4
19 David Chiu 4
19 Arthur Cobb 4
19 John Juanda 4
19 Jeffrey Lisandro 4
19 Lakewood Louie 4
19 Tom McEvoy 4
19 Daniel Negreanu 4
19 Amarillo Slim Preston 4
19 Huck Seed 4
30 25 Players Tied 3

Besides the late Johnny Moss, who passed away in 1995, Billy Baxter is the highest ranked player who has not won a bracelet since 2003. Seventy-two-year-old Jay Heimowitz is the only other player in the top 10 who has not won a bracelet in the modern era.

Chris Ferguson is still looking for his first bracelet in the modern era.There are only eight players who have at least four bracelets all-time, with at least two of those bracelets coming after 2003 — Ivey, Lisandro, Cunningham, Forest, Hellmuth, Seidel, T.J. Cloutier, and Daniel Negreanu.

It may be surprising to some of his followers, but five-time bracelet winner and 2000 world champ Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson is one of many individuals on that all-time list who is still looking for his first WSOP win since Moneymaker’s title. Others who have failed to add to their bracelet collection since the boom include 1986 world champ Berry Johnston, 1983 world champ Tom McEvoy, Mickey Appleman, Amarillo Slim Preston, and Huck Seed.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at who’s been racking up WSOP cashes and raking in WSOP prize money since the poker boom, and show how a few individuals have stood out for their dominating and consistent performances.

Editor’s Note: Statistics are based on the record-keeping of the World Series of Poker. If you notice any omissions or see the need for any corrections, please e-mail steve.murphy@cardplayer.com.

 
 
 
 

Comments

charlywayne
over 10 years ago

Hey bmpek regardless of the field "back in the day" I'm sure that you or me for that regard could only hope and wish for the chance to play with the players that Tex had the privelage to play with then. Tex if your ever in the East Texas area look me up, I would be honored to have you play at our game, and would love to sit and hear the stories and learn from your experiences. Charliewayne

 
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Venable
over 10 years ago

anyone know john kim's poker name and where he plays? ,,, it's something like nicolac or nickalack,,,,,, thanks,,,,, he's known for playing more hands than about anyone,,,,,,,,,,,, also he was on the 3rd episode of "under the gun" with jon friedberg.

 
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donkeytron
over 10 years ago

Stu Ungar would have more than 11 if he played more events back in the day and if he was still playing today.

 
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SevenKidsPoppy
over 10 years ago

Tex didn't elect himself to the Poker Hall of Fame. He played and excelled on the highest levels and was given the highest of accolades by those on that level while in his poker prime, something that none of his haters, detractors, or assorted internet dogs has experienced or likely will ever experience.

Btw Doyle Brunson would have had more than 11 bracelets if he hadn't boycotted the Series for several years.

 
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SevenKidsPoppy
over 10 years ago

Seidel, Ivey, and Flack have decent shots at getting into double digits one day. Others, probably not; the youngest players, obviously too early to tell.

 
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clunker
over 10 years ago

Richenough what are you talking about your post is kind of garbled and makes not a lot of sense. You are either belittling his accomplishments who ever he is or accusing him of cheating? And you want a free pass or you want him to get down and roll in the mud with you?

 
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clunker
over 10 years ago

Stu Unger is deceased so he cannot win any more WSOP bracelets 5 is it. So all conjecture about what he might have done IF don't matter.Babe Ruth missed 3 full seasons of baseball because he would eat and drink so much he would get sick and not be able to play. He also played at a time when the season was 10 games shorter. IF he had played when the season was longer and been able to control his eating and drinking habits steroid Bonds would be just a footnote in baseball record books. But he didn't. And you can't change that with IFS.

 
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puttae
over 10 years ago

list will be changing, kingwalter will own 2 by the end of the wsop this year. write it down!

 
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