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FULL LIST – WSOP Main Event Champions

World Series of Poker Main Event Champions of the Past

Even casual followers of championship poker are familiar with the World Series of Poker Main Event poker tournament. Originating in 1970, it is now the oldest, biggest, and highest-regarded gaming tournament in existence.

The poker main event has had its fair share of colorful poker champions, from Cowboy hat-clad Texans to wide-eyed, inexperienced amateurs.

The tournament has grown considerably over the course of its lifetime, from a single table of seven pros in 1970 to well over 6,000 entrants in 2015. Naturally, this has led to a massively inflated prizepool—with the first place prize growing from $30,000 in 1970 to a peak of $12,000,000 in 2006.

Let’s take a look at some of the most successful and interesting poker main event champions to date. Scroll down to see the complete list of main event champions!

 

Johnny Moss (1970, 1971, 1974)

Total poker main event winnings: $190,000

johnny moss wsop

Moss is undoubtedly one of the greatest poker champions to have graced a felt table; however, from a financial perspective, he got involved in the poker main event at the wrong time, long before the prize money began to reach exorbitant amounts.

Though he is one of only two men to have won the poker main event three times, Moss’s winnings totals only $190,000. Granted, this amount of money would have gone quite far in the 1970s, but it does still pale in comparison to the massive prizes we see in today’s main event poker tournaments.

On the other hand, Moss’s legacy as a championship poker trailblazer is priceless.

 

 Doyle Brunson (1976, 1977)

Total poker main event winnings: $560,000

doyle brunson wsop

Like Moss, Doyle Brunson is considered a champs poker trailblazer, but his heyday in the Main Event preceded huge tournament winnings. Brunson won back-to-back main event poker titles in 1976 and 1977, and has now been competing professionally for over 50 years.

The 82-year-old Texan is instantly recognizable by his signature cowboy hat and more recently his high powered electric scooter, the former of which led to his nickname of “Texas Dolly”.

Doyle has had one of the poker world’s longest and most illustrious careers, with 10 WSOP bracelets and one WPT title.  His lifetime live earnings exceed $6,000,000, and his winnings in high stakes Vegas cash games only add to that number.

 

Phil Hellmuth (1989)

Total poker main event winnings: $755,000

wsop phil hellmuth

Even though Hellmuth only has one poker main event title to his name, he’s enjoyed a long and successful poker career.

Hellmuth holds the all time record with 14 WSOP bracelets and his live tournament winnings exceed a mind blowing $19,300,000. Hellmuth has developed a reputation as a “poker brat,” racking up hilarious sound bit after hilarious sound bit for the last dozen or so years, “idiot from Northern Europe” comes to the minds of most.

In spite of his antics, Hellmuth is undoubtedly one of the most successful poker champions of all time.

 

Chris Moneymaker (2003)

Total poker main event winnings: $2,500,000

chris moneymaker wsop

In addition to having one of the most memorable names in champs poker history, Chris Moneymaker also has one of the most interesting backstories.

In 2003, while working as an accountant, Moneymaker paid a paltry $86 to gain entry into an online poker tournament that ultimately led him to the WSOP final table.

Playing heads-up against seasoned pro Sam Farha in what was his first live tournament, Moneymaker ultimately won the main event of poker and a cool $2.5 million—a nice return on an $86 investment. Moneymaker significantly increased online poker’s popularity after his win, a phenomenon that has been deemed the “Moneymaker Effect”.

 

Martin Jacobsen (2014)

Total poker main event winnings: $10,000,000

martin jacobson main event win

Although Jacobsen, a Swedish championship poker player, only has one main event poker win to his name, he chose nearly the best time to win his WSOP main bracelet.

In 2014, the poker main event prizepool reached 8 figures for the first time in 8 years and only the second time in WSOP history. Jacobsen took home a ridiculous $10,000,000 grand prize for his efforts.

Though this is far and away his biggest win, Jacobsen has been no slouch in other tournaments, even winning an EPT main event. His live tournament winnings exceed $15,000,000 in total.

 

Stu Ungar (1980, 1981, 1997)

Total poker main event winnings: $1,760,000

stu unger main event wsop

Ungar is considered by some to be the greatest Texas hold ’em player to have ever lived, and given his impressive resume, one would be hard-pressed to disagree.

He is one of only two poker champions to have won the poker main event three times. For his 1980 and 1981 poker main event wins, Ungar brought home $385,000 and $375,000 respectively, chump change compared to what winners make today.

In 1997, however, his winnings increased considerably—Ungar hauled in a cool $1 million for this poker main event and was declared the “Comeback Kid”.

Unfortunately, Ungar struggled with addiction his entire lifetime, and died less than a year after his last poker main event win in 1998, completely broke. However, he will forever be regarded as one of the greatest poker champions to have ever played the game.

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Full List of Poker Main Event Champions

Year

Player NameWinning HandFirst Place Prize

1971

Johnny Moss6x 6x$30,000
1972Thomas PrestonKx Jx

$80,000

1973

Walter PearsonA♠ 7♠$130,000

1974

Johnny Moss3♥ 3♠

$160,000

1975Brian RobertsJ♠ J♥

$210,000

1976

Doyle Brunson10♠ 2♠$220,000
1977Doyle Brunson10♠ 2♥

$340,000

1978

Bobby BaldwinQ♦ Q♣$210,000
1979Hal Fowler7♠ 6♦

$270,000

1980

Stu Ungar5♠ 4♠$385,000
1981Stu UngarA♥ Q♥

$375,000

1982

Jack StrausA♥ 10♠$520,000
1983Tom McEvoyQ♦ Q♠

$540,000

1984

Jack Keller10♥ 10♠$660,000
1985Bill Smith3♠ 3♥

$700,000

1986

Berry JohnstonA♠ 10♥$570,000
1987Johnny ChanA♠ 9♣

$625,000

1988

Johnny ChanJ♣ 9♣$700,000
1989Phil Hellmuth9♠ 9♣

$755,000

1990

Mansour Matloubi6♥ 6♠$895,000
1991Brad DaughertyK♠ J♠

$1,000,000

1992

Hamid Dastmalchi8♥ 4♣$1,000,000
1993Jim BechtelJ♠ 6♠

$1,000,000

1994

Russ HamiltonK♠ 8♥$1,000,000
1995Dan Harrington9♦ 8♦

$1,000,000

1996

Huck Seed9♦ 8♦$1,000,000
1997Stu UngarA♥ 4♣

$1,000,000

1998

Scotty NguyenJ♦ 9♣$1,000,000
1999Noel Furlong5♣ 5♦

$1,000,000

2000

Chris FergusonA♠ 9♣$1,500,000

2001

Carlos MortensenK♣ Q♣

$1,500,000

2002Robert VarkonyiQ♦ 10♠

$2,000,000

2003

Chris Moneymaker5♦ 4♠$2,500,000
2004Greg Raymer8♠ 8♦

$5,000,000

2005

Joe Hachem7♣ 3♠$7,500,000
2006Jamie GoldQ♠ 9♣

$12,000,000

2007

Jerry Yang8♦ 8♣

$8,250,000

2008

Peter Eastgate

A♦ 5♠

$9,152,416

2009

Joe Cada9♦ 9♣$8,574,649

2010

Jonathan DuhamelA♠ J♥

$8,944,138

2011Pius HeinzA♠ K♣

$8,715,638

2012Greg MersonK♦ 5♦

$8,531,853

2013

Ryan Riess

A♥ K♥

$8,359,531

2014

Martin Jacobson

10♥ 10♦

$10,000,000

2015Joe McKeehenA♥ 10♦

$7,683,346

2016Qui Nguyen
K♣ 10♣

$8,005,310

Who is your favorite main event champion? Let us know in the comments!

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