Stan’s Lists – Movie Taglines


[SS] “As useless as chip tricks are, this list is even more useless…”, Stan the Stat suggested. “Poker-related movie taglines.”

[RR] “But some of these movies actually have nothing to do with poker, right?” Roderick the Rock noted.

[SS] “Yep. I’ll separate those into their own list eventually.”

Movie Year Tagline
Cool Hand Luke 1967 Sometimes, “Nothing” can be a really cool hand.
Rocky 1976 His whole life was a million-to-one shot.1
Kenny Rogers as The Gambler2 1980 You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.
Maverick 1994 In their hands, a deck of cards was the only thing more dangerous than a gun.
Casino 1995 Luck has nothing to do with the games they play.
Rounders 1998 You’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt. (Also, “Trust everyone… but always cut the cards.”)
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels 1999 They lost half a million at cards, but they’ve still got a few tricks up their sleeve.
Ocean’s Eleven 2001 Are you in or out?
High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story 2003 Gambler. Addict. Loser. Legend.
Lucky 2003 The odds keep getting odder.
Casino Royale 2006 Always bet on Bond.
Even Money 2006 Life is a gamble. How much are you willing to risk?
All In: The Poker Movie 2009 Get in the game.
The Hangover 2009 Some guys just can’t handle Vegas.
50/50 2011 It takes a pair to beat the odds.
The Hunger Games 2012 May the odds be ever in your favor!
The Odds 2012 You never know who’s got the killer hand…
Runner Runner 2013 You have no idea who you’re playing with (Also, “Know when to walk away”)

Footnotes:

  1. This could apply to Chris Moneymaker, or almost any of the amateurs who have won the World Series of Poker Main Event.
  2. The tagline for this made-for-television movie comes straight from Kenny Rogers’ song, “The Gambler”, on which the movie is based.

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Stan’s Lists – Chip Tricks

[RR] “Stan, all your lists have been poker skill-related or historical. Don’t you have any fun lists?” Roderick the Rock wondered.

[SS] “They’re all fun to me ;-)”, Stan the Stat half-joked. “Okay, I do have one list that has no real value: Poker Chip Tricks.”

[RR] “They have some value; you could use them to psych out your opponents. Leroy the Lion does a few of them.”

[SS] “Amateur (just kidding; he’s much better than me). But he’s still hundreds if not thousands of hours of practice behind the ‘pros’ I’ve seen on YouTube. I’ve seen our feline friend do simple shuffles, flips, and twirls, but there are at least a half dozen more basic types of chip tricks:”

Type Description
Shuffle Shuffle chips like playing cards
Flip Flip a chip from one end of a stack of chips to the other
Twirl Spin a chip around its diameter
Butterfly Spread out a number of chips between your fingers
Knuckle Roll Flip a chip across the backs of your fingers
Chip Roll/Spin Roll or spin a chip on the table
Floater Balance a chip on a finger while doing other tricks
Muscle Pass Use your thumb muscle to launch a chip from your palm
Bounce Bounce a chip off the table onto the top of a chip stack
Miscellaneous Everything else

Shuffle

  • Basic Version: Chip Shuffle (a.k.a. Chip Riffle)
  • Description: Divide a stack of chips (any even number from 6 to 20 or more) into two piles, then, with one hand, shuffle them back into a single pile like playing cards by applying inward pressure as you lift your fingers from the bottom to the top.
  • Tutorial: Rich Ferguson Chip Shuffle tutorial and TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions for the Shuffle
  • Comments: To learn the Shuffle, you can start with just two chips and work your way up to four, six, eight, and more. It may be easier to learn on a soft surface like a poker table than a hard surface like a desk.
  • Examples: Aerial Shuffle (Shuffle using only the top part of an extra-high stack of chips), Partial Shuffle (start a shuffle but leave the chips balanced with alternate chips sticking out on either side), Air Traffic Control Tower (Partial Aerial Shuffle) and Stephen Au-Yeung Christmas Tree (3 stacks partially shuffled into a tree-shape)

Flip

  • Basic Version: Thumb Flip (a.k.a. Chip Pullover)
  • Description: Start by holding a stack of chips (anywhere from two to six) between the tips of your fingers, use your thumb to roll the outermost chip up your index finger and out of the stack, then push it down at the other end of the stack.
  • Tutorial: Thumb Flip, Finger Flip, and Lookout tutorial and TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions for the Thumb Flip
  • Comments: The Thumb Flip is one of the easiest chips trick to learn to do consistently.
  • Examples: Finger Flip (a.k.a. Dutch Boyd Finger Flip; index finger grabs and lifts the outermost coin; TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions), Lookout (like a reverse Thumb Flip using the index finger), Run Over (Lookout variation), Back to Front (Thumb Flip from the rear to the front; TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions), Thumb Flip Inverse (Thumb Flip + Back to Front), Run Away (Back to Front with an added flip), Thumb Flip Empty (Thumb Flip on the backmost chip, so it spins but ends up in the same place), Pick (index and middle fingers simply lift front chip out and replace in back), Abduction (Pick variation), and Run Around (Pick variation that starts with a partial Thumb Flip on the back chip)

Twirl

  • Basic Version: Twirl
  • Description: Hold a chip between any two fingers (counting the thumb as a finger) and spin 180 degrees or more around a diameter with a third finger.
  • Tutorial: The Twirl itself is too simple for a tutorial but is part of more complicated tricks like the Chip Twirl (a.k.a. Spin and Twirl or Twirl In and Out). flop2river0 Chip Twirl tutorial and TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions for the Chip Twirl
  • Comments: Practicing the basic twirl with any three fingers that aren’t thumbs is great for honing the touch you’ll need for many twirl and butterfly tricks.
  • Examples: Swirl (Chip Twirl where the chip gets replaced in front instead of the middle), J-Factor1 (lift, spin, and replace the back chip), Danish Twirl (lift the front chip, twirl the back chip, and replace the front chip in back), Lift Twirl (finger flip to a float, twirl the 2nd chip, and replace the first chip in the middle), Twirl Lift (drop, twirl, lift, and float the back chip, drop, twirl, and replace the middle chip, then replace the float chip), Scissor Twirl (chip twirl plus a extra spin before replacement; Jakub “MisteroCZ” Machata tutorial), Finger to Finger Twirl (drop and twirl bottom chip, twirl top chip and replace behind), Sub Zero (lift, twirl, spin, and replace back chip), Multi Twirl (Twirl of 360 degrees or more), and Twin Twirl (twirl top and bottom chips simultaneously)

Butterfly

  • Basic Version: Butterfly
  • Description: Start by holding a stack of four chips between the finger tips of one hand, split them into two groups of two, then split those so each chip is spread out between each adjacent pair of fingers.
  • Tutorial: Rich Ferguson Butterfly tutorial2) and TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions for the Butterfly
  • Comments: What makes this trick hard is doing things with your fingers as if they were opposable thumbs. Since you’ve spent your whole life not doing that, you’ll need a lot of practice to get the touch. Easier with newer chips before the edges get too smooth.
  • Examples: Four Chip Roll Down (a different way to get to the Butterfly position and one of several chip tricks that began as a coin trick; Antonio Esfandiari tutorial and Rich Ferguson tutorial), Caterpillar (another way to get to the Butterfly position; slow motion, soundless video), Batwing (4-chip position like spreading wings), Butterfly Reverse, Fat Butterfly (8-chip Butterfly with 2 chips between each finger), Balance (end Butterfly chip by balancing chips on fingertips), Quad (4 chips around one finger), 5 Coin Star, Pendulum (3-chip pendulum-like motion), Bicycle (2-chip Butterfly with spinning wheels), Nuage (6 chips in two triangles), 6 Coin Star (5 Coin Star with extra chip in the middle), Galaxy (9 chips in 2 hands), Caterpillar Star (Caterpillar with a fifth chip), Finger Roll (a.k.a., Wagon Wheel if vertical, Flying Saucer if horizontal, and Cycle Round or Sputnik if complete circle; 1 chip moving between fingers; Stephen Au-Yeung Finger Roll tutorial), Finger Roll Combo (rotate two chips between fingers), and Rich Ferguson Rock ‘n Roll (rotate 2 chips around a finger; tutorial from the inventor)

Knuckle Roll

Chip Roll/Spin

  • Basic Version: Backspin (a.k.a. Screwback)
  • Description: Squeeze down the side of a chip with heavy pressure so that when it shoots out, it has enough backspin to come back to you.
  • Tutorial: Sebastien Brouillard Backspin and Drifter tutorial
  • Comments: Different chips and different surfaces will require adjusting how much spin you use. You can use a chip lying on the table as your surface if that helps.
  • Examples: Drifter (Backspin around a stack of chips), Chip Roll (roll chips down one hand and across the table to the other hand; Stephen Au-Yeung tutorial), Johnny Chan Reverse Roll (hold a stack of 10-12 chips in your palm, push off the top 3 with the thumb then roll them back in reverse order; ChipsWithTricks step-by-step instructions), Roll Around (a.k.a. Stack Roll; roll chip around a chip stack), Top Spin (spin a chip on top of a chip stack), Spin and Stop (spin a chip on the table, and stop its motion by placing a finger on top [best on a hard table]), and Peter Rockne Chip Launching (hold three chips in a stack above one chip that squeezes the upper middle chip out with lots of force and backspin)

Floater

  • Basic Version: Floater (a.k.a. Finger Rest)
  • Description: Balance a chip on a finger while doing other tricks.
  • Tutorial: Like the twirl, the Floater is too simple for a tutorial by itself but is used as part of other tricks.
  • Comments: This is a simple balancing flair used to embellish other tricks.
  • Examples: Antarctica (Float one chip then Twirl a second chip before Floating it on top of the first) and Subway (Float three chips on different fingers after twirling each)

Muscle Pass

  • Basic Version: Muscle Pass (also called Anti-Gravity)
  • Description: Squeeze a chip in the palm of your hand so hard that it shoots upward six inches or more to be caught by your other hand.
  • Tutorial: Antonio Esfandiari tutorial and TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions for the Muscle Pass
  • Comments: Esfandiari says that it could takes hundreds of attempts to get the chip to jump the first time. Practice just to build up your muscles even if you get no results. And it hurts, even for a master like him.
  • Examples: Sideways Muscle Pass and Multi Pass (2 simultaneous sideways passes)

Bounce

  • Basic Version: Bounce
  • Description: Drop a poker chip so it bounces off the table and lands on top of a chip stack.
  • Tutorial: TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions for the Chip Bounce
  • Comments: For a higher bounce, either drop the chip from a higher position or throw it down at the table. Some people call the throw a Bounce and the drop a Dribble Bounce (or Drop Bounce). The harder variations, like the 666 Bounce, are mostly pure luck, so stick with the simpler variations that you can succeed with in a few tries.
  • Examples: Bounce Back (toss a chip and catch it between two chips after a bounce off the table), Fountain (two chips bounce simultaneously between and onto two stacks), Moon Landing (throw a chip onto a stack), Flip Bounce (flip a chip into the air before it bounces), Bounce Twice (bounce over stack then back onto it), and 666 Bounce (same as Bounce Twice but from a toss in the air instead of a downward throw)

Miscellaneous

  • Basic Version: N/A
  • Description: Any other chip trick that doesn’t fit into one of the above categories.
  • Tutorial: N/A
  • Comments: Here’s your chance to invent your own chip trick (and name it after yourself).
  • Examples: Evelyn Ng Chip Sweep (spread a stack of chips out on a table, then sweep them back up; TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions), Mexican Jumping Chip (hang one chip off the edge of one stack and hit down on it with another stack to have it end up on top of the second stack; video where it immediately follows a Bounce), Unwrap Recapture (start with a 3-chip stack, toss the middle one in the air, and catch it back in the middle), Demon Recapture (same as Unwrap Recapture but with a bounce off your leg), Rollercoaster (roll a chip from your hand down your arm, bounce it off your bicep, and catch it between 2 chips), Chip Snap (more annoyance than trick), and Chip Juggling (simple 3 “ball” juggle, but you could do almost any standard juggling trick)4

Footnotes:

  1. The ‘J’ in “J-Factor” stands for “jump”.
  2. The part that’s cut off at the end is the Butterfly Balance: balancing the four chips on the finger tips.
  3. PokerStars referred to the Knuckle Roll as the Caterpillar in an ad, but most people use that name for a Butterfly trick.
  4. Poker Chip Tower Building is not listed here, as it’s more art than chip trick.

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Stan’s Lists – WSOP Main Event Repeat Champions

[SS] “This is one of my rare lists that I don’t expect to ever need to update”, Stan the Stat told Roderick the Rock. “Four players have captured the WSOP Main Event more than once, and all of them won in consecutive years.”

[SS] “Johnny Moss was the first, winning the event by vote in 1970 then capturing the championship at the table the next year. Three years later, he added a third title.”

[SS] “Doyle Brunson was the second, winning in 1976 and 1977.”

[SS] “Stu Ungar was the third, winning in 1980 and 1981, then adding a third sixteen years later!”

[SS] “Johnny Chan was the last, winning in 1987 and 1988. He was just two hands away from winning his third in a row in 1989 but never overcame Phil Hellmuth’s heads-up chip lead.”

[SS] “It’s incredibly unlikely we’ll have another multiple winner as long as there are over six thousand entrants each year (as there have since 2006).”

[RR] “Tiger Woods can be a favorite to win a golf tournament against a hundred other players, but Phil Ivey and any nine other pros you want to pick would be a huge underdog against the field of a World Series of Poker Main Event”, Rod finally chimed in.

[SS] “If you offered someone even money on any hundred pros they want, you’d still have the better end of the deal.”

[SS] “Besides those four repeat champions, only four other players have even finished first or second twice: Puggy Pearson, Crandall Addington, T.J. Cloutier, and Dewey Tomko.”

1st 2nd Player Years (field size in parentheses)
3 1 Johnny Moss 1st 1970 (7), 1st 1971 (6), 1st 1974 (16); 2nd 1973 (13)1
3 0 Stu Ungar 1st 1980 (73), 1st 1981 (75), 1st 1997 (312)
2 1 Doyle Brunson 1st 1976 (22), 1st 1977 (34); 2nd 1980 (73)
Johnny Chan 1st 1987 (152), 1st 1988 (167); 2nd 1989 (178)
1 2 Puggy Pearson 1st 1973 (13); 2nd 1971 (6)1, 2nd 1972 (6)1
0 2 Crandall Addington 2nd 1974 (16)1, 2nd 1978 (42)
T.J. Cloutier 2nd 1985 (140), 2nd 2000 (512)
Dewey Tomko 2nd 1982 (104), 2nd 2001 (613)

[RR] “Cloutier’s and Tomko’s accomplishments haven’t gone unnoticed, but they seem even more impressive now!”

Footnotes:

  1. Did not cash, as it was winner-take-all in those years.
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2013 WSOP Main Event Winner – Ryan Riess


[YY] As the players hung out awaiting the start of the monthly home tournament, Yuri the Young Gun was happily collecting his November Nine winnings from Stan the Stat, who had held the pool money1 for them and Roderick the Rock and Leroy the Lion. “Thanks, guys! Thanks, Ryan!” Yuri exclaimed. “That almost makes up for the last five Final Four pools that I haven’t won.”

[RR] “You’re welcome”, grumbled Rod. “Congrats to Ryan Riess, too. He was only fifth in chips going in, and played terrifically.”

[SS] “Yuri had the right idea, going with the youngest guy at the table. The youngest player has now won four of the six years of the November Nine.”2

[RR] “At least our pool made things much more interesting for me,… until Amir Lehavot busted out in third.”

[LL] “Ditto”, added Leroy, who also had half a stake in Lehavot.

[RR] “I still had a shot until the very end with Jay Farber”, bemoaned Rod, “but Riess clearly had more skill and more luck heads-up than his fellow local.”

[SS] “We each had at least one of our picks alive down to the final three. Probably meant a late Monday night for all of us (well, not for you Leroy)!”

[RR] “We all correctly avoided Mark Newhouse, who started eighth and finished ninth, David Benefield, who did the opposite (lasting only two hands longer), and Michiel Brummelhuis, who began and ended seventh.”

[YY] “Only because there were only four of us. But we would have felt pretty foolish if Sylvain Loosli had come from sixth to win it all. He did move up to fourth, just one hand before Lehavot exited, but was never a serious threat.”

[LL] “I was majorly disappointed by my pick, J.C. Tran. He didn’t look any more skilled than the other players, who all seemed to have a pretty good read on him. It didn’t take long for him to go from a fifth of the chips to fifth place.”

[SS] “He did have bad cards though, so it’s not a huge surprise that he had the lowest finish of any November Nine chip leader.3

2013 November Nine Final Results

Finish Player Start Start Chips
1st Ryan Riess 5th 25,875,000
2nd Jay Farber 4th 25,975,000
3rd Amir Lehavot 2nd 29,700,000
4th Sylvain Loosli 6th 19,600,000
5th J.C. Tran 1st 38,000,000
6th Marc-Etienne McLaughlin 3rd 26,525,000
7th Michiel Brummelhuis 7th 11,275,000
8th David Benefield 9th 6,375,000
9th Mark Newhouse 8th 7,350,000

Footnotes:

  1. The Hold ‘Em at Home crew placed their bets on July 26 in November Nine Odds.
  2. The other three: Peter Eastgate (2008), Joe Cada (2009), and Jonathan Duhamel (2010). Pius Heinz was the second youngest in 2011, and Greg Merson was the third youngest in 2012. All six were between 21 and 24 years old!
  3. Amateur Dennis Phillips had finished an unsurprising third in 2008, but note that he and Tran had the smallest chip leads over fifth place going in.

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Stan’s Lists – WSOP Final Hands With Community Cards


[SS] “Now that the World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table is almost here, this seems like a great time to unveil my best list yet”, Stan the Stat announced proudly. “For the first time ever, here are all the known starting hole cards, community cards, and hand values for the hands that ended every WSOP Main Event since 1972.”1

Year Winner Hand Value Runner-Up Hand Value Board
1972 Amarillo Slim Preston K♥J♦ Full House,
8s over Kings
Puggy Pearson Full House,
8s over 6s
1973 Puggy Pearson A♠7♠ Ace-high Johnny Moss K♥J♠ King-high Q♣T♠2♣6♦5♥
1974 Johnny Moss 3♥3♠ Full House,
3s over 9s
Crandell Addington A♣2♣ Pair of 9s 3♦9♣T♣Q♠9♦2
1975 Sailor Roberts J♠J♥ Pair of Jacks Bob Hooks J♣9♣ Pair of 9s 7♥6♣2♣9♠T♥3
1976 Doyle Brunson T♠2♠ Full House,
Tens over 2s
Jesse Alto A♠J♦ Two Pairs,
Aces over Jacks
A♥J♠T♥2♣T♦
1977 Doyle Brunson T♠2♥ Full House,
Tens over 2s
Gary Berland 8♥5♣ Two Pairs,
Tens over 8s
T♦8♠5♥2♣T♣
1978 Bobby Baldwin Q♦Q♣ Three Queens Crandell Addington 9♦9♣ Three 9s Q♠9♥K♣A♠T♦
1979 Hal Fowler 7♠6♦ Straight,
7-high
Bobby Hoff A♣A♥ Pair of Aces 5♥3♣J♠4♠T♦
1980 Stu Ungar 5♠4♠ Straight,
5-high
Doyle Brunson A♥7♠ Two Pairs,
Aces over 7s
A♦7♦2♣3♥2♦
1981 Stu Ungar A♥Q♥ Two Pairs,
Queens over 4s
Perry Green T♣9♦ Pair of 4s 7♦8♥4♥4♣Q♦
1982 Jack Straus A♥T♠ Pair of Tens Dewey Tomko A♦4♦ Pair of 4s 7♦5♠4♠Q♣T♣
1983 Tom McEvoy Q♦Q♠ Two Pairs,
Queens over 6s
Rod Peate K♦J♦ Two Pairs,
Jacks over 6s
3♦6♥6♣J♥3♣
1984 Jack Keller T♥T♠ Pair of Tens Byron Wolford 6♥4♥ Pair of 6s 5♦6♠9♣8♠J♦
1985 Bill Smith 3♠3♥ Full House,
5s over 3s
T. J. Cloutier A♦3♣ Three 5s 5♠5♥9♠5♣K♦
1986 Berry Johnston A♠T♥ Ace-high,
Ten kicker
Mike Harthcock A♦8♦ Ace-high,
8 kicker
6♣7♥3♠2♦4♣
1987 Johnny Chan A♠9♣ Pair of 9s Frank Henderson 4♦4♣ Pair of 4s 5♣8♥K♦T♣9♥
1988 Johnny Chan J♣9♣ Straight,
Queen-high
Erik Seidel Q♣7♥ Pair of Queens Q♠8♦T♥2♠6♦
1989 Phil Hellmuth,
Jr.
9♠9♣ Two Pairs,
Kings over 9s
Johnny Chan A♠7♠ Pair of Kings K♣T♥K♦Q♠6♠
1990 Mansour Matloubi 6♥6♠ Two Pairs,
6s over 2s
Hans Lund 4♦4♣ Two Pairs,
4s over 2s
8♣Q♣2♥K♦2♣
1991 Brad Daugherty K♠J♠ Two Pairs,
Jacks over 8s
Don Holt 7♥3♥ Pair of 8s 8♦9♥J♣5♣8♠
1992 Hamid Dastmalchi 8♥4♣ Straight,
8-high
Tom Jacobs J♦7♠ Two Pairs,
Jacks over 7s
J♥5♦7♦6♥8♣
1993 Jim Bechtel J♣6♥ Jack-high Glenn Cozen 7♠4♦ Ten-high T♥3♥8♣2♣5♦
1994 Russ Hamilton K♠8♥ Pair of 8s,
King kicker
Hugh Vincent 8♣5♥ Pair of 8s,
Jack kicker
8♣2♠6♦T♣J♠
1995 Dan Harrington 9♦8♦ Two Pairs,
Queens over 8s
Howard Goldfarb A♥7♣ Pair of Queens 8♣2♣6♦Q♠Q♥
1996 Huck Seed 9♦8♦ Two Pairs,
9s over 8s
Bruce Van Horn K♣8♣ Pair of 8s 9♥8♥4♣A♣3♠
1997 Stu Ungar A♥4♣ Straight,
5-high
John Strzemp A♠8♣ Two Pairs,
Aces over 3s
5♦A♣3♥3♦2♠
1998 Scotty Nguyen J♦9♣ Full House,
9s over 8s
Kevin McBride Q♥T♥ Full House,
8s over 9s
8♣9♦9♥8♥8♠
1999 Noel Furlong 5♣5♦ Full House,
5s over Queens
Alan Goehring 6♥6♣ Two Pairs,
Queens over 6s
Q♥5♥Q♣2♠8♠
2000 Chris Ferguson A♠9♣ Two Pairs,
Kings over 9s
T. J. Cloutier A♦Q♣ Pair of Kings 2♥K♣4♥K♥9♥
2001 Juan Carlos Mortensen K♣Q♣ Straight,
King-high
Dewey Tomko A♠A♥ Pair of Aces 3♣T♣J♦3♦9♦
2002 Robert Varkonyi Q♦T♠ Full House,
Queens over Tens
Julian Gardner J♣8♣ Flush,
Queen-high
4♣4♠Q♣T♦T♣
2003 Chris Moneymaker 5♦4♠ Full House,
5s over 4s
Sam Farha J♥T♦ Two Pairs,
Jacks over 5s
J♠5♠4♣8♦5♥
2004 Greg Raymer 8♠8♦ Full House,
8s over 2s
David Williams A♥4♠ Full House,
4s over 2s
4♦2♦5♠2♥2♣
2005 Joe Hachem 7♣3♠ Straight,
7-high
Steve Dannenmann A♦3♣ Two Pairs,
Aces over 4s
4♦5♦6♥A♣4♣
2006 Jamie Gold Q♠9♣ Pair of Queens Paul Wasicka T♥T♠ Pair of 10s Q♣8♥5♥A♦4♣
2007 Jerry Yang 8♦8♣ Straight,
9-high
Tuan Lam A♦Q♦ Pair of Queens 5♠Q♣9♣7♦6♥
2008 Peter Eastgate A♦5♠ Straight,
5-high
Ivan Demidov 4♥2♥ Two Pairs,
4s over 2s
2♦K♠3♥4♣7♠
2009 Joe Cada 9♦9♣ Two Pairs,
9s over 7s
Darvin Moon Q♦J♦ Pair of 7s 8♣2♣7♠K♥7♣
2010 Jonathan Duhamel A♠J♥ Pair of 4s,
Ace kicker
John Racener K♦8♦ Pair of 4s,
King kicker
4♣4♦9♠6♣5♣
2011 Pius Heinz A♠K♣ Ace-high Martin Staszko T♣7♣ Jack-high 5♣2♦9♠J♥4♦
2012 Greg Merson K♦5♦ Pair of 6s,
Ace kicker
Jesse Sylvia Q♠J♠ Pair of 6s,
Queen kicker
6♣3♥9♦6♠7♣
2013 Ryan Riess A♥K♥ Pair of 4s,
Ace kicker
Jay Farber Q♠5♠ Pair of 4s,
Queen kicker
J♦T♦4♣3♣4♦
2014 Martin Jacobson T♥T♦ Three Tens Felix Stephensen A♥9♥ Pair of 9s 3♠9♣T♣K♦4♣
2015 Joe McKeehen A♥T♦ Two Pairs,
Tens over 5s
Josh Beckley 4♦4♣ Two Pairs,
5s over 4s
Q♠5♠T♣5♦J♣
2016 Qui Nguyen K♣T♣ Pair of Kings Gordon Vayo J♠T♠ King-high 7♦K♦9♣2♠3♥

[SS] “The 454 years have been filled with lots of interesting coincidences and tidbits:”

  • Doyle Brunson turned the Ten-Two into full houses to win in back-to-back years (1976 and 1977).
  • Johnny Chan had the 9♣ in his winning hand in consecutive years (1987 and 1988), then Phil Hellmuth beat him with the 9♣ the next year (1989). The 9♣ has also won three other times: 2000 (Chris Ferguson), 2006 (Jamie Gold), and 2009 (Joe Cada).
  • Dan Harrington and Harrington Seed won with the same hole cards, 9♦8♦, in back-to-back years (1995 and 1996).
  • Stu Ungar won with a 5-high straight in both 1980 and 1997. The wheel became the most common winning hand5 when Peter Eastgate also prevailed with one in 2008. Ace-high won for the third time three years later to tie for top honors. The most common losing hand is a pair of Fours (four times, one more than a pair of Queens and a pair of Eights).
  • The best winning hand was Robert Varkonyi’s Queens over Tens full (2002), while the best losing hand was Kevin McBride’s Eights over Nines full (playing the board in 1998).6
  • The worst winning hand was Jim Bechtel’s Jack-high (1993), which beat the worst losing hand, Glenn Cozen’s Ten-high.
  • The Main Event has never been won with a flush (Julian Gardner lost with one in 2002) and never been lost with a straight (it’s won nine times).
  • A three-of-a-kind has only won twice (Bobby Baldwin’s three Queens in 1978 and Martin Jacobson’s three Tens in 2014) and only lost twice, but one of those was Crandell Addington’s three Nines that same year (the other was T.J. Cloutier’s three Fives in 1985).
  • The A♠ has been the second most common winning card, appearing six times, one fewer than the 9♣.
  • The A♥ and A♦ have been the most popular losing cards, each appearing six times.
  • The losing player has gotten his chips all-in preflop 194 times, on the flop 15 times, on the turn 7 times, and on the river 4 times.7

Footnotes:

  1. Johnny Moss was crowned champion by a player vote in 1970. All of the cards from 1971 (when Moss beat Puggy Pearson) and most of the suits from 1972 remain unknown. Amarillo Slim may not have won the latter title at the table, but a rumored deal between Preston, Pearson, and Doyle Brunson has never been confirmed.
  2. This hand has not been lost to history. The Tucson Daily Citizen published a story on the tournament on May 25, 1974.
  3. This hand has also been questioned, but the Spartanburg Herald wrote up the victory on May 19, 1975.
  4. Table updated with 2016 results on November 2, 2016, 2015 results on November 11, 2015, 2014 results on November 12, 2014, and 2013 results on November 6, 2013.
  5. By “hand”, I’m ignoring kickers, so all Ace-high hands would be lumped together as would all King-high flushes.
  6. If playing the board bothers you, the next best losing hand was Puggy Pearson’s Eights over Sixes full in 1972.
  7. Here’s when the short stack got his chips all in: FFFFTTPTTFPPFPPPRPPFTPFFFFRTPFFFRTFPRPPPPPPPP (P=Preflop, F=Flop, T=Turn, R=River; sorry, the chart was already too wide without adding this column). { March 2, 2016 correction: in 1992, the chips went all in on the turn (T), not the flop. }

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