Stan’s Lists – Most WSOP Cashes Without a Bracelet

[SS] “Who do you think is the best poker player without a WSOP bracelet?” Stan the Stat queried.

[RR] “I don’t know, but it’s probably some German player who doesn’t even play in the WSOP”, Roderick the Rock suggested.

[SS] “Among those who generally play in the WSOP then.”

[LL] “I remember when we first had this same discussion about seven years ago”, Leroy the Lion contributed. “Pretty much everyone thought Tom Dwan would quickly win a bracelet as soon as he started playing WSOP events. Didn’t happen.”1

[SS] “We were definitely biased by the pros we saw on TV. Like Gus Hansen (who won his only bracelet in Europe in 2010) and Patrik Antonius (who finished third once but hasn’t cashed since 2011).”

[RR] “There was your list of players who’d won on the WPT and EPT but not the WSOP.”

[SS] “Sure. Mohsin Charania, Moritz Kranich, Andrey Pateychuk, and Roberto Romanello. Oh, and Canadian Mike Watson joined the list this year. He’d probably get my vote from that group.”

[LL] “Some of the top WPT players are probably candidates. Chino Rheem hasn’t won a WSOP bracelet yet, right?”

[SS] “He’s a good pick. He has a record-tying three WPT bracelets and over $2.5 million in WSOP cashes, including six final tables.

A bunch of players with two WPT bracelets have been shut out on the WSOP as well. The best of those are probably Matt Giannetti, who’s made over $3.6 million at the WSOP, and Jonathan Little, who’s become famous as a trainer lately.2

And I’d also include Nam Le, who only has one WPT bracelet but has reached six final tables, which is in the top ten.”

[LL] “I suppose you have a list for us that answers the question objectively?”

[SS] “Nope… I have three.3

Most WSOP Cashes Without a Bracelet

Rank Cashes Player
1 73 Tony Cousineau
2 59 Tom McCormick
Roland Israelashvili
4 53 Shannon Shorr
Yueqi Zhu
6 50 Allen Kessler
7 45 Tom Koral
Mark Gregorich
9 44 Victor Ramdin
Nam Le

Cousineau’s total is ninth all-time! But his style is geared toward cashing; Kessler plays that way too. On this list, I like Le the best.”

[SS] “Even more frustrated are the players who’ve made many final tables without a victory…

Most WSOP Final Tables Without a Bracelet

Rank Final Tables Player
1 12 Tom McCormick
John Racener
3 11 Stephen Chidwick
Surinder Sunar
5 10 Dave Crunkleton
Mike Watson
Trai “Danny” Dang
8 9 Brian Nadell
Chad Brown
Gabriel Nassif
Ismael Bojang
Jon Turner
Kirill Gerasimov
Mark Gregorich
Stan Goldstein

Only McCormick (2nd and 1st) and Gregorich (9th and 8th) are on both lists. I’d take Watson over both of them, but McCormick is obviously a great choice too.

One player who may deserve the title of ‘Best Poker Player Who Never Won a WSOP Bracelet’ just missed this list. Jesse Alto made eight final tables back when there were many fewer events to play.

{ July 4, 2016 Update: Andrew Lichtenberger, who had made seven final tables, just won the $3,000 No Limit Hold ‘Em event on his eighth shot to stay off of this list. }

Cousineau, Minh Ly, Matthew Glantz, Shannon Shorr, and Chis Klodnicki also have reached eight final tables.

By the way, the top women are Marsha Waggoner, with 7 final tables, Esther Rossi (6), Phyllis Meyers (5), and Mimi Tran, J.J. Liu, and Karina Jett (4 each).”

[SS] “We can also look at the players who’ve won the most money at the WSOP without a bracelet; at least these players have some prize money to show for their work!

Most WSOP Winnings Without a Bracelet

Rank WSOP Earnings Player Notes
1 $11,270,518 Sam Trickett $10,112,001 from 2nd place in 2012 Big One for One Drop
2 $7,764,906 John Racener $5,545,955 from 2nd place in 2010 Main Event (also 2nd in 2014 $10,000 Seven Card Stud Split)
3 $6,501,745 Ivan Demidov $5,809,595 from 2nd place in 2008 Main Event (also 3rd in 2008 WSOP Europe Main Event)
4 $6,464,639 Paul Wasicka $6,102,499 from 2nd place in 2006 Main Event
5 $5,850,215 Jesse Sylvia $5,295,149 from 2nd place in 2012 Main Event
6 $5,512,183 Martin Staszko $5,433,086 from 2nd place in 2011 Main Event
7 $5,446,235 Joseph Cheong $4,130,049 from 3rd place in 2010 Main Event (over $5 million in non-WSOP winnings)
8 $5,366,032 Dennis Phillips $4,517,773 from 3rd place in 2008 Main Event
9 $5,871,187 Chris Klodnicki $2,985,495 from 2nd place in 2013 One Drop High Roller and $896,935 from 2nd place in 2012 Poker Players Championship (also 12th in 2008 Main Event)
10 $5,202,205 Jay Farber $5,174,357 from 2nd place in 2013 Main Event

Only Racener is also on one of the other lists, ranking second in final tables (he also has 38 cashes, just missing that list). Chris Klodnicki is the other player who didn’t get on this list by virtue of just a single big second or third place finish in a Main Event or One Drop.”


  1. Dwan was the runner-up in the $1,500 No Limit Hold ‘Em in 2010 but has no WSOP cashes since 2011.
  2. The other players with two WPT bracelets and zero WSOP bracelets are Mohsin Charania, Cornel Cimpan, Darren Elias, Randal Flowers, Alan Goehring, Marvin Rettenmaier, and Tommy Vedes.
  3. { July 3, 2016 Update } Israelashvili has tied McCormick for the second most cashes. Racener and Chidwick have tied McCormick for most final tables.

Stan’s Lists – Biggest WSOP Fields

[SS] “In 1973,” Stan the Stat began, “Benny Binion, founder and owner of the Binion’s Horseshoe casino, said of the WSOP Main Event, ‘We had eight players last year, and this year we had 13. I look to have better than 20 next year. It’s even liable to get up to be 50, might be up to more than that. It will eventually.’1

His statements proved pretty accurate. The 1974 Main Event had only 16 players, but 1975 had 21. And his longer-term prediction came true when 52 players entered the 1982 Main Event.”

[RR] “Not exactly Pokerdamus”, Roderick the Rock countered. “Everyone expects their business to grow.”

[SS] “Still, he deserves credit for helping make it happen. What he couldn’t possibly have predicted was that the growth would continue almost steadily for three full decades. And even then, it didn’t stop. It exploded. Chris Moneymaker’s truth-is-stranger-than-fiction world championship in 2003 fueled a spectacular jump from 839 to 2,576 to 5,619 to 8,773 entrants.

Only then did the crowds finally level off, settling into the six to seven thousand-player range for the last decade.”

[RR] “Pretty healthy numbers considering that the decade included Black Friday.”

[SS] “And it’s only the Main Event that has stagnated. Fields in lower-buyin events keep setting new records even as the number of tournaments keeps rising.

  • 1980: Events 1 ($500 Seven-Card Stud), 2 ($1,000 No Limit Hold ‘Em), and 7 ($1,500 No Limit Hold ‘Em) see fields of 176, 138, and 126 respectively, the first WSOP tournaments with more than 100 players.
  • 1982: The Main Event breaks the 100 mark with 104 players.
  • 1995: The $1,500 Limit Hold ‘Em event tops 500 with 560 players.
  • 2000: The Main Event passes 500 with 512 players.
  • 2004: The Main Event cruises past 1,000, 2,000, and 2,500 players with 2,576.
  • 2005: The Main Event exceeds 5,000 with 5,619 players.
  • 2015: The $565 Colossus breaks the 10,000 barrier with 14,284 players, who re-enter 8,090 times for a total of 22,374 entries.

Largest WSOP Tournaments

The biggest WSOP tournaments have all featured No Limit Hold ‘Em:

# Year Tournament Entries
1 2015 $565 Colossus 22,374
2 2016 $565 Colossus II 21,613
3 2006 $10,000 World Championship 8,773
4 2014 $1,500 Millionaire Maker 7,977
5 2014 $1,500 Monster Stack 7,862
6 2010 $10,000 World Championship 7,319
7 2015 $1,500 Millionaire Maker 7,275
8 2015 $1,500 Monster Stack 7,192
9 2016 $1,500 Millionaire Maker 7,190
10 2016 $1,500 Monster Stack2 6,927

Eight of the ten largest WSOP fields have come in the last three years.”

[RR] “I think that’s the best sign that poker is as healthy as ever. With online poker slowly coming back on a state-by-state basis, another surge could be coming in the next few years.”

[SS] “One final note. The largest non-Hold ‘Em WSOP event barely makes the top 100: the 2016 $565 Pot-Limit Omaha tournament drew an impressive 2,483 players. Pot-Limit Omaha events have reached quadruple digits six other times,3 while Pot-Limit Hold ‘Em and Limit Hold ‘Em have both done so twice.”


  1. Source: Championship Table, p. 20, citing a 1973 interview with Mary Ellen Glass of the Oral History Project at the University of Nevada-Reno.
  2. { June 27, 2016 update } Field size for the 2016 Monster Stack added (by luck, it was already correctly in the tenth spot where it belonged).
  3. The previous record for an Omaha event was 1,293 players in 2015.


WSOP Casino Employees Tournament

[RR] “Deb, can you deal for us tonight?” Roderick the Rock inquired as players continued to gather in his basement for the monthly Hold ‘Em tournament.

[DD] “Sure, anything to keep the game moving along”, Deb the Duchess responded.

[RR] “Thanks. Really appreciate you and Leroy helping out.”

[LL] “I like dealing”, Leroy the Lion added, “because nobody really wants to knock you out when you’re dealing for them.”

[DD] “It keeps me focused better. I have to know where the button is and who’s in the hand and everything that’s happening even after I’ve folded.”

[SS] “You guys could move to Vegas and become professional dealers if you want to leave your current jobs”, Stan the Stat chimed in.

[LL] “I had a friend who was going to do exactly that. But he did so well playing poker that he never got around to getting a day job.”

[SS] “Most of us here would love a chance to play in the World Series of Poker, and at least a few of us would quit our current jobs in a second if we thought we could make a better living playing poker professionally. Poker dealers are so close to living that dream that they can taste it… .”1

[LL] “Of course! They’re already at the table. They just need to take a seat!”

[SS] “The one time that a lot of them do take a seat is the WSOP Casino Employees Tournament, whose fields have topped 1,000 players. Only one employee has won the event and then earned another bracelet in an open event though. Eight years after topping his fellow employees, David Warga won the 2010 $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo 8 tournament for $208,682.

WSOP Casino Employees Event

Year Winner Entrants Prize Notes
1983 Ted Binion 10 $10,000 Although his player page says he has two bracelets…
1984 Sandy Stupak 14 $14,000 Officially counted as a bracelet (her husband Bob joined her with his bracelet in 1989)
1985 Ted Binion 10 $10,000 … the Hendon Mob database doesn’t even list him.
2000 Dave Alizadeh 109 $21,800 7 small cashes, none at the WSOP
2001 Travis Jonas 224 $40,200 14 cashes, none at the WSOP
2002 David Warga 272 $47,300 Won the 2010 $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo 8 for $208,682 and has 5 other cashes; last WSOP cash in 2011 (appears to have moved to Colorado)
2003 David Lukaszewski 208 $35,800 1 small cash but not at the WSOP
2004 Carl Nessel 279 $40,000 13 small cashes in Los Angeles before this win
2005 Andy Nguyen 662 $83,390 Biggest cash was 2nd in 2007 Seven Clans Kinder Cup, $3,000 + 100 No Limit Hold ‘Em for $137,643
2006 Chris Gros 1,232 $127,496 Also finished 31st in 2007 for $2,478; one tiny circuit cash in 2010
2007 Frederick Narciso 1,039 $104,701 Also finished 27th in 2006 for $3,604; one tiny circuit cash in 2013
2008 Jonathan Kotula 930 $87,929 Also finished 10th in 2010 for $4,273
2009 Andrew Cohen 866 $83,833 3 open cashes and 1 circuit cash, all from $12k to $17k
2010 Hoai Pham 721 $71,424 2 open cashes in 2011 for $15,950 and $47,107 (212nd in Main Event)
2011 Sean Drake 850 $82,292 3 open cashes, incl. $619,521 for 3rd in 2014 No-Limit Hold ‘Em Monster Stack
2012 Chiab Saechao 732 $70,859 3 open cashes, incl. $42,675 for 12th in 2013 Little One for One Drop
2013 Chad Holloway 898 $84,915 1 small open cash and 1 small circuit cash; Chad is a senior news editor for (and poker historian and memorabilia collector)
2014 Roland Reparejo 876 $82,835 1 small cash in 2013 Seniors event
2015 Brandon Barnette 698 $75,704 No other cashes
2016 C.J. Sand 731 $75,157 43-year-old’s second cash after a 1,596th-place finish in the 2015 Colossus
20172 Bryan Hollis 651 $68,817 No other cashes
2018 Jordan Hufty 566 $61,909 2 small open cashes in 2018


  • The entry fee was $1,000 in the 1980s and $500 since 2000 until it went up to $565 in 2015.
  • From 1983 to 1985, the event followed the Main Event. Since 2000, it has been the kickoff event of the World Series of Poker, except for 2007, when it was the second event,3 and 2008, when it was also at the end.
  • Whether the 1983 to 1985 were officially bracelet events is unclear. In its tournament section, lists only the 1984 event as a bracelet event. But in its player section, Ted Binion’s page credits him with two bracelets.
  • Although Sandy (1984) and Bob Stupak (1989) are widely considered to have been the first husband and wife to win bracelets, that ignores the 1983 Mixed Doubles event won by Donna and Jim Doman.
  • The event was Limit Hold ‘Em from 2000 to 2003 and No Limit Hold ‘Em every other year.
  • Hoai Pham, from Vietnam, is the only non-American to win the event (2010).”

[SS] “Surprisingly few dealers go on to success as poker pros, but you’ll recognize most of these players:

Poker Pros Who Were Once Dealers

Player Casino Notes
Bobby Hoff4 casino in Victoria, Texas Played poker with his tip income and became good enough to move to Las Vegas as a player
Chip Jett4 casino in Arizona Worked as a dealer for a year then turned to playing poker for a living
Cyndy Violette Four Queens Casino (Las Vegas) Dealt poker and blackjack
David Chiu Gilpin Hotel (Black Hawk, Colorado) Also a restaurant owner at the time
Erick Lindgren Casino San Pablo (San Pablo, California) Dealt blackjack
Evelyn Ng poker clubs in Toronto Also dealt blackjack and played pool for money before she turned 17
Joe Awada4 Circus Circus (Las Vegas) Took up dealing after an injury ended his juggling career
Joe Cernuto4 Starudst (Las Vegas) Hated the job and moved back to Daytona Beach, Florida
Johnny Chan casino in Las Vegas Chan had his own dealer school as part of the Johnny Chan Academy from 2007 to 2008
Layne Flack casino in Montana Also dealt part-time in Deadwood, South Dakota when he was at college before he dropped out to play poker full-time
Michael Mizrachi Seminole Casino Hollywood (Hollywood, Florida) Didn’t last long before getting fired in 2002
Mike Matusow Gold Coast, Palace Station, and Sam’s Town (Las Vegas) Got a job as a dealer after his initial burst of success playing poker ended and worked at least part-time for five years before quitting.
Minh Ly Las Vegas Worked as a dealer and Chinese restaurant cook while he steadily improved his playing skills
Robert Mizrachi casino in South Miami (Florida) Started the Mizrachi Dealer Academy with brother Michael and fellow pro Stacy Matuson in 2012
Scott Fischman Mirage and Sahara (Las Vegas) Family moved from South Jersey to Las Vegas when he was 12
Scotty Nguyen Harrah’s Holiday Casino (Las Vegas) Also worked at the Golden Nugget in Vegas and another casino in Lake Tahoe
Ted Forrest Palace Station (Las Vegas) Also served as a prop player

And I should give a shout out to Perry Shiao, a Florida dealer who failed to cash in last year’s Millionaire Maker but then won the Monster Stack for $1,286,942. He hasn’t given up his dealer job at the Seminole Hard Rock yet, but he’s undoubtedly considering the career switch.”


  1. A dealer named Zach commented that “95% of the dealers I’ve talked to in the break room, their main goal is to become a full time player.”
  2. June 2, 2017 update: Added 2017 winner.
  3. The 2007 World Series of Poker began with the $5,000 World Championship Mixed Hold ‘Em Limit/No Limit event.
  4. June 2, 2017 update: Added Bobby Hoff, Chip Jett, Joe Awada, and Joe Cernuto to the list of former dealers.

Related Links:


Vanessa Selbst’s Triple Bracelet Bet

[SS] “Did you hear about Vanessa Selbst’s triple bracelet bet?” Stan the Stat queried.

[FF] “No”, Figaro the Fish admitted. “But she’s definitely one of the most likely players to win three times at the WSOP this summer.”

[SS] “I also have no doubt that she can do it, but she’s not betting on herself!”

[FF] “She’s betting against herself? That’s a pretty rigged bet.”

[SS] “No, she bet against someone else. Selbst wagered two million dollars to 21-year-old Polish WSOP rookie Dzmitry Urbanovich’s $10,000 that he wouldn’t duplicate the feat that’s only been done five times in history.”1

[LL] “I’ve never heard of him, but his real odds must be much worse than the 200 to 1 he’s getting”, Leroy the Lion chimed in.

[SS] “Well, let’s figure this out…

In 2014, Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu offered even odds against one of them winning a bracelet. They cashed in on their bets when Ivey won the $1,500 Eight Game Mix, Event 50 of 65 that year.

Urbanovich isn’t Ivey or Negreanu, but if he’s close let’s say that having four extra events makes up for a slight skill deficit.2 The Pole has half as many chances to win three times as many bracelets. Ivey and Negreanu figured they could win at least one out of 130 events. Actually, they thought they had the better end of the bet, so let’s call it one out of every 100 events.

At that win rate, Urbanovich would win zero events approximately (1-1/100)^69 = 49.98% of the time, one event (1/100)^1*(1-1/100)^(69-1)*69 = 34.84% of the time, and two events (1/100)^2*(1-1/100)^(69-2)*(69-choose-2) = 11.96% of the time. That sums to 96.79%, so he would win the bet 3.21% of the time, far better than the 200-to-1 odds that Selbst laid.

If Urbanovich is only half as good as that and can win one of every 200 events, the numbers are 70.76% + 24.54% + 4.19% = 99.49%, making the bet almost exactly even money.

If Urbanovich’s win rate is only a quarter of Ivey and Negreanu’s expectation, or one win per 400 events, he’s in big trouble. 84.14% + 14.55% + 1.24% = 99.93%, and his odds are almost 1,400 to 1 against.

When Selbst claimed, ‘The true odds have to be 10,000:1 or higher’,3 she was probably rationalizing a bit, as that means she expects him to have only one-eighth as good a chance to win any given event as Ivey or Negreanu. This means only one win per 800 events, but I sincerely doubt she thinks Urbanovich is only likely to win a single bracelet over the next decade.”

[LL] “Selbst may have the better end of the bet from a purely mathematical point of view, but the utility curve says that Urbanovich’s side is fine. To them, $10,000 is one bad hand in a cash game, while 20,000 Benjamins could make or break their year. It’s a lot like playing Megabucks.”

[SS] “If Urbanovich falls short, he’ll be just another fishing Pole, but if he wins he’ll be the new Pole star!”

{ Update: since this conversation took place, rumor has it that Selbst has already sold half or her action, so the most she can lose is only a million dollars. Urbanovich can still win the full two million though. }

{ June 15, 2016 Update: Apparently, Selbst made another similar bet with Jason Mercier at 180-to-1 odds on $10,000. This was a much worse bet for her, as Mercier already had three titles under his belt. The Floridian took down the $10,000 No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Lowball on June 13 and has Selbst running scared looking to sell a big chunk of her action.

Urbanovich has not even cashed in any events yet. }

{ June 18, 2016 Update: Selbst managed to buy out for about $100,000 before Mercier was able to turn up the heat with a second place finish in the $10,000 Razz on June 15 and his second bracelet of the summer in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. on June 17.

Mercier became the first player to win four bracelets in the 2010s and has moved all the way up to a tie for fifteenth for the most career bracelets (5, matching Allen Cunningham, Berry Johnston, Chris Ferguson [who quietly cashed in the event for his fifth of the summer], Daniel Alaei, David Chiu, Gary Berland, John Juanda, Scotty Nguyen, and Stu Ungar). }

{ July 12, 2016 Update: Mercier made plenty of money on other bracelet bets but failed to win his third bracelet of the summer. He ended up with two firsts, a second, and an eighth among an impressive ten cashes.

Urbanovich finished with just three cashes, getting no closer to a bracelet than 12th place. }


  1. Six players have won three WSOP bracelets in a single year — Puggy Pearson (1973), Phil Hellmuth (1993), Ted Forrest (1993), Phil Ivey (2002), Jeff Lisandro (2009), and George Danzer (2014) — but Danzer earned one of his bracelets in Europe, so he doesn’t count for this bet. The closest a WSOP rookie has come to a triple was Jeff Madsen winning two events and finishing third in two others in 2006.
  2. Urbanovich has already won almost five million dollars in tournaments, so he’s definitely a poker prodigy.
  3. Selbst is quoted in the CardPlayer article about the bet (warning: page has an autoplay video).