America’s Cup of Poker


[SS] “After the success of Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker,” Stan the Stat continued, “entrepreneur and marketing wizard Bob Stupak1 decided to host his own event to promote his Vegas World casino, which had opened in 1979 but was newly renovated. In addition to the usual variety of events and big prizes, Stupak offered the winner of the $1,000 No Limit Hold ‘Em event a free chance to win his Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow in a heads up match. Poker legend Berry Johnston, who would go on to win five WSOP bracelets including the 1986 Main Event, was able to survive a field of 109 players but couldn’t pry Stupak’s car keys from him.”

[LL] “You make it sound like Johnston was trying to steal the car”, Leroy the Lion complained.

[RR] “Johnston wasn’t rich and famous yet”, Roderick the Rock noted.

[SS] “Stupak certainly was. He actually built up fortune selling coupon books, believe it or not. But he was always looking for that next great idea, and America’s Cup was it. The successful festival would run through the rest of the 1980s before he killed it, and Vegas World itself would close its doors in 1995 to be replaced by the Stratosphere, which still has the tallest freestanding observation tower in the U.S.

America’s Cup of Poker (1983 to 1989)

Dates Events Main Event Winner First Prize Notes
September 19 to 28, 1983 7 Johnny Chan $130,000 When Chan took out the entire final table in an hour for his first career tournament win, Stupak dubbed him the Orient Express, because he was “very fast and very aggressive”.2
September 10 to 24, 1984 9 Mike Markos $100,000 Markos defeated Dewey Tomko heads up when he was lucky enough to catch runner-runner Sevens after bluffing all-in on the flop with nothing.3
September 5 to 14, 1985 11 unknown unknown Was it the bad luck of Friday the 13th that’s caused these results to be lost?4
September 8 to 20, 1986 15 Roger Moore $120,000 J.J. Busey finished second, Seymour Leibowitz third, and Bob Stupak himself fourth.
September 8 to 20, 1987 12 Stu Ungar $55,000 Ungar also won the $5,000+50 Deuce to Seven tournament for another $55,000.5
July 7 to 22, 1988 ? unknown unknown It’s possible this event didn’t happen despite being advertised in the June 26, 1988 San Bernardino County Sun, but the Hendon Mob database, CardPlayer, and World Poker Rank all call the 1989 festival the “7th annual”.
July 6 to 13, 1989 9 Roger Moore $80,000 Moore beat Phil Hellmuth heads up for the title.

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