Stan’s Lists – WSOP Main Event Winners


[RR] “So, how many lists do you have just for Texas Hold ‘Em?” Roderick the Rock wondered.

[SS] “Hmmm, I’ve never counted them”, Stan surprisingly claimed. “Dozens at least.”

[RR] “What are your favorites?”

[SS] “Oh, I don’t get too attached to any of them. My favorite is usually whatever I most recently created.1 I also prefer lists I’ve made over lists other people have made, but there are exceptions.”

[RR] “Such as?”

[SS] “Wikipedia’s list of World Series of Poker Main Event Champions is pretty cool.2 It’s even sortable, which is one of the reasons I used to maintain my own version of it (okay, I still do, but it isn’t any better than Wikipedia’s; just different).”

[RR] “Why don’t I believe that? There must be something extra in your list for you to bother.”

[SS] “Well, I added preflop hand groups (from another list, Dan Harrington’s heads up groups in 10% increments)3 because I suspected something unusual.”

[RR] “Well, I know that a pair of Aces has been the losing hand twice but never the winning hand. Hal Fowler cracked Bobby Hoff’s pocket rockets by hitting a gutshot with Seven-Six offsuit in 1979, and Carlos Mortensen hit an open ender with King-Queen suited to upend Dewey Tomko’s in 2001.”

[SS] “Which led me to think that the losing hands have been stronger preflop than the winning hands.”

[RR] “And?”

[SS] “Alas, it was true, but that changed in 2011 when Pius Heinz’s A♠K♣ (top 10%) held up against Martin Staszko’s T♣7♣ (top 50%). But the losing hands could easily leap back ahead again this year.”

[RR] “The fact that it’s even close says a lot and seems counterintuitively against the odds.”

[SS] “Not really. It’s easier to go broke with a good hand than a bad one, because you’re more likely to get all your chips in if you like your hand! On average, you’ll lose more with your bad hands, but most of that is from folding, which will never bust you.”

World Series of Poker Main Event Final Hands With Harrington’s Preflop Hand Groups

Year Winner Hand Tier Runner-Up Hand Tier
1970 Johnny Moss N/A4 N/A ? N/A N/A
1971 Johnny Moss ? ? Puggy Pearson ? ?
1972 Amarillo Slim Preston K♥J♦ 2 Puggy Pearson 66 1
1973 Puggy Pearson A♠7♠ 2 Johnny Moss K♥J♠ 2
1974 Johnny Moss 3♥3♠ 4 Crandell Addington A♣2♣ 3
1975 Sailor Roberts J♠J♥ 1 Bob Hooks J♣9♣ 3
1976 Doyle Brunson T♠2♠ 7 Jesse Alto A♠J♦ 1
1977 Doyle Brunson T♠2♥ 8 Gary Berland 8♥5♣ 8
1978 Bobby Baldwin Q♦Q♣ 1 Crandell Addington 9♦9♣ 1
1979 Hal Fowler 7♠6♦ 8 Bobby Hoff A♣A♥ 1
1980 Stu Ungar 5♠4♠ 8 Doyle Brunson A♥7♠ 2
1981 Stu Ungar A♥Q♥ 1 Perry Green T♣9♦ 5
1982 Jack Straus A♥T♠ 1 Dewey Tomko A♦4♦ 2
1983 Tom McEvoy Q♦Q♠ 1 Rod Peate K♦J♦ 1
1984 Jack Keller T♥T♠ 1 Byron Wolford 6♥4♥ 8
1985 Bill Smith 3♠3♥ 4 T. J. Cloutier A♦3♣ 3
1986 Berry Johnston A♠T♥ 1 Mike Harthcock A♦8♦ 1
1987 Johnny Chan A♠9♣ 2 Frank Henderson 4♦4♣ 3
1988 Johnny Chan J♣9♣ 3 Erik Seidel Q♣7♥ 5
1989 Phil Hellmuth, Jr. 9♠9♣ 1 Johnny Chan A♠7♠ 2
1990 Mansour Matloubi 6♥6♠ 1 Hans Lund 4♦4♣ 3
1991 Brad Daugherty K♠J♠ 1 Don Holt 7♥3♥ 10
1992 Hamid Dastmalchi 8♥4♣ 9 Tom Jacobs J♦7♠ 6
1993 Jim Bechtel J♣6♥ 6 Glenn Cozen 7♠4♦ 9
1994 Russ Hamilton K♠8♥ 3 Hugh Vincent 8♣5♥ 8
1995 Dan Harrington 9♦8♦ 5 Howard Goldfarb A♥7♣ 2
1996 Huck Seed 9♦8♦ 5 Bruce Van Horn K♣8♣ 2
1997 Stu Ungar A♥4♣ 3 John Strzemp A♠8♣ 2
1998 Scotty Nguyen J♦9♣ 4 Kevin McBride Q♥T♥ 3
1999 Noel Furlong 5♣5♦ 2 Alan Goehring 6♥6♣ 1
2000 Chris Ferguson A♠9♣ 2 T. J. Cloutier A♦Q♣ 1
2001 Juan Carlos Mortensen K♣Q♣ 1 Dewey Tomko A♠A♥ 1
2002 Robert Varkonyi Q♦T♠ 3 Julian Gardner J♣8♣ 4
2003 Chris Moneymaker 5♦4♠ 9 Sam Farha J♥T♦ 4
2004 Greg Raymer 8♠8♦ 1 David Williams A♥4♠ 3
2005 Joe Hachem 7♣3♠ 10 Steve Dannenmann A♦3♣ 3
2006 Jamie Gold Q♠9♣ 4 Paul Wasicka T♥T♠ 1
2007 Jerry Yang 8♦8♣ 1 Tuan Lam A♦Q♦ 1
2008 Peter Eastgate A♦5♠ 3 Ivan Demidov 4♥2♥ 10
2009 Joe Cada 9♦9♣ 1 Darvin Moon Q♦J♦ 2
2010 Jonathan Duhamel A♠J♥ 1 John Racener K♦8♦ 2
2011 Pius Heinz A♠K♣ 1 Martin Staszko T♣7♣ 5
2012 Greg Merson K♦5♦ 3 Jesse Sylvia Q♠J♠ 2
2013 Ryan Riess A♥K♥ 1 Jay Farber Q♠5♠ 4
20145 Martin Jacobson T♥T♦ 1 Felix Stephensen A♥9♥ 1
20155 Joe McKeehen A♥T♦ 1 Josh Beckley 4♦4♣ 3
20165 Qui Nguyen K♣T♣ 2 Gordon Vayo J♠T♠ 3

Footnotes:

  1. Last week’s post covered Stan’s Texas Hold ‘Em Odds From 1 to 52.
  2. Oddly, this table is better than the one on the dedicated page for Main Event champions, which doesn’t include the losing hole cards.
  3. Harrington on Hold ’em, Volume II: The Endgame, pages 365-366. Surprisingly, the best web link I could find was this rec.gambling.poker newsgroup message with Harrington’s Heads-Up hand rankings.
  4. Johnny Moss was named the winner after the players voted. The story goes that the first vote resulted in a seven-way tie, as each player voted for himself. They were then asked to vote for the second best player, and Moss won.
  5. 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.

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