Triple Crown Winners


[RR] “Are you guys excited about American Pharoah’s1 possible Triple Crown at the the Belmont Stakes tomorrow?” Roderick the Rock polled.

[LL] “Nay, horse racing is right up there with boxing on my list of sports that don’t need to exist”, Leroy the Lion opined. “It isn’t really any better for the animals than greyhound racing.”

[RR] “I’m not really into it either, but this year is interesting because no horse has won the Triple Crown for a record 37 years.”2

[SS] “I don’t know why everyone says that”, Stan the Stat argued. “Sure, it was only a quarter century between Citation in 1948 and Secretariat in 1973, but the longest drought was actually the first one. The Kentucky Derby became the last of the three races to debut in 1875,3 and the first Triple Crown was Sir Barton in 1919, which meant there were 44 straight years without a Triple Crown. That’s seven years longer than the current gap since Affirmed accomplished the feat.”

[FF] “How could a horse miss winning the Triple Crown if it didn’t exist yet?” Figaro the Fish wondered.

[SS] “The term did already exist and was used for horse racing in England. But if you mean that it wasn’t really bandied about to refer to the Kentucky Derby/Preakness/Belmont Stakes Triple Crown, you’re technically correct. Gallant Fox’s 1930 sweep was the first to get called a Triple Crown in the press.”

[LL] “I prefer the Triple Crown in Major League Baseball, where you get two for the price of one, one for hitting and one for pitching.”

[RR] “I’d prefer a Triple Crown of Poker… Does that exist?”

[SS] “Indeed it does. The Poker Triple Crown consists of winning World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour, and European Poker Tour tournaments. It’s currently rarer than the horse racing Triple Crown, with just five holders { July 9, 2017 update: now seven } compared to eleven, but since it’s a career accomplishment, the numbers are bound to grow rapidly over the next few years.4

Triple Crown of Poker Winners

Player EPT WPT WSOP Age
Gavin Griffin 2007 2008 2004 26
Roland de Wolfe 2006 2005 2009 29
Jake Cody 2010 2010 2011 22
Bertrand Grospellier 2008 2008 2011 30
Davidi Kitai 2012 2011 2008 32
Mohsin Charania 2012 2013 2017 32
Harrison Gimbel 2010 2016 2017 32

Kitai earned a second WSOP bracelet in 2014, while Charania won a second WPT bracelet also in 2014.”

[LL] “How many players are just one title short of the Triple Crown?”

[SS] “53, which is just two more than the number of horses who wound up one leg short. Most of the players are missing an EPT title, not surprising since that’s the newest and least prestigious of the three tours.

Just three players are only missing a WSOP bracelet: Moritz Kranich, Andrey Pateychuk, and Roberto Romanello. Just four are only lacking a WPT bracelet: Rob Hollink, Maxim Lykov, Jason Mercier, and Ram Vaswani.”

[LL] “So it’s a real horse race to see which poker player joins the Triple Crown club next.”

Footnotes:

  1. Both owner Ahmed Zayat and the Jockey Club claim the other party was responsible for the misspelling (should be “pharaoh” for the Egyptian kings). { June 6, 2015: Better explanation of the misspelling. }
  2. E.g., Wikipedia echoes this claim.
  3. The Preakness started in 1873 and the Belmont Stakes in 1867.
  4. That is, as long as the three tours, especially the European Poker Tour, stay healthy. The European Poker Tour became the PokerStars Championship series in 2017, but is fundamentally the same otherwise.

    { June 6, 2015 update: American Pharoah became the twelfth winner of the Triple Crown in a wire-to-wire, five and a half length romp. }

    { July 1, 2015 update: Anthony Zinno won the WSOP $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller to join the list of players missing just an EPT title. }

    { June 23, 2016 update: Mike Watson won the 2016 PCA Main Event to join the list of players missing only a WSOP bracelet. }

    { July 4, 2016 update: Andrew Lichtenberger the WSOP $3,000 No Limit Hold ‘Em event to join the list of players missing just an EPT title. }

    { June 30, 2017 update: Mohsin Charania earned his Triple Crown by winning the 2017 WSOP $1,500 No Limit Hold ‘Em bracelet on June 29, 2017. }

    { July 9, 2017 update: Harrison Gimbel earned his Triple Crown by winning the 2017 WSOP $3,000 No Limit Hold ‘Em bracelet on July 9, 2017. }