13 Staggering Stats from 47 Years of the WSOP

How well do you know your World Series of Poker history?

After 47 years the fabled series, as you might imagine, has produced a truly mind-boggling array of facts and numbers.

As we’re about to embark on another incredible WSOP in 2017, with its own historical poker moments set to play out before us, here’s a look back at some of the more incredible feats accomplished over the years.

1. From 1 to 85 in 47

One event; no buy-in, no actual poker. Just a vote amongst themselves for the best player. That was the whole World Series of Poker in 1970. Johnny Moss won that vote back then.

Johnny Moss

WSOP Main Event Elect Johnny Moss

One year later actual poker tournaments were introduced to the WSOP and Moss proved to be a worthy elected champion as he won the Main Event in 1971, which back then had a buy-in of $5,000. Only six players participated.

Beginning in 1972 the Main Event had a buy-in of $10,000 – a number that has not changed since. Each year multiple side events have been added/held.

The total number of events grew to 70 in 2016. This year 74 events will be played in Las Vegas plus 11 events in Europe for a total of 85 bracelet events.

Not only has number of events grown, so has the number of players. Six entries in 1970 became thousands of entries in the nineties.

Over 50,000 entries followed the poker boom in 2005 and the totals soared over 100,000 in the past two years.

It goes without saying that the prizes increased tremendously alongside. Just $70,000 was distributed in 1971; now players battle for a quarter of a billion dollars in one year.

Here’s how the number of players, tournaments and prize money have developed over the years:

Year
Events
Entries
Rebuys
Prize Pool

1970
1
6
0
$0

1971
5
46
0
$70,000

1972
2
10
0
$100,000

1973
7
89
0
$275,000

1974
6
106
0
$427,000

1975
5
124
0
$338,000

1976
8
198
0
$480,900

1977
13
324
0
$675,580

1978
11
294
0
$776,180

1979
12
421
0
$1,030,320

1980
12
846
0
$1,788,400

1981
13
876
0
$1,881,650

1982
14
1,199
0
$2,573,600

1983
14
1,442
0
$2,709,860

1984
13
1,513
0
$3,424,700

1985
13
1,939
0
$3,554,000

1986
13
1,993
0
$4,331,900

1987
12
1,793
0
$4,757,010

1988
12
2,247
0
$5,350,500

1989
14
2,611
0
$6,237,100

1990
15
2,746
0
$6,871,300

1991
18
3,122
0
$7,841,000

1992
20
3,061
0
$7,769,000

1993
21
3,109
0
$8,023,957

1994
22
3,850
117
$9,844,500

1995
24
4,146
205
$10,701,000

1996
24
4,267
266
$11,647,000

1997
21
4,053
279
$12,259,000

1998
21
4,101
206
$12,482,000

1999
16
3,755
62
$11,803,000

2000
24
4,780
238
$15,387,500

2001
26
5,912
267
$17,789,321

2002
35
7,256
107
$19,595,930

2003
36
7,572
293
$21,788,660

2004
33
13,036
1,379
$45,971,010

2005
43
31,714
4,898
$105,955,238

2006
46
48,041
3,833
$157,875,975

2007
58
54,967
5,256
$169,966,400

2008
60
60,043
6,599
$192,307,035

2009
63
62,287
0
$183,109,814

2010
64
74,576
0
$197,207,988

2011
65
78,298
0
$206,186,853

2012
69
76,733
0
$230,521,146

2013
76
83,393
0
$221,047,100

2014
76
84,648
0
$235,621,262

2015
79
108,556
0
$218,168,749

2016
70
107,850
2
$248,312,255

* All WSOP Events including WSOP Europe and WSOP APAC.

Below is how this looks in a chart. Can you guess when the poker boom was?

WSOP Prize Pool and Entries

2. 1 Million Players, 1k Bracelet Winners

Kristen Bicknell Bracelet

Kristen Bicknell has 2, even.

Let’s quickly add up all those numbers to get an impression of how inconceivably huge the WSOP has become over the years.

1,325 Events
963,644 Entries
$2,626,823,144 distributed
991 different bracelet winners

This means that at some point during the next month the WSOP will register its 1 millionth tournament entry and we will see the 1,000th person to win a bracelet. And, of course, dozens of people will win millions of dollars again.

3. 10 Gs Ain’t What It Used To Be

$10,000. That’s how much is costs to play the World Series of Poker Main Event. 

WSOP Bracelet and Money

Money, money, money, money. Money!

That number has stayed the same for 46 years now. But back in the early 70’s that same $10k bought a lot more than you can buy with it today.

Granted, 10 grand is still a huge amount of money to most. But going by the US consumer index, the inflation adjusted value for the Main Event buy-in in 1972 is $57,297 in today’s dollars.

This explains why many professionals regard the $50k Players Championship Event, which was introduced in 2006. as the ‘real’ players Main Event in recent years

For players like Negreanu, Hellmuth and Holz the $10k is more like petty cash, anyway.

4. 29 Years and Counting

Let’s move on to some player stats and the players with the best results over the years at the WSOP.

Of course there’s always Phil Hellmuth, who’s won a record-breaking 14 gold bracelets and cashed 119 times – more than anyone else.

Mike Sexton

Going for 30 years in a row!

But which player has cashed the most years in a row? It’s not Hellmuth.

While Hellmuth has cashed in 27 different years, and at least once per year since 1996, there are several players even more consistent.

Right now two players share the record of most years cashed in a row. Berry Johnston cashed every year from 1982 until 2010 – that’s 29 years!

Mike Sexton currently holds the same record. Starting in 1988 he’s cashed at least once every year since.

If Sexton survives at least one bubble this year he’ll become the record holder with 30 years cashed in a row.

Players with Most Years Cashed in a Row

Player
Years
First
Last

Berry Johnston
29
1982
2010

Mike Sexton
29
1988
2016

Erik Seidel
26
1991
2016

John Anthony Cernuto
25
1992
2016

T.J. Cloutier
21
1987
2007

Phil Hellmuth Jr
21
1996
2016

Chris Bjorin
20
1994
2013

Dan Heimiller
20
1997
2016

* Players in bold can extend their record this year.

5. The Curious Case of Bill Boyd

Cashing many years in a row is one thing. Winning a bracelet in multiple consecutive years is a much tougher task. It’s so tough, in fact, that only two players have managed to win a bracelet four years in a row.

Robert Mizrachi

Bro Grinder can make it 4 in 2017.

There’s Doyle Brunson, who won two bracelets in 1976 (one being the Main Event), two more in 1977 (defending his Main Event title), one bracelet in 1978 and another in 1979.

In 1980 he barely missed his next bracelets; he finished 2nd in the Main Event and 2nd in the $10k Lowball event.

And then there’s Bill Boyd. He, too, won a bracelet four years in a row. But his titles were impressive on another scale.

For one thing, Boyd has cashed exactly 4 times at the WSOP – and won all 4 times. Two bracelets were quite peculiar.

According to the Hendon Mob Database Boyd won the 1972 5-Card-Stud Event by beating exactly one opponent. In 1973 he won the same event – this time without an opponent at all.

Back then winning bracelets really was easier than today.

Multiple players have won a bracelet 3 years in a row, most notably the two Mizrachi brothers, Michael and Robert. The latter even has the chance to extend this streak if he wins a bracelet this year.

Rob won the Dealers Choice Event in 2014, the small Omaha-8 Event in 2015 and the big Stud Championship in 2016.

Table – Most Years in a Row Winning at Least One Bracelet

Player
Years
First
Last

Dolye Brunson
4
1976
1979

Bill Boyd
4
1971
1974

Allen Cunningham
3
2005
2007

Erik Seidel
3
1992
1994

Matt Matros
3
2010
2012

Robert Mizrachi
3
2014
2016

Michael Mizrachi
3
2010
2012

Johnny Moss
3
1974
1976

Gary Berland
3
1977
1979

Lakewood Louie
3
1978
1980

6. 41 years: The WSOP Grand Elders

While the World Series has its 48th instalment this year, no single player has been part of the Series for every year since its inauguration.

Doyle Brunson

WSOP Godfather, too.

Doyle Brunson was one of the players who elected Johnny Moss in 1970 and he’s still around. But Brunson stopped playing the WSOP 4 years ago.

Nevertheless Brunson still holds the record for the longest time-span between his first and his last cash at the WSOP with 15,050 days.

In 1972 Brunson cashed for the first time, finishing 3rd in the Main Event and being paid most of the prize money due to a strange deal which allowed Amarillo Slim to win the event.

Brunson’s last cash also was in the Main Event. In 2013 the then-79-year-old finished 409th, more than 41 years after his first cash at the World Series.

Two players also have 41 years at the WSOP on their resume: Bill Baxter and Jay Heimowitz. Both made their debut in 1975; both were active last year and can break Brunson’s record this year.

Table – Longest Time-Span Between First and Most Recent Cash

Player
Days
Years
First
Last

Doyle Brunson
15,050
41
May 1, 1972
Jul 15, 2013

Bill Baxter
15,044
41
May 1, 1975
Jul 8, 2016

Jay Heimowitz
15,025
41
May 1, 1975
Jun 19, 2016

Perry Green
14,297
39
May 1, 1976
Jun 23, 2015

George Huber
13,932
38
May 1, 1977
Jun 23, 2015

Jim Bechtel
13,223
36
May 1, 1979
Jul 14, 2015

Vince Musso
13,190
36
May 1, 1979
Jun 11, 2015

Mickey Appleman
13,189
36
May 15, 1980
Jun 24, 2016

Howard Andrew
13,185
36
May 1, 1976
Jun 6, 2012

Walter Smiley
13,179
36
May 1, 1976
May 31, 2012

Eric Drache
13,177
36
May 4, 1973
Jun 1, 2009

7. Israelashvili and Bojang: Cash Machines

Some poker players only play to win; some play to cash.

ismaelbojang2

Bojang: Pure cash machine.

Some are named Roland Israelishvili or Ismael Bojang. Those two are true in-the-money Heroes and pure cash machines at the WSOP.

In 2014 Bojang cashed in a record 13 events. In 2016 Israelashvili equalized, scoring as many cashes.

Even more impressive than those numbers is their consistency. Over the last three years Bojang has secured 30 cashes at the WSOP.

Israelashvili has 31. While neither has won a bracelet they’ll certainly be in contention for most cashes again in 2017.

Table – Most WSOP Cashes Over 3 Years

Player
Cashes
Years

Roland Israelashvili
31
2014 – 2016

Ismael Bojang
30
2014 – 2016

Daniel Negreanu
27
2012 – 2014

Benjamin Yu
26
2014 – 2016

Mike Leah
26
2014 – 2016

Michael Watson
25
2013 – 2015

Daniel Kelly
25
2014 – 2016

8. And Then There’s Berry Johnston

Since 1970 a total of 90,454 players have bought in to the Main Event. Only 7,498 unique players have cashed at least once.

Berry Johnston

Still cashing after all these years.

As a matter of fact, the vast majority of those players have cashed exactly once.

A few have cashed two or three times; a handful of selected professionals have cashed more often than that.

Among those that have cashed the Main Event most often are Johnny Chan, Chris Bjorin, Doyle Brunson and Phil Hellmuth. 

And then there’s Berry Johnston.

Between 1982 and 2007 he made the money 10 times in the Main Event. He finished 3rd in 1982 and 1985, won the whole thing in 1986 and made another deep run in 1990 when he finished 5th.

That’s truly impressive! Johnston is 81 now but still around. And except for 2011 he’s cashed at least once in every single WSOP since 1982!

Table – Most Main-Event Cashes

Player
ME Cashes

Berry Johnston
10

Doyle Brunson
9

Robert Baldwin
9

Humberto Brenes
9

Phil Hellmuth Jr
8

Johnny Chan
8

Johnny Moss
8

Chris Bjorin
8

Jay Heimowitz
7

Allen Cunningham
7

Justin Cuong Van Tran
7

Mike Sexton
7

Donnacha O’Dea
7

Jason Lester
7

John Esposito
7

9. Your Name Must Be Ronnie Bardah

Imagine you get into the money at the Main Event, make a deep run and bust on Day 4 or 5. Now imagine the same thing happens the next year.

Ronnie Bardah

His name is Ronnie Bardah!

Ronnie Bardah

The actual Ronnie Bardah.

And the next year. And then once more. And, for good measureme, again for a 5th year in a row.

Congratulations! Your name must be Ronnie Bardah. He currently holds the record for the most Main Event cashes in a row between 2010 and 2014.

Two players could catch him this year: Aditya Agarwal from India and Croatian Goran Mandic. 

Both have cashed the Main Event 4 times in a row from 2013-2016. They’ll be looking for their 5th consecutive cashes this year.

Another name we have to mention here is Andrew Brokos. He cashed the Main Event in 2006, ’07, ’08, ’10 and ’11. And not only did he cash, he finished in the Top 100 the last three times.

Table – Most Main Event Cashes in a Row

Player
ME-Cashes
Years

Ronnie Bardah
5
2011 – 2015

Aditya Agarwal
4
2013 – 2016

Goran Mandic
4
2013 – 2016

Evan Jarvis
4
2012 – 2015

Giuseppe Zarbo
4
2011 – 2014

Christian Harder
4
2010 – 2013

Chris Bjorin
4
2008 – 2011

Diogo Borges
4
2008 – 2011

Chris Overgard
4
2007 – 2010

Theodore Park
4
2005 – 2008

Bo Sehlstedt
4
2004 – 2007

Robert Turner
4
1991 – 1994

10. Unrequited Tony Cousineau

On the one hand, American Tony Cousineau is one of the biggest names in WSOP history.

Tony Cousineau

On the one hand …

Since 1999 he’s cashed 74 times at the World Series. Only seven players have cashed more often than that.

But among all those cashes is not a single win. There’s no 2nd place and no 3rd place either. 

His best result is a 4th place in an Omaha event in 2001.

This makes Cousineau the player with the most cashes by far without winning a single event.

Table – Most WSOP Cashes Without a Bracelet

Player
Country
Cashes
1st
2nd
3rd

Tony Cousineau
United States
74
0
0
0

Roland Israelashvili
United States
63
0
0
1

Tom McCormick
United States
59
0
0
2

Yueqi Zhu
United States
55
0
2
3

Shannon Shorr
United States
54
0
1
2

Allen Kessler
United States
51
0
3
0

Thomas Koral
United States
47
0
0
0

Michael Watson
Canada
46
0
4
0

Mark Gregorich
United States
46
0
1
2

Nam Le
United States
46
0
1
1

David Levi
United States
46
0
0
3

Stephen Chidwick
England
45
0
1
1

Annand Ramdin
United States
45
0
0
0

11. More Assorted Numbers

Before coming to our country statistics, here are some milestone years and numbers which capture the vastness of the World Series of Poker: 

Year
Milestone

1983
First Main Event with more than $1m

1991
First Main Event with more than $2m

1996
First Non-Main Event with more than $1m (a $2k Limit Hold’em Event)

1997
First Main Event with more than $3m

2000
First Main Event with more than $5m

2004
First Non-Hold’em Event with more than $1m (a $5k PLO)

2005
First Main Event with more than $50m

Number
Fact

963,644
Total # of entries since 1970

103,349
Total # of cashes since 1970

90,454
Total # of Main Event entries since 1970

40,657
Number of different players to cash in any WSOP Event

22,374
Most entries ever: The Colossus 2015

9,784
Total # of Main Event cashes since 1970

7,498
Number of unique players to cash in any Main Event since 1970

2,483
Most entries in a Non-Hold’em Event ($565-PLO in 2016)

568
Tournaments with more than $1m prize pool

237
Tournaments with more than 1k players

49
Tournaments with more than $5m prize pool

23
Tournaments with more than 5k players

23
Tournaments with more than $10m prize pool

1
Fewest entries in one tournament (1973, 5 Card Stud, Bill Boyd)

$57,297
Today’s equivalent of $10k in 1972

$7,104,000
Biggest Prize Pool for Non-Hold’em Event (2007 $50k-HORSE)

$8,317,612
Sum of all Buy-Ins since 1970 combined

$42,666,672
Biggest Prize Pool for Non-Main Event (2012 $1m One Drop)

$82,512,162
Biggest Prize Pool Ever (2006 ME)

$2,626,823,114
Total money distributed since 1970

12. The USOP

Poker was and still is a very American game. With the WSOP being held in Las Vegas it’s only natural that most players are Americans.

pasalicusa

Still an American game.

As a matter of fact roughly three quarters of all cashes belong to American players and 78% of all bracelets do too.

All tallied, US players have 1,040 gold bracelets – almost 20 times as much as the next best nation, Canada.

For the first 12 years no non-American made the money in any WSOP event. It wasn’t until 1982 that the first non-US Players made it to the history books.

Most big countries made their WSOP debut in the late ’80s or early ’90s. Some followed even later. Russia, for example, had its first recorded cash only in 2003.

Now each year more and more countries debut at the WSOP. 2016 saw players from Egypt and Saudi Arabia cash for the first time and 2017 will certainly bring new countries to the tables.

13. The Greatest

Phil Hellmuth

Still the king.

There have been 1,325 WSOP events since 1970 and, while he certainly hasn’t played all of them, Phil Hellmuth has still managed to cash a whopping 119 times.

That gives him an estimated ITM-rate of over 20%. Of course he’s also won 14 bracelets, finished among the Top 3 27 times and made over 50 final tables.

So yes; the Brat is by far the best player in WSOP history.

We compiled a ranking of all 40,657 players that have cashed in a WSOP in the past 47 years. Here are the Top 25:

Player
Country
Cashes
1st
2nd
3rd
FT (<10th)
ME Cashes

Phil Hellmuth Jr
United States
119
14
10
3
58
8

Johnny Chan
United States
46
10
5
2
28
8

Doyle Brunson
United States
37
10
4
5
26
9

Phil Ivey
United States
56
10
4
3
30
5

Johnny Moss
United States
26
9
2
1
21
8

Erik Seidel
United States
101
8
3
5
41
3

Men Nguyen
United States
85
7
6
7
41
4

Bill Baxter
United States
34
7
2
1
15
3

Daniel Negreanu
Canada
92
6
7
3
35
5

T.J. Cloutier
United States
65
6
5
4
38
4

Ted Forrest
United States
38
6
3
2
19
1

Jeff Lisandro
Australia
61
6
2
2
23
1

Layne Flack
United States
46
6
2
2
20
1

Jay Heimowitz
United States
40
6
1
4
22
7

Chris Ferguson
United States
74
5
5
1
33
3

David Chiu
United States
71
5
4
2
24
4

Allen Cunningham
United States
61
5
3
1
19
7

Tom McEvoy
United States
46
5
2
6
21
3

Scotty Nguyen
United States
52
5
2
2
23
5

Gary Berland
United States
11
5
2
2
11
2

Jason Mercier
United States
57
5
2
1
20
2

Stu Ungar
United States
15
5
2
0
11
4

Berry Johnston
United States
68
5
1
6
30
10

John Juanda
Indonesia
65
5
1
2
33
3

Daniel Alaei
United States
34
5
0
0
8
4

» Spreadsheet with a ranking of all WSOP players since 1970

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