5 World Series of Poker legends that have stood the test of time

  • Find out the tragic story behind the legendary Stu Ungar after his famous 1997 WSOP win
  • We take a look at where some of the biggest names in Poker history are today

The World Series of Poker is without doubt the oldest, largest and most prestigious poker tournament in world and also arguably the biggest gaming tournament there is.

Players from all walks of life enter the competition with the dream of winning a WSOP bracelet and maybe one day competing at the final table of the World Series of Poker main event.

Many have come and gone over the years but winning the WSOP main event instantly propels a player into stardom, and in the modern game untold riches.

We take a look at what happened to former WSOP winners and where possible, what they are up to today.

The Grand Old Man of Poker

Johnny Moss
Johnny Moss

Johnny Moss was the first player to ever win the World Series of Poker main event way back in 1970 when the tournament was decided by a vote after Jack Binion invited the seven best poker players in the world to his Horseshoe casino in Las Vegas to determine who was the best in the world.

After a cash game session, each of the seven players were asked to vote for who they think was the best player. However, legend has it that each player voted for himself. However, it turns out the players were asked to nominate a second-best player and Moss came out on top.

Moss’s Peers were not wrong in their vote as a year later in 1971, the man aptly nicknamed the Grand Old Man of Poker won the tournament again, only this time the format was the now familiar freeze-out method.

Moss won with a pair of sixes and scooped the jackpot of a measly $30,000. Three years later and Moss was at it again as he scooped the 1974 title and a growing jackpot of $160,000 for his third and final WSOP main event win.

In 1979, Moss was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame and has been the subject of many stories since, including a supposed month long poker game in 1949 with notorious high roller Nick the Greek set up by mob boss Benny Binion.

In 1995, at the age of 88, Johnny Moss passed away, but his legendary status will live on forever.

Texas Dolly

Doyle Brunson

The name Doyle Brunson is one of the most well-known poker names of all time and the 84-year-old is still as influential on the game now as he was when he won his two WSOP main event titles in 1976 and 77.

Doyle has won ten bracelets throughout his 50-year career (joint second behind Phil Hellmuth who has 14) and became the first ever Poker player to hit the $1 million mark in poker tournament winnings as well as launching Doyles Room in 2004 (an online poker platform).

In 2005 and well into his seventies, Brunson won his tenth WSOP bracelet in a $5,000 No Limit Shorthanded Texas Hold’em event scooping $367,800 in the process.

As recently as 2013, the Texas Dolly was still been playing the game he loves and doing well, finishing in the money at the 2013 World Series of Poker $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Championship tournament.

In 2015, Brunson revealed that he had his third melanoma, a form of skin cancer, confirmed by doctors but in 2016, the Grandfather of Poker won his sixth bout with the disease after a successful operation.

The Kid

Stu Ungar
Stu Ungar

Drug abuse prematurely ended the reign of one of the most talented Texas Hold’em players of all time in a stark warning to all.
It seems that all sports have their troubled geniuses and Stu Ungar was clearly Pokers.

Three times the supremely talented Ungar claimed the WSOP (1980, 81, 97) but each time he blew his substantial winnings on drugs and ended up paying the ultimate price.

After close friend and fellow poker player Billy Baxter bailed Ungar out several times and even paid his entry fee into the 1997 WSOP which he ended up winning with an Ace, four to scoop a jackpot of $1 million.

Unfortunately, Ungar went back to his old habits and within months had once again blown the lot and ended up vanishing from the public eye.

In November 1998 at the age of 45, Ungar checked into the Oasis Motel at the end of the Vegas strip and two days later was found lying dead on the bed with nothing but $800 of a $25,000 advance from Bob Stupak.

The Poker Brat

Phil Hellmuth

As mentioned above, Phil Hellmuth holds the most WSOP bracelets with fourteen but only claimed one main event title back in 1989.
Known as the Poker Brat for often falling out with his fellow pros at the table, it did not stop Hellmuth from having a remarkably successful career with tournament earnings reaching over $21 million.

Hellmuth also moved into the online sector helping create the software for online casino ultimatebet and also in 2004 launched a mobile app called ‘Texas Hold’em by Phil hellmuth’ with Oasys Mobile as well as having a number of books published.

Now, at the age of 53, Hellmuth recently conducted an interview with Pokernews.com saying he was trying to tackle the poker brat name whilst still playing on the Poker circuit today.

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