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WSOP Fun Facts

Last updated: September 1, 2020 at 11:25 am. Posted by in Caesars Entertainment, Gaming, Rio Las Vegas. Comments Off on WSOP Fun Facts.

When was the last time you made $8,005,310 after eight hours at work? Likely never– but that’s what Qui Nguyen did as he outlasted the rest of the field to win the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event last year. This No-limit Texas Hold ’em player put in a lot more than just eight hours to reach his seat at the final table but heads-up play against Gordon Vayo was about the length of an average workday.

The WSOP returns to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino for another exciting summer of action on the famous green felt. Here are some WSOP fun facts from over the years to get amped up for the high stakes and high attendance expected at this year’s showdown.

World Series of Poker Fun Facts:

The WSOP involves many different types of poker games

The famous Main Event is a No-limit Hold ’em tournament, though there are many other varieties of poker played at the World Series including other more well-known games like seven card stud as well as lesser-known games like Razz and Pot-limit Omaha.

There’s a casino employee event

2017 WSOP Event No. 1, aka the Casino Employee Event.

2017 WSOP Event No. 1, aka the Casino Employee Event.


Ever wonder if the employees who work at Vegas casinos actually like to play poker? The answer is yes. Many of them do and there’s actually an event just for them that traditionally kicks off the WSOP. This year’s Casino Employees No-limit Hold ’em event featured 651 players. The winner earns a cash prize and an awesome gold bracelet, just like the winners of all the other events. Bryan Hollis took home the first gold bracelet of the 2017 WSOP, along with $68,817.

The stars come out of the woodwork

He has gold medals but can Michael Phelps win a gold bracelet?

He has gold medals but can Michael Phelps win a gold bracelet?

Lots of famous people play in the WSOP and organize and/or participate in charity events surrounding it. You may have heard about some of the more famous sports stars, actors, musicians, etc. who enjoy poker and enter WSOP events. Matt Damon didn’t just play a poker stud in “Rounders.” He and buddy Ben Affleck are big poker fans and have participated in charity events over the years like Ante Up For Africa.

Sports stars like Olympian Michael Phelps are playing in this year’s WSOP. Phelps has 23 gold medals and appears to be on the hunt for a gold bracelet to match. In his third time at the WSOP, he partnered with poker pros Antonio Esfandiari, Jeff Gross and Brian Rast in the $10,000 buy-in Tag Team No-limit Hold ’em tournament. Phelps plans on playing in several more events this summer and donating his winnings to his foundation, The Michael Phelps Foundation.

Amateurs are welcome

In 2003, Chris Moneymaker (yep, that’s his real name) won the Main Event, which he entered after qualifying on an online poker site. An accountant at the time, Moneymaker’s momentous win spawned the term “The Moneymaker Effect” which refers to the poker revolution that ramped up following his victory. Amateurs are most certainly welcome. Anyone who wants to pay the entry fee (or who wins their way into the tourney) can try their luck.

In poker, amateurs are defined as players who support themselves in a vocation other than poker. An amateur has won the WSOP Main Event 15 times. If YOU want to be the next Main Event champ, sign in to your Play by Total Rewards app to enter to win your $10,000 entry to the WSOP Main Event.

The youngest player to win the WSOP was 21

Joe Cada won in 2009 at 21 years, 11 months old.

Repeat winners in the various WSOP events are rare…

… but not unheard of. Johnny Chan won the Main Event in 1987 and 1988 and nearly achieved a hat trick in 1989, finishing runner-up to Phil Hellmuth.

Like many things in Vegas, the real action is on the side

The side bets and “prop bets” can often have higher stakes, or at least more amusing ones, than the actual action on the poker tables. Sometimes players make side bets on themselves like Jason Mercier did in the 2016 WSOP. The 2016 WSOP Player of the Year bet he would win three bracelets in last year’s World Series and he won two, taking first in the 2-7 No-limit Draw Lowball Championship and the H.O.R.S.E. Championship. He was the runner up in the $10k Razz Championship. It’s crazy impressive he was able to win more than one bracelet but even wilder to think he was one person away from actually achieving his goal of three bracelets. He’s rumored to have also made a lot of side bets with other players that he would win two bracelets, so his actual winnings, plus side bet winnings, plus that WSOP Player of the Year title he earned, are nothing to sneeze at.

There’s a secret poker language

The WSOP has placed the mainstream spotlight on people like Chris Moneymaker and Jason Mercier but it’s also spawned new terms, familiar at least in poker circles. In case you’re not aware, certain hole card combinations have their own names. For instance, if you’re dealt aces, they’re called “pocket rockets.” Poker legend Doyle Brunson won the WSOP in back-to-back years (1976 and 1977) while he was holding the same two cards, a 10 and a 2. What are the odds of that?! (Actually, we’re too lazy to try to calculate that one. Someone leave that in the comments.) Regardless, this hand has since become known as “the Brunson.”

2017's coveted gold bracelet.

2017’s coveted gold bracelet.

Some people have enough WSOP bracelets for five or more on each arm

If you’re keeping track of the overall bracelet count, there are only four players with double-digit gold bracelets. Phil Hellmuth has 14. Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson are all tied at 10.

The main event for World Series of Poker takes place in July at the Rio Las Vegas

The Main Event final table is taking place in July so we won’t have to wait too much longer to find out the next champion

Final table locales have varied over the years. Most recently, the WSOP final table has taken place in the Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio. This year all of the WSOP events are taking place in the Rio’s massive convention area, with the final table taking place in the Brasilia Room, to be specific. This is a far cry from the challenging circumstances of the 1997 Main Event final table, where Stu Unger captured his third WSOP Main Event title in 98-degree weather outside on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas.

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About The Author

Allison came to Las Vegas over a decade ago and fell in love with the city and all its dining and entertainment options. A live music junkie and tequila enthusiast, she has written for Las Vegas Weekly, Las Vegas Sun, Vegas Magazine and Conde Nast's VegasChatter.

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