Ready for an updated OG List of World Series of Poker Main Event winners? We’ve compiled a complete list of WSOP Main Event champions, beginning in 1972 with Johnny Moss and including the current champion, Koray Aldemir, who shipped the 2021 version in Las Vegas for $8 million.
We’ve also compiled an additional list of WSOP Europe winners, and champions from the now-defunct WSOP Asia.
Johnny Moss won the WSOP Main Event in 1970, which was more like an MVP. Players voted on the best player at the inaugural series, and everyone picked Moss.
In 1971, the WSOP hosted its first Main Event, which had a $5,000 buy-in. Only six players competed, and it was winner-take-all. Moss defeated Puggy Pearson heads-up to win $30,000.
|MOST WSOP MAIN EVENT CHAMPIONSHIPS|
- Johnny Moss: 3 (1970, 1971, 1974)
- Stu Ungar: 3 (1980, 1981, 1997)
- Doyle Brunson: 2 (1976, 1977)
- Johnny Chan: 2 (1987, 1988)
Moss won three Main Event titles. Stu Ungar is the only other pro to win the Main Event three times. Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan each have two wins, and both won the Main Event in back-to-back years.
The $10,000 Lottery Ticket
The World Series of Poker Main Event has had a $10,000 buy-in since 1972. Some purists want to continue to keep the price at $10K, but other modernists would like to see the buy-in updated to reflect inflation.
A dollar in 1972 is worth approximately $6.25 today, so the Main Event price tag today should be closer to $62,500. There’s a minority of poker enthusiasts who would like to see the buy-in jacked up to $50,000, with others suggesting a compromise of $25,000.
The Glory Days at Benny’s Bullpen
Johnny Moss won three WSOP Main Events in the first six years of its inception. The early events featured small fields, but everyone had a cool nickname like Amarillo Slim, Puggy Pearson, or Sailor Roberts.
|WSOP MAIN EVENT WINNERS LIST (1970 to 1979)|
|1972||Amarillo Slim Preston||$80,000||8|
Doyle Brunson won back-to-back championships in 1976 and 1977. Texas Dolly won both titles while holding a 10-deuce, and the 10-2 became his trademarked hand. Shortly after winning back-to-back championships, Brunson authored Super/System, which is highly regarded as the Bible for poker pros.
1980s Rockstars: Ungar, Chan, Hellmuth
Stu Ungar kicked off the 1980s with a bang, winning back-to-back WSOP titles in 1980 and 1981.
In 1983, Tom McEvoy made history as the first player to win a seat in the $10,000 buy-in event through a feeder satellite, created by Jack Binion. The creation of satellites aided in increasing the future growth of the Main Event.
|WSOP MAIN EVENT WINNERS LIST (1980 to 1990)|
|1984||Gentleman Jack Keller||$600,000||132|
Johnny Chan won the WSOP Main Event in 1987 and 1988. His victory at the 1988 WSOP over Erik Seidel has become a part of gambling lore, thanks to the inclusion of the moment in the cult-classic film “Rounders” (1998).
Chan is the last player to win back-to-back WSOP titles. Once the field size ballooned to over 200 players, it became near impossible to replicate consecutive victories.
Chan almost won three in a row, but Phil Hellmuth took down the 1989 WSOP Main Event. The Poker Brat was only 23 at the time, and the victory put him — and his ego — on the map. That victory marked Hellmuth’s first WSOP bracelet. Since then, he’s won 15 more WSOP events, and currently holds the record with 16 bracelets.
Seven Figure Club: Scotty Nguyen to Jesus, Stuey Three Times
In 1991, the WSOP Main Event entrants went north of 200 players for the first time. As a result, the WSOP awarded its first seven-figure payout. In fewer than 20 years, the WSOP Main Event went from a handful of old-school gamblers into a budding global phenomenon.
Brad Daugherty won the 1991 WSOP Main Event and became the first million-dollar winner in history.
|WSOP MAIN EVENT WINNERS LIST (1991 to 2002)|
In 1997, with the final table broadcast in front of Binion’s, Ungar won his third Main Event and his fifth overall bracelet. Ungar joined Johnny Moss as the only player to win the WSOP Main Event three times. Poker players recognize Ungar as the GOAT because Moss won his first WSOP by voting.
Poker Boom and Move to Rio: Moneymaker to Cada
In 2003, an accountant from Tennessee named Chris Moneymaker won his $10,000 seat to the WSOP Main Event through an online satellite at PokerStars. He parlayed $39 into a $2.5 million prize pool and helped ignite the online poker boom. Moneymaker outlasted 839 runners to win the 2003 WSOP Main Event. The next year, the entrants nearly quadrupled to 2,576, when Greg Raymer won the 2004 WSOP Main Event.
Joe Hachem won the 2005 WSOP Main Event, which was the last time a final table was played inside Benny’s Bullpen at the old Binion’s Horseshoe. Since 2006, the WSOP Main Event has played out at the Rio Casino.
|WSOP MAIN EVENT WINNERS LIST (2003 to 2010)|
Jamie Gold, a former agent in Hollywood, secured the highest single payout to date. Gold banked $12 million for his runaway victory at the 2006 WSOP Main Event. He outlasted 8,773 players, which is the largest field in the history of the WSOP Main Event.
In the wake of Black Friday (when the US government shuttered online poker sites on April 15, 2011), the numbers for the Main Event dipped with players unable to secure seats through online poker satellites. Pius Heinz from Germany won the first WSOP Main Event in the post-Black Friday realm.
|WSOP MAIN EVENT WINNERS LIST (2011 to 2021)|
In 2019, Germany’s Hossein Ensan faded the second-largest field in WSOP Main Event history when he topped 8,569 runners to win the Main Event bracelet and $10 million in cash.
During the pandemic of 2020, the WSOP hosted a special hybrid Main Event championship that began online with an international pool and a domestic US pool of players. Although there won’t be a WSOP Europe Main Event champ in 2020, the WSOP crowned a 2020 champion in Las Vegas when Damian Salas from Argentina won the special installment.
In 2021, the WSOP was moved to the fall, but they played out a traditional Main Event with German pro Koray Aldemir besting a field of 6,650 players to win $8 million.
WSOP Expansion to Europe and Asia
In 2007, World Series of Poker expanded its brand to Europe by hosting the first of several championships in London. Norway’s Annette Obrestad, aka Annette_15, made a name for herself as one of the best online poker players in the world while she was still a teenager. She won the first-ever WSOP Europe Main Event one day shy of her 19th birthday. Casinos in Europe permitted gamblers who were 18 and older, whereas Nevada law states gamblers must be 21 or older.
|WSOP EUROPE MAIN EVENT CHAMPIONS LIST (2007 to 2019)|
|2011||Elio Fox||€ 1,400,000||593|
|2012||Phil Hellmuth||€ 1,022,376||420|
|2017||Marti Roca de Torres||€ 1,115,207||529|
|2018||Jack Sinclair||€ 1,122,239||534|
|2019||Alexandros Kolonias||€ 1,133,678||541|
Held for just two years, Daniel Negreanu won the inaugural WSOP Asia Pacific Main Event in 2013.
|WSOP ASIA PACIFIC MAIN EVENT CHAMPIONS|
The AU$10,000 buy-in inaugural event had 405 runners, and Negreanu banked a little more than AU$1,000,000. In 2014, Scott Davies won the second and last WSOP Asia Pacific Main Event.