WSOP Main Event Winners of the 2000s

Poker

If the 1990’s brought poker to a wider audience than ever before thanks to the continued growth of the World Series of Poker, the next decade would redefine growth as a poker term.

Put simply, the first decade of the new Millennium changed the face of poker forever and has given us everything we enjoy today. From a winner who would coin an effect that led to the poker boom to the biggest Main Event winner of all time, ‘The Noughties’ had it all.

Jesus Rises Up in 2000

It was former Full Tilt Poker poster man Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson who won the Main Event in the first battle of the Millennium. Ferguson’s victory, worth $1.5m in a 512-player field came at a final table that featured T.J. Cloutier, who he beat heads-up to claim the bracelet. Ferguson would, of course, become embroiled in the FTP scandal that led to Black Friday in the Spring of 2011.

Mortensen Wins First ‘Double Millionaire’ Final in 2001

Spanish player Carlos Mortensen won $1.5m and the title a year later at a final table that also featured Phil Hellmuth, who fell four places short of winning his second Main Event.

Mortensen would beat Dewey Tomko heads-up, but both men won over a million dollars, the first time the top two had both won seven-figure scores in the history of the Main Event.

Varkonyi the Victor in 2002

The relatively unknown Robert Varkonyi won in 2002, taking home the biggest prize ever seen in the WSOP Main Event beating British player Julian Gardner heads-up. Another Brit was at the table in the form of John Shipley, but Varkonyi sealed victory to win $2 million.

Moneymaker Writes History in 2003

In 2003, an accountant called Chris Smith presented himself as ‘Moneymaker’ to ESPN and won $2.5 million. That was incredible, but even more amazing was that he did so from the $80 satellite he won on PokerStars, kicking off an online poker boom that would affect Main Events for years to come.

Moneymaker ousted Phil Ivey on the brink of the final table, before dominating the final nine and beating Sammy Farha heads-up. Dan Harrington was going for title number two, but fell in third place for $650,000, with Farha claiming $1.3m.

Raymer Reigns Supreme in 2004

In 2004, the ‘Moneymaker Effect’ led to three times the number of the previous year’s entrants to the Main Event, with 2,576 people playing for the $5,000,000 top prize.

At the final table, no less than five players cashed for more than a million dollars, with Raymer’s heads-up opponent David Williams, a former Magic the Gathering player, winning $3.5m for finishing second, a year on from Moneymaker winning a million less for taking the title.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie in 2005!

The WSOP’s first Australian winner took the bracelet in 2005 as Joe Hachem proved top dog from the mammoth 5,619 entries, winning $7.5 million. All previous events to the Main Event took place at the Rio Hotel and Casino, apart from the final two days of the Main Event which were held at Binion’s Horseshoe for the final time.

Irishman Andy Black’s run to 5th place for $1.75m and Mike Matusow’s bust-out in 9th for $1.0m were part of a final table where every player won a million for the first time in Main Event history.

Jamie Strikes Gold in 2006

The biggest ever top prize in WSOP Main Event history was won in 2006 as Jamie Gold claimed $12 million for topping the 8,773-player field that saw a record prizepool of $82,512,162 distributed among the winners.

WSOP Bracelet 2006

The fabled WSOP Main Event Bracelet of 2006, won by Jamie Gold for a record $12 million

Gold took care of business by beating Paul Wasicka heads-up, with Wasicka winning $6.1m, the third-largest prize in WSOP history at the time. Other players to reach the final included Allen Cunningham and Rhett Butler.

Yang the Man in 2007

Jerry Yang’s win for $8.25m in 2007 saw the Main Event begin and conclude in July, with Yang’s win over 6,357 players slightly down on the previous world-beating year. For the first time in Main Event history, players began with 20,000 chips versus the usual 10,000, and WSOP Main Event ticket ‘seats’ were banned by organizers, affecting the entry pool.

Eastgate Makes History in 2008… for One Year

Peter Eastgate became the youngest-ever winner of the WSOP Main Event in 2008, getting the better of 6,843 other players to bank over $9.1m as world champion. It was the first year of the ‘November Nine’, where the final table was delayed until the Autumn to allow ESPN to broadcast the final table.

Eastgate, at the age of 22, became the youngest winner in history by beating Ivan Demidov heads up, eclipsing Phil Hellmuth’s win at the age of 24 a whole 19 years earlier. Amazingly Eastgate’s record would stand for just one year.

Cada Chops Down Darvin Moon in 2009

Just 12 months after Eastgate hailed a triumph for the younger generation, Joe Cada went one better, winning it at the age of just 21 years old, the minimum age for poker players in the United States. Taking the title of world champion, Cada got the better of log-trucker Darvin Moon, whose amateur dreams were made when he ran all the way to second place.

Cada’s victory was worth a massive $8.5m, also came at the expense of Phil Ivey, who came so close in 2003 and finished an agonizing 7th in 2009, winning $1.4m but falling short once more.

WSOP Main Event Winner 2000-2009:

Year Winner Players Prize
2000 Chris Ferguson 512 $1,500,000
2001 Carlos Mortensen 613 $1,500,000
2002 Robert Varkonyi 632 $2,000,000
2003 Chris Moneymaker 839 $2,500,000
2004 Greg Raymer 2,576 $5,000,000
2005 Joe Hachem 5,619 $7,500,000
2006 Jamie Gold 8,773 $12,000,000
2007 Jerry Yang 6,358 $8,250,000
2008 Peter Eastgate 6,844 $9,152,416
2009 Joe Cada 6,494 $8,574,649

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