The World Series of Poker has been an annual event since 1970 when some of gambling’s best sat around a table and did what they did best. The high stakes event may pale in comparison to what the World Series of Poker has become with television, satellite events, and a month long poker bonanza that happens in Las Vegas culminating in the final table in November.
With so much history there are always huge moments, big pay offs, and upsets that go along with any major event involving people passionate about their chosen profession. On the big stage of the final table of the World Series of Poker there have been several auspicious Championships that stand out from all of the others.
Amarillo Slim Preston’s First Win in 1972
The two year-old World Series of Poker was an amalgamation of some of the best in the gambling business including casino owners. The year 1972 was the first for Amarillo Slim Preston and he changed the way the World Series of Poker was played forever.
After he defeated Puggy Pearson, Preston went on the talk show circuit and played up the World Series of Poker as a major event that anyone could win. Preston invented excitement about big-stakes poker. Even though he only won a paltry $80,000 compared to the nearly ten million dollars won in the current format.
The Year 2000 Upset
Chris “Jesus” Ferguson was a PhD in Computer Science before he became a professional poker player. Then he won the $1.5 million jackpot at just age 37 over the seasoned veteran T. J. Cloutier who was age 62.
The winner came on the very last card of the very last play as Ferguson could have easily gone the other way with millions of dollars in chips at stake. In the end, Ferguson won the final table with over 2.8 million dollars’ worth of chips and Coultier went home with just $216,000.
The 2007 Amateur
Jerry Yang had only been playing poker for two years when he took home the largest pot for a single game in World Series of Poker history at $8,250,000 as he was the last man standing after 6,358 entrants into the tournament. In a truly international event, the final table consisted of a Russian, Canadian, South African, and two Englishmen. Yang is from California.
Even more amazing is the fact that of the nine participants Yang had the second-lowest chip total going into the Championship. A father of six, Yang won a satellite event and proved that anyone can win the big jackpot even if you’re the underdog.
2008’s Youngest Ever Winner
In 2008, the World Series of Poker saw a huge haul for prize money and also the youngest player ever to win the top prize at the final table. The event was moved to November, a full three months after thousands of participants were whittled down to nine finalists.
A Danish professional poker player, 22 year-old Peter Eastgate won over 9.1 million dollars and is second only to Jamie Gold in terms of money paid to a single player. The previous youngest player won his title way back in 1989 as Phil Hellmuth was 24 at the time.
2009’s Youngest Ever Winner
Peter Eastgate’s record as the youngest winner lasted all of one year. In 2009, Joe Cada won in the early morning hours and took home a jackpot of $8.5 million for winning the final table. In all, Cada won just over nine and a half million bucks becoming the youngest player to win at age 21.
The final table was down to the final two players when they took a full day off to resume the poker match. Joe Cada finally defeated Darvin Moon, a logger from Maryland, for the Championship as both players simply didn’t want to lose.
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