It’s the 50th anniversary of the World Series of Poker. Some of the most iconic, and exciting, moments in poker history have happened at WSOP, one of the biggest gaming events in the world. Held annually in Las Vegas, and sponsored by Ceasar’s Entertainment Corporation, the event’s history dates back to 1970 when Benny Binion invited seven of the best players to the Horseshoe Casino for one single, exciting tournament.
WSOP now consists of 74 events, with over half of the events being variants of Texas Hold’em. The winner of the Main Event is unofficially given the title of the world’s best player — and with a $10,000 buy-in is certainly one of the most expensive events to play in the world.
The popularity of WSOP — as well as the shear amount of money which the players play with — has meant that there have been many risky moves and big plays over the years.
Here are the top five most exciting moments in WSOP history.
Scotty Nguyen at WSOP 1998
The gift of the gab certainly comes naturally to Scotty Nguyen. The Vietnamese American professional poker player (nicknamed the Prince of Poker) is a five-time World Series of Poker Bracelet Winner. But the most exciting moment in his long-standing career had to come during the 1998 WSOP Main Event, where he uttered the iconic words “You call, it’s gonna be all over baby!” to fellow player Kevin McBride.
It was during the final hand that Nguyen got McBride to call after moving all-in, standing from the chair and declaring that it was all over. It was this move that got Nguyen his WSOP Main Event win and put him in the history books as one of the best, and most charismatic, players in the world. It was an achievement that might not have happened if it wasn’t for Nguyen’s clever gameplay. During a post-elimination interview, McBride said that he only called because Nguyen had spoken out with such confidence. It’s a moment that feels like it comes from a film and is definitely one that will remain legendary in poker history.
Chris Moneymaker vs Sammy Farha
It was an incredible moment for poker fans, and one that inspired many more to start playing more seriously. During the 2003 WSOP Main Event, Tennessee Accountant and poker amateur Chris Moneymaker took on pro player Sammy Farha and made what many have called the bluff of the century. The words: going all-in. That’s what Moneymaker uttered after Farha checked. Trying to call him on his bluff, Farha said “You must have missed your flush huh?” but Moneymaker gave nothing away.
After a long think, hopeful that Moneymaker would react, Farha finally folded. It was an incredible moment in poker history and certainly an inspiring one for amateurs looking to take on the pros.
John Hesp’s big break
It was during WSOP 2017 that a new star was born in the form of 65-year-old John Hesp — a caravan seller and grandfather from Bridlington. Having only played in low-key games at local pubs and a casino in Hull, Hesp entered WSOP 2017 and walked away with $2.6million, finishing fourth out of 72,000 entrants. With his colourful ensemble, he’s a brash player with a contagious, warm attitude that had fans in awe during his run. His carefree nature worked a treat against his stiff, young competitors. He was almost unreadable to the pros, who couldn’t tell whether he was making a bluff or not.
The Master that is Johnny Chan
It was a WSOP moment to remember and a move that will certainly go down in the poker history books. At the 1988 WSOP Main Event where the previous year’s winner Johnny Chan was battling against relative newcomer Erik Seidel. In the final hand of the tournament, Chan flopped a queen-high straight while Seidel got a top pair. The announcer then uttered those final words, “Will Erik Seidel fall for the bait? Yes, he’s going all-in and Chan has him. Johnny Chan, the master”.
The final play at the 2005 WSOP
Taking place during the ‘poker boom’, the 2005 WSOP Main Event made superstars of several players including Tex Barch, Mike Matusow and Andy Black. The final table ended with Joe Hachem and Steve Dannenann, an Australian public accountant, financial advisor and mortgage advisor. While Joe Hachem walked away with the big win, Dannenman had a charming and almost bewildered approach to the game and walked away 2nd in the Main Event with a $4,250,000 prize. It’s certainly a wonderful moment in WSOP history and really speaks to the love of the game.