Celebrity WSOP Standouts: A Look Back at the Finest Performances and Surprising Participants

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Celebrity WSOP Standouts: A Look Back at the Finest Performances and Surprising Participants

The World Series of Poker is a prestigious and highly anticipated event attracting many players and massive global audiences. While the tournament mostly showcases the prowess of experienced pro players, there have been several standout performances and surprising participants over the years.

In this article, we'll reminisce about some of the most incredible performances at the WSOP. If you've been enjoying poker in live poker rooms in the US, you can draw inspiration from these iconic players. Keep reading for more!

Christopher Bryan (The Moneymaker) – 2003

A lot has been written about the amateur accountant from Tennessee who qualified for the tournament via a PokerStars satellite and nearly missed the 2003 WSOP main event. His legendary win would boost the popularity of poker globally.

During the main event, the Moneymaker eliminated several reputable poker superstars, including Dan Harrington, Phil Ivey, and Johnny Chan. Amazingly, he achieved this in front of the ESPN cameras. Additionally, his heads-up battle with old-school gambler Sam Farah will remain in the memories of poker fans for years to come. He has emerged as one of the popular gambling experts to follow thanks to his achievement.  

The Moneymaker's "Bluff of the Century" was recently renamed the "Most Memorable TV Hand" at the World Series of Poker First Fifty Honors. His victory was the stuff of legend! It remains the most memorable win in the event's history.

Phil Hellmuth (The Poker Brat) – 1989

Johnny Chan was the best poker player in 1989 and was on course to become the first three-peat WSOP main event champion. When Johnny made it to the 1989 main event table, this historical achievement seemed like a predetermined conclusion.

However, Phil Hellmuth from Wisconsin had other ideas! The young poker pro upset the odds to become the youngest WSOP main event champion of all time. After his triumph, commentators revealed how no one gave the young pro a chance, especially because it was his first time.

Hellmuth became one of the most accomplished tournament poker players in history. He won 15 WSOP bracelets, including the 1989 WSOP main event and the 2012 WSOP Europe main event.

Johnny Chan (The Orient Express) – 1997/88

Johnny Chan was primarily a cash game player. But, in the 1980s, The Orient Express enjoyed victories over tournament players winning back-to-back WSOP main events. Besides that, Chan won the Hall of Fame Classic, another major poker tournament successively, in 1988 and 1989.

Chan was heads-up for a third main event title in a row before The Poker Brat rewrote poker history. The legendary poker player is tied as second all-time with 10 WSOP bracelets.

Doyle Brunson (10-2) – 1967-77

Many poker enthusiasts believe that Doyle Brunson changed poker forever. In 1978, he devised the original bible of poker, "Super System." He also has a poker hand named after him, which is a notable achievement because it is rare.

The 10-2 hand is named after Brunson because he won the 1976 and 1977 main events using this same hand. He retired from tournament poker in 2018. He always played in Las Vegas games and remains one of the most beloved names in the poker world. Doyle passed away on May 15, 2023, but his poker legacy will forever remain.  

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