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On Saturday, Holly Holm stunned the MMA world by knocking out undefeated Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 to take the title. The 18-time boxing champion connected with a kick to the back of Rousey’s skull to send her to dreamland.

There have been times in poker history where players have received a knockout just as stunning as Holm’s knockout of Rousey. Below are five instances where players found themselves in the same position as Rousey – knocked out cold.

Motoyuki Mabuchi vs. Justin Phillips – 2008 WSOP Main Event

The winner of PokerUpdate’s contest to crown the most memorable televised poker moment in history just happens to be one of the most brutal beats in poker history. As you may remember, Motoyuki Mabuchi rivered quad aces and decided to “Gambol” shove into Justin Phillips.

Unfortunately for Mabuchi, that river ace completed Phillip’s royal flush and Mabuchi watched his $10,000 buy-in go up in smoke.

Phil Hellmuth vs. Robert Varkonyi – 2002 WSOP Main Event

While Chris Moneymaker is credited with starting the Poker Boom, he wasn’t the first amateur that decade to win the Main Event. Back in 2002, unknown Robert Varkonyi went on a blessed run to win the Main Event.

During Day 3, Phil Hellmuth was all-in with Ah-Kh against Qc-10c for Varkonyi. Varkonyi flopped two pair and eliminated Hellmuth. Later in the event, Hellmuth was commentating on the event with Gape Kaplan and told him that he would shave his head if Varkonyi won the Main Event.

Varkonyi went into the final table as the dominant chip leader and was never in trouble on his way to win the title. His winning hand was Q-10, the bane of Hellmuth’s existence. Hellmuth kept true to his word and shaved his hair, which he later put up for auction. He would win that auction and paid $10,000 for his own hair.

American Online Poker Players – Black Friday

When American online poker players woke up on April 11, 2011, they were stunned to discover that the United States Department of Justice had seized the domains of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. The DOJ then revealed indictments against the online poker rooms as well as key executives and payment process for each company.

Infamously known as “Black Friday,” the three major online sites pulled out of the United States and several smaller sites followed suit in an attempt to avoid prosecution by the federal government.

The only site to repay their players was PokerStars. Full Tilt, Absolute Poker and never repaid players and went out of business. Absolute Poker and UB filed for bankruptcy and have never been heard from again. Full Tilt was later sold to PokerStars as part of a settlement with the DOJ. PokerStars agreed to repay former Full Tilt Poker players, a process that is ongoing.

Jesse Alto vs. Doyle Brunson – 1976 WSOP Main Event

What many don’t know about Doyle Brunson’s first Main Event title was that he got incredibly lucky on the final hand. Jesse Alto raised with As-Jd and was called by Brunson holding 10s-2s. The flop fell A-J-10 to give Alto two pair and Brunson a single pair.

After a bet from Alto, Brunson moved all-in and was insta-called. Alto appeared in fantastic shape to double into a commanding chip lead. The turn fell a deuce, but Alto was still well ahead with Brunson drawing to four outs. The river fell another ten to give Brunson tens-full and his first of two poker titles.

The next year, Brunson would win the Main Event again with his final hand being the 10-2, aka the “Brunson.”

Barbara Enright vs. Brent Carter – 1995 WSOP Main Event Final Table

In 1995, Barbara Enright became the first woman in history to make the final table of the WSOP Main Event. That year’s event was televised six-handed and she was one of the shorter stacks with five players remaining.

Enright woke up with pocket eights and moved all-in. Brent Carter made the call with a lowly 6d-3d. To Enright’s disgust, Carter caught both a six and a three on the board to send her to the rail in fifth place.


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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.