Every year we see certain players take down a WSOP bracelet or net a large score and due to the circumstances of their accomplishment, we know that they are probably going to be a one hit wonder or a “flash in the pan.”
Over the years, we’ve seen many of these flash in the pans come and go with some taking down some of the richest prizes in the game. Today we take a look back at five of the biggest flash in the pan players in WSOP history.
What qualifies as a flash in the pan? These are your “one hit wonders” that took a bracelet title or nabbed a major monetary score and have done nothing of significance since. Players like Jamie Gold that have managed to make another WSOP final table no longer qualify are flash in the pans because they have proven they can still compete.
Jerry Yang came out of nowhere to win the 2007 WSOP Main Event title. He earned his way into the Main Event via a $235 satellite at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, CA and made the final table 8th in chips.
While an 8th place start is considered a virtual lock for an early elimination, Yang found a way to come storming back and take a dominant chip lead on the way to the title. The $8.25 million was the 2nd largest prize for a Main Event winner at the time.
Since that monumental win, Yang has only managed six WSOP cashes in the 9 years to follow. His last money finish was a cash in the Colossus in 2015.
Outside of the WSOP, Yang has put together less than $200k in earnings since 2007. One would assume that his lack of performance is no big deal due to this win in 2007 but sadly, Yang mismanaged his money and ran into tax problems with the IRS. As a result, he was slapped with a tax lien of $571,894 and has to later forfeit his WSOP bracelet as part of a tax sale.
Luckily, Yang did start a restaurant with part of his winnings and that business is reportedly doing very well.
It is hard to imagine that a player of the caliber of Pius Heinz could be considered a flash in the pan, but his record points to that fact.
In 2011, Heinz finished 7th in a $1,500 NL Hold’em Event and then went on an amazing run to take down the 2011 WSOP Main Event. Those that remember his run still fondly remember the chants from his rail during the November Nine. Personally, his rail made the 2011 November Nine one of the most enjoyable to watch.
After his 2011 win, Heinz only has three WSOP cashes to his resume for around $22k in earnings. Granted, he has enjoyed mild success outside of the WSOP but by and large, he is largely a non-factor on the tournament circuit.
There is a reason for this. Heinz told PokerNews back in March that he doesn’t really play a lot of poker anymore. When he does play, he usually plays cash games. So instead of “reinvesting” his poker earnings back into the poker community, he has decided to pocket the earnings and move on with life. If only we all could win $8.7 million and walk away.
Hal Fowler is often referred to as the ultimate amateur world champion after taking down the 1979 WSOP Main Event. He was the first amateur in poker history to win the Main Event and ultimately became the ultimate WSOP “one hit wonder.”
After winning the Main Event, Fowler never again cashed in the WSOP and only has three recorded cashes to his name. Ill health greatly impacted Fowler’s ability to play poker after his Main Event win, leaving many to wonder if he would have been able to catch lightening in the bottle again.
Back in 2009, Darvin Moon was seen as the “every man” of the November Nine. He earned his way into the event via a $130 satellite and went on a blessed run as he took the chip lead into the final table.
Moon managed to make it heads-up but fell to Joe Cada who was running hot at the final table. His second place finish earned him $5.18 and instantly made him a poker legend.
While some may have tried to turn that deep run into a pro poker career, Moon continued operating his logging business and has remained an amateur player. Since his deep run in the Main Event in 2009, Moon has yet to score another WSOP cash.
In fact, he has only put together $27,975 in total cashes since that point. His last cash was in a $135 Daily Deepstack tournament at the Rio this summer.
The man largely credited for starting the Poker Boom is also one of the WSOP biggest one hit wonders. Everyone knows of his deep run in the 2003 WSOP Main Event but he has done little of significance since.
He managed a 10th place finish in a $5k PLO Event in 2004 and a 28th place finish in the 2006 $1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout but afterwards he has managed only a single WSOP cash.
Moneymaker hasn’t cashed at the WSOP since 2007. In fact, if you look at his resume, the majority of his cashes are in events that are considered to be in the “minor leagues” of poker.
Even if Moneymaker never cashes again at the WSOP, he still is part of poker history and has an achievement that many poker pros will never attain.