Get your engines started! We’re bringing you the top 32 most memorable televised poker hands! Read about each match-up and vote for which video you would like to see advance to the next round!
King of Suckouts vs. King of Slowrolls
In this match, we have the “King of Suckouts” versus the “King of Slowrolls.” We dubbed Earnest Wiggins the King of Suckouts after his famous confrontations against Phil Hellmuth on a 2010 episode of the PokerStars Big Game.
Wiggins was all-in with pocket kings and behind the trip nines of Hellmuth. Despite having the superior hand, Hellmuth suggested running it out four times. Wiggins went on a blessed run and won three straight hands to take 3/4 of the total pot and leave Hellmuth steaming.
The late Jack Ury has the most memorable slowroll in the history of poker. During Day 2 of the 2009 WSOP Main Event, Steven Friedlander was all-in with a full house and only one hand would beat him – pocket sevens. Ury looks at his opponents hand and tells him “you’re in trouble” before eventually flipping over pocket sevens for a better full house.
A slowroll would normally be cause for disgust and ridicule, but when you’re slowrolled by a 96-year-old, all you can do is laugh.
Filippo Candio SuckGasm vs. Fabrizio Fontana’s Bella Fiches
Suckgasm – noun: The reaction a poker player has when they are all-in and behind to pocket aces with a trip to the November Nine at stake. For an example, please view the classic confrontation between Filippo Candio and Joseph Cheong in 2010 WSOP Main Event.
If you think Candio’s suckgasm was odd, you clearly haven’t played poker with Italian comedian Fabrizio Fontana. Luca Pagano had the fortune, or misfortune, depending on how you view it, of playing against him.
In one of the strangest matches we’ve seen in poker, Fontana consistently finds ways to get under the skin of Luca Pagano. His quest is to win all the “Bella Fiches” or “beautiful chips”, in English.
What makes things worse for Pagano is that once he finally traps Fontana with aces versus jacks, Fontana hits runner-runner “Colore” and becomes the poker equivalent of Andres Cantor.
They Just Can’t Believe It
Carter Gill is the new face of the bad beat after his famous river loss in the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event. On the turn, Gill was all in with two pair and told David Paredes that he “needed a queen” if he called. Paredes made the call and caught a river queen to produce the infamous “bad beat face” we know and love.
Paul Phua and Lo Shing Fung were involved in a massive $1 million pot in the 2014 Aussie Millions Cash Game in which Phua just would not believe anything that Lo was selling.
Phua flopped top set but Lo caught a ten-high straight on the turn. Poker is supposed to be about deception but Lo decided that the best thing to do is tell the complete truth. After leaning over to see how many chips he could win, he tells Phua that he has a straight and moves all-in.
Phua isn’t buying anything that Lo is selling and eventually decides his top set is good. He makes the call and finds out that honesty is the best policy – for Lo that is.
Colman’s Interesting Fact vs. Hellmuth’s 7-2
Dan Colman may have won the “No S**t Sherlock” award for the first offering in this match. In a 2014 Premier League match, Sorel Mizzi was all-in with A-9 against the pocket aces of Steve Gross.
After turning the hands over, Dan Coleman chimed in with “That’s the worst possible hand to have against pocket aces.” Not missing a beat, Mizzi replies, “That’s good to know. Thanks for the fun fact” while shooting the thumbs up. We expect he meant to shoot a different digit.
Our other offering is a classic hand from High Stakes Poker between Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow. The 7-2 game was on and Hellmuth decided to run a bluff with 7-2 just when Mike “The Mouth” Matusow woke up with pocket kings.
Hellmuth proceeds to run a successful bluff and win the $500 from each player. This time it is Hellmuth putting players on tilt as Matusow rants for several minutes about how Hellmuth doesn’t “big bet bluff.” Sorry Mikey, he just did.
The River of Broken Dreams
This match features two hands where the river card ultimately left the losing players stunned and eliminated.
During the finals of the 2010 PartyPoker World Poker Open, Andrew Robl and Toby Lewis were part of one of the sickest hands in TV poker history. When you river quad nines as Robl did, you figure that you’re a lock to double-up.
Unfortunately, Lewis flopped quad queens and Robl was drawing dead. The face of Yevgeniy Timoshenko was priceless when cards were revealed on the river.
However, one of the most stunning river cards came in the 2010 WSOP Main Event with 15 players remaining. Matt Affleck moved all-in with pocket aces on the turn against Jonathan Duhamel, who had pocket jacks and a gutshot straight draw.
If Affleck’s hand holds, he is the chip leader and a lock for the November Nine. However, the river fell an eight to complete Duhamel’s straight and Affleck was out in 15th.
Aces No Good at the World Series of Poker
Sometimes you just can’t win with aces at the World Series of Poker. At the 2008 Main Event, Motoyuki Mabuchi had pocket aces and rivered quad aces. Normally, that would win a huge hand and maybe even result in a double-up.
Unfortunately, Justin Phillips caught a royal flush with that river ace, When Mabuchi shoved the river claiming to “gamble,” Phillips made the call for one of the most brutal early day beats in Main Event history.
Think that beat is bad? How about losing $1 million with aces – against aces! That’s what happened to Connor Drinan in the 2014 Big One for ONE DROP. He and Cary Katz both picked up aces and eventually got all the chips in the middle.
With Drinan at risk, the flop produced two hearts to give Katz a flush draw. The turn and river both came hearts and Drinan went out the sickest way possible with pocket aces.
Here a Suckout, There a Suckout. River Sends Them Home
There’s no worse time to become a victim of a suckout than deep in the WSOP Main Event. Phil Ivey and Jean-Robert Bellande both have been victim to a brutal suckout after going deep in the WSOP Main Event.
During the 2008 WSOP Main Event, Jean Robert Bellande recorded his first career Main Event cash. Sarkis Akopyan raised pre-flop with 10c-9s and Bellande moved all-in with As-Qh. From the time cards were revealed, Bellande started lamenting his luck as if he knew he was going home.
The flop fell Ac-2d-8h to give Bellande a pair and all he had to do was avoid runner-runner. The turn fell the 6s and he thought he was safe but an opponent pointed out a seven would end his Main Event.
The river – 7s. Bellande’s Main Event came to a crushing end to Akopyan’s straight.
Of course, the Poker Boom may not have happened if not for the suckout by Chris Moneymaker that eliminated Phil Ivey in the 2003 Main Event. Moneymaker flops trip queens and Ivey turns nines-full.
Moneymaker needed a queen or ace to win the hand and spiked the As to suckout on Ivey and send him to the rail in 10th place.
Suck or Muck – The Camera Catches it All
In poker, sometimes we take bad beats and sometimes we give them to ourselves. Shandor Szentkuti took one of the worst bad beats in WPT final table history at the 2005 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star event.
Danny Nguyen was all-in with A-7 against Shandor’s A-K. Shandor spiked a king to take a stranglehold on the lead but Nguyen caught running sevens to suckout and double-up. He rode the momentum of that suckout to take the event and just $1 million.
Even the best players in the world make mistakes and Phil Ivey made one of the biggest mistakes in TV poker history. During the 2009 Main Event, he was involved in a pot with Jordan Smith and made one of the biggest river gaffes in history.
At the river, the board was 5s-Qh-10s-Qs-As and Ivey held 8s-8d. Action was checked around and Smith showed Ad-9c. Ivey incredibly mucked his hand to give the pot to Smith. He was subsequently barred from Norman Chad’s home game.
Monster Laydown vs. Historic Bluff
Roberto Romanello wasn’t set up to lose a lot of chips with his pocket pair during the 2008 WSOP until a river card gave both him and Greg Geller a full house. After about a minute of contemplation, Romanello made the correct, yet difficult, decision to lay his monster down.
Chris Moneymaker’s epic 2003 WSOP Main Event victory is cemented in poker history. It was this bluff heads-up against established pro Sam Farha that propelled the Tennessee accountant to a solid chip lead and mental edge over his more experienced opponent. Had Farha called, he would have held a 2-to-1 chip lead and may have become the eventual champion.
High Stakes Multi-Way Bluff vs. High Roller Lookup
Tom Dwan had roughly half a million dollars in front of him when he when he decided to put both Barry Greenstein and 2008 WSOP Main Event champion Peter Eastgate to the test on the turn. Eight players saw the flop on this memorable High Stakes Poker hand, but only one raked the pot.
Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst held a commanding chip lead on the bubble of the 2014 PCA Super High Roller event when she was faced with a semi-bluff from Dan Shak. Three players at this final table were on life support and just a few hands away from busting, which makes this correct, yet unsuccessful, call by Selbst that much more impressive.
Hero Call vs. Set Up Betting
In this 2012 WSOP Main Event hand, aggressive poker player Henry Van Tran gets into a wild battle with Ben Alcober. Both players miss the board completely but somehow that doesn’t stop the action. Finally, Tran makes bottom pair on the river. The result is the quintessential “hero” call.
Lex Veldhuis is no slouch at the poker tables. His post-flop tactics are the stuff of legends. In this 2009 hand from the WSOP, he plays his opponent (Simon Muenz) to perfection and ultimately rakes in another pot that most players would have never had a chance to take down. Veldhuis is famous for strategically setting up his post-flop bets for high-probability bluffs.
Super Aggression vs. Air Bluff
Phil Ivey isn’t considered to be the best poker player in the world for nothing. In this classic televised hand from the 2005 Monte Carlo Millions, Ivey outplays Paul Jackson and takes the hand down on the flop. Although Ivey ironically did have the best hand, it took world-class poker reading skills to pull off his all-in shove.
Isaac Haxton found himself heads-up against Ryan Daut at the 2007 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. World Poker Tour (WPT) announcers Mike Sexton and Vince van Patten do the commentary as Haxton positions himself to make the final play on a key hand. Despite the bluff, Daut eventually took the tournament down.
The Rollercoaster vs. Inaugural One Drop
Both emotions and stakes were high at the 2010 WSOP Main Event final table with an all-in race for the ages as “The Grinder” faced off against Matt Jarvis. The best hand shifted three times from pre-flop to river with Mizrachi eventually moving on.
The 2012 “Big One for One Drop” $1 million buy-in poker tournament was the richest ever in WSOP history. After three days of competition, Antonio Esfandiari walked away with $18.3 million, which, at the time, made him the top live poker tournament winner of all time.
Two WSOP Main Event Final Hands
Joe Hachem was an unlikely WSOP Main Event champion in 2005, and was faced with the prospect of ending a back-to-back stream of United States winners as he competed heads-up with Steve Dannenmann. Hachem parlayed a fortunate flop with an even better turn card into a bracelet victory, winning $7.5 million in the largest WSOP Main Event at that time.
Despite losing a huge psychological edge to a previous bluff, Sam Farha was still within capturing the chip lead in the 2003 WSOP Main Event against then 27-year old Chris Moneymaker. However, destiny was on Moneymaker’s side when he flopped two-pair versus Farha’s top pair in the final hand of the tournament.
Player of the Year vs. Clown Show
Greg Merson had a lot going for him in 2012. His five deep runs (Including two final tables and a bracelet in the 6-max Event #57) culminated in a heads up showdown versus Jesse Sylvia in the Main Event. With the Main Event bracelet, $8.5 million, and Player of The Year honors on the line, Merson shoved King-Five of Diamonds and got a call from Sylvia, who had inferior cards. The rest is history.
There was a lot of excitement surrounding the 2012 “Big One for One Drop” $1 million buy-in WSOP event. Many fans in attendance simply couldn’t believe that so much was riding on the luck of the cards when Antonio Esfandiari and Guy Laliberte faced off in an all-in situation. To lighten the mood, both competitors donned clown noses as they awaited the outcome.
First November Nine vs. Hellmuth 1989
The World Series of Poker took a huge risk when it altered its Main Event final table format in 2008 to a “November Nine” final table. This meant that players would have to wait several months before continuing the Main Event final table. Eventually, Peter Eastgate of Denmark took down the tournament and its $9.15 prize.
Johnny Chan was the odds-on favorite to become the first person to ever win three WSOP Main Events in a row. However, that never came to be, as a 25-year old upstart from Wisconsin named Phil Hellmuth dashed Chan’s shot at history with a pair of nines — sparking his own run which would propel Hellmuth towards his current status as the all-time leading WSOP bracelet winner. Hellmuth’s take was $755,000.