The World Series of Poker has been continually breaking records in recent years in terms of attendance, prize pools and cash awarded to players. While many are constantly looking forward to the future of poker’s grandest events, we’d like to take a few minutes to look back at its past.
There’s a first time for everything in poker and there have been many historic firsts at the WSOP over the years. Today we look back at 9 historic firsts as the World Series of Poker.
First Player to Win a WSOP Bracelet – Howard Andrew
Yes, you read that correctly. Howard Andrew is the first person in WSOP history to win a WSOP bracelet. Bracelets were not actually awarded in WSOP events until 1976. The first person to win a bracelet that year was Howard “Tahoe” Andrew.
Andrew won the $2,500 and $1,000 NL Events that were referred to as the “Businessman’s Event.” Doyle Brunson took the first of his two WSOP Main Event titles that year, making him the first WSOP Main Event winner to receive a bracelet for their win.
Nowadays, all previous winners of WSOP events are referred to as bracelet winners despite the fact that they weren’t awarded before 1976.
First Three Time Main Event Tournament Winner – Stu Ungar
While both Johnny Moss and Stu Ungar are credited with 3 Main Event titles, Stu Ungar is the only person in WSOP history to have actually won three Main Event tournaments.
Remember, Moss won his first World Championship in 1970 by popular vote. His other two titles (1971 and 1974) were by winning the Main Event tournament.
Stu Ungar won back-to-back titles in 1980 and 1981 and then his third title in 1997.
First Player to Win WSOP Titles in a Year – Puggy Pearson
The 1973 World Series of Poker provided a historic first as Puggy Pearson became the first player to win multiple titles in the same year. We say titles because, as already mentioned, bracelets weren’t awarded until 1976.
Pearson won back-to-back events that year, taking down the $1k NL Hold’em and the $4,000 7-Card Stud events. He then went on to beat Johnny Moss heads-up for the WSOP Main Event title.
First Woman to Win a WSOP Bracelet – Jackie McDaniel
The Ladies World Championship started all the way back in 1977 as the $100 Ladies Seven Card Stud. That year, LVPD detective Jackie McDaniel became the first woman in WSOP history to win a bracelet event.
First Main Event to Crack 100 Players – 1982 Main Event
It took until 1982 before the Main Event drew more than 100 players. The 1982 WSOP Main Event drew 104 players and the winner, Jack Straus, became immortalized because of his “Chip and a Chair” comeback.
First Woman to Win an Open Field Event – Vera Richmond
Contrary to popular belief, Barbara Enright is not the first open-field WSOP bracelet winner. Vera Richmond won the $1,000 A-5 Draw Event at the 1982 WSOP to become the first woman to win an open-field title.
According to reports, many in the game at the time refused to acknowledge that Richmond won the event due to the fact she was a woman and refused to be bullied at the table.
Richmond was independently wealthy as she was the daughter of Alfred Neiman (Neiman Marcus) and her refusal to “know her place” rubbed many the wrong way.
Regardless of how some felt at the time, history still shows Richmond as the first women’s open-field champion.
First Time Pocket Aces Was the Winning Hand in the Main Event – NEVER
Believe it or not, pocket aces have never been the winning holding in the final hand of the Main Event. Neither have pocket kings.
Stu Ungar once said to me, "Sexton, always remember this: All two Aces are good for is to win a small pot or lose a big one."— Mike Sexton (@MikeSexton_WPT) September 7, 2011
Pocket queens have twice been the holding of the Main Event champion in the final hand. Bobby Baldwin won with Queens in 1978 and Tom McEvoy won the 1983 Main Event with the same hand.
Pocket rockets have been cracked twice in the final hand of the Main Event. Bobby Hoff’s aces lost to the 7s-6d of Hal Fowler in the 1979 Main Event and Dewey Tomko had his bullets cracked by Carlos Mortensen’s Kc-Qc in the 2001 Main.
First Player to Win the Seniors Event – Jay Heimowitz
The first Seniors Championship was held back in 2001 and the legendary Jay Heimowitz took down the title for $115,430. This was Heimowitz’s sixth WSOP bracelet and he became just the second player ever to win a WSOP bracelet in four different decades.
First WSOP Millionaire
Considering the insane prizes available nowadays at the World Series of Poker, it is hard to imagine that the first WSOP millionaire wasn’t crowned until 1991.
The 1991 WSOP Main Event was the first time a WSOP event awarded at least $1 million to the winner. That year, Brad Daugherty defeated Don Holt heads-up for the title and the honor of becoming the first WSOP Millionaire.