Friday, November 01, 2013

When the WSOP Main Event Experienced a Remarkable Turn

Have been knee-deep in World Series of Poker Main Event history this week, sorting through the first 43 years of the WSOP while looking ahead to the completion of the 2013 edition coming on Monday and Tuesday.

On Learn.PokerNews I spent a good amount of time this week piecing together a decade-by-decade review of the WSOP Main Event, trying as I did to cover most of the essential points along the way while also perhaps presenting a few ideas and anecdotes that don’t always get included in these sorts of digests.

One moment from the history that stands out for me is Hal Fowler’s remarkable win in the 1979 WSOP Main Event in which he bested Bobby Hoff (who recently passed in August), the first truly surprising finish to the WSOP Main Event insofar as it featured an amateur taking the title, not to mention experiencing some serious good fortune heads-up versus a favored pro -- from Texas, no less -- to do so. Kind of an early, significant turning point in WSOP history, that.

About five years ago I wrote a post here regarding some of the coverage of that Main Event, focusing in particular on an article appearing in Gambling Times magazine in which John Hill provided an extended report on how that year’s WSOP played out. Click and read, if interested, and also check out how the author himself came around to comment on the post a few months after it appeared.

I say that Fowler had the cards go his way versus Hoff. The last hand in particular -- one I didn’t find a place for in my already lengthy post about the 1970s -- was quite something, featuring Fowler hitting an inside straight on the turn to crack Hoff’s aces and win.

One neat thing about all of this historical digging is to find just about all the extant coverage of the old WSOPs on YouTube, including the full CBS broadcast on the 1979 WSOP Main Event with Frank Glieber and Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder commentating. A nifty show that attempted to cover the entire event all of the way from 54 entrants down to the final hand.

There’s also a clip of the final hand only... take a look:

So much that was different, then. But then again, at the heart of it, it’s still the same game.

Here are those posts:

  • Learning Poker History: The WSOP Main Event, 1970-79
  • Learning Poker History: The WSOP Main Event, 1980-89
  • Learning Poker History: The WSOP Main Event, 1990-99
  • Learning Poker History: The WSOP Main Event, 2000-09
  • Learning Poker History: The WSOP Main Event, 2010-present
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