Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fifteen Years of Multiple Bracelet Winners

In 1999, Eli Balas won his second of three career World Series of Poker bracelets in that year’s $5,000 limit hold’em event. Balas topped a field of 110 to win, including besting Annie Duke heads-up on Mother’s Day. In fact, according to Conjelco’s report on the event, Balas had at one point been down to just 500 chips at a time when that represented less than one big bet, but had come back to win.

That report says the finish represented Balas’s first bracelet win, although in fact the Israeli-born Las Vegas resident had won one seven years before in an Omaha Hi-Low event. It also says his best finish prior to that was a third-place showing, but earlier in that year’s WSOP he’d come runner-up in the $2,500 seven-card stud event to David Grey.

In other words, Balas just missed being a multiple-bracelet winner in 1999, something no player accomplished that spring when only 16 events were contested.

I was reading about Balas last night. I had been looking up when the last time there had been a WSOP without at least one player winning multiple bracelets, and I was kind of surprised to have to go all of the way back to 1999 to find the most recent instance.

Here are the multiple bracelet winners from 2000-onward:

  • 2000: Chris Ferguson (2)
  • 2001: Scotty Nguyen (2), Nani Dollison (2)
  • 2002: Phil Ivey (3), Layne Flack (2)
  • 2003: John Juanda (2), Johnny Chan (2), Layne Flack (2), Men Nguyen (2), Phil Hellmuth (2), Chris Ferguson (2)
  • 2004: Ted Forrest (2), Scott Fischman (2)
  • 2005: Mark Seif (2)
  • 2006: Bill Chen (2), Jeff Madsen (2)
  • 2007: Tom Schneider (2)
  • 2008: John Phan (2), Jesper Hougaard (2)
  • 2009: Jeffrey Lisandro (3), Brock Parker (2), Phil Ivey (2), Greg Mueller (2), J.P. Kelly (2)
  • 2010: Frank Kassela (2)
  • 2011: Brian Rast (2)
  • 2012: Antonio Esfandiari (2), Phil Hellmuth (2), Greg Merson (2)
  • 2013: Daniel Negreanu (2), Tom Schneider (2)
  • 2014: George Danzer (2), Dominik Nitsche (2)
  • I was just writing about that huge collection of multiple bracelet winners in 2003 a few weeks back after Joe Cada won his bracelet this summer, making him the first of the last 12 ME winners (going back to 2002) to follow the ME triumph with another bracelet win.

    Worth noting from this list is how Hougaard (2008), Kelly (2009), Esfandiari (2012), Hellmuth (2012), and Negreanu (2013) all won one bracelet at the WSOP in Las Vegas and another either at WSOP Europe or WSOP Asia Pacific. Also, I should say that after I initially compiled this list Kevmath reminded me about Dominik Nitsche being a multiple-bracelet winner this summer, too, after following his WSOP National Championship win (for which he earned a bracelet) with another victory in a $1K NLHE event.

    Even without counting those guys, though, there has been at least one player every year to pick up at least two bracelets in Vegas since 2000.

    Feels like kind of an improbable streak, doesn’t it? Fifteen straight years? Sure, there were 65 events this summer (64 of which have completed), but back in 2000 there were just 24 (albeit with much smaller fields, too). Seems remarkable, and not unrelated to that “same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker every year” discussion from yesterday.

    Wouldn’t really know how to begin to work out the probability of such a streak to occur -- if anyone is inspired to do so, I’d be curious to know.

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    Blogger Unknown said...

    I wrote about why this happens this year

    7/16/2014 5:11 PM  
    Blogger THETA Poker said...

    Chris Ferguson (missing from the 2003 section, although he's in your other article) is one of five players who made this list twice (along with Flack, Hellmuth, Ivey, and Schneider).

    7/17/2014 12:47 AM  
    Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

    Thanks, THETA! (I added.) From this list I know also that Forrest had multiple-bracelet years more than once, having won three in 1993.

    That, too, seems on the surface to be remarkable -- that so many players have done the double (or triple) twice. Then again, I suspect that if the probabilities were worked out, we'd discover it wasn't all that remarkable at all, perhaps even to be expected.

    7/17/2014 9:03 AM  
    Blogger THETA Poker said...

    Men Nguyen (two in 1995) goes with Forrest.

    Hellmuth is the only player to double-bracelet three times (also three in 1993).

    Because the number of events was much smaller in the past, the complete list of double-doublers only contains two other players: Doyle Brunson (two each in 1976 and 1977) and Gary "Bones" Berland (two each in 1978 and 1979, remarkably in consecutive events both times; see

    7/17/2014 4:47 PM  

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