Untold WSOP stories

1) Christian Pham – becoming a champion by accident!

After an inconceivable string of unlikely events, 40-year-old, Vietnamese-born pro, Christian Pham, won the WSOP Event #23, a $1,500 buy-in, 2-7 Lowball tournament, even though he’d mistakenly registered and didn’t even know the rules. When Pham first took his seat on Day 1, he was expecting to play his usual game (No Limit Hold’em), but, to his horror, the cards were being dealt in a fashion he’d never seen before. “They had started dealing already, so I couldn’t do anything”, Pham told the WSOP. “If they hadn’t started, I would’ve asked to be unregistered.” However, after quickly accepting his cruel fate, knuckling down, and paying close attention to what other players were doing around him, he managed to win the event.

Christian Pham (Photo WSOP)

Poker is all about skill… or not

2) First year of WSOP – Winning the title by a vote, not by the cards.

The idea was first born in 1949 when Benny Binion organized a poker marathon between Nicholas “Nick the Greek” Dandolos and Johnny Moss. The marathon lasted 5 months. Amazed by the broad attention it received from audiences and the media, Benny developed the idea of hosting more poker tournaments. However, it wasn’t until 1970 that Binion decided to re-create this excitement and stage a battle of poker giants, which was dubbed the “World Series Of Poker”. Some of the best players in the country were assembled, though the first WSOP had just 7 attendees. In order to determine who was worthy to carry the title of “World Champion”, they set up a democratic vote in which the players elected who would become the world champion instead of letting the cards decide based on who was the last man standing. Johnny Moss received the fortune and became the first WSOP champion.

First WSOP
Johnny Moss is the First WSOP Champion


3) Tom “durrrr” Dwan almost bankrupted Poker’s Elite

It was the second Friday of the WSOP 2010, when some $1,500 no-limit hold’em event on the second Friday of the Series turned out to be the most momentous event in WSOP history.

Rumors were spreading that if Dwan captured a gold bracelet, he would win $9.12 million USD in side bets.

He stated in an interview that if he won the bracelet, it would be his largest one-day win ever. Plenty of pros were betting at odds of 3,25-1 that Dwan would not win a bracelet. Phil Ivey was the main contributor, standing to lose $3 million if he ships it.

Other pros involved included Daniel Negreanu, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, Sorel Mizzi, Eli Elezra, and Huck Seed.

Tom Dwan made it to the final table, and everyone became seriously concerned about losing their money. They were all hectically running up and down as if they were waiting for the restroom queue to vanish but had gotten too excited watching what was going on at the table. Seed got so excited that he sold his $100,000 to Elezra for $85,000. Matusow took it with humor and yelled out: “Does anyone in poker have any money left if Durrrr wins that tournament? I know I don’t!” All their hands were sweaty, and the tension was rising as he went heads-up. But the emotionally charged situation turned into relief when Dwan lost his last hand, finishing 2nd.

All the pros, full of joy like 8-year-olds on Christmas evening, sprung up from their chairs in order to witness the event. Then, they ran around, cheering and embracing each other, not so much pleased about having won the bet, but rather about not having lost such vast amounts of money.

More in video: The day that Tom Dwan Almost Bankrupted Poker’s Elite 

4) Dan Colman’s peculiar reaction to winning the one-drop event

What adjective would you associate with the facial expression of Dan Colman when he won the one-drop event–the biggest event of the WSOP series with a buy-in of $1 million?

Would you even think that he’d actually won it? In isolation, you might think his expression was registering disappointment, sorrow, sadness, desperation, or resignation, possibly even anger, but it was definitely not the typical facial expression of someone who just won $15 million. There was no sign of happiness or cheering or the normal behavior you’d expect from someone who had just won that much money.

One reason is that he was totally overwhelmed and didn’t realize what had happened; thus, he was acting with the emotions of a statue.

Colman rejected all media requests for interviews. He was called a petulant child for doing so. Later, he gave a brief interview to ESPN in which he talked about the negative aspects of being a poker pro, and it became clear why he acted as he did. He said: “As for promoting myself, I feel that individual achievements should rarely be celebrated. I am not going to take part in it for others, and I wouldn’t want it for myself.”

More in Video: The day that Daniel Colman Won $15m and Shocked the Poker World 


5) From a football bet to the WSOP to winning big

The 24-year-old from Oslo, Felix Stephensen, is a top-notch football player and a cash game specialist who made it to the November 9 table at the WSOP 2014.

Most people who attend the WSOP consciously plan their trip to Vegas a few months in advance. But the way Felix came to the WSOP was totally different. He didn’t have any intentions of going to the WSOP. He was hanging out in London with a friend, and they decided to make a $1000 bet on Australia winning 3-2 against the Netherlands in the World Cup.

Even after reading this, most people would consider this guy to be insane just for making such a ridiculous bet, assuming Australia would win over the favourite team from the Netherlands. And why 3-2, and why the hell bet $1000? But his “insanity” and will to gamble got him and his friend $60,000 each. So, what to do with $60.000? “Let’s go to Vegas and play the Main Event.” “Good idea!” his friend must have agreed.

So, they packed their bags and headed to Vegas, and although he didn’t win on November 9, cashing out at least $1,000,000 is still staggering. He came heads-up against Mark Jacobson from Sweden and finished in 2nd place for $5,145,968. Is this all still coincidence?


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Louis Hartwell

Graduated in Media Communication at the University of Lausanne, Louis Hartman is a co-founder of He began his career in Cambodia as freelance journalist. In same time he was making his living by playing poker every night at that time. Intense learner, he read dozens of poker strategy books to improve his skills during many years. With a strong interest about poker "behind the scene" in Asia and his communication skills, Louis launched Somuchpoker in 2014.

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