How WSOP Main Event Final Tablists Have Subsequently Fared, Part 2

Joe Cada is the first Main Event champion who won after Carlos Mortensen to take down a second WSOP bracelet. (Drew Amato photo)

Joe Cada is the first Main Event champion who won after Carlos Mortensen to take down a second WSOP bracelet. (Drew Amato photo)

Up until a couple of weeks ago at the 2014 World Series of Poker, Main Event champions were victims of a so-called “curse”. No Main Event winner who earned their title after Carlos Mortensen was able to win a bracelet after taking down the biggest tournament in all of poker. Joe Cada was the one to break through, taking home another of poker’s esteemed titles in the $10,000 Six Max No Limit Hold’em Championship. It got us thinking – how do Main Event champions – or better yet everyone who makes that most prestigious final nine – fare after their once-in-a-lifetime run?

Part one looked at the results of the Moneymaker era and the first couple of boom years that followed. In the second of a three-part series, BLUFF breaks down the numbers that the top nine players in four of the biggest WSOP Main Event fields in history have put up in the last eight years.


Player Career Earnings Career WSOP Earnings WSOP Earnings Since Final Table Overall Earnings Since Final Table Total Bracelets Bracelets Since Final Table
Jamie Gold $12,163,196 $12,073,694 $73,694 $139,118 1 0
Paul Wasicka $7,943,538 $6,304,388 $137,452 $1,604,262 0 0
Michael Binger $6,946,833 $5,135,341 $910,461 $2,718,338 0 0
Allen Cunningham $10,467,575 $7,087,622 $1,089,762 $2,348,090 5 1
Rhett Butler $3,367,469 $3,221,237 $5,005 $151,237 0 0
Richard Lee $3,012,404 $2,863,926 $60,075 $205,733 0 0
Doug Kim $2,563,065 $2,406,181 $5,381 $154,229 0 0
Erik Friberg $2,619,499 $2,465,984 $486,795 $639,203 0 0
Dan Nassif $1,568,118 $1,566,858 $0 $1,260 0 0

Jamie Gold won the biggest prize in WSOP Main Event history in 2006, which was the biggest tournament payday ever until Antonio Esfandiari won the Big One for One Drop in 2012. He’d eventually have to split that prize in half with Crispin Leyser, and the subsequent years have not featured any comparable results for Gold. The second-largest cash of Gold’s career came in the 2007 WSOP Europe Main Event, where he got $55,161 for finishing 35th.

– The only player from this group to earn over $1 million since making this final table is Allen Cunningham. He stands out for a number of reasons; Cunningham has the only bracelet win among these nine players since the 2006 WSOP Main Event final table, and his five bracelets are the only ones this group has except for Gold’s Main Event win. Unsurprisingly, his career earnings, career WSOP earnings and overall earnings since 2006 put him second in every category.

Paul Wasicka and Michael Binger have each had significant success since this final table too. Binger’s $2.7 million in tournament earnings is the most among these nine players since 2006, with Wasicka sitting third at $1.6 million. Binger’s predominantly had his success in side events and he’s been very consistent, with 35 final tables, six wins and 73 overall live cashes for his career. Wasicka’s biggest windfalls came from winning the 2007 National Heads Up Poker Championship and finishing fourth in the 2007 LA Poker Classic.

– Every player has had at least six figures worth of live results since 2006 except for ninth place finisher Dan Nassif. His only other recorded live tournament cash came in 2011, when he finished 25th in a WSOPC ring event at Harrahs St. Louis.


Player Career Earnings Career WSOP Earnings WSOP Earnings Since Final Table Overall Earnings Since Final Table Total Bracelets Bracelets Since Final Table
Jerry Yang $8,419,979 $8,279,515 $44,548 $185,012 1 0
Tuan Lam $4,851,424 $4,851,424 $0 $0 0 0
Raymond Rahme $3,235,164 $3,091,235 $43,210 $187,139 0 0
Alex Kravchenko $3,861,527 $2,737,163 $605,598 $1,660,355 1 0
Jon Kalmar $1,617,877 $1,347,019 $0 $258,321 0 0
Hevad Khan $2,527,090 $1,046,701 $70,203 $1,546,962 0 0
Lee Childs $1,551,188 $899,085 $193,856 $845,959 0 0
Lee Watkinson $4,121,114 $2,162,981 $294,097 $880,547 1 0
Philip Hilm $647,684 $532,864 $0 $0 0 0

Jerry Yang is one of eight WSOP Main Event champions to earn over $8 million for their victory, but like Gold before him success has been hard to find at the tables since his victory in the biggest tournament in the world. Aside from a quarterfinals appearance in the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship and a fourth place finish in a $1,000 Venetian Deep Stack event – both of which came in 2010 – Yang has very little in terms of significant results.

– In terms of WSOP bracelets, one of the biggest measuring sticks of success in poker, the 2008 final table is severely lacking. None of the players who made the 2007 Main Event final table have won a bracelet in the seven years that have followed, and only Alex Kravchenko and Lee Watkinson had one going into that final table.

– Two different players have struck out completely since making this final table. Few have seen hide nor hair of Tuan Lam since he earned over $4.8 million for his second place finish, and he hasn’t had a single tournament result, WSOP or otherwise, since 2007. Philip Hilm, who went from chipleader to start the final table to out in ninth, has since transitioned into working in real estate.

– Kravchenko and Hevad Khan have had the most success since 2007, earning $1.66 million and $1.54 million, respectively. The majority of Kravchenko’s best results have come in Europe, though he did finish second to another player who made the Main Event final table in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud event at the 2014 WSOP. Khan took home $1 million and the victory in the Caesars Palace Classic Main Event in October 2008.

– This was the final year in which the Main Event final table was played out during the summer.


Player Career Earnings Career WSOP Earnings WSOP Earnings Since Final Table Overall Earnings Since Final Table Total Bracelets Bracelets Since Final Table
Peter Eastgate $11,027,223 $9,430,506 $278,090 $1,790,461 1 0
Ivan Demidov $6,699,192 $6,501,745 $652,296 $849,743 0 0
Dennis Phillips $5,734,950 $5,734,950 $733,699 $1,212,599 0 0
Ylon Schwartz $4,897,188 $4,643,874 $744,320 $869,530 1 1
Scott Montgomery $4,354,116 $3,794,565 $623,997 $886,788 1 1
Darus Suharto $2,532,977 $2,480,243 $35,292 $88,046 0 0
David Rheem $7,174,215 $2,509,839 $262,346 $4,804,517 0 0
Kelly Kim $1,863,996 $1,380,108 $53,141 $302,973 0 0
Craig Marquis $991,376 $976,376 $39,947 $54,947 0 0

– The first edition of the November Nine produced one of the most consistently successful final tables in recent memory. Peter Eastgate won $9.1 million along with the most coveted bracelet in poker, the second largest payout in Main Event history, and he’s had some of the most consistent success post-Main Event victory among recent winners. He won a $5,000 PCA side event in early 2009 and finished second in the EPT London Main Event in October of that year. Despite several periods of retirement in subsequent years, Eastgate also managed a fourth place finish in a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event.

– Nobody had a WSOP bracelet going into the 2008 WSOP Main Event final table, but two others have joined Eastgate in the winner’s circle in the last six years. Ylon Schwartz and Scott Montgomery each have a bracelet now, along with over $850,000 apiece in post-Main Event final table results.

Chino Rheem has far and away the best results of these nine players since finishing seventh. He has three wins that were each worth at least $1 million, starting with a WPT victory at the Five Diamond Poker Classic just a month after the WSOP Main Event final table. Rheem also won the first ever Epic Poker League Main Event and a second WPT title in the Five Star Poker Classic in 2013.

– Dennis Phillips joins Eastgate and Rheem with over $1 million in results since making this final table. On the opposite end of the spectrum, only three of these players have failed to crack the $100,000 mark in WSOP results since 2008 – Darus Suharto, Kelly Kim and Craig Marquis. Only Suharto and Marquis have less than $100,000 in overall results in that time.


Player Career Earnings Career WSOP Earnings WSOP Earnings Since Final Table Overall Earnings Since Final Table Total Bracelets Bracelets Since Final Table
Joe Cada $10,290,318 $9,947,067 $1,371,809 $1,715,669 2 1
Darvin Moon $5,209,743 $5,182,927 $0 $27,142 0 0
Antoine Saout $4,154,985 $3,679,179 $199,510 $675,500 0 0
Eric Buchman $4,193,814 $3,745,252 $712,803 $798,793 2 2
Jeff Shulman $3,249,911 $2,405,481 $162,478 $166,163 0 0
Steve Begleiter $1,626,373 $1,587,160 $0 $39,240 0 0
Phil Ivey $19,500,952 $5,966,042 $1,098,036 $8,772,804 9 2
Kevin Schaeffel $1,967,902 $1,391,662 $59,265 $559,013 0 0
James Akenhead $2,726,412 $1,995,442 $205,996 $815,271 0 0

Joe Cada, the impetus for this series, stands with Eastgate, Joe Hachem and Greg Raymer among an elite class of Main Event winnerswho have had continued success in the years to follow. Cada finished second in a WSOP $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event in 2012, and fourth in another massive $1,500 No Limit Hold’em field in 2013. After those close calls and several others, Cada broke through for his second career bracelet in one of the biggest tournaments at the 2014 WSOP – the $10,000 Six Max No Limit Hold’em Championship.

– Only one player from the 2009 WSOP Main Event final table has enjoyed more success than Cada, a guy you might have heard of by the name of Phil Ivey. Ivey’s earned $8.77 million in the last five years, buoyed by a couple of High Roller wins at the Aussie Millions. He’s also knocking on the door of $20 million in career tournament earnings, and Ivey’s also added two WSOP bracelets.

– Aside from Ivey and Cada’s WSOP wins, two other bracelets have been won by the second edition of the November Nine. Both of them have come from Eric Buchman. The first came in 2010, when he won the $2,000 Limit Hold’em event, and the second happened just a day after Cada’s victory at the 2014 WSOP. Buchman’s second bracelet was earned in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud event, where Buchman beat Kravchenko heads-up.

– Only two players have failed to clear $100,000 in overall tournament earnings since making the 2009 WSOP Main Event final table, and both of them have failed to cash at the WSOP since. Darvin Moon’s best result in that time was an eighth place finish in the 2013 Empire State Hold’em Championship Main Event for $13,946. Steve Begleiter

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Tim Fiorvanti

Tim Fiorvanti graduated from St. John's University with a B.S. in Journalism in 2008. After several years in the industry, he started working for BLUFF in the summer of 2010. He worked his way up at BLUFF and joined full time as a Senior Writer in April of 2012. Fiorvanti now serves as the Managing Editor of BLUFF. He's a tortured Mets and Jets fan, along with several other frustrating allegiances, but he's also a two-time defending BLUFF Fantasy Football Champion.
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