In light of Noah Schwartz’s first bracelet victory this week at the 2013 World Series of Poker Europe, BLUFF decided to revisit the topic of best players without a WSOP bracelet.
This breakdown takes a look at two separate lists – most cashes at the WSOP without a bracelet, and highest career tournament earnings without a bracelet, each of which has several compelling candidates. There are two former BLUFF Players of the Year, and a number of players who have gotten down to heads-up play only to be denied in the final moments.
Most Career Cashes at the World Series of Poker Without a WSOP Bracelet
1. Tony Cousineau – 58
Cousineau has earned a reputation for being to squeeze the most out of a short stack, and that’s a big part of the reason he’s the top player on this particular list. He hasn’t, to this point, been a strong closer at the WSOP with a fourth place finish standing as Cousineau’s best result to date.
2. Tom McCormick – 45
3. Chad Brown – 38
Brown has been on the precipice of a bracelet three times, getting heads-up for the hardware in three different games. The 2006 BLUFF Player of the Year also has to third places finishes at the WSOP, and with the addition of his placement on this list, he’s a strong candidate for best player without a bracelet.
T-4. Marco Traniello – 37
T-4. Victor Ramdin – 37
T-6. Shawn Buchanan – 35
Buchanan has had his heart broken in several of the biggest tournaments that the WSOP has to offer over the last four years. He got heads-up for a bracelet in the $25,000 Six-Max event, arguably the most coveted No Limit Hold’em bracelet outside of the Main Event every year, only to lose to Dan Kelly. In 2011 he’d lose to Fabrice Soulier in the $10,000 HORSE, and then fell just short in the heads-up finals of the first ever Mixed-Max Event later that year against Michael Mizrachi at the WSOPE.
T-6. Yueqi Zhu – 35
T-6. David Levi – 35
T-9. Nam Le – 34
Le has the highest career tournament earnings of any player on this list, but he only has one WSOP final table to his credit since 2009, finishing seventh in a $3,000 No Limit Hold’em event at the 2013 WSOP.
T-9. Mark Gregorich – 34
T-9. Joe Tehan – 34
T-9. Lonnie Heimowitz – 34
T-9. David Plastik – 34
Highest Career Tournament Earnings Without a WSOP Bracelet
1. Sam Trickett – $19,241,651
Trickett’s second place finish in the Big One for One Drop weighs heavily, but in just 12 lifetime WSOP cashes Trickett has four final tables and a final table bubble to his credit. His opportunities for a bracelet are only restrained by a limited tournament schedule.
2. Joseph Cheong – $8,613,813
Cheong could have been defined by his memorable third place bustout from the 2010 Main Event, but he’s remained a mainstay in poker ever since. He got heads-up for a bracelet just two years later, losing in the finals of the $5,000 Mixed Max to Aubin Cazals.
3. Paul Wasicka – $7,943,538
One wonders how differently history would have played out if Wasicka had called it off with an open-ended straight flush draw on this hand and made it a three-way all in against Jamie Gold and Michael Binger. Despite a lot of promise, Wasicka hasn’t made a WSOP final table since finishing second in that tournament.
4. John Racener – $7,467,622
5. Sorel Mizzi – $7,190,639
The 2010 BLUFF Player of the Year just missed out on a bracelet in PLO events in two consecutive series, first at the 2008 WSOPE and then at the 2009 WSOP. He lost to Theo Jorgensen the first time, but his second defeat came at the hands of a largely unheralded Richard Austin.
6. Michael Binger – $6,946,833
7. Chris Klodnicki – $6,938,476
Not only has Klodnicki been heads-up for a bracelet on three separate occasions, but he made it to the final two in a couple of the most prestigious events at the WSOP over the last couple of years. Klodnicki finished second to Michael Mizrachi, who earned his second Poker Players’ Championship title in 2012, and followed it up with a defeat at the hands of Anthony Gregg in the One Drop High Roller in 2013.
8. Justin Bonomo – $6,624,364
Bonomo has completely transitioned from being a talented but troubled online pro to being a well-respected and seasoned live tournament vet. His first close call came five years ago, when Bonomo lost heads-up to Erick Lindgren after outlaasting a ridiculous final table that also featured Andrew Robl, Roland de Wolfe, Chino Rheem, Howard Lederer, David Williams, Pat Pezzin and Isaac Haxton. Bonomo’s mixed game skills have caught up to his No Limit game too, with another close call in 2011 in Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw.
9. Ivan Demidov – $6,415,700
10. Tobias Reinkemeier – $6,250,302
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