History of the World Series of Poker – 2006 in Review

The 2006 World Series of Poker was the defining moment in the long and rich chronicle of the WSOP. Not only did the final table move lock, stock and barrel to the new venue, but the $12 million first prize broke all records as the richest accolade in the history of sports.

Jamie Gold was the ecstatic recipient of the cash prize but he was not the only player to be richly rewarded – the last twelve players remaining standing at the Main Event, which lasted for a nerve shattering two weeks, all became instant millionaires!

WSOP Transformed

For the first time, the culmination of the main event, the famed final table, took place at the newly designated venue, the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino, which had auspiciously taken over from Binion’s Horseshoe in 2005.

But this was not the only major change to the hugely popular Series – the fabled $50 000 H.O.R.S.E event was also launched at the 37th edition of the WSOP, appeasing the professionals who had complained that the WSOP was literally been ‘mobbed’ by rank amateurs and that a richer and more difficult event should be introduced to truly test the skill and ability of the top poker players in the world. David Reese became the inaugural H.O.R.S.E title holder and pocketed over $1.7 million for his efforts!

The first event of its kind, however, did not go off without controversy – several players noted that the cards were either marked or could easily be marked, but when they tried to have the cards changed for a second time the dealer flatly refused! WSOP Commissioner, Jeffrey Pollack soon stepped in to ally all fears and said he would find a solution.

Player of the Year

It really was a toss up between two extremely accomplished players – Phil Hellmuth, WSOP’s leading bracelet winner and co-owner, together with Humberto Brenes, of the most cashes in a single tournament with eight – and Jeff Madsen, winner of two events who made it to two further final tables at the 2006 WSOP. Madsen walked off with the kudos but only just!

Notable Casualties

Strangely enough, many acclaimed poker stars crashed out of the main event as early as day one and they included Scotty Nguyen, Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson, Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth while online qualifier and the surprise winner of the 2003 main event, Chris Moneymaker fell by the wayside by the end of day two!