The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is like the Olympics of poker. Each year, thousands of players make the worldwide pilgrimage to Las Vegas, where the WSOP tournament is held, to compete for a chance at the grand prize and a WSOP bracelet.
A WSOP bracelet is considered the most prestigious non-monetary prize a poker player can win. Carved out of gold and ingrained with gemstones, such as rubies and diamonds, the bracelet symbolizes poker greatness. It’s like a badge of honor bestowed upon the best of the best in the game.
There is no limit to the number of bracelets a WSOP participant can win. Through the years, several poker players have secured their place in poker history by taking home multiple bracelets. Fun fact: The WSOP only started awarding gold bracelets in 1976. Before that, the winners received a trophy. But since the bracelet became the standard, all WSOP victories are counted as “bracelets,” even those before 1976.
Below, we’ll look at seven famous WSOP bracelet holders and the claims to fame that have made them the poker legends they are today.
Johnny Moss, a.k.a “The Grand Old Man of Poker”
Moss holds the distinction of winning the first-ever WSOP competition in 1970. At the time, the prize was awarded to the participant voted “best all-around player” by the tournament’s small group of contestants. The following year, the competition format changed to a freezeout with a $5,000 entry fee. Moss took home the grand prize that year, proving his poker chops and defending his title as world poker champion.
Moss went on to win several other WSOP poker championships throughout his career. He joined every WSOP tournament from 1970 to 1995 and is considered one of the WSOP all-time greats, with nine bracelets to his name.
Moss passed away in 1995 at 88, but his name and reputation live on in poker history.
Doyle Brunson, a.k.a “The Godfather of Poker”
Brunson’s claim to fame was his back-to-back victory at the WSOP final table in 1976 and 1977. And in case you were wondering, he is the inspiration behind the 10-2 poker hand, “The Brunson.” The card combination was named after him after he won the previously mentioned WSOP tournaments with those same cards.
Brunson is a ten-time WSOP bracelet winner and one of the few to have won the WSOP Main Event more than once—and in consecutive years, at that.
In addition to his impressive WSOP credentials, Brunson has also written several poker books, most notably the originally self-published Super/System, which became a sought-after poker strategy bible for a whole generation of players.
Phil Hellmuth, a.k.a “The Poker Brat”
Hellmuth currently holds the record for the most WSOP bracelets, with 16 and counting. No other player has more than 10 bracelets. He won his first in 1989 against two-time champion Johnny Chan. At 24 years old, he was the youngest person to win the WSOP Main Event—a record he held for nearly two decades.
Hellmuth also has the most cash finishes (140) and final tables (57) at the WSOP. He’s called “The Poker Brat” for his colorful outbursts and always competitive personality on the poker table. Still, there’s no denying he’s one of the greatest tournament players of all time.
Erik Seidel, a.k.a “The Silent Assassin”
With nine WSOP bracelets to his name, Seidel has equaled inaugural WSOP champion Johnny Moss’s all-time record. His first WSOP cash came in 1988 when he finished second to Johnny Chan in the tournament’s Main Event, the match made famous by the movie Rounders, which starred Matt Damon.
Unlike most poker champions, Seidel is known to have a calm demeanor during games. You rarely see him tilted or rattled at the poker table, and even when he is under pressure, he can take it in stride. This peaceful and graceful poker persona is the inspiration behind his nickname, “The Silent Assassin.”
Phil Ivey, a.k.a “The Tiger Woods of Poker”
Ivey is the second all-time highest WSOP bracelet holder with 10 under his belt. Many who have observed him play, including his peers in the industry, consider him the best all-around player in the world. He has won bracelets in various poker disciplines such as Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball, and Texas Hold ’em.
Ivey is often referred to as the “Tiger Woods of Poker” because of his young age when he first started racking up tournament wins and his general domination of the poker world. The poker champion developed a passion for the card game at a young age. In fact, he has another nickname, “No Home Jerome,” based on the fake ID he secured to play poker as a teenager in his hometown, Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Johnny Chan, a.k.a “The Orient Express”
The Chinese-American player Johnny Chan became the first foreign national to win the WSOP Main Event with his 1987 victory. He defended his title the following year, narrowly beating Erik Seidel in one of poker’s most iconic heads-up battles.
Chan relinquished his world champion title to Hellmuth, who defeated him at the 1989 Main Event. Still, he is one of a handful of WSOP participants to have won back-to-back Main Events. No other player has done it since.
Chan has 10 WSOP bracelets under his belt, tying him with Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson on the list of all-time highest bracelet wins.
Daniel Negreanu, a.k.a “Kid Poker”
GGPoker ambassador Daniel Negreanu is a six-time WSOP bracelet winner and is currently one of the biggest tournament poker winners of all time, with over $40 million in prize money. He is the only player to win the WSOP Player of the Year Award twice. The accolade is given to the WSOP participant with the most points accrued throughout the WSOP.
Throughout his poker career so far, Negreanu has made 36 final tables at the WSOP. His first WSOP cash was in 1998. This was also when he won his first WSOP bracelet. At just 24, he became the youngest player to win a bracelet in the WSOP’s history—a record he held for six years.
These champions have all made their mark on poker history and earned the respect of peers and fans worldwide for their hard work and skills. We hope their stories and achievements have inspired you to keep striving for success in your poker journey.