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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

WSOP champs start famous but have faded out

26 July 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The countdown toward crowning the next World Series of Poker champion has begun.

By the early morning hours of Nov. 9, when the final hand is dealt, poker fans will know all there is to know about the final of table of nine players. The champion will have outlasted a field of 7,319 in the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold 'em World Championship to earn more than $8.9 million.

Recent history, however, shows the champion will return to anonymity as fast as takes to snap on the World Series of Poker Main Event bracelet.

Seven World Series of Poker tournaments have been played since Tennessee accountant Chris Moneymaker won the title in 2003. Six Main Event champions have been crowned (not counting this year's eventual winner).

Between 2003 and this year, the six players, plus Moneymaker, have cashed in (won money) a combined 31 bracelet events, less than 10 percent of all the bracelet events played during that time.

None of the seven champions has ever won another bracelet.

Among the group, Greg Raymer, the 2004 champion, has the most cashes (12). Joe Hachem, who won in 2005, has nine cashes, including second place in a 2006 event.

The rest, Moneymaker, Jamie Gold (2006), Jerry Yang (2007), Peter Eastgate (2008) and Joe Cada (2009), have a combined 10 cashes.

Cada, the youngest-ever champion who won $8.5 million a year ago, didn't place in any event this year.

Eastgate, who collected $9.15 million for his title, cashed in one event in 2009 but didn't show up for the 2010 tournament. He stayed home in Denmark, telling Oskar Garcia of The Associated Press in a Facebook exchange that he was "bored" with the game.

At 24, Eastgate is all but retired from poker.

It's not surprising.

ESPN television commentator Lon McEachern said the lack of success by former champions reminded him of comments from poker legend Doyle Brunson, who owns 10 World Series of Poker bracelets and has been involved with the tournament much of its 41-year history.

"Doyle always said, 'Come back in 20 years. If they're still here, then they are a great player,'?" McEachern said. "I take Doyle at his word."

This year's Main Event final table is relatively unknown, other than Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, of North Miami Beach, Fla. The 29-year-old gambler owns one World Series of Poker bracelet and nearly $2.6 million in career tournament earnings.

Time will tell if the next champion is the next Eastgate.
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