The Top 10 Biggest Main Event Winnings Of All Time
February 2, 2022

You may be aware that the popularity of poker increased after 2003. Since then, Main Events have attracted sizable fields, with the victors taking home enormous payouts that their predecessors could only have imagined.

In this post, we’ll examine the ten largest Main Event winnings ever. These figures can tilt the scales in your favor if you’ve been debating entering the WSOP.

  1. Jamie Gold, $12 million (2006)
    The largest one to date is still the WSOP Main Event from 2006. 8,773 runners registered for the tournament, setting a new record, and the result was by far the largest prize pool in WSOP history.

When everything was said and done, it was revealed that the winner would get $12 million!

In comparison to the previous two years, this was the first time the winner was in line to receive an eight-figure sum.

Jamie Gold won the match and the $12 million after a long, exhausting struggle on the felt.

A novice player named Gold entered the Main Event as a result of a bargain he had with a casino owner, and he then went on the run of his life to win in the largest Main Event field in history.

Gold’s triumph was clouded in some controversy since it was later discovered that he had already agreed to give one Crispin Leyser, the person who helped him get the deal, half of his Main Event earnings.

Leyser wasn’t able to keep the complete sum since in the end, Gold decided to give him an unknown sum of money.

  1. Martin Jacobson, $10 million (2014)
    The payout for the Main Event winner often corresponds directly to the total number of buy-ins. The larger the prize, the more entries there are.

Nevertheless, Martin Jacobson was able to collect $10 million for his victory in 2014, despite the fact that this wasn’t one of the largest Main Events ever.

In order to conduct a little experiment, the organizers promised the winner a payout of $10 million regardless of the size of the entire prize pool that year.

This was excellent for the winner of the bracelet, but not so good for the runner-up and other competitors who reached the final table.

While Felix Stephensen, a fellow professional who placed second, received “just” $5.1 million, Jacobson earned $10 million.

The players didn’t take kindly to this because it was by far the greatest difference between first and second place in the Main Events. Thus, the WSOP gave up on the concept.

To make matters worse, Stephensen was required to pay more than 50% in taxes on his gains.

Jacobson’s payment was ultimately four times larger since he was a UK resident and didn’t have to pay any taxes.

  1. Hossein Ensan, $10 million (2019)
    Despite a significant increase in the Main Event in 2006, it turned out to be a bit of an anomaly.

Prize pools failed to approach the 2006 record in the years that followed. In fact, it wouldn’t even come close to another Main Event until 2019.

8,569 gamers traveled to Las Vegas in 2019 in search of fame and money, coming very close to breaking the previous record. The prize pool was above $80.5 million even though it didn’t materialize, and $10 million of it was designated for the victor.

This time, Lady Luck favored Hossein Ensan, a German player of Iranian descent whose rather daring and unconventional playing style confused and confounded his rivals.

Ensan secured what is by far the biggest triumph of his poker career.

4. Peter Eastgate, $9,152,416 (2008)

In WSOP history, the 2008 Main Event was a pivotal event.

The tournament did not play down to the victor for the first time ever. The final table play was instead postponed until November, when participants would return to Rio to continue playing until a victor was determined.

Before organizers reverted to the previous procedure, the idea, which became known as the “November Nine,” persisted for a long time.

Coincidentally, this was the year when the Main Event winner received the reward with the fourth-largest value.

The top nine players returned to compete for the enormous first-place prize of more than $9.1 million. Peter Eastgate, a Danish player, ended up holding the majority of the chips.

Although Eastgate wasn’t the youngest Main Event winner ever at the time, he did surpass the previous record for the largest Main Event triumph.

However, that record didn’t stand for long, since it was surpassed the next year.

8. Jonathan Duhamel, 944,310 dollars (2010)
7,319 players traveled to Las Vegas in 2010 to compete in the Main Event. Up to that moment, it had the second-largest tournament field in the event’s history, and it remained in that position until 2018.

The victor only received the fifth-largest reward in history, despite the massive field and over $69 million in total prize money.

After outlasting every other hopeful participant in the competition, Canadian professional Jonathan Duhamel was awarded the win and the coveted bracelet.

Duhamel got $8,944,310 for his work. Additionally, he managed to win his first of three WSOP bracelets with this one.

The Canadian’s Main Event bracelet was taken during a house invasion in 2011.

A street sweeper ultimately returned it to him, but it was in terrible shape and had a lot of missing pieces.

Fortunately, the burglars only managed to take $150,000 in cash from his residence; half of that sum was recovered when the police apprehended the offenders.

  1. John Cynn, $8.8 million (2018)
    The Main Event from 2010 lost its ranking as the second-biggest only in 2018. 7,874 participants paid a total of $10,000, creating a prize pool of almost $74 million that year.

Numbers were increasing and surpassing the 7,221 figure from the previous year, marking a significant occasion in the history of the World Series of Poker.

As is customary, the winner received a sizable portion of the total reward money.

This time, it was an attractive $8.8 million figure. Although it might not have been the largest Main Event payout in history, the sum was unquestionably significant.

The 2009 Main Event champion Joe Cada, who was in a terrific position to win the second ME bracelet, was, interestingly enough, one of the players at the final table.

This did not occur, however, as he was ultimately placed fifth and awarded a $2.1 million consolation prize.

John Cynn, a poker professional from the US, won the title, the honor, and the $8.8 million. His previous largest cash win was $650,000 for placing 11th in the 2016 Main Event.

  1. Pius Heinz, $8,711,956 (2011)
    There are a lot of great players from Germany, but the nation didn’t produce a Main Event champion until 2011.

The young professional Pius Heinz, who was born in 1989, outlasted the field of 6,868 runners and won more than $8.7 million for his feat.

It’s interesting to note that Heinz has never been a big fan of live poker.

He developed his poker abilities through online gaming since he regarded live play to be just too sluggish and dull. Even so, he made the decision to join Day 1A of the 2011 Main Event with the intention of finishing it swiftly and leaving.

He had no idea that Lady Luck had completely other intentions for him. He was the one holding all the chips and posing with the winners for the media after several days of play.

Despite his enormous success, it doesn’t appear like his strategy for live competitions has altered much.

Since winning the Main Event, Heinz has only made a few cash games, bringing his total live tournament wins (including the ME) to just shy of $9 million.

  1. Joe Cada, $8,547,042 (2009)
    The youngest Main Event champion in the competition’s history was Peter Eastgate in 2008. When he won, he was only 22. Phil Hellmuth had previously held the record.

Eastgate’s record was beaten the very following year, in contrast to Hellmuth, who was able to celebrate his success for over two decades.

When Joe Cada competed in the 2009 Main Event, he was only 21 years old and playing for the first time legally. The majority of US casinos have a 21-year-old minimum age requirement for gambling, which also applies to the World Series.

6,494 participants contributed to the $61 million prize pool that year, with more than $8.5 million put aside for the victor. In the end, Cada emerged victorious, taking home the huge prize, and becoming the Main Event’s youngest champion.

This was not the only thing that made the final table memorable, though.

A close second The tournament was buzzing with rumors about Darvin Moon. His background was comparable to Chris Moneymaker’s, and many people thought that if he were to succeed, it would lead to another poker boom.

Moon took home over $5.2 million for finishing in second place, but there was no significant increase in participants after that.

The second intriguing tale included Phil Ivey, one of the top poker players in the world who has yet to succeed in the Main Event.

Ivey reached the final table that year, and millions of people all across the world were hoping he would win.

Ivey’s luck didn’t quite work out, as he was eliminated in the seventh round when his AK couldn’t hold up against Moon’s AQ.

9. Greg Merson, $527,982 (2012)
The statistics for the 2012 Main Event were pretty comparable to those from 2009. Although there were a little bit more submissions (6,598), the winner’s actual reward was a little bit less.

In return for his efforts, Greg Merson received $8,527,982 and was declared the winner.

Merson was a rising star who began by playing real money internet games.

He did, however, have a very successful year in 2012 as he managed to take home the $10,000 6-max Championship triumph and another WSOP bracelet.

He also won the coveted honor of Player of the Year as a consequence of this and other wins during the Series.

Merson had to battle numerous inner issues despite his success on the court. He developed a heroin addiction when he was 17 years old, and his struggle with addiction was protracted and difficult.

He claims that in December of 2011, only a few months before his outstanding performance at the 2012 World Series of Poker, he finally overcome it.

  1. Ryan Riess, $8,359,531 (2013)
    The 2013 Main Event, won by Ryan “The Beast” Riess, brings this list of the largest Main Event wins to a close.

Riess, a 1990-born player, beat out 6,352 other competitors to win the championship at age 23.

The man with the odd nickname had never played live poker seriously prior to this year.

He definitely got things going in the right direction, as his victory brought in $8,359,531. In the years that followed, Riess continued to compete, and his total live tournament wins are at slightly over $15 million.