A look at the WSOP winners from the Internet era

With the rise of online poker in the early 2000’s it was only a matter of time before an online qualifier captured the Main Event title, and in 2003 that is precisely what happened, with Chris Moneymaker’s win bringing even more people to the world of online poker and in turn to the WSOP.

I call this era, from 2003 through today, the Internet Era, and in this article I will take a look at the WSOP Champions from these years and discuss their contributions to the world of poker.

  • 2003: Chris Moneymaker (USA) $2,500,000

Chris Moneymaker’s improbable run to the 2003 WSOP Main Event title will forever be recorded as one of the most important moments in poker history. Although he catches a lot of grief from the poker forums (like Greg Raymer) he has proven to be not only a competent poker player, but also a true gentleman at the tables. His contributions to poker are practically immeasurable.

In the course of his career Chris Moneymaker has won nearly $3.5 million, and has gone on to finish second in the 2011 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship, as well as a second-place finish in the 2004 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars Championship.

  • 2004: Greg Raymer (USA) $5,000,000

Greg Raymer may not be amongst the most skillful poker players to win the WSOP Main Event, but he has used his 2004win to help the cause of poker players around the world, as one of the biggest advocates of legal online poker.

Raymer’s role in the fight for online poker rights, as well as his personality and demeanor, has made ‘The Fossilman’ one of the most respected people in poker. When you consider the over $2 million Raymer has accrued since the 2004 WSOP (over $7 million total) he can also silence his critics who debate his overall poker talent.

  • 2005: Joseph Hachem (Australia) $7,500,000

Hachem is by far the most successful WSOP Champion from the Internet era thus far. The Australian also ushered in the boisterous cheering sections that now dominate the WSOP tournament area, bringing his contingent of rambunctious Aussies along for his WSOP run.

Hachem helped poker go International with his win, and has been a driving force in the now-massive Aussie poker market. Hachem is one of the winningest players in poker history with over $11 million in career tournament earnings, and is one of only a handful of people to win both the WSOP Main Event and a WPT title.

  • 2006: Jamie Gold (USA) $12,000,000

Jamie Gold may very well go down as the second most controversial Main Event Champion history (he can thank Russ Hamilton’s association with the Ultimate Bet Super User scandal for keeping him out of the #1 spot). Gold used a tremendous run of cards, along with some controversial table talk to run over the WSOP field nearly start to finish.

As the winner of the biggest prize in poker history Gold’s place in poker lore is all but cemented, but his poker abilities have been suspect throughout, something his $200,000 in winnings for his career (not including the $12 million he won at the 2006 WSOP) allude to.

  • 2007: Jerry Yang (USA) $8,250,000

Jerry Yang went into the 2007 final table with little fanfare, but the eventual champion caught an incredible run of cards right off the bat, and coupled with an excellent game-plan that saw the amateur over-betting and using his huge chip-stack as a weapon, Yang went on to become perhaps the most improbable WSOP Champion since Hal Fowler back in 1979!

Yang is one of the most likable people in poker, and although plays a very limited tournament schedule he does participate in poker tournaments and even tried dedicating himself to improving a couple of years ago, but he has managed only a handful of cashes other than his one big win.

  • 2008: Peter Eastgate (Denmark) $9,152,416

At the time of his win Eastgate was the youngest Main Event Champion in WSOP history (a record now held by Joe Cada) and looked to be ready to take on the poker world. Eastgate went on to have some very good results following his 2008 WSOP win, but in the midst of it all he decided to retire from poker! Eastgate would later return to poker (but not before selling his 2008 WSOP Championship bracelet on eBay) but hasn’t been able to reassert himself as a major force in the tournament poker world.

The year following his big win, Eastgate won a PCA side-event and finished second in the EPT London Main Event. Since then (including the time of his abrupt retirement) he hasn’t been able to get back on the big stage of a major poker tournament.

  • 2009: Joe Cada (USA) $8,547,042

Cada became the youngest Main event champion in the history of poker in 2009, besting his immediate predecessor, 2008 champ Peter Eastgate. Considered by many to be among the “luckiest” people to win the coveted title, Cada has yet to replicate even a fraction of his WSOP success, but considering he is still very, very young, there is still plenty of room for growth.

Until Cada dismisses his critics with some strong showings, he did win a side event at the 2012 PCA for $175k, he will unfortunately be burdened with the moniker of “Luckbox”.

  • 2010: Jonathan Duhamel (Canada) $8,944,310

With just over a year of poker under his belt since his WSOP win Duhamel has already proven more successful than most of his immediate predecessors, especially after booking more than $1.2 million in winnings at the 2012  PokerStars PCA. Even though he won the WSOP in late 2010 Duhamel appears the only player capable of overtaking Joe Hachem for the title of best WSOP Champion of the Internet era.


The Canadian has also embraced his role of poker spokesman, and has been working hand-in-hand with fellow Canadian and poker enthusiast, billionaire Guy Laliberte, to hype Laliberte’s charity One Drop.

  • 2011: Pius Heinz (Germany) $8,715,638

The young German came to the final table of the 2011 WSOP Main Event as one of the biggest long-shots left in the field, but after a couple of key hands swelled his chip-stack early-on people realized he was for real, and ready to play!

There is no telling at this point what type of poker pro Heinz will become, but looking at his play at the WSOP Main Event in a vacuum has left many poker experts feeling that Heinz will be at the forefront of the tournament poker world for years to come.


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