For much of the first month of the 2019 World Series of Poker, it has seemed like the bracelet races were going to those who already had one, two, or three WSOP wins on their record. And that’s great – it is further evidence that poker is a game of skill, that the best players win. But this week has been the week of the first-timer, as a slew of tournaments have been won by players earning the first WSOP bracelets of their careers.
I’m not going to get into detailed analysis of each victory – this article would be unwieldy if I did – so let’s just take a quick look at who won what:
Event #45 – $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller – Stephen Chidwick
Event #46 – $500 WSOP.com ONLINE No-Limit Hold’em Turbo Deepstack – Daniel Lupo
Event #47 – $1,000/$10,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold’em – Jiyoung Kim
Event #48 – $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em – Ari Engel
Event #49 – $10,000 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw – Luke Schwartz
Event #50 – $1,500 Monster Stack No-Limit Hold’em – Kainalu McCue-Unciano
Event #51 – $2,500 Mixed Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better, Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo 8 or Better – Yuri Dzivielevski
Event #52 – $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed – Dash Dudley
Event #53 – $800 No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack 8-Handed – Santiago Soriano
Event #54 – $1,500 Razz – Kevin Gerhart
Event #55 – $1,000 WSOP.com ONLINE No-Limit Hold’em Double Stack – Jason Gooch
Event #56 – $1,500 NL Hold’em Super Turbo Bounty – Jonas Lauck
A few of those date back to last week, but man, look at that run of first-time bracelet winners. Some of them are people most of the poker world has never heard of, whereas others, like Ari Engel and Luke Schwartz, already had established resumes.
And then there is Stephen Chidwick, who had more than $23 million in live tournament earnings before finally winning his first WSOP bracelet in the $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller event. To make it even cooler for him, this was the first WSOP event he played this summer.
“It’s super ironic,” he said in his interview with WSOP.com after his win. “Usually, I play every single tournament. Usually I play a final table, bust and then register a $1,500 Stud immediately. Just like play everything. I come in here halfway through, haven’t played any of the others and then just win the first one I play. Pretty funny.”
Chidwick had made a dozen final tables before this one and of those twelve, still only had one runner-up finish. He said he tried to not think about being close to a bracelet again, but when he started pulling away from James Chen heads-up, it was tough to not have visions of gold.
All of the above are reasons why the WSOP is so special. Thousands of players, from those with decades of experience to those playing in their first Series, go into these tournaments with dreams of holding a bracelet. No matter how great someone is, there is no guarantee they will ever win one and no matter how inexperienced someone is, there is always a chance they will be the last one standing. And no matter what, that first bracelet is the one they will all remember the most fondly.