Over the last 50 years, the World Series of Poker has not only become the preeminent tournament poker series in the world but also built up a lengthy and storied history. As this year marks their Golden Anniversary, the WSOP will be commemorating the event with a special evening of honors, called the “First Fifty,” a dinner and a VIP poker tournament.

“First Fifty” to Honor 50 Influential People

The “First Fifty” will look to honor 50 people who have become synonymous with the World Series of Poker. Either through their play, their innovations in the tournament or some other means, a select group has been convened to select the 50 people who will be honored in a special dinner. This select group has a difficult task ahead of them as choosing from the 50-year history of the WSOP ONLY 50 people to recognize is going to be a tough task (more on that in a minute).

Along with these ceremonies to honor the “First Fifty” will be a special dinner to be held in the Brasilia Room. On June 29 at 8PM, the dinner/awards ceremony will be conducted, with WSOP bracelet winners requested to be in attendance. The awards will be hosted by the WSOP/ESPN broadcast team of Lon McEachern and Norman Chad, who should be able to provide some excellent background on the nominees. Following these festivities, a VIP poker tournament will be held to end the evening.

“From its founding by the Binion family in 1970, no one could have foreseen what the modern-day World Series of Poker has become,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. “It’s only fitting we take an evening out from poker playing to celebrate the great game of poker and all the characters who have made a mark on the WSOP over the past five decades.”

Seven Categories to be Determined by Fan Vote

In addition to the “First Fifty,” the WSOP is looking to the fans to make their choices for seven special moments in WSOP history. Those categories are:

Most Memorable WSOP TV Hand
Best Overall WSOP Performance, Single Year
Most Likely to Succeed (Player Under 35 to Win the Most Gold Bracelets between 2020-2070)
Fan Favorite Player
WSOP Favorite Bad Boy
Most Impressive Main Event Win
Four Most Important Players in WSOP History

For those who wish to let their voice be heard, the WSOP has a handy voting area on their website. To encourage people to head to the polling booth, the WSOP will award several prizes to participants. A seat at a $1000 WSOP event, two tickets to the “First Fifty” festivities, and other assorted WSOP merchandise and memorabilia will be handed out. Voting for these seven categories will be open until June 15.

Who Deserves to be in the “First Fifty?”

It’s tough to look back at the history of the WSOP and narrow it down to only 50 people who had an impact on its growth and prominence. For the players, you can start with the “Mount Rushmore” of Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey, men that have truly left their impression on the game and the WSOP. You could also make significant arguments for Johnny Chan, Johnny Moss, Chip Reese (hell, there’s a trophy named after him for the Poker Players’ Championship) Scotty Nguyen and Michael Mizrachi (hey, when you’ve won three Poker Players’ Championships, you’ve made your mark).

If you want to look at the ladies who have made a mark, Barbara Enright, Marsha Waggoner, Annie Duke or Jennifer Harman would all be good choices. As far as those who have impacted the game from outside the felt, Matt Savage, Nolan Dalla, Mike Paulle, Max Shapiro, Eric Drache and Jack McClelland would all be top notch selections. And if you’re name isn’t here, it’s only because it didn’t immediately leap to mind…suffice it to say, there are going to be some difficult decisions to make for the “First Fifty.”

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