The first gold bracelet won every summer at the World Series of Poker is always a special one. For the winner, it’s an unbelievable thrill, a tone setter, a bankroll booster, and a stress reliever all at once. For the media and fans, it’s the first of many headline-grabbing triumphs. For other competitors, it represents that there is gold at the end of the long rainbow. All of those things are great, but does success beget further success? Here’s a look at how the first gold bracelet winner of the summer has performed throughout the rest of the WSOP.
For this article, PocketFives examined the results of the first winner of an individual open gold bracelet event going back to 2004. This time period can be commonly referred to as the “modern poker era.”
2004: James Vogl
At the 2004 WSOP, James Vogl topped a field of 834 entries to win the $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $400,000. Vogl would go on to cash twice more that summer, but the scores were much smaller than his victory. Vogl finished 27th in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $7,160 and 12th in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $12,660.
2005: Allen Cunningham
Five-time gold bracelet winner Allen Cunningham was the winner of the first bracelet in 2005. Not only was his victory a big one, as Cunningham won the 2,305-entry $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $725,405, but it ignited quite the summer for the seasoned professional.
After the opening win, Cunningham cashed four more times, and each of the additional cashes came in $5,000 buy-in events. First, he took fourth in the $5,000 Pot Limit Hold’em and fourth in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha events for $89,865 and $141,245, respectively. Cunningham then placed 29th in the $5,000 Six-Max No Limit Hold’em for $8,490 and seventh in the $5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo for $42,110. All told, Cunningham earned $281,710 after his opening win that summer.
Cunningham’s performances were enough to win him the 2005 WSOP Player of the Year award.
2006: Brandon Cantu
After Brandon Cantu won the opening $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $757,839, he didn’t cash for the rest of the 2006 WSOP.
2007: Steve Billirakis
Like Cunningham, Steve Billirakis opened with a win and then earned four cashes afterwards. His opening win was worth $536,287 after Billirakis topped a field of 451 entries in the $5,000 Limit/No Limit Hold’em tournament. He then scored 45th-, 29th-, 16th-, and 33rd-place finishes in future events. Whereas Cunningham won nearly $300,000 in additional prize money, Billirakis’ four other cashes only totaled $57,458. That’s not bad, but it’s not nearly the year Cunningham had.
2008: Nenad Medic
Nenad Medic opened the 2008 WSOP with a bang, scoring first place in the stacked $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em tournament for $794,112. Medic only cashed once more that summer, taking 24th in the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em for $16,496.
2009: Thang Luu
Not only did Thang Luu kick off the 2009 WSOP by winning the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low tournament for his second gold bracelet, but he did so after winning the same event the previous year. In 2009, Luu’s win was worth $263,190. After this, Luu cashed just once for $8,983.
2010: Michael Mizrachi
The year 2010 was a banner year for Michael Mizrachi at the WSOP. He opened things up in enormous fashion by winning the famed $50,000 Poker Players Championship for $1.559 million. Mizrachi then put together quite an impressive string of four more cashes and was challenging for the WSOP Player of the Year award that ultimately fell to Frank Kassela.
Additional scores were had that year by Mizrachi when he took sixth in the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud Championship for $68,949, eighth in the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship for $49,732, and 26th in the $2,500 Mixed for $6,324. Mizrachi wasn’t done there, either. He reached the final table of the WSOP Main Event and scored fifth place for a whopping $2.332 million.
2011: Jake Cody
After Jake Cody opened the 2011 WSOP by winning the $25,000 Heads-Up Championship for $851,192, he only cashed twice that summer and both were for less than $20,000. Cody did, however, place seventh in the 2011 WSOP Europe Main Event for €150,000 ($200,379).
2012: Brent Hanks
Brent Hanks won the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event to kick off the 2012 WSOP. That event drew 2,101 entries and Hanks scored $517,725. Hanks’ only other cash that summer at the WSOP was a 282nd-place finish in the WSOP Main Event for $38,453.
2013: Trevor Pope
The opening to the 2013 summer was a big one for Trevor Pope, as he scored first place in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $553,906. Pope came to the final table with an incredibly large chip lead and rode it all the way to the winner’s circle. After that, Pope cooled off and only cashed two more times. He finished 48th in the $2,500 Four-Max No Limit Hold’em for $5,253 and 13th in the $5,000 Six-Max Pot Limit Hold’em for $19,646.
2014: Vanessa Selbst
Vanessa Selbst scored a big victory to open the 2014 WSOP when she won the $25,000 Mixed-Max No Limit Hold’em to the tune of $871,148. Following her opening win that summer, Selbst only cashed once more. Her second cash was a 38th-place finish in the $2,500 Omaha Hi-Lo/Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo worth $5,517.
2015: Nick Petrangelo
Nick Petrangelo had a great 2015. It was his first breakout year that saw him win more than $3.4 million on the live felt. Included in that was a $201,812 gold bracelet victory at the World Series of Poker. Petrangelo won the first piece of jewelry that summer by taking down the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout atop 308 entries.
Despite his big year and first gold bracelet win, not much materialized for Petrangelo over the remaining WSOP events that year. In Las Vegas, he cashed in the $10,000 Main Event for $17,282, and then he took 26th in the €3,250 No Limit Hold’em event at WSOP Europe for €6,035 ($6,863).
2016: Kyle Julius
Like Cunningham, Billirakis, and Mizrachi, Kyle Julius, winner of the first gold bracelet in the summer of 2016, cashed four additional times following his trip to victory lane. Julius opened the summer with a win in the $1,000 Top Up Turbo No Limit Hold’em for $142,972. He then record small cashes in the Colossus and $1,500 No Limit Hold’em before returning to a top-10 result in the $5,000 Turbo No Limit Hold’em. In that event, Julius took ninth from a field of 524 entries and won $35,636.
That summer, Julius would also take 21st in the $111,111 High Roller for One Drop to add $187,576 to his bankroll.
2017: Upeshka De Silva
Upeshka De Silva stormed out of the gate in 2017 with a victory in the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout for $229,923. He then put together four more cashes – just like Cunningham, Billirakis, Mizrachi, and Julius did in prior years – but De Silva couldn’t quite make it back to a WSOP final table that summer. He did place 30th in the 1,759-entry $2,620 Marathon tournament for $17,491, but that was De Silva’s deepest run outside of his opening gold bracelet win.
2018: Elio Fox
In 2018, it was Elio Fox, winner of the 2011 WSOP Europe Main Event, who took the first gold bracelet of the summer. Fox won the $10,000 Turbo No Limit Hold’em event for $393,693. From there, Fox would put together a decent list of three more cashes. He took second in the $100,000 High Roller for $1.798 million, finished 92nd in the $1,500 Millionaire Maker for $8,976, and took ninth in the $50,000 High Roller for $139,699.
$357,937 Won and 2.4 Cashes On Average
Looking at the whole of it all, the first gold bracelet winners each summer, going back to 2004, averaged $357,937 won and 2.4 cashes that same summer following the gold bracelet win. None of these players were about to earn a second gold bracelet in that same summer, but some did come close by returning to a WSOP final table. Those to perform the latter were Cunningham in 2005, Mizrachi in 2010, Cody in 2011 if you count WSOP Europe, Julius in 2016, and Fox in 2018. Both Cunningham and Mizrachi made it back to three final tables following their opening win.
In total, players to win the opening gold bracelet of the summer cashed 36 additional times at the WSOP that year, again that’s if you include WSOP Europe. Of those 36 cashes, six were worth more than six figures and two were in the seven figures. Three times a player landed a score for more than the gold bracelet win, too. Those three times came with Mizrachi in 2010, Julius in 2016, and Fox in 2018.
What Does This Mean for Brian Green?
The question now is, what does this all mean for Brian Green? He won the first gold bracelet at the 50th annual 2019 World Series of Poker when he topped a field of 204 entries in the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Super Turbo Bounty event. Green won $345,669.
Green now has 25 WSOP cashes. A few times, he put together a nice handful of in-the-money finishes during the summer, so we’ll likely see a fair amount of volume from him given his successful start to the 2019 WSOP. In 2014 and 2015, Green cashed five times each summer at the WSOP. In 2016, he cashed four times. Although he failed to record a WSOP cash in 2017, Green added four more trips to the money in 2018. He frequents the higher buy-in No Limit Hold’em events a lot, so if he makes any additional noise in 2019 it will likely come from one of those tournaments.
If we were to take a guess as to how Green will do for the remainder of the 2019 WSOP, we’d say he’ll land three or four more cashes and that there’s a high probability one of those is a score in the six figures.