Every year, history is made at the World Series of Poker.
In 2018, poker fans were inundated with amazing accomplishments from some of the most notable names in the game. At the 49th annual WSOP, there was no shortage of superior stories and top-flight headlines to be had to help to make this summer series one for the ages.
As the day-to-day details of the WSOP slowly fade from memory, there are some stories from this summer that will be retold for years to come.
Here’s a look back at the stories that kept everyone buzzing during the 2018 WSOP.
Cynn For The Win
There’s always at least one opportunity for poker history to be written each year and that’s when the Main Event champion is crowned. Whoever earns the Main Event bracelet will have their name etched into the WSOP history books and their image forever commemorated with a banner in the Rio. It’s a title that can never be taken away. This year, that honor belonged to Los Angeles cash game pro John Cynn.
No matter who won the Main Event, it would be memorable. However, Cynn made an extra impression based on how he went about winning. Always smiling, the affable Cynn, showed that he was not only good at the game, but he was good for it too. His personality and charisma were easily captured on camera as he took every flop, turn and river all in stride. His entire journey to the winner’s circle showed an entire community what it means to play hard and win with grace.
Hellmuth Proves It Again
Hellmuth made headlines all summer for a number of shenanigans. Whether it was the “markup controversy” or his Asgardian entrance to the Main Event, Phil made sure that the public didn’t forget about Phil.
However, the most amazing moment of Hellmuth’s summer came when he defeated the 452 person field in Event #71: $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em (30 Minute Levels) for $485,082 and his record-extending 15th career WSOP bracelet.
Hellmuth has a lot of critics, both for his on-the-felt antics and his constant self-promotion. Those critics were forced to accept that for the sixth time in the post-Moneymaker era, Hellmuth earned himself another gold bracelet. Only Jeffrey Lisandro and Phil Ivey have earned as many bracelets as Hellmuth after 2003. Ivey and Johnny Chan are the only active players within five bracelets of Hellmuth.
Should Hellmuth continue to play at the pace he currently does, it may be a generation or more before anyone even comes close to catching him.
Bonomo Takes The Lead
One of the biggest stories of the summer came on the last day of the WSOP.
Justin Bonomo, having one of the most remarkable years a poker pro has ever experienced, capped off the summer by winning the $1 Million Big One For One Drop.
The $10 million payday catapulted Bonomo to just under $25 million in earnings in 2018. The score, combined with his victories in both of 2018’s Super High Roller Bowls, has pushed his total career live earnings to $42,979,591. The total is good enough to surpass poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu on the much talked about All-Time Money List.
Grinder Makes It Three
Not to be overlooked, one of the biggest stories of the summer came during the $50,000 Poker Players Championship when Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi dropped jaws by winning the event for the third time since 2010. The event is billed as one of the most prestigious by elite players in the game. The contest tests the mettle of poker’s best by rotating through a wide variety of games, making Mizrachi’s multiple victories all the more impressive.
Mizrachi battled through a field of 87 top-tier pros including a final table that seated Dan Smith, Benny Glazer, Mike Leah, Aaron Katz and Poker Hall of Famer John Hennigan. In total, Mizrachi’s earned more than $4.2 million over the course of his three victories (2010, 2012 & 2018). Not to be overlooked, he finished fourth in the PPC at the 2016 WSOP for another $380,000.
Thanks in part to his summer performance, “The Grinder” is on the cusp of $17 million in lifetime earnings. With three victories of the PPC under his belt, when he turns 40 in three years, he will likely be in the conversation for a nomination into the Poker Hall of Fame.
Cada Closes Out The WSOP
2009 Main Event Champion Joe Cada was already having a stellar summer when he registered for the 2018 Main Event.
Earlier in the series, Cada was the last man standing in Event #3: $3,000 Shootout No Limit Hold’em. The victory scored Cada his third bracelet and added over $226,000 to his bankroll. But things really looked up for the Michigan grinder when he made an improbable deep run in the Main Event.
Cada became the first post-Moneymaker Main Event Champion to make it back to another Main Event final table. For a moment there were notions of Cada becoming the first repeat champion since Stu Ungar in 1997 (Cada, like Ungar, had also been bestowed the nickname “The Kid”). However, it wasn’t meant to be, as Cada bowed out in fifth place, taking home $2.15 million as a consolation.
Remarkably, Cada wasn’t finished with the 2018 WSOP. After eight grueling days of the Main Event, Cada immediately registered for one of the final events of the summer. Event #75: $1,500 THE CLOSER saw 3,120 players register in hopes of saving their summer with a big score. Unfortunately for them, Cada came to play and, in the end, he earned bracelet number four by outlasting them all. With the win, Cada picked up another $612,000.
In total, Cada cashed in seven different events, made four final tables, won two bracelets and earned himself over $3 million in what will be known as one of the best summer performances in history.