Winning a WSOP bracelet takes a lot of skill, but it also takes a lot of luck. Sometimes, no matter how skillful a player is, they just can’t seem to take down one of those elusive gold bracelets. Some players like Dan Smith or Jason Koon took over a decade to earn their first bracelet, despite massive tournament success in other series. However, for others, the interest simply isn’t there anymore, and they’d much rather earn millions of dollars playing private cash games in Macau.
Some of these players will never earn a WSOP bracelet, while for some players, it seems a matter of when not if. For example, Dan Smith was originally on this list until he took down the $25K Heads Up Championship earlier this month! So, with WSOP 2022 underway, here’s a look at some of the best players to never win a bracelet.
Niklas Astedt may not be a name that’s very familiar to poker fans, but his screen name Lena900 is much more likely to be. One of if not the best high-stakes online tournament players right now, Niklas has won 3 WCOOP titles and 5 SCOOP titles at the time of writing. With so much focus on the online tournament world, there has been little time for much live tournament play, and as such, only has $1.5 million in live tournament earnings against more than $22MM in online cashes. However, there’s plenty of time for that to change; his appearances at the 2021 WSOP suggest that his interest in winning a bracelet may be increasing.
Closest run: 2nd at the 2020 Online $1500 No-Limit Hold ’em Event.
Will he win a bracelet? Given that he’s at or near the top of everyone’s “top online tournament players” list, he will almost certainly win one if he starts to play an extensive WSOP schedule.
Currently considered the best No-Limit Hold ’em player in the world, Linus has conquered the world of online cash games and, over the past few years, has set about conquering the world of live tournament poker, too. He’s seen a lot of success at the Triton Series, taking down the £25,000 6-handed turbo event in London, and has had a few deep runs in other events. He currently has $2.5 million on live tournament earnings, which is particularly impressive when you consider that he’s predominantly a cash game player, and his first significant cash came in May 2019. However, he has yet to play in a WSOP event, making it pretty hard to win a bracelet in one! Who knows what the future holds for Linus? Maybe he decides to turn his attention to winning a WSOP bracelet, but at the moment, he seems happy playing nosebleed cash games online.
Closest run: No recorded cash.
Will he win a bracelet? He undoubtedly has the talent to do so, but the interest is almost non-existent. Unless something significant changes, we can’t see him bothering to turn up at the WSOP.
Known as “Trueteller” online, Timofey is another high-stakes cash game crusher who has occasionally turned his attention to the world of live tournament poker. He has managed to amass over $8.6 million in live tournament winnings, which is staggering when you see that those results have come from a total of ten (10) total cashes! Additionally, 40 percent of his cashes have been for 7-figure scores, and he has three first-place finishes to his name. Timofey is clearly an incredibly talented poker player, having proven his skills in the world of nosebleed cash games and now live tournament poker. However, like Linus, he has yet to play in a WSOP event–not even one of the high-roller events!
Closest run: No recorded cash.
Will he win a bracelet? Again, another player who undoubtedly could if he turned his attention to it, but as good as Timofey is, even he can’t win a bracelet without entering the event.
A polarizing figure amongst the community due to his excessive tanking and covered appearance at the table, there’s no doubt that Christoph is one of the top tournament players in the world. With multiple victories in super high-roller tournaments and live tournament earnings of nearly $27 million, there’s no doubting his talent. However, he hasn’t been able to translate that success into the WSOP, despite some near misses, including a 3rd place finish at the $1 million Big One for One Drop in 2014. In addition, Christoph tends to only play the high-roller events at the WSOP and is very much a No-Limit Hold ’em specialist, so he’s limiting his chances.
Closest run: 2nd at the 2022 $25K Heads Up Championship
Will he win a bracelet? He’s undoubtedly capable; it’s just a matter of when the luck will be on his side. He likely will win at least one before he retires.
Chris may not be a household name, but he has been building a reputation as a stellar high-stakes tournament player over the past few years, with nine victories in high-roller events since December 2020! He has been grinding as many tournament series as he can reach, including the Triton Series, the PokerGo Tour, WPT, and WSOP, with a lot of success. However, despite his titles in other events, Chris has yet to take down a WSOP bracelet. Given the form he’s been in for the past 18 months, it would take a brave person to bet against him coming home with some hardware this year. Chris is a player who plays all the games well, as shown by his 5th place finish in the PPC in 2021, so he’s not as limited as some of the No-Limit Hold ’em specialists are. Even if it doesn’t come in 2022, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before Chris can close out an event and become a WSOP winner.
Closest run: 5th at the 2020 Online $25,000 No-Limit Hold ’em Championship/5th at the 2021 Poker Players Championship.
Will he win a bracelet? He certainly has the motivation and the talent, so it would take a nasty turn of events for Chris to never pick up a WSOP bracelet.
With over $31 million in live tournament winnings, and 27 1st place finishes, including multiple EPT, Aussie Millions, and Triton events, Steve is one of those players that everyone assumes has won a WSOP bracelet. However, despite winning almost everything else there is to win in poker, Steve has yet to take home some hardware at the WSOP. To be fair, he’s often been too busy crushing other tournament series to make an appearance at the World Series. Still, with the bracelet missing from his already spectacular CV, you have to think that he will have a run at it sooner rather than later.
Closest run: 7th at the 2020 Online $300 Monster Stack.
Will he win a bracelet? As long as he shows up and plays a decent schedule, it’s hard to see him not winning one at some point in his career.
One of the original heads-up No-Limit end bosses of online poker, “Ike” has found success in whatever poker format he chooses. A monster in the cash games streets of both No-Limit Hold ’em and PLO, a former sit-and-go crusher, and a player with over $29 million in live tournament winnings, he can do it all. Except, it seems, win a WSOP bracelet. For a while, Ike was described as one of those “always the bridesmaid” players, and it’s true that his list of second-place finishes far exceeds that of his 1st place finishes, but after his Super High Roller Bowl victory, we can safely say that Ike is not an also-ran. Of course, being a No-Limit Hold ’em specialist who only plays high roller events, he’s limiting his chances to take home some hardware, but on any day, he can beat anyone.
Closest run: 2nd at the 2009 $40,000 No-Limit Hold ’em 40th Anniversary Event
Will he win a bracelet? As long as Ike continues to play, we’d be surprised if he didn’t win at least one bracelet during his career.
The man known as “durrrr” hardly need an introduction. Best known for his legendary run on the nosebleeds of Full Tilt and his live appearances on High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark, Tom has been at the top of the No-Limit Hold ’em cash game world for over a decade. After crushing online games, Tom and a few other American players made their way to Macau to take advantage of poker’s booming popularity and the incredibly lucrative high stake cash games. As such, it’s been a while since Tom has played a WSOP event, with 2011 being his last recorded cash. His focus has mainly been on the Triton series and private cash games, so it’s unlikely he’ll make a return to the WSOP anytime soon unless some big bracelet bets get made.
Closest run: 2nd at the 2010 $1500 No-Limit Hold ’em
Will he win a bracelet? Given that he’s not played in over a decade, it’s unlikely. He has the talent to do so but not the interest.
The Finnish Adonis is another player who clearly has the capability of winning a WSOP bracelet, but the motivation hasn’t always been there. In the poker boom days, Patrik would grind out a solid schedule at the World Series, but since 2008 his appearances have been sparse at best, focusing on other high roller series and private cash games. However, he did play quite a few of the online WSOP events in 2020, so if that were to happen again, maybe Patrik would be in with a chance of winning one? Unfortunately, that seems unlikely, and Patrik is too focused on launching his own Challenge Events and poker apps to worry about going to Vegas to grind the WSOP.
Closest run: 3rd at the 2010 $10,000 PLO Championship
Will he win a bracelet? If he played a full schedule every year, he almost certainly would, but as that’s not going to happen, it seems unlikely he’ll even win one. Given his skill at different game types, he’s always a threat to any event he enters, though.
Credit: Joe Giron
One of the original Ship It Holla Balla crew, Andrew made a name for himself playing nosebleed cash games under the screenname Good2cu. Cash games have continued to be his bread and butter throughout his career, though he has accumulated an impressive $5.7 million in live tournament winnings. Nowadays, he’s best known for staking JRB in high-stakes cash games and playing some very high-stakes private games, too. Grinding the WSOP never seemed high on Andrew’s priority list, even in the early days of the poker boom, though he occasionally stops by to play the high roller events. While Andrew’s poker talent is without question, his tournament game may not be up to the standards of some of the regulars on the high roller scene, so if he continues to only play those events, he’ll have a tough time taking down a bracelet.
Closest run: 3rd at the 2008 $5000 Limit/No-Limit Hold ’em Mix
Will he win a bracelet? Given that he’s been a cash game player for so long and only occasionally plays high roller tournaments, it’s doubtful.
So there we have it, our list of the 10 best players never to have won a bracelet. Are there any names we’ve left on this list that you would add? Also, who do you think will win a bracelet first? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter!
Cover Image Credit: Jayne Furman