The 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP) is finally over, capping off a successful 17-year run at The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The Las Vegas property has been home to the WSOP since 2005, but change is inevitable. The world’s most prestigious and longest-running poker festival is set to move to Bally’s and Paris in 2022.
Despite the numerous challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 52nd WSOP was a massive success, establishing itself as one of the biggest in the festival’s history. The series created new champions with a record 99 bracelets awarded both live and online, with no shortage of great stories to tell throughout the nearly two months of action at The Rio.
We’ve compiled some of the best moments at the festival, starting with Josh Arieh’s WSOP Player of the Year win.
Josh Arieh Unlikely Winner of 2021 WSOP POY
Who would have thought that a player, who wasn’t even in the top 10 of the leaderboard as the competition gained momentum, would ultimately take home the POY title? Josh Arieh did just that – his name appeared all of a sudden in the POY rankings as the series was down to its final events. He surpassed the early frontrunners which included several big names such as Hellmuth, Negreanu, and Shaun Deeb. It was a surprise victory and he deserved it.
Hellmuth Captures 16th Bracelet
Hellmuth has proven once again that he is one of the best poker players in the world. The Poker Brat just won his 16th bracelet at the 2021 series, extending his own record as the all-time WSOP bracelet leader. Apart from that, he also reached the final table in seven events, another major achievement to add to his already impressive resume.
Moneymaker Reaches the Money in Main Event
Chris Moneymaker is among the most recognizable names in the poker world. At this year’s WSOP, the Americas Cardroom ambassador took part in only one event – the same event where he defeated Sam Farha in what would become one of the most iconic moments in poker history. Moneymaker made a late decision to enter the Main Event and managed to reach Day 5. He finished 260th out of 6,650 entrants and took home $38,600.
Doyle Brunson Makes WSOP Comeback
Doyle Brunson appeared at this year’s WSOP, surprising the crowd at The Rio. He took part in Event #58: $1,000 Super Seniors No-Limit Hold’em, his first WSOP event in three years.
The poker legend who is now 88 years old immediately grabbed the attention of players as he walked into the packed room. He then returned to the casino to take part in the Main Event. He failed to reach the money in both tournaments, but it could be his final WSOP appearance which makes it all the more special.
Nicholas Rigby’s “Dirty Diaper” Game
Nicholas Rigby entertained everyone at The Rio when he introduced a unique game he plays back home while taking part in the Main Event. “Dirty Diaper” works similarly to the 7-2 game, only that a bounty is paid to the player who wins a hand with 3-2, instead of 7-2. WSOP fans and spectators were amazed by it, and Rigby sure made the action more fun and enjoyable.
Daniel Negreanu Finishes 3rd Twice on Same Day
Daniel Negreanu has once again failed to win his 7th bracelet, but his performance at this year’s series was among the best. He cashed in a total of 18 events and secured a 3rd-place finish in two tournaments on the same day.
Adam Friedman Achieves Three-Peat After Beating Hellmuth
Adam Friedman won the $10,000 Dealers Choice Championship twice, in 2018 and 2019. This year, he returned to compete in the same event and it was extra special. The Gahanna, Ohio native overcame a 2.5/1 chip deficit to defeat Hellmuth heads-up and win the tournament. He is the only player in poker history to achieve a third consecutive victory in a championship event.