Some of the most influential players and the most memorable moments in the history of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) were recognized at the First Fifty Honors Gala which took place at the Rio in Las Vegas where the 2019 WSOP is currently in full swing.
The awards night took place as part of the 50th-anniversary celebrations of the world’s longest-running poker festival. The event was attended by WSOP’s top brass, along with several bracelet winners, VIPs, poker legends and other popular poker personalities from the tournament’s 50-year history. It was hosted by two of the most familiar voices in the world of poker, Lon McEachern and Norman Chad.
Seven Prestigious Awards
The winners were determined through a public online voting system which ran from May 15 to June 15. A total of seven awards were handed out: Most Memorable TV Hand, Best Overall WSOP Performance (Single Year), Most Likely to Succeed (Most Bracelets 2020-2070), Fan Favorite, WSOP’s Favorite Bad Boy, Most Impressive WSOP Main Event Win, and Four Most Important Players in WSOP History.
Let’s take a look at the winners of each category.
Chris Moneymaker
When it comes to WSOP Main Event, Chris Moneymaker is one player the poker world will never forget. The accountant from Tennessee won his way to the 2003 WSOP Main Event via a $40 satellite and ended up as the champion, winning $2.5 million. His victory is regarded by many as one that changed poker, as he became the first player to become a world champion after qualifying at an online poker site.
Moneymaker received the Most Memorable TV Hand award for his so-called “bluff of the century” against Sammy Farha in the 2003 WSOP Main Event. The 43-year-old also won the award for Most Impressive WSOP Main Event Win, and was recognized as one of the Four Most Important Players in WSOP History.
Phil Hellmuth
There is a reason why Phil Hellmuth has the nickname “The Poker Brat”. His tough persona and table blow-ups easily make him one of the most entertaining players to watch. But above all the drama, Hellmuth holds the record for most WSOP bracelets with 15. His total WSOP earnings currently sit at more than $14.6 million.
Hellmuth was awarded as WSOP’s Favorite Bad Boy, though he is trying to compensate that image by starting a #Positivity campaign. His two awards, including the Four Most Important Players in WSOP History, were accepted on his behalf by his agent Brian Balsbough. The Poker Brat took off in the middle of the series for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands.
Daniel Negreanu
With his numerous accomplishments in the WSOP, alongside his massive contribution to the world of poker as one of the game’s ambassadors for a long period of time, it’s no surprise that Negreanu won three awards at the WSOP First Fifty Honors Gala.
Apart from being included in the award for the Four Most Important Players in WSOP History, Kid Poker was also named Fan Favorite, and also received the honor for Best Overall WSOP Performance (Single Year). Negreanu won two WSOP bracelets and made four final tables in the 2013 edition of the tournament.
Justin Bonomo
Overtaking Negreanu at the top of the All-Time Money List in 2018, Justin Bonomo’s poker career is expected to soar higher in the coming years as he was voted Most Likely to Succeed (Most Bracelets 2020-2070) at the Honors Gala. Justin Bonomo ended 2018 with a bang after cashing for an incredible $25 million. He took down the $1,000,00 WSOP Big One for One Drop in 2018 for $10 million.
Doyle Brunson
Doyle Brunson has now retired from professional poker but the indelible mark he left on the game deserves nothing but praise and recognition. Considered as “The Godfather of Poker”, Brunson won a total of 10 bracelets and more than $3 million in his entire WSOP career. He was inducted into the prestigious Poker Hall of Fame in 1988 and went on to play in major poker tournaments, until last summer when he announced he would be leaving the live felt for good.
The 85-year-old was honored as one of the Four Most Important Players in WSOP History – an award he truly deserved.

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