World Series of Poker Champions – The 1970\\\'s
The World Series of Poker was originated in 1970 as a way to declare a true World Champion of Poker. Each year, professional and amateur player’s travel out to Las Vegas to take their shot at poker immortality. In this series of articles, we will take a brief look back at each WSOP Main Event Champion. We will start back in the 70’s when it all began.
1970 – Johnny Moss: 1970 was the first year of the World Series of Poker. The original World Series of Poker was a cash game held among several of the greatest poker players of that era. At the end of the cash games, a vote was taken to determine a “World Champion of Poker.” There are conflicting stories about the vote. The most popular version is that when the original vote was taken, each player voted for himself and the vote was a tie. The vote was then retaken and players were asked who the 2nd best player was. Johnny Moss won that vote and therefore was declared World Champion. Johnny Moss was known as “The Grand Old Man of Poker” for his ability to play poker at the highest levels well into his 60’s and 70’s.
1971 – Johnny Moss: In 1971, a freezeout NL Holdem tournament was held to determine the World Champion of Poker. At the end of the event, Johnny Moss came out on top after heads-up battle with Puggy Pearson. For his win, Moss took home $30,000 and the WSOP trophy.
1972 – Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preson: Preston was probably the first true “poker superstar” after taking down the 1972 Main Event. He went on several talk shows and had numerous media appearances as a result of his win. It is rumored that a deal was struck between Preston, Puggy Pearson, and Doyle Brunson where Pearson and Brunson would throw the event so that Preston would win. In exchange, they would receive the prize money. Officially, Preston took home $80,000 and the WSOP Main Event title.
1973 – Walter “Puggy” Pearson: After finishing runner-up in 1971 and 1972, Puggy Pearson was finally able to win the Main Event in 1973 when he outlasted Johnny Moss heads-up. Pearson won three of his four WSOP bracelets in 1973. Pearson is also the person responsible for developing the freezeout style of tournament.
1974 – Johnny Moss: Johnny Moss added a third WSOP Main Event title to his resume in 1974 after outlasting Crandall Addington heads up. Moss became the first player with three Main Event titles. He took home $160,000 for his victory. Moss was 67 when he won his third Main Event title. While this would have been the swan song for most players, Moss was just getting started. He would go on to win 5 more bracelets over the next 14 years. His final bracelet was won in 1988 at the tender young age of 81.
1975 – Brian “Sailor” Roberts: Sailor Roberts was one of the originals from the 1970 WSOP. His nickname came from the fact that he served in the Navy during the Korean War. He took down the 1975 Main Event after outlasting a field of 21 players and a heads up match with Bob Hooks. His Main Event bracelet was his second and final WSOP bracelet.
1976 – Doyle Brunson: The legend of Doyle Brunson in tournament poker started in 1976 when he took down the Main Event with the 10-2 against Jesse Alto. Brunson was among those that had taken place in the first WSOP in 1970, but it took him to 1976 before he had his day in the sun. He took home $220,000 and the first of two Main Event titles.
1977 – Doyle Brunson: For the second straight year, Doyle Brunson took down the Main Event with the famous 10-2, which is now called a Brunson. Gary Berland was the unfortunate victim and footnote in poker history. This would be the second Main Event title and third bracelet overall for Brunson. Since that time, Brunson has won seven additional bracelets to put him in a tie with Johnny Chan for 2nd all-time in bracelet wins.
1978 – Bobby Baldwin: Baldwin became the youngest WSOP Main Event winner in 1978 after outlasting Crandall Addington heads-up to take home WSOP Main Event bracelet and $210,000. This was the first year that the event was not a winner takes all prize pool. The final hand saw Baldwin’s queens outlast Addington’s nines. Baldwin won four bracelets from 1977 to 1979 and then in the 80’s started a career in the casino gaming industry, a career he continues with until this day.
1979 – Hal Fowler: Fowler was the first true amateur to win the WSOP Main Event after his 7-6 offsuit cracked Bobby Hoff’s aces. Fowler took home $270,000 and the bracelet. The 1979 Main Event was his 2nd and last bracelet win. After winning the Main Event, Fowler went into utter obscurity due to health complications.