Professional poker players are more and more turning into famous poker players. And not just famous among other poker players: these professionals are turning into something like real celebrities. These becoming-famous poker players are turning Texas Hold’em into a spectator sport.
Thanks to the World Series of Poker (WSOP), the Internet, and ESPN coverage, there are many professional poker players who are no longer obscurities–they are heroes (and, yes, heroines).
Stu Ungar…Scotty Nguyen…Noel Furlong…Chris Ferguson…Carlos Mortensen…Robert Varkonyi…Chris Moneymaker…Greg Raymer…Joseph Hachem…Jamie Gold…Jerry Yang…
Do any of those names sound familiar to you? Even if you’ve never held or folded a Texas Hold’em hand, those names may strike a bell somewhere in your mind. They are the last 10 winners (in order, starting with Ungar in 1997) of the WSOP. The WSOP began all the way back in 1970. Just like with pro football and baseball in those days, there were dynasties, albeit one-man dynasties. Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson, and, at the beginning of the 1980s, that guy Stu Ungar were the men beat. Those guys are still the guys to beat (one of the good things about Texas Hold’em is that your skills get better, not more diminished, as you “get old”); but as those professional poker players have become famous poker players, their techniques have spread like wildfire, making for more competition and increasingly putting the WSOP final pot up for grabs.