The Most Memorable Tournament Wins in Poker History
Whether you're playing in, or just attending a poker tournament, you're guaranteed to have a good time. Watching people at the top of their game trying to outsmart each other is always fascinating. Sometimes you might be in awe of the skill on display, sometimes wowed by the sheer nerve of someone to bluff their way through a game, or sometimes you might spot something else afoot. While every tournament is exciting in its own way, there are some that stick out for their incredible wins. This is our pick of the most memorable ones.
The best ever bluff – Sara Chafak
Whilst Chan's bluff in the 1988 WSOP was certainly pretty legendary, the title of the best-ever bluff has to go to Sara Chafak. The reigning Miss Finland took on Ronnie Bardah and played an exceptionally good game. She didn't have the greatest cards, but her confident betting eventually caused Bardah to fold, revealing a winning hand. It was a moment that left even the commentators laughing at her brazenness.
If you're looking at Miss Finland and thinking that you could probably take her on, then entering yourself into a live tournament is the only way to find out. There are helpful guides that will help you find poker tournaments with ease and close by. Starting off locally is never a bad idea, especially for players who are newer to the game. The payouts tend to be smaller, but so are the buy-ins, so you'll be able to play well within your means and hone your skills at the same time.
Back-to-back best – Johnny Chan
Winning a WSOP Main Event is impressive, winning two is something that few people have ever done, but winning two back to back? That's the kind of thing only reserved for Johnny Chan. Chan was a university dropout who'd quit his course in order to pursue a career at the poker table. He had plenty of time to practice and it worked out for him in the end. Chan won the WSOP Main Event in both 1987 and 1988, nearly repeating the feat in 1989 when his chances were scuppered on the last leg.
His 1987 win saw him sneak past Frank Henderson. Chan had an Ace of Spades and a nine of clubs, matching Henderson all in when he played a pair of fours. One by one, the community cards were revealed, and it was starting to look like Henderson might be the new world champion. However, at the last minute, the final card was turned, a nine, making Chan the winner.
His 1988 win saw him go up against Erik Seidel, arguably one of the best players at the time. From Chan's expression, it looked as though he was nervous. The final round flop showed a Queen of spades, ten of hearts, and eight of diamonds. Seeing this, Chan wagered $40k, which Seidel raised by another $50k. Chan paused and matched Seidel's bet. The dealer revealed the final card, which benefitted neither player, but then it was time for the hole cards to be revealed. Chan had a straight! His nervous expressions and long pauses had been an excellent bluff, which Seidel had fallen for hook, line, and sinker.
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