Poker History Online April 14

We have some great stories from the annals of poker history to bring you this week.

We’ll kick things off in this column with the culmination of the 2000 World Poker Open, where after three weeks of buildup we’ve finally reached the Main Event.

From there we’ll press on to the passing of one of the game’s greatest advocates and most prolific writers, and in honor of David Spanier I’ll list what I feel are the 10 most important poker books of all time.

I’ll also tackle Black Friday and steer you towards a few of the great articles that have been penned in its aftermath.

So get ready for all these stories and a whole lot more in this installment of This Week in Poker History.

April, 2000: Inaugural WPO comes to a close

123 players entered the inaugural $5,000 Jack Binion World Poker Open Main Event, which may not seem like a lot by today’s standards, but back in 2000 that was a really strong turnout.

And with the strong turnout came a very strong final table that included Mike Laing, Jason Viriyayuthakorn, Todd Brunson, and Erik Seidel. John Juanda and Mike Matusow finished in 14th and 15th place as well.

The winner of the inaugural WPO was Ronnie Williams who basically fell off the face of the earth, with just seven career cashes sans his WPO score, none of which was for more than $8,000. At least Ronnie will always have the 2000 WPO – which is more than I can say.

  1. Ronnie Williams $238,620
  2. Todd Brunson $119,310
  3. Mike Laing $59,665
  4. Steve Kaufman $35,793
  5. Jason Viriyayuthakorn $26,845
  6. Steve Melton $20,879
  7. Nicola Salameh $14,914
  8. Larry Beilfuss $11,931
  9. Mike Carson $9,545
  10. Erik Seidel $7,159

April 20, 2000: Poker world loses David Spanier

April 20, 2000 was a very sad day as one of the UK’s poker lifers, David Spanier passed away at the age of 67.

In the poker world Spanier is known for his contributions to the poker bookshelves of many players. Spanier’s books are not among the all-time greats, nor are they the most widely read or groundbreaking. Spanier’s contributions to poker literature are numerous (eight by my count) and combine his love of the game with a love of writing.

Spanier’s first poker book, Total Poker, was written way back in 1977, and combined poker strategies with life lessons, and “looks at the game’s history, culture, techniques, strategies, rules, and probabilities,” according to its book description on

Over the years Spanier had published a poker book in four different decades, a pretty impressive achievement.

10 Historically important poker books

Piggybacking on Nolan Dalla’s list, here are my 10 most historically important poker books, but unlike Nolan I will forsake ranking them. Yes, I’m taking the easy way out.

  • The Education of a Poker Player, by Herbert O. Yardley
  • Cowboys Full The Story of Poker, by James McManus
  • Titanic Thompson, by Kevin Cook
  • Fast Company, by Jon Bradshaw
  • The Biggest Game in Town, by Al Alvarez
  • Big Deal, by Anthony Holden
  • One of a Kind, by Nolan Dalla and Peter Alson
  • The Professor the Banker and the Suicide King, by Michael Craig
  • Positively Fifth Street, by James McManus
  • Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People, by Greg Dinkin

Also from the archives…

  • April 14, 2001: Jenny Hegarty wins the 2001 Irish Poker Open title. Hegarty was the third woman to win the coveted title, joining poker legend Colette Doherty (a two-time winner in 1980 and 1991) and Irene Tier who won the tournament in 1985.
  • April 16, 2006: The New York Times hits the nail on the head when it says the poker boom is fading. So I have to ask, was the Poker Dome Challenge the beginning of the end?
  • April 17, 2006: Gilbert Arenas plays online poker at halftime of a Washington Wizards game… Degen much Gilbert?
  • April 20, 2008: The World Poker Tour settled the lawsuit filed by Andy Bloch, Chris Ferguson, Annie Duke, Howard Lederer, and Phil Gordon.

April 15, 2011: Black Something or other

I was just about to wrap up this column with some birthdays when my friend told me I should Google the date April 15, 2011… apparently the stock market crashed or there was some kind of post-Thanksgiving sales going on, because all I got were results for Black Friday.

In all seriousness, Black Friday was one of the most important poker stories of the Internet era, and its fallout is still creating waves some three years later.

Here are a couple of interesting columns that appeared about a year after Back Friday, giving the author’s the chance to reflect on what occurred:

Happy Birthday to…

There isn’t too much to report on the birthday front this week, but one player that is celebrating his birthday this week is currently one of the game’s best, Sorel Mizzi. Mizzi was born on April 16th.

April 17 is the birthday of Casey “bigdogpckt5s” Jarzabek, and April 18 was the day Hasan Habib was born.