This Week in Poker History April 28th – May 4th

Online Poker History May

With the World Series of Poker less than a month away, this installment of This Week in Poker History will focus on the early days of the tournament series, most notably the 1972 and 1973 WSOP Main Events.

By the time you’re done reading this column you’ll find out whether the 1972 WSOP was fixed, and see just how many firsts occurred at the 1973 WSOP.

Below you’ll also find several other interesting stories from poker’s past, including a prop bet from Doyle Brunson, and a bankroll challenge by a WSOP champion who is now a pariah in the poker community.

The 1973 WSOP: the 4th WSOP had a lot of firsts

The 1973 World Series of Poker was the first year the field topped 10 players (there were 8 in 1972 and 13 in 1973) and when Puggy Pearson defeated Johnny Moss for the title in 1973 it was also the first time CBS televised the tournament. And, as you’ll see in the next header, CBS’s presence likely had a lot to do with the previous year’s winner.

Moss would go on to win the following year, which gave him three first place finishes and a second place showing over the first five WSOP’s.

For Pearson it was his third straight year contesting the title in heads-up play, losing in 1971 to Johnny Moss and in 1972 to Amarillo Slim Preston –although the ’72 loss has a bit of controversy surrounding it as you’ll see below – before finally breaking through in ’73.

1973 was also the first year Eric Drache was put in charge of the event, acting as the tournament director.

April 30, 2012: Amarillo Slim passes away

Two years ago Amarillo Slim passed away, leaving behind one of the most controversial legacies in poker history. There are still a lot of arguments about what did and didn’t happen throughout his life, despite Amarillo Slim’s exploits being among the best documented of any player of his era.

Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston’s later years were marred by criminal allegations (to which he plea bargained) and throughout his life the man was certainly no angel. But he was also quite possibly the most well-known and important man in poker from 1972 onwards, and it all began with his 1972 WSOP win, which is full of controversy of its own.

As mentioned above, the winner of the 1972 World Series of Poker was Amarillo Slim Preston, but the tournament may not have been entirely on the up and up. Actually, it was definitely not on the up and up, but just how many people were in on the fix is still unclear.

Doyle was in on it, withdrawing from three-handed play because he had a tummy ache, but whether runner-up Puggy Pearson was complicit in the fix is up for debate. However it played out, Slim won the tournament and went on to become the face of poker for the following 25 years or so.

Slim’s win likely brought the TV cameras to the WSOP the following year.

Also from the archives…

April 27, 2007: Chris Ferguson’s $0 to $10,000 bankroll challenge

Long before he became a poker exile, Chris Ferguson was considered one of the top players in the game, and one of the top theoretical thinkers the game has ever seen.

Among his many talents, Ferguson was fond of taking the theoretical and making it a reality, which is what he was doing back in 2007 when he attempted one of his infamous bankroll challenges.

Ferguson was trying to create a $10,000 bankroll out of thin air – literally – starting off in freerolls and progressively working his way up until he had a $10,000 bankroll. In a previous version of this challenge Ferguson turned $1 into $20,000.

Here is how he does it:

“For me, this experiment isn’t about the money. It’s about showing how, with proper bankroll management, you can start from nothing and move up to the point where you’re playing in some pretty big games. I know it’s possible because I did it once before, turning $1 into $20,000.

To ensure that I keep my bankroll intact, I’ve adopted some key rules:

    1. I’ll never buy into a cash game or a Sit & Go with more than 5 percent of my total bankroll (there is an exception for the lowest limits: I’m allowed to buy into any game with a buy-in of $2.50 or less).
    2. I won’t buy into a multi-table tournament for more than 2 percent of my total bankroll and I’m allowed to buy into any multi-table tournament that costs $1.
    3. If at any time during a No-Limit or Pot-Limit cash-game session the money on the table represents more than 10 percent of my total bankroll, I must leave the game when the blinds reach me.”

Happy Birthday to…

A pretty slow week on the birthday front, but there is one player who will be celebrating, Mike Matusow.

Matusow was born on April 30th, and is now in his mid-40’s.

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