Looking Back At The Illustrious History of the Poker Players Championship

Brian Rast with the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy

The $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event may be the tournament every budding poker player dreams of winning, but the $50,000 Poker Players Championship bracelet is the one the seasoned professionals want in their trophy cabinet.

The inaugural event was called the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. World Championship. It launched in 2006 as was the largest buy-in tournament of any World Series of Poker until the introduction of the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop in 2012.

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David "Chip" Reese won the inaugural $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. after defeating Andy Bloch heads-up. Reese won $1,716,000 that day plus his third WSOP bracelet. It would be the last bracelet Reese would win because he passed away in 2007.

Freddy Deeb emerged victoriously from the 2007 event after outlasting 147 of the world’s best mixed game players, including Bruno Fitoussi heads-up. The $2,276,832 Deeb received for his victory is still the largest prize awarded in this tournament.

Scotty Nguyen
Scotty Nguyen was victorious in 2008

The next two years saw Scotty Nguyen and David Bach triumph in the $50,00 H.O.R.S.E. Nguyen topped a field of 148 and walked away with $1,989,120, while Bach’s $1,276,802 payday came after coming out on top of a 95-strong field.

Switch To The Poker Players Championship

Michael Mizrachi
Michael Mizrachi won the inaugural Poker Players Championship

The WSOP changed formats in 2010 when the Poker Players Championship replaced the H.O.R.S.E. event. The game count increased from five to eight, and it was Michael Mizrachi who won the inaugural event, which saw the entire final table played as No-Limit Hold’em to appeal to television viewers.

Brian Rast defeated Phil Hellmuth heads-up in the 2011 edition, before Mizrachi won his second Poker Players Championship in 2012.

British mixed game specialist Matthew Ashton won the 2013 Poker Players Championship with John Hennigan winning in 2014 after beating Brandon Shack-Harris in the heads-up stage.

The event had two new games (badugi and no-limit 2-7 single draw) added to its rotation in 2015, but it proved unpopular with only 84 players buying in, the lowest-ever attendance at the time. Mike Gordinsky was the last man standing in 2015, a result that netted him $1,270,086.

Brian Rast
Brian Rast won the $50K PPC for the second time in 2016

Rast joined Mizrachi in the double-winners club when he was crowned the 2016 Poker Players Championship champion; the tournament reverted to an eight-game mix.

Elior Sion got his hands on the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy in 2017. Sion was down to only 60,000 chips at the 25,000/50,000 level but recovered to write his name into poker’s history books.

Mizrachi did the unthinkable in 2018 and won the Poker Players Championship for the third time. "The Grinder" helped himself to the $1,239,126 top prize and the fourth WSOP bracelet of his career.

The last time the Poker Players Championship took place was in 2019 because the 2020 edition fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means Phil Hui is the reigning champion after he topped a 74-player field last time out.

Previous $50,000 H.O.R.S.E./Poker Player Championship Winners

YearEvent NameEntrantsWinnerPrize
2006$50,000 H.O.R.S.E.143David "Chip" Reese$1,716,000
2007$50,000 H.O.R.S.E.148Freddy Deeb$2,276,832
2008$50,000 H.O.R.S.E.148Scotty Nguyen$1,989,120
2009$50,000 H.O.R.S.E.95David Bach$1,276,802
2010$50,000 Poker Players Championship116Michael Mizrachi$1,559,046
2011$50,000 Poker Players Championship128Brian Rast$1,720,328
2012$50,000 Poker Players Championship108Michael Mizrachi$1,451,527
2013$50,000 Poker Players Championship132Matthew Ashton$1,774,089
2014$50,000 Poker Players Championship102John Hennigan$1,517,767
2015$50,000 Poker Players Championship84Mike Gordinsky$1,270,086
2016$50,000 Poker Players Championship91Brian Rast$1,296,097
2017$50,000 Poker Players Championship100Elior Sion$1,395,767
2018$50,000 Poker Players Championship87Michael Mizrachi$1,239,126
2019$50,000 Poker Players Championship74Phil Hui$1,099,311

Who Will Win The 2021 $50,000 Poker Players Championship?

The 2021 edition of the Poker Players Championship shuffles up and deal at 3:00 p.m. local time on October 31. It is scheduled to run over five days, and PokerNews’ live reporting team will be on hand from the first cards being pitched to the champion being crowned.

Who do you think will win the event? Can Mizrachi win the tournament for the fourth time, or will Rast join Mizrachi in the triple winner’s club? Do not write of Phil Hellmuth’s chances of glory because the 16-time bracelet winner’s non-hold’em games have come on in leaps and bounds; Hellmuth finished second in 2011.

  • PokerNews takes a look back at previous editions of the $50K Poker Players Championship.

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