By the Numbers: 17 Years of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) at the Rio


The poker world has reached the end of an era with the World Series of Poker (WSOP) concluding its final bracelet event at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.

Next summer, the series will move down the road to the Las Vegas Strip, the first time the WSOP will take place anywhere but the Rio since 2004, when it was hosted at Binion's downtown.

On June 3, 2005, Anthony Nguyen shipped the $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em tournament, the first bracelet ever won at the Rio, owned at the time by Harrah's Entertainment, which later became Caesars Entertainment. Allen Cunningham was the first player to win an open bracelet event at the near-Strip property, having taken down a $1,500 NLH tournament two days after Nguyen's win.

The final bracelet won at the Rio, out of the 1,030 total awarded, occurred on Tuesday, with Boris Kolev winning Event #88: $5,000 8-Handed No-Limit Hold'em, exactly 6,019 days since the off-Strip casino first opened its doors to the World Series of Poker.

In between the first champion and the last winner there have been more memorable moments than we can count. But we did dig up some interesting stats on the WSOP during the Rio era, starting with the G.O.A.T. of the WSOP, Phil Hellmuth, who is unsurprisingly the only player to win more than five bracelets at the Caesars-owned resort.

Hellmuth, who won his 16th bracelet last month in Event #31: $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw, collected six shiny gold bracelets at the Rio. Four others won five, and they are listed as follows:

PlayerRio BraceletsLast Rio Bracelet
Phil Hellmuth62021
Shaun Deeb52021
Brian Rast52021
Brian Hastings52021
Jason Mercier52016

Legends Make History at the Rio

Doyle Brunson

Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan's greatest accomplishments were behind them by the time the WSOP left Binion's following the 2004 series. But they each made history at the mega resort.

During the first month the series took place at the Rio in 2005, Chan became the first player ever to reach 10 bracelets when he shipped a $2,500 pot-limit hold'em tournament. Four days later, Brunson reached the double-digit bracelet plateau by taking down a $5,000 no-limit hold'em event. Neither player has since won a WSOP title, although they both still compete in the occasional bracelet event.

Hellmuth would catch up the following summer in a $1,000 no-limit hold'em tournament, and then win his 11th in 2007, a record no one else has since achieved. Phil Ivey is the only other player to win 10 bracelets, but only four occurred at the Rio. The Poker Hall of Famer won his 10th in 2014 when he took down a $1,500 8-game mix tournament.

Negreanu's Mixed Bag of Results

Daniel Negreanu

There are two ways to analyze Daniel Negreanu's performance in bracelet events at the Rio. The first is for those who look at championships as the measuring stick for player success. And the other looks at the overall body of work (titles, final table appearances, cashes, awards, etc.).

Since 2008, Negreanu hasn't won a single bracelet at the Rio, although he won two overseas in 2013. But he's reached 26 final tables — two in the past few days — at the Las Vegas casino over that span, which is impressive in itself. The GGPoker ambassador won his lone bracelet at the Rio in 2008, and has since gone 0-7 when heads-up for a bracelet.

Daniel Negreanu's Most Mind-Boggling WSOP Stat at the Rio

Master of the Min-Cash

Roland Israelashvili

Roland Israelashvili has produced one of the most intriguing poker careers ever. With 304 cashes in WSOP and WSOP Circuit events, he holds the all-time record, but he's never won a bracelet, although he does have eight circuit rings.

At the Rio, Israelashvili racked up 131 cashes, more than anyone in history. But he did so without winning a bracelet, never reaching heads-up for a bracelet, and only reaching three final tables. He's the consummate min-casher, perhaps even more so than Allen Kessler.

Main Event Champions and Winning Bracelets

Chippy the WSOP Mascot with 2017 Main Event Winner Scott Blumstein

Winning poker's most prestigious annual event doesn't necessarily mean you're a great player. Since 2005, the WSOP has crowned 17 different world champions, and only four of those winners have multiple bracelets — Joe Cada (4), Joe McKeehen (3), Jonathan Duhamel (3), and Greg Merson (2).

In total, the WSOP champs in the Rio era have won just eight bracelets outside of the Main Event. Going back even further, none of the champs from 2002-2004 — Robert Varkonyi, Chris Moneymaker, or Greg Raymer — have won a second bracelet. Times sure have changed since the 1990s and earlier when Main Event champs were often multiple-time bracelet winners.

The Rio era of the WSOP has come to a close, but the poker world only needs to wait six months until a new chapter begins at Bally's and Paris as the 2022 WSOP will run May 31–July 19.

  • The @WSOP is moving from the Rio and we take a look back at the past 17 years. #WSOP

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Senior Editor U.S.

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