The World Series of Poker held its first-ever event in the Bahamas this month and stars of the card game came down to the island nation to compete for $50 million in guaranteed prize money.
A handful of former World Series of Poker champions were on hand for the events, including Daniel Weinman and Jamie Gold. As the stars aligned in the Caribbean, it brought up a question about who is on the Mount Rushmore of poker stars.
Ty Stewart, the senior vice president of the World Series of Poker, and Jack Effel, the vice president of the World Series of Poker, both agreed with one aspect of the debate: Doyle Brunson belongs up there.
Brunson, nicknamed “Texas Dolly,” won the World Series of Poker in 1976 and 1977. He won 10 bracelets over the course of his career and made 26 final tables. He died in May at the age of 89.
“Doyle has to be first. Doyle has to be up there,” Effel told Fox News Digital at the World Series of Poker Paradise in Atlantis Bahamas. “The others, I think that’s the rest of the debate.”
“I think Chris Moneymaker goes up there. I think he’s very significant in changing everything. The other two are very, very debatable of who they might be. Johnny Moss might be one because he’s legendary. But it may be Benny Binion instead because Bennie Binion is responsible for having the World Series of Poker in the first place. I think maybe last but not least is probably Johnny Chan or Phil Hellmuth.”
The bottom line for Effel was that without the World Series of Poker, the debate wouldn’t exist in the first place.
“I think what’s interesting of Mount Rushmore, and I think anyone would put Doyle Brunson on it, we’re starting with only one member that is deceased. So, we have so much of the history yet to be written that it’s probably too early to truly say,” Stewart added.
“I think you could with a lot of people. I think Daniel Negreanu, who is here, kind of really helped revolutionize interest in the game over the last 15 to 20 years. Phil Hellmuth is the best tournament poker player. There’s just a whole generation of these young-gun crushers that are out there that also change the approach to the game [with] more analytics and different ways of thinking about optimal game theory.”
“I think the safest … it’s Doyle and everybody else. They’re fighting for it. Doyle and then three other spots we’ll talk about in a couple of decades.”
Moss won the first two World Series of Poker events in 1970 and 1971. He also became the first person to win it three times when he won it in 1974.
Binion’s Horseshoe hosted the inaugural World Series of Poker. The casino was founded by Benny Binion, whose family then ran it until 2004. The Rio hosted most of the days in 2005 and then hosted the full tournament in 2006. The tournament moved to Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas in 2022.