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5 most memorable TV hands in WSOP history

There have been several memorable hands at the World Series of Poker since television cameras first started following the action for CBS Sports in 1973.

Using the WSOP’s First Fifty Honors vote from 2019 as a guide, here are the best televised poker hands in WSOP history:

1. Chris Moneymaker vs. Sammy Farha, 2003 Main Event

This was named the WSOP’s most memorable TV hand, and with good reason.

Moneymaker, an accountant from Tennessee who qualified for the 2003 $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold’em World Championship through an online satellite, scored several surprising knockouts on his way to the final table. None was more memorable than his elimination of Phil Ivey in 10th place.

But it was his hand during heads-up play against Farha, a high-stakes pro, that remains etched in history.

Moneymaker missed his straight and flush draws and was left with only king-high on the river. But he went all-in, and Farha was forced to fold his pair of nines, leading ESPN commentator Norman Chad to call Moneymaker’s move the “bluff of the century.”

Had Farha found a call, Moneymaker’s chip stack would have been decimated. Instead, Moneymaker’s bluff helped him win the Main Event and set off a worldwide poker boom.

2. Johnny Chan vs. Erik Seidel, 1988 Main Event

The final hand between these two members of the Poker Hall of Fame was popularized in the poker film “Rounders.”

Chan flopped a straight against Seidel’s top-pair queen and set a trap for his opponent. On the river, Chan gave his now-famous “Eye to the Sky” look before Seidel’s ill-fated, all-in bet.

The victory was the second straight for Chan in the Main Event, making him one of four players to win the tournament in consecutive years.

Unlike other Main Event runner-ups who disappeared from the poker scene, Seidel went on to nine WSOP tournament victories.

3. Scotty Nguyen vs. Kevin McBride, 1998 WSOP Main Event

One of the most famous phrases in poker was delivered during the final hand when Nguyen told his opponent, “You call, it’s going to be all over, baby.”

With two players remaining, Nguyen flopped three nines and then improved to a full house on the turn. The river card put a full house on the board — eights over nines — but Nguyen had a better full house with nines over eights and put his opponent all-in.

Nguyen then goaded his opponent, took a drag off his cigarette and sipped his bottle of Michelob. McBride replied, “I call. I play the board.”

Nguyen was right. It was all over, baby.

4. Connor Drinan vs. Cary Katz, 2014 Big One for One Drop

Poker is a skill game. But this hand served as a cruel reminder that luck is still involved every once in a while.

Both players had pocket aces, the best starting hand in Texas Hold’em, and after a few preflop raises, they ended up all-in with Drinan at risk for his tournament life.

The most likely outcome was a chopped pot. But when two hearts came on the flop, Katz was the only player who could win the hand since he held the ace of hearts. A third heart appeared on the turn, and the fourth heart came on the river to complete Katz’s flush and deliver a gut punch to Drinan.

The fact that Drinan paid a $1 million buy-in and finished in 18th place, out of the money, made it an even worse beat.

5. Matt Affleck vs. Jonathan Duhamel, 2010 WSOP Main Event

With 15 players remaining, two of the biggest stacks in the tournament clashed in a massive hand.

Affleck held pocket aces and called a preflop four-bet from Duhamel. The flop came 10-9-7, and Duhamel check-called with pocket jacks.

The turn was a queen, and Affleck went all-in when Duhamel checked again. Nearly five minutes passed before Duhamel called, and he caught an eight on the river to make a straight and eliminate Affleck, who was disconsolate afterward.

Affleck won more than $500,000, but Duhamel took a massive chip lead after raking in the pot and went on to win the Main Event for more than $8.9 million.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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