The Story of the 1993 WSOP Main Event

In 1993, a number of firsts made the 24th World Series of Poker a spectacular show for poker fans worldwide. With two women cashing in the Main Event for the first time, a married couple taking on the $10,000 showpiece World Championship, and not one but two players winning three bracelets in the same year, it was nonstop action from the first card to the last deal in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

The Greatest Poker Show on Earth

In 1993, there was a change of presenter as the televised coverage of the 24th WSOP got a shot in the arm. Arriving in a white limousine, legendary tv actor and comedian Dick Van Patten burst onto the Las Vegas Strip to introduce the action. And the action was certainly the appropriate word. The opening event was in $1,500 Limit Seven-Card Stud and was won by Robert Turner after 173 arrived to play on April 20th to take on the best in the world. 

Victories for Marty Sigel (Event #2: $2,500 Limit Seven Card Stud), Erik Seidel (Event #3: $2,500 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo), Hugo Mieth (Event #4: $1,500 Limit Hold’em), and ‘Gentleman Jack’ Keller (Event #5: Limit Omaha)followed before the $1,000-entry Women’s Seven-Card Stud event was won by Phyllis Kessler for $32,800. With 82 entries, the now traditional ‘Ladies Event’ also saw an eighth appearance from Marsha Waggoner, who missed out on the big money but still doubled her entry fee. 

After Kessler’s victory, there were three events. The $2,500 No Limit Hold’em (Event #7), $1,500 No Limit Hold’em (Event #8) and the $5,000 Limit Hold’em (Event #9). Incredibly, all three were won by The Poker Brat himself, Phil Hellmuth, taking his tally to five bracelets in five years. Earning over $472,000, Hellmuth had shown that, in WSOP terms, he was a titan and at only 28 years old, had a bright future in the game. 

WSOP Hold'em Event Gold Bracelet

Forrest and Brenes Dominate Other Preliminary Events

Next was Event #10: $1,500 Limit A-5 Draw Lowball which was won by Chau Giang who defeated a field of 138 to claim his first bracelet. Not to be left in the shadows, Ted Forrest repeated Hellmuth’s trick of winning three events in a row. Winning the $5,000 Seven-Card Stud (Event #11), the $1,500 Seven Card Razz (Event #12), and the $1,500 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo (Event #13), Forrest – a future Poker Hall of Famer – took home $311,600 for his triple victory. 

Event #14: $1,500 Limit Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo was won by Gene Fisher before the 1992 Main Event winner took the spotlight. ‘Headstand’ Hamid Dastmalchi – so-named due to his ritual of standing on his head before the Main Event final table ‘so that the blood would rush to his head and make better decisions’ – won another bracelet in 1992. It wasn’t the Main Event, but the $2,500 Pot Limit Hold’em (Event #15) bagged the Iranian-American $114,000. 

Two consecutive bracelets followed for the first-ever Costa Rican to win one – Humberto Brenes, otherwise known as ‘The Shark.’ Brenes got his teeth into two events costing $2,500 each to play, the Omaha Pot Limit (Event #16) and Limit Hold’em (Event #17), bagging $277,000 in the process. 

After other bracelet events went to Louis Bonnecaze (Event #18: $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha) and John Bonetti (Event #19: $1,500 Pot Limit Hold’em), Billy Baxter won $130,500 heads-up against Phil Hellmuth in the final preliminary event, the $5,000 No Limit 2-7 Draw. The Poker Brat fell one place short of winning four bracelets in a single series. 

Van Patten Calls the Winner

In the Main Event, numbers were back up again, and the record was broken. An unprecedented eight women played the Main Event, with Teresa McMillan among their number. She and her husband Ron became the first married couple to play in the Main Event together, with Teresa outlasting her husband. Neither of them made the money places, but for the first time, two women did so, with Wendeen Eolis (20th) and Marsha Waggoner (19th), both cashing for $12,000.

Only 27 players were paid in 1993, a change from 36 in recent years. A whopping 231 entries – an increase of 30 from the previous year – took part, but many big names didn’t make the money places. Players such as Chip Reese (26th) and Mike Sexton (24th) both won $12,000, while Mori Eskandani (15th for $16,800) and the former world champion Brad Daugherty (9th for $24,000) came close to glory. 

With six remaining, Dick Van Patten gave his opinion on who might win, and the new host came up with something of a premonition. 

“The one I’d be most afraid of is Jim [Bechtel] and I’ll tell you why,” said Van Patten, talking of the eventual winner. “He’s the most unemotional. He’s always the same, whether he’s bluffing or he has the goods. He has icewater in his veins.” 

Bechtel Books the Win

Six men were attempting to become world champion, but only one of them had done so before. Mansour Matloubi became the first non-American winner in 1990, and three years later, he was back amongst the final table fun. Mick Cowley was the first to get knocked out, losing with ace-nine to Bechtel’s ace-ten, but still earned $36,000. 

After Thomas Chung exited in fifth place for $72,000, Mansour Matloubi was all-in and lost when Bechtel flopped a pair of aces. Matloubi, so close to his second world title, walked away disconsolately, heading out of the building. He eventually returned for an interview and to collect his $120,000.

“I should have raised before the flop but I wanted Glenn to call too, so even if I lost then I could come third.”

After losing a flip to bust out, John Bonetti ended up in third, collecting $210,000. Heads-up, Glenn Cozen took on Bechtel for the win, and when short late in the battle, Cozen was all-in with seven-four offsuit, losing to Bechtel’s jack-six when a board of T-8-3-2-5 didn’t help the at-risk player. 

Bechtel, who won $1,000,000 instead of the $420,000 that Cozen claimed as runner-up, was a former cotton farmer who came 11th in 1986, 6th in 1988, and finally won in 1993, proving that perseverance over wins every time. Incredibly, Bechtel would only win one more WSOP bracelet in his career, claiming $253,817 in the 2019 No Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw event in 2019, the longest period between bracelet wins in WSOP history. 

The next year, the World Series of Poker celebrated 25 years by awarding a unique prize that would never be repeated. The winner? Well, they would take their pieces of silver in more ways than one. 

1stHamid DastmalchiUnited States$1,000,000
2ndTom JacobsUnited States$353,500
3rdHans LundUnited States$176,750
4thMike AlsaadiUnited States$101,000
5thDave CrunkletonUnited States$60,600
6thClyde ColemanUnited States$30,300

1991 WSOP Main Event                                          1993 WSOP Main Event

About the Author: Paul Seaton has written about poker for over 10 years, interviewing some of the best players ever to play the game such as Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth. Over the years, Paul has reported live from tournaments such as the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and the European Poker Tour. He has also written for other poker brands where he was Head of Media, as well as BLUFF magazine, where he was Editor.