How Much Did the Last 10 WSOP Main Event Winners Really Win?

The last decade has seen huge winners at the World Series of Poker, none more so than in the WSOP Main Event. Each year, thousands of players flock to Las Vegas to put down the $10,000 entry fee or satellite into the action for a fraction of the cost. Winning the Main Event over the past decade could have netted you as much as $12.1 million in the case of Daniel Weinman in 2023. But how much of their winnings did each player get to keep?

A Decade of Disparity

Over the past ten years, the World Series of Poker has witnessed some of its most memorable moments in the WSOP Main Event. The Holy Grail of poker tournaments, it is the subject of the main character Mike McDermott’s ambitions in the 1998 movie Rounders. It is the industry behemoth that drives all other poker tournaments. And for the players themselves, it is the biggest return on investment available.

There’s no other tournament like the WSOP Main Event. Over the past 10 years, the top prize in the Main Event has varied greatly, form just over $2.5 million in the ‘COVID’ World Championship of 2020, where technically, Damian Salas won $1m of his winnings on the second day of 2021, to last year’s epic $12.1m prize for first place.

What a player wins at the felt in the form of dollar ‘bricks’ is not, however, what they take home. The taxman is the only opponent even world champions can’t outrun, with top earner Daniel Weinman (2023) actually only taking home $6.84 million after playing national and local taxes on his winnings.

That amounts to a vast difference from his top prize when you compare it to German player Hossein Ensan (2019), who won $10m only to see it reduced to $7.3m after paying his taxes. Having won $2.1m less than Weinman at the felt, Ensan took home more than the Atlanta man, banking $460,000 more than the American after processing his tax return.

Here are all the winners from the past decade and what they actually took home.

WSOP Main Event Winners 2014-2023
Year Winner Country Top Prize Winnings
2014 Martin Jacobson Sweden $10,000,000 $7,000,000
2015 Joe McKeehen United States $7,683,340 $4,302,670
2016 Qui Nguyen United States $8,005,310 $4,563,026
2017 Scott Blumstein United States $8,150,000 $4,645,500
2018 John Cynn United States $8,800,000 $5,016,000
2019 Hossein Ensan Germany $10,000,000 $7,300,000
2020 Damian Salas Argentina $2,550,969* $2,015,265
2021 Koray Aldemir Germany $8,000,000 $5,840,000
2022 Espen Jørstad Norway $10,000,000 $4,960,000
2023 Daniel Weinman United States $12,100,000 $6,840,000

* due to COVID-19 restrictions, played as online-live ‘Hybrid’ event.

Daniel Weinman

Which Country is the Best to Play the Main Event From?

While there’s no online-live Hybrid WSOP Main Event anymore (thankfully, COVID folded on the river) playing from online is now impossible. That means to win the World Championship, you’ve got to travel to Las Vegas, take your seat in the Horseshoe or Paris Las Vegas and make it through eight or nine grueling days and beat some of the best poker players in the world.

There are plenty of countries that do tax players, including the United States, Germany, Canada, Australia and Norway to name just five. But the United Kingdom does not tax any winnings. If you’re English and travel to Las Vegas directly from London, then you can look forward to taking home every penny, ahem… cent from your winnings in Las Vegas.

Theoretically, it would be possible to come second in the Main Event and take home more than the winner. For example, in 2023, Daniel Weinman won the $12.1m top prize and Steven Jones Jr. won $6.5m in second place. With both men hailing from the United States – in fact all three podium placed players were American – they both paid similar amounts to the taxman. If Steven Jones had been English – or Toby Lewis had finished five places higher than he did – then all that $6.5m would have been retained.

Current Leaders and Tax Rates

In the current 2024 WSOP Main Event, Day 2abc has just been completed. So how would the frontrunners look if they won $10 million. Happy, obviously, but how happy? Chip leader Anthony Marsico (797,000) and second-placed Christopher Vincent (772,000) both come from the United States, so would be looking at the same approximate tax band as last year’s winner Weinman.

Manuel Machado from Portugal has 680,500 chips and would have to pay a special levy of 25% on any winnings he takes home, so would be better off compared to the Americans. He’d pay the same tax as South Korean Jangkyu Lee, who has 665,500 chips with which to attack Day 3.

The player inside the top five who currently has the best chance of winning most money is Karo Nuri from Switzerland. His stack of 646,500 is very well placed and he’d only pay 18.6% tax on any earnings, meaning he’d take home $10,008,000 from a top prize of $12 million.

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