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2014 WSOP Main Event Polarized Payouts

In 2014, the WSOP decided it would make for great publicity to guarantee $10,000,000 to the winner of the Main Event. This reduced all the other top prizes by a bit,1 but otherwise had little effect on anything. Attendance was up about five percent, from 6,352 to 6,683, but it's impossible to know how much was because of the eight-figure promise and how much from other causes, like online players getting their funds back from the Black Friday lockdown.

It's only recently that first place paid so little percentage-wise, though. Until 1977, the WSOP Main Event was a winner-take-all tournament. For the next eight years, first prize was half of the prize pool. The percentage remained in the forties through 1993, then wandered lower to 25.2% in 2001 before rebounding to 33.7% in 2002 and 32.0% Chris Moneymaker's year. Only with the following boom in field sizes did first prize drop to just over 20% before ranging from thirteen and fifteen percent ever since.

First Prize as Percentage of Main Event Prize Pool

YearWinnerPrize Pool1st Prize%
1971Johnny Moss$30,000$30,000100.0%
1972Amarillo Slim Preston$80,000$80,000100.0%
1973Puggy Pearson$130,000$130,000100.0%
1974Johnny Moss$160,000$160,000100.0%
1975Sailor Roberts$210,000$210,000100.0%
1976Doyle Brunson$220,000$220,000100.0%
1977Doyle Brunson$340,000$340,000100.0%
1978Bobby Baldwin$420,000$210,00050.0%
1979Hal Fowler$540,000$270,00050.0%
1980Stu Ungar$730,000$365,00050.0%
1981Stu Ungar$750,000$375,00050.0%
1982Jack Straus$1,040,000$520,00050.0%
1983Tom McEvoy$1,080,000$540,00050.0%
1984Jack Keller$1,320,000$660,00050.0%
1985Bill Smith$1,400,000$700,00050.0%
1986Berry Johnston$1,410,000$570,00040.4%
1987Johnny Chan$1,520,000$625,00041.1%
1988Johnny Chan$1,670,000$700,00041.9%
1989Phil Hellmuth, Jr.$1,780,000$755,00042.4%
1990Mansour Matloubi$1,940,000$895,00046.1%
1991Brad Daugherty$2,150,000$1,000,00046.5%
1992Hamid Dastmalchi$2,010,000$1,000,00049.8%
1993Jim Bechtel$2,200,000$1,000,00045.5%
1994Russ Hamilton$2,680,000$1,000,00037.3%
1995Dan Harrington$2,730,000$1,000,00036.6%
1996Huck Seed$2,950,000$1,000,00033.9%
1997Stu Ungar$3,120,000$1,000,00032.1%
1998Scotty Nguyen$3,500,000$1,000,00028.6%
1999Noel Furlong$3,930,000$1,000,00025.4%
2000Chris Ferguson$5,120,000$1,500,00029.3%
2001Carlos Mortensen$5,946,100$1,500,00025.2%
2002Robert Varkonyi$5,936,400$2,000,00033.7%
2003Chris Moneymaker$7,802,700$2,500,00032.0%
2004Greg Raymer$24,229,400$5,000,00020.6%
2005Joe Hachem$52,818,610$7,500,00014.2%
2006Jamie Gold$82,512,162$12,000,00014.5%
2007Jerry Yang$59,784,954$8,250,00013.8%
2008Peter Eastgate$64,333,600$9,152,41614.2%
2009Joe Cada$61,043,600$8,546,43514.0%
2010Jonathan Duhamel$68,799,059$8,944,31013.0%
2011Pius Heinz$64,531,000$8,715,63813.5%
2012Greg Merson$62,021,200$8,527,98213.8%
2013Ryan Riess$59,708,800$8,359,53114.0%
2014Martin Jacobson$62,820,200$10,000,00015.9%

The winner, Martin Jacobson, ended up taking home just under 16% of the prize pool, the highest in the last decade but still lower than every year before that.