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WSOP Main Event Winners' Birthdays

Western Zodiac

Despite being based on the relative positions of the stars to the Earth over two millennia ago, Western astrology's popularity has been increasing recently. Does the sign you were born under have any effect on how good of a poker player you are? One answer can be found by looking at the players who have won the World Series of Poker Main Event:

WSOP Main Event Champions by Astrological Sign

3 (3)Aries
(3/21 - 4/20)
Scott Blumstein, Chris Ferguson, Carlos Mortensen
2 (4)Taurus
(4/21 - 5/21)
Johnny Moss, Pius Heinz
3 (3)Gemini
(5/22 - 6/21)
Hossain Ensan, Jack Straus, Ryan Riess
5 (5)Cancer
(6/22 - 7/22)
Greg Raymer, Joe McKeehen, Martin Jacobson, Brad Daugherty, Phil Hellmuth
1 (2)Leo
(7/23 - 8/22)
Doyle Brunson
3 (5)Virgo
(8/23 - 9/23)
Jonathan Duhamel, Jamie Gold, Stu Ungar
2 (2)Libra
(9/24 - 10/23)
Berry Johnston, Robert Varkonyi
4 (4)Scorpio
(10/24 - 11/22)
Scotty Nguyen, Tom McEvoy, Joe Cada, Chris Moneymaker, Damian Salas
3 (3)Sagittarius
(11/23 - 12/21)
Dan Harrington, Greg Merson, Peter Eastgate
6 (6)Capricorn
(12/22 - 1/20)
Noel Furlong, John Cynn, Jack Keller, Amarillo Slim Preston, Hal Fowler, Huck Seed
1 (1)Aquarius
(1/21 - 2/19)
Puggy Pearson
3 (3)Pisces
(2/20 - 3/20)
Sailor Roberts, Bill Smith, Joe Hachem


Conclusion: While a quick glance suggests that Capricorn is the best sign for winning a WSOP Main Event (just ahead of Cancer), the distribution is pretty much what you would expect if no correlation existed. The Cardinal modality and the Earth and Water elements do seem to have an edge, but the sample size is far too small to be meaningful.

Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese zodiac also divides everyone into a dozen groups but by lunar year instead of month-long partitions. The creation story claims that the order of the signs was set by a race between animals. The Rat won by riding on the Ox then jumping off near the end (he also knocked the Cat into the river and out of the race).

WSOP Main Event Champions by Chinese Zodiac Sign

3 (3)RatRuss Hamilton*, Carlos Mortensen, John Cynn
3 (3)OxNoel Furlong, Robert Varkonyi, Peter Eastgate
3 (3)TigerBobby Baldwin*, Hal Fowler, Scotty Nguyen
8 (8)RabbitBrad Daugherty, Chris Ferguson, Chris Moneymaker, Martin Jacobson, Jonathan Duhamel, Joe Cada, Greg Merson, Damian Salas
7 (7)DragonJim Bechtel*, Hamid Dastmalchi*, Amarillo Slim Preston, Puggy Pearson, Hossain Ensan, Greg Raymer, Phil Hellmuth
4 (6)SnakeMansour Matloubi*, Qui Nguyen*, Stu Ungar, Pius Heinz
4 (4)HorseJack Straus, Jack Keller, Joe Hachem, Ryan Riess, Koray Aldemir*
3 (5)Goat2 Johnny Moss, Sailor Roberts, Joe McKeehen
4 (4)MonkeyJerry Yang*, Tom McEvoy, Huck Seed, Scott Blumstein
4 (6)RoosterJohnny Chan*, Doyle Brunson, Dan Harrington, Jamie Gold
1 (1)DogBill Smith
1 (1)Pig3 Berry Johnston


Conclusion: This distribution is definitely less random-looking, and the fact that Rabbits and Dragons are chronologically next to each other is suspicious. Nevertheless, your Chinese zodiac does not seem to give an edge.

Calendar Month

Another way to partition the champions is by the month in which they were born:

WSOP Main Event Champions by Birth Month

3 (3)JanuaryHal Fowler, Huck Seed, Puggy Pearson
0 (0)Februarynone
4 (4)MarchSailor Roberts, Bill Smith, Joe Hachem, Scott Blumstein
2 (2)AprilChris Ferguson, Carlos Mortensen
3 (3)MayJohnny Moss, Pius Heinz, Hossain Ensan
5 (5)JuneJack Straus, Ryan Riess, Greg Raymer, Joe McKeehen, Martin Jacobson
2 (2)JulyBrad Daugherty, Phil Hellmuth
3 (4)AugustDoyle Brunson, Jonathan Duhamel, Jamie Gold
2 (4)SeptemberStu Ungar, Berry Johnston
2 (2)OctoberRobert Varkonyi, Scotty Nguyen
4 (4)NovemberTom McEvoy, Joe Cada, Chris Moneymaker, Damian Salas
7 (7)DecemberDan Harrington, Greg Merson, Peter Eastgate, Noel Furlong, John Cynn, Jack Keller, Amarillo Slim Preston


Conclusion: February and December are definitely outliers, but they are statistically normal outliers.

Calendar Year

Finally, let's take a look at the year in which each WSOP Main Event champion was born:

WSOP Main Event Champions by Birth Year

1 (3)1907Johnny Moss (5/14)
1 (1)1927Hal Fowler (1/12)
1 (1)1928Amarillo Slim Preston (12/31)
1 (1)1929Puggy Pearson (1/29)
1 (1)1930Jack Straus (6/16)
1 (1)1931Sailor Roberts (3/7)
1 (2)1933Doyle Brunson (8/10)
1 (1)1934Bill Smith (3/14)
1 (1)1935Berry Johnston (9/25)
1 (1)1937Noel Furlong (12/25)
1 (1)1942Jack Keller (12/29)
1 (1)1944Tom McEvoy (11/14)
1 (1)1945Dan Harrington (12/6)
1 (1)1948Russ Hamilton
1 (1)1950Bobby Baldwin
1 (1)1951Brad Daugherty (7/5)
2 (2)1952Jim Bechtel, Hamid Dastmalchi
2 (4)1953Stu Ungar (9/8), Mansour Matloubi
1 (2)1957Johnny Chan
1 (1)1961Robert Varkonyi (10/7)
1 (1)1962Scotty Nguyen (10/28)
1 (1)1963Chris Ferguson (4/11)
3 (3)1964Hossain Ensan (5/22), Greg Raymer (6/25), Phil Hellmuth (7/16)
1 (1)1966Joe Hachem (3/11)
1 (1)1968Jerry Yang
2 (2)1969Huck Seed (1/15), Jamie Gold (8/25)
1 (1)1972Carlos Mortensen (4/13)
2 (2)1975Chris Moneymaker (11/21), Damian Salas (11/15)
1 (1)1977Qui Nguyen
1 (1)1984John Cynn (12/25)
1 (1)1985Peter Eastgate (12/13)
4 (4)1987Martin Jacobson (6/30), Jonathan Duhamel (8/24), Joe Cada (11/18), Greg Merson (12/8)
1 (1)1989Pius Heinz (5/4)
1 (1)1990Ryan Riess (6/21), Koray Aldemir
1 (1)1991Joe McKeehen (6/28)
1 (1)1992Scott Blumstein (3/27)


Conclusion: While it seems that being born in 1987 is an advantage, it is a completely reasonable that one year would have four players (and another three), so this is undoubtedly just "luck of the draw".

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