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1979 WSOP Main Event Winner Hal Fowler
Runner Up Bobby Hoff
Winning Hand 7 6
Losing Hand A A
1st Place Prize $270,000
Number of Main Event Entrants 54

In 1979, for the first time ever, an amateur won the World Series of Poker Main Event. Out of the 54 entrants, there were eight amateurs. This was due in part to 1979 being the second year in which the WSOP was not a winner take all tournament, but instead a structured payout system. This made the WSOP more enticing for amateurs to enter.

Amateur player Hal Fowler made the final table of the event, but was the short stack. Fowler chose to lay low and let the other players knock each other out, as Fowler only wished to get to the money while the pros all wanted to win. Fowler managed to survive all the way into heads-up play, where he faced the player who knocked him out the year before, Bobby Hoff.

Fowler proved that he was an amateur player on the final hand, but luck saw him through. Bobby Hoff picked up pocket aces and Fowler called Hoff’s raise with 7-6. Hoff bet out when the flop came out J-5-3, and Fowler called with only a gutshot straight draw. However, the 4 on the turn would give Fowler his straight. Hoff moved all-in and Fowler quickly made the call. The ten on the river was irrelevant, and Hal Fowler became the first amateur poker player to win the WSOP Main Event, earning $270,000 in the process.