Koray Aldemir: Back-to-Back WSOP Main Event Runs “A Privilege”

It’s a record that will take some beating. In total, Koray Aldemir spent approximately 135 hours straight unbeaten in the World Series of Poker Main Event.

After winning it in 2021, Aldemir then ran deep again in this year’s Main Event, finally falling in 75th place for $101,700.

Memories Flooding Back

Much has already been written about Aldemir’s stellar return to the WSOP, but the likelihood of another mega-deep run a year after he took down poker’s biggest title wasn’t in the conversation.

That was, according to Aldemir, until Day 4 of the 2022 WSOP Main Event.

“Some memories of last year came flooding back. I think around Day 4 or so — the money bubble burst on Day 3, so on Day 4 when I moved back above one million chips. And then two million chips!

“But I had a way bigger stack of course last year so it was a little different this year.”

Koray Aldemir

Managing Expectations

“I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought of winning again or making the final table again”

Aldemir was one of 1,300 players who made the money from a field of 8,663 — a feat in itself — and he says he was attempting to manage expectations as the field grew ever smaller.

“I was just trying to take it hand by hand,” he said. “But I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought of winning again or making the final table again. But I knew it was unlikely, so it’s totally fine to bust, of course.”

The run did come to an end, but Aldemir remains content with such a deep run.

“Bittersweet probably describes it the best,” he told PokerNews. “Of course, I couldn’t expect to win it again, so Day 6 again was already pretty cool.

“I know it’s a privilege. I know ‘run good’ with the cards plays such a big role. I mean, if I run kings into aces at some point on Day 1 I’m just out! So I’m a little bit proud that I might be the longest without busting the Main. It is kind of cool.”

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Other Deep Back-to-Back Runs

Aldemir isn’t the only person who has enjoyed deep WSOP Main Event runs in back-to-back years. Check out this list of players who have also enjoyed sensational runs:

Mark Newhouse

Mark Newhouse

One of the most famous poker feats of all time, with Mark Newhouse finishing ninth in back-to-back years. Immortalized in arguably the most famous poker tweet of all time, Newhouse cashed for a combined $1,463,949 for his two deep runs.

Fun Fact: Across his two deep runs, Newhouse spent approximately 142 hours in the Main Event, around eight hours longer than Aldemir’s back-to-back runs.

Dan Harrington

Dan Harrington

“Action” Dan Harrington is a walking WSOP Main Event record book. The Hall of Famer won the 1995 WSOP Main Event, and then followed that up with a 17th-place finish in 1996.

The following decade, he finished third out of 839 players in the 2003 WSOP Main Event, the year Chris Moneymaker rose to fame with his historic victory. The following year, and with the Main Event having ballooned to 2,576 entries, he finished fourth for combined cashes of over $2 million.

Michael Ruane

Michael Ruane

Michael Ruane finished fourth in the 2016 WSOP Main Event for $2,567,003 and then narrowly missed out on a spot at the final table the following year, finishing 10th for $825,001. This year, he went on another tear, ultimately making it late into Day 5 for a 147th place finish worth $62,500.

In fact, three of his 12 cashes on Hendon Mob have come in the WSOP Main Event — two of which are top-ten finishes.

Year Position Payout (USD)
2016 4th $2,567,003
2017 10th $825,001
2022 147th $62,500

Alejandro Lococo

Alejandro Lococo

And let’s not forget about Alejandro ‘PapoMC’ Lococo who is still in with a chance of sensational back-to-back WSOP Main Event final tables. At time of writing, with 56 players remaining, Lococo still sits with a healthy stack of 13,700,000.

Johnny Chan

Johnny Chan
Johnny Chan

Of course, the list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the master himself, Johnny Chan. The “Orient Express” remains the last person to win the Main Event back-to-back to date, winning it in ’87 and ’88 before famously losing heads-up to a 24-year old kid from Madison, WI in ’89.

As Norman Chad would state it, it would be beyond fairy tale and inconceivable if such a run were ever to be duplicated in today’s bumper Main Event fields. Aldemir 135 consecutive hours ultimately came scarily close to accomplishing the improbable.

Name Surname
Will Shillibier

Executive Editor E.U.

Will Shillibier is based in the United Kingdom. He graduated from the University of Kent in 2017 with a B.A. in German, and then studied for a NCTJ Diploma in Sports Journalism at Sportsbeat in Manchester. He previously worked as a freelance live reporter, and video presenter for the World Poker Tour.

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