Chris Ferguson and Min-Cash Mania: Is it Poker Skill or Survival?

2 years ago
Chris Ferguson and Min-Cash Mania: Is it Poker Skill or Survival?
16 Nov

Will 2017 forever be remembered in poker history as the year of the min-cash?

Exhibit A is Chris Ferguson, who won the WSOP Player of the Year award due to his record number of min-cashes. He cashed 23 times at WSOP events this year - 17 in Las Vegas and 6 more at the WSOPE.

Granted, that's a lot of trips to the cashier cage and an accomplishment deserving of accolades, especially considering that Ferguson obliterated the old record of 13 WSOP cashes set in 2016 by Roland Israelashvili.

However, of those 23 cashes, only three were final table finishes, with his lone victory coming in his last cash in Rozvadov over only 92 entries for $45,677. He would have won the POY even without grabbing the gold bracelet in that tournament, by the way.

To put it in another perspective, only 5 of his Chris' 23 cashes earned paydays of more than $5,000. And in 14 of them, his winnings did not double the amount of the buy-in.

I Will Survive

Of course, it takes skill to navigate your way through tournament fields and land in the money. But shouldn't more emphasis be placed on victories and final table finishes than the min-cash as a true Player of the Year?

Frequent cashes without landing big scores can get you labeled as a nit, and we all know players who fall into that category. That's not to say that tight and safe tournament play that assures more paydays isn't skillful. Of course it is, but that style may lean a bit more in the direction of survival than skill.

With six WSOP bracelets to his name, Ferguson certainly wouldn't be called a nit. He's been called a lot of other names much worse than that due to the Full Tilt fiasco and his lack of acknowledgement of any wrongdoing.

Whether you forgive him or still hate him for that mess, he cashed in 23 out of 82 potential WSOP events. It's a new record, it's a big deal, and it's an amazing achievement. But it may not be the best way of judging success in poker tournaments.


Chris Ferguson's 23 WSOP cashes in 2017, with buy-in, place of finish, and prize money won: 

  • €1,650 PLO Hi/Lo 8 Better /1st/ $45,677
  • €2,200 PLO /29th/ $3,734
  • €550 The Colossus /458th/ $994
  • €1,650 NLHE 6-Handed /26th/ $3,265
  • €1,100 Super Turbo Bounty /36th/ $1,531
  • €550 PLO /70th/ $942
  • $1,111 Little One Drop /96th/ $3,997
  • $10,000 Seven Stud /2nd/ $151,700             
  • $1,500 NLHE /241st/ $2,494
  • $888 NLHE Crazy Eights /277th/ $3,611
  • $1,500 NLHE /96th/ $3,410
  • $10,000 PLO Hi/Lo /4th/ $150,929
  • $1,500 Monster Stack /855th/ $2,496
  • $10,000 Seven Stud Hi/Lo /12th/ $22,396
  • $10,000 NLHE 6-Handed /43rd/ $15,516
  • $1,500 Seven Stud Hi/Lo /49th/ $2,795
  • $1,000 Super Turbo Bounty /135th/ $1,374
  • $2,500 NLHE /118th/ $4,068
  • $3,000 NLHE 6-Handed /117th/ $4,594
  • $565 PLO /87th/ $3,458
  • $1,000 NLHE Tag Team /81st/ $898
  • $1,500 Dealers Choice /44th/ $2,335
  • $565 The Colossus III /449th/ $4,129

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Charles is a Chicago native and long time poker player who dusted off his journalism degree and began writing about poker following the events of Black Friday in 2011. He has written for a number of leading poker websites, offering his insights and expertise on subjects ranging from online poker leg...Read more


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