The best poker player: the most successful, lucky and rich ones

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Updated 10.06.2024
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Лучший игрок в покер

What are we talking about here? The best poker players are not gods of cards, not oil tycoons, not owners of factories and plants. These are regular folks, just like us, who took control of their lives.

Who is the best? It’s difficult to name the best of the best. Some have conquered the world of online poker, others have stormed into the hall of fame from the very bottom, and some are considered a godfather of modern Hold’em. One thing, however, is certain their winnings are seven figures at least.

Top Players Inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame

To join the ranks of legendary players in the Poker Hall of Fame is a huge honor for every professional. Only a distinguished poker player who has made a significant contribution to the development of the community and received recognition from his colleagues can get there.

The founder of the Poker Hall of Fame is Benny Binion. The successful businessman owned several gaming houses and was actively involved in game popularization process. After the reconstruction of the building where the Poker Hall of Fame based in 2000, it was decided to move the whole thing online. Now it’s just an online list of poker superstars making history of the game. Since 2004, the brand has belonged to the WSOP.

Let’s talk about the outstanding players who made the list of the Poker Hall of Fame:

  • Doyle Brunson. The player is considered the “Godfather” of modern poker. He won the WSOP Main Event two years in a row (1976 and 1977). This achievement is notable because both times Doyle Brunson won it with the same hand – T2. In 2016, his son Todd Brunson was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
  • Dan Harrington and Erik Seidel. Those two got their place in the Poker Hall of Fame after voting in 2010. Dan Harrington is the author of several educational books that every poker player knows, and he has also won few major WSOP tournaments. Erik Seidel was a professional poker player and played at the highest stakes. And he is still a player to beat. At the age of 63, he still wins tournaments and not stopping anytime soon.
Лучший игрок в покер
  • Daniel Negreanu. This is one of the most recognizable modern poker players. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. Daniel Negreanu received this honorary status as a PokerStars ambassador. He made a great contribution to the development of the game.

Five of the Best Poker Players in the World

Mike Matusow

Country: United States of America

World Series of Poker bracelets: 4

Offline prize money: $9,200,000

The notorious poker player is famous not only for big wins, but also for some scandals associated with him. His behavior at the poker table is quite aggressive and offensive, he often goes over the top, provoking other players and trying to irritate them. There was a case when Mike Matusov’s impulsiveness led to him not playing for 40 minutes at a major tournament due to insults towards other poker players and staff.

Mike’s path to WSOP bracelets was difficult. He was born into a poor family and did not have the starting bankroll to play poker. At first, Mike worked as a dealer and croupier in a casino. This valuable experience allowed him to study human psychology well. Later, Mike began to play poker professionally, using the acquired skills to achieve outstanding results.

Phil Ivey

Country: United States of America

World Series of Poker Bracelets: 10

Offline prize money: $22,000,000

Many people believe that Phil Ivey is the best poker player of all time. As an argument, he has won over 22 million in prize money, and this does not include online winnings.

The American professional poker player born in 1977. Ivey’s breakthrough at the WSOP came in 2000. It was then that he received the first bracelet of his career. An interesting fact is that all of Phil’s relatives were against his hobby at the time. However, he persistently pursued his goal. Phil Ivey made his first money playing poker while still working in a casino.

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Now one of the best poker players is not only a big name in the community, but also a successful businessman. He was one of the founders of the popular poker room Full Tilt Poker. Ivey condemned the management of the poker room when they did not pay players money after Black Friday.

Phil Ivey is often compared to Tiger Woods. They are not only similar in appearance. Both reached professional heights and recognition, but in different areas.

Stu Ungar

Country: United States of America

World Series of Poker bracelets: 5

Offline prize money: $4,000,000

This is a poker legend and the most controversial person in its history. There is no doubt that Stu Ungar was a very talented player. He managed to win the WSOP Main Event three times. So far no one has been able to break this record. In the final game in 1980, he beat Doyle Brunson himself. At that time, D was one of the best poker players.

Unfortunately, due to drug and alcohol addiction, Stu Ungar died in 1998. The cause of death was a heart attack. Doctors noted that it was a result of the player’s destructive addictions.

There is an American biographical film “High Roller: the Stu Ungar story”, dedicated to the life of Stu Ungar. A very talented actor Michael Imperioli portrayed Stu in the movie.

Patrik Antonius

Country: Finland

World Series of Poker bracelets: 0

Offline prize money: $7,000,000

Among the best poker players, this is the only representative who was not born in the USA. Patrick is from Finland. He lives in Monte Carlo and plays in local casinos. It’s amazing that he was able to win a mind-boggling amount of money in tournaments, yet he claims to be primarily an online player.

Patrick was born in 1980. The future professional poker player first dreamed of becoming a tennis player. He even played in tournaments, but suffered a serious back injury and retired from the sport.

Patrik Antonius, along with Viktor Blum, played the largest pot in the history of online poker – $1.3 million for just one hand. And Patrick ended up winning it.

Jamie Gold

Country: United States of America

World Series of Poker Bracelets: 1

Offline prize money: $12,456,732

Until 2006, no one knew about Jamie Gold in the poker community. He signed up for WSOP Main Event, payed $10,000 fee and this is where his story has begun.

Gold is famous for his psychological tactics at the table. In 2006 WSOP Main Event, he did tease his opponents a lot, was making jokes and being provocative. And it was successful as Jamie won the tournament and earned $12 million in one week! Since then, no one has broken his single-event prize money record.

Jamie had no more major victories in his career, but he did not give up playing poker. In addition, he still actively participates in TV shows.

Other Candidates for the Best Poker Player List

Chip Reese

The public recognized Chip Reese after his victory in the $50,000 HORSE Championship. Chip was born in the US state of Ohio in 1951. Since childhood, he was interested in card games and easily beat his classmates. Chip’s first winnings were baseball cards. He had a lot of them.

Chip planned to study law at Stanford University. By chance, he ended up in Las Vegas. This trip turned everything around. Chip Reese’s career includes 3 WSOP bracelets and a victory in HORSE.

Johnny Moss

This is a legendary poker player, during whose career several political regimes have changed. He was born in 1907 in Texas. There is no exact biographical information about his life. There is information that Johnny learned the skill of the game from the bandits who kidnapped him. Later he worked in a club where he watched poker games.

Лучший игрок в покер

It was there that he made his successful debut at the poker table. Johnny Moss was a traveling poker player. According to Moss himself, he had connections with the mafia, which were often not at all negative.

When Johnny was 42 years old (1949), he became famous by beating poker legend Nick Dandolos. The competition between the two lasted for 6 months. Moss won about $2-4 million. From that point people started calling him the best player of all time.

In 1970, Johnny won the first World Series of Poker tournament. Throughout his career until 1995, he won 9 WSOP bracelets. Johnny played poker until his death (December 16, 1995).

Viktor Blom

Viktor Blom is one of the best online poker players. He was born in 1990 in Sweden. In the online poker community, Viktor is known as “Isildur1”. He is one of the strongest players of our time.

The 27-year-old Swede hid his identity for a long time, thereby creating an aura of mystery. However, after signing a contract with PokerStars he of course had to unveil his identity.

Sam Trickett

Sam was born in 1986. The peak of the poker player’s career came in 2010. He took part in the 2010 World Series of Poker (WSOP), where he finished in the money six times. He subsequently finished fourth at the European Poker Tour (ETP). Sam topped the poker player rankings in 2010. He also joined Team Titan Poker that same year. Although, 2011 was not as successful in the poker player’s career as the previous one.

He won over $3,000,000 at the Aussie Millions Poker Championship. He also finished sixth on the World Poker Tour (WPT) and first on the ME Partouche Poker Tour. His winnings amounted to 1,000,000 euros. Sam had another big year in his career in 2012. He earned $10 million in the 2012 WSOP Event #55, Big One for One Drop, finishing in second place. The entry fee was $1,000,000. This is one of the largest winnings in poker history (third in total).

Three best Russian poker players

Vladimir Troyanovsky

Prize money: $7,936,607

Date of birth: 08/20/1973

Biggest win: $945,845

Current ranking position: 142

Significant achievements: EPT Monte Carlo champion in 2016, third place at EPT Barcelona in 2014, victories in PokerStars live tournaments.

Vladimir Troyanovsky is a Muscovite. There is not a lot of information about his childhood. He graduated from university with a degree in mechanical engineering and became interested in poker. Vladimir said that he started playing in the seventh grade.

Troyanovsky began his professional career in the 2000s, taking part in major tournaments. He received his first prizes in 2003. He finished eighth in the $275 Pot-Limit Omaha event and earned $500. Subsequently, the poker player’s career took off, as did the amount of prize money.

Timofey Kuznetsov

Prize money: $8,448,080

Year of birth: 1991

Biggest win: $2,150,000

Current ranking position: 122

Significant achievements: victory in the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series, champion of the high roller tournament PartyPoker MILLIONS in Sochi

Timofey Kuznetsov is one of the best online poker players. He comes from Siberia. Timofey moved to the capital at the age of 17 to enter the Faculty of Mathematics at Moscow State University.

He became interested in poker after a friend of his won $7,000 in a month by playing online. Thanks to his mathematical abilities, Kuznetsov was able to achieve high earnings rather quickly, playing under the screenname “trueteller”.

Timofey led a secluded life for a long time and played incognito. No one in the poker community had any idea who the “trueteller” was, a mysterious person who climbed the highest stakes. At a certain point, Kuznetsov revealed his identity himself.

It is difficult to say how much Timofey earned online. We can only assume he made tens of millions of dollars. That is why Timofey Kuznetsov is called one of the best online poker players.

When Timofey first took part in an offline event, he already was well known and well respected in poker community.

Igor Kurganov

Prize money: $18,706,719

Date of birth: 05/05/1988

Biggest win: $1,559,373

Current ranking position: 32

Significant achievements: first place in the Russia All Time Money List ranking, WSOP bracelet, WSOP Circuit champion, 6 victories in PokerStars offline tournaments

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The leader of the domestic ranking of the best poker players is the legendary Igor Kurganov. In terms of winnings, he more than doubled the results of his closest rival.

Igor comes from the Northern capital. At the age of 4, the Kurganov family moved to Germany, to Dortmund. He lived there until he was 19 years old.

Igor studied in Munich. He did not graduate from college because he began to devote a lot of time to playing poker. In 2009, he moved to London, where he currently resides.

Kurganov has German citizenship, but always plays under the Russian flag. In the poker community, he is considered a Russian player.

Frequently Asked Questions About Poker Players

Which poker player has won the most prize money?

Here is a list of the best offline poker players with the highest amount of winnings in their career:

  • Justin Bonomo -57,194,649;
  • Bryn Kenney -$57,108,365;
  • Daniel Negreanu -$45,175,428;
  • Eric Seidel – $38,445,633;
  • David Peters – $38,279,171.

Do you need a lot of money to become a top player?

No, you do not. There are many real life examples in the history of poker when future legends of the game made their debut in free roll tournaments or at the lowest stakes.

Should you study videos of poker stars’ games?

Studying the experience of poker stars will definitely be useful to you. However, it won’t make you play really well for millions of dollars. This requires professionalism and talent.

Can you become famous by playing only in online rooms?

Certainly. This is the main starting point for future stars.

If you are a beginner player and want to try yourself at poker, then the first thing you need to do is learn the rules of the game and the basic combinations.

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Nik Maslov Professional poker coach since 2021
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