There are many popular card games out there, and while they’re popular, a lot of them rely on luck. One card game where skill comes into play is poker, and if you’re good at poker, you can make some serious money. As you will expect, over the years, there have been some outstanding players on the poker circuit, with many of them going down in history for their successes.
We’ll start as we mean to go on by first mentioning the late great Johnny Moss. In the eyes of many, Moss is one of those players that you associate with being the best of his generation. It’s a feat that’s difficult to achieve, but the reason why Moss is deserving of the title is that he’s a Poker Hall of Fame member who has won the World Series of Poker Main Event on three occasions. Unfortunately, Moss passed in 1995, which was way before the internet transformed the casino industry. Who knows how successful the American would have been playing table games online? We think he’d have certainly more than held his own.
Poker has always been a game for people of all ages. And, over time, it’s the younger players who have been getting more into playing, especially with so many tournaments around to hone their craft. At times, there needs to be inspiration too, and this is precisely what Phil Hellmuth provided when he became the youngest ever winner of the poker World Series at twenty-four years old. He achieved the $755,000 World Series of Poker victory and hasn’t looked back since. And a lot of his success stems from being introduced to the game at a young age and playing with his family as he grew up. So, you could say he has them to thank in part for where he is today.
It’s another Phil next on our list, and this time it’s Phil Ivey, who is undoubtedly one of the most skilful poker players of all time. Like his namesake mentioned above, Ivey was also playing poker from a young age; with suggestions, he went as far as using fake documentation to get himself into tournaments where he could practice and compete. What you could argue Ivey was able to achieve as a poker player, something he continues to do to this day, is making the game one of the richest on the planet. And his reported net worth of over $100 million is evidence of this. He can often be seen in Atlantic City playing at high roller events.
Our list is being put together in no particular order, but for many people who know poker, they’d have Stu Ungar right at the top of their list of the best poker players of all time. Ungar, like many other of the greats, was playing the game from a young age. And, because he excelled at mathematics in school, it set him up to become the poker player that many knew him to be. As well as being excellent at the game, he was also famous, with people travelling from all over the US to take him on. There’s even a film that has been made about him. It’s a must-watch for anyone with an interest in poker, as it documents the highs and the lows.
When you’re talking about the most respected poker players of the twentieth century, finding anyone who fits the title as closely as Daniel Negreanu isn’t easy. The player, who has Romanian roots, was born in Canada, and every time he appears in poker events, he’s proud to represent the country and put it on the map. Over the years, Negreanu has won tournaments aplenty, with multiple accolades to his name. But, in a four-year period between 2014 and 2018, he amassed a fortune of close to $40,000,000, which shows his ability has never been in question. He continues to be an ambassador for various poker organisations.
As we mentioned above, poker is fast becoming a game where younger players are getting involved. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s good for poker, after all. However, what’s also great is when veterans of the game continue to more than hold their own against the young guns who are up and coming on the scene and causing quite the stir. Step forward, Erik Seidel. He’s a record holder due to how many wins he has to his name; he has eight World Series of Poker bracelets, is a hall of famer, and has made over $30,000,000 at the table. And at sixty-two, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Bryn Kenney is another poker player who developed a passion for the game at a young age. But, it was when he discovered how profitable it could be that he decided to take playing poker more seriously. He first used an account of his mother’s because he was underage before switching over to his own when he turned eighteen. Kenney’s style is one that is fast becoming common on the circuit. He can secure massive victories where he rakes in the dollars. But he can also take significant hits. It’s a style that seems to work for him, and it fits his personality to a tee.
Stephen Chidwick is the first player from the UK to appear on this list, and he’s by far and away one of the top players around. Chidwick travelled the path of playing in free tournaments to learn his craft before deciding it was time to make the move and put real money on the line. And, it was a great decision to make the switch as in his poker career, he’s cleared $30,000,000 in winnings. He still appears at live events and suggests he prefers them to playing online. The Brit has said online play lost its appeal, but offline poker remains enjoyable and exciting.
Dan Smith became interested in poker at the age of sixteen and quickly decided that he wanted to turn professional eventually. With a background in chess, you could argue that this set him up for poker because of the strategic thinking involved. Smith shot to fame after winning the Aussie Millions Poker Championship Challenge, which then saw him push on to compete in the World Series of Poker tour, where his earnings went from thousands to millions. Renowned for his PokerStars nickname Danny98765, Smith is still one of the top active players around today.
Fedor Holz is one of, if not the greatest poker player to come out of Germany. At just twenty-one, people were talking about Holz as one of the poker greats. And this is backed up by how successful he has been at live tournaments. In live tournaments alone, he’s scooped over $25,000,000 in prize money, with his total career earnings well over $30,000,000 and rising. You must be a special player to not only achieve what Holz achieved at such a young age but to be spoken about in the same conversations as legendary poker players.
Justin Bonomo is a player who wouldn’t pigeonhole himself into playing poker in one specific way. Instead, he decided he would play online, offline and at live tournaments. And he felt comfortable in doing so. Like others in this list, his career kickstarted at the age of sixteen, and when he reached twenty-one, he’d amassed a fortune of hundreds of thousands of dollars thanks to his poker wins. Disaster may have temporarily struck when Poker Stars banned Bonomo for having multiple accounts, but over time he’s managed to repair his reputation and continue to pick up wins on the circuit, where he remains one of the players to beat.
Doyle Brunson is a true poker veteran who is very much a part of the first generation of poker talents. And, with that, it puts him right at the top of the tree when it comes to the best poker players of all time. Dubbed the Godfather, Brunson not only achieved the success of ten World Series of Poker bracelets but of inspiring and educating others along the way. His books, such as Supersystem, are as legendary as he is as a player. Brunson is now enjoying his retirement but is still seen as one of the most iconic poker stars there’s ever been.
Poker is becoming more mainstream with each passing year. And, it’s a game with a rich history. The players mentioned above have all played significant roles in getting poker to where it is today, with tournaments being broadcast live on television in countries around the world. They also serve as inspiration as many of them started out with a passion for poker before turning it into a profession and then going on to not only make millions but to leave their mark on the game forever.
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