Who are the most famous poker players of all time?
The “poker boom” era of the 2000s made mainstream celebrities out of some of poker’s most prolific personalities.
Some of those names are still prominent in the game today, while others aren’t active in the modern era of poker. Other big-name poker players rose to fame in more recent years.
None of these players, however, will ever be forgotten. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most famous poker players of all time, including five male and five female players:
Most Famous Poker Players (Male)
Is Doyle Brunson the most famous poker player ever? The man known as “Texas Dolly” was already a legend of mythical proportions when poker hit the mainstream in 2003.
Doyle Brunson’s resume and reputation in the poker world is unmatched. Brunson is a 10-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, including two wins in the WSOP $10,000 Main Event.
Brunson was one of the definitive poker strategy authors from the pre-poker-boom era. His Super System and Super System 2 strategy publications are still two of the most famous poker books of all time.
“Texas Dolly” officially retired from poker in 2018, making it to another WSOP final table in his final appearance. Brunson has been one of the world’s most famous poker players for most of the past half-century, and that status isn’t going away any time soon.
Perhaps the most famous player from the modern era, Daniel Negreanu’s rise into mainstream notoriety began in the poker-boom era of the mid-2000s.
“Kid Poker” was ubiquitous on the classic poker television shows from that era. Negreanu was the face of PokerStars for more than a decade, serving as the company’s most high-profile ambassador from 2007-2019.
Hendon Mob, the world’s most comprehensive poker database, has a listing for “Most Popular Players”. The rankings are derived from how many times a player’s name is clicked from any list on the site.
Negreanu is number one on that list, by far. If Doyle Brunson is the all-time face of poker, Negreanu is the poster face of the modern era.
Phil Ivey, like Negreanu, entered mainstream consciousness with the rise of poker in pop culture. Ivey was another player seemingly invited to all of the high-stakes, televised games of the 2000s.
Unlike Negreanu, whose face and voice are inescapable for anyone who follows poker, Ivey carries a mystique that no other poker player can touch. Even though we’ve seen hundreds of hours of Ivey playing poker over the past two decades, we really want to know more about what he does when the cameras are off.
The Phil Ivey story is something straight out of a movie. It includes sneaking into card rooms when he was under 21, 10 WSOP bracelets, $20 million in online winnings on Full Tilt Poker and multi-million dollar baccarat cheating allegations.
All of those things are just a part of the overall story arc for Phil Ivey, one of the most famous poker players ever.
Considered by many to be the top heads-up (1 on 1) poker player of all time, three-time WSOP bracelet winner Doug Polk has had a very unique rise to poker fame.
While most on this list were essentially the most famous players during the poker boom era — which exponentially increased their notoriety — Doug Polk leveraged the power of the internet to become a well-known player.
He started as a low stakes 9-handed player online, but eventually moved on to heads-up. It’s at those heads-up tables where he rose to the top of the online poker food chain until eventually no one would play him.
Then Doug turned his sights to the content game. He started his now famous YouTube channel DougPolkPoker where he posted videos reviewing hands and recapping events in the poker world.
It was in 2017 that Doug locked up his biggest tournament score ever, winning the World Series of Poker $111,111 buy-in One Drop tournament for $3.7 million. His vlogs from this event, which came out as it was happening, have amassed around 1 million view on YouTube.
In 2020, Doug Polk challenged his longtime rival and fellow famous poker player Daniel Negreanu to a 25,000 hand heads-up match. Surprisingly, Negreanu accepted the challenge despite heads-up being Doug’s game.
The pair of pros battled it out over the course of several months with all hands streamed live on Doug’s YouTube channel. In the end, Doug netted $1.2 million from his battle against Kid Poker.
In 2022, Doug announced that he had partnered with poker vloggers Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen to purchase a stake in The Lodge Card Club in Austin, Texas. Doug’s focus since then has been growing and improving that room, which is considered one of the best places to play poker in the USA.
We can’t have Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey on this list without including Phil Hellmuth. The “Poker Brat” has the most all-time wins at the WSOP in history, with 15 bracelets to his name as of 2020.
While many of the stars of the poker boom aren’t really a part of the modern-day poker scene, Hellmuth’s star has persisted. His win in the 1989 WSOP Main Event as a 24-year-old was just the start of a lifetime in the poker limelight for Hellmuth.
Like Negreanu and Ivey, Hellmuth was one of the players that seemed to be on every poker television show in the 2000s. Fast forward to 2020 and Hellmuth is still a major presence in the game, with the Poker Brat persona perfected and now timeless in the annals of poker history.
Hellmuth has plenty of detractors, but he can still get it done in live tournaments. Hellmuth added to his record bracelet total with win No. 15 at the 2018 WSOP.
Most Famous Female Poker Players
Another star from the rise of poker in the mainstream, Jennifer Harman rose to prominence in the poker-boom era. As one of the pros from Full Tilt Poker, Harman was one of the most recognizable poker personalities of the 2000s.
Harman doesn’t make too many appearances on modern poker television shows, but she was a mainstay on programs like Poker After Dark, High Stakes Poker, and WSOP episodes from poker’s golden era.
Harman is still remembered as one of the major players from the 2000s, and is still one of the most well-known female players in the game.
Vanessa Rousso’s emergence into the poker mainstream coincided with the peak of the poker boom. A seventh-place finish and a $263,625 payday at the 2006 WPT Five-Star World Poker Classic ignited Rousso’s rise in the game, after which she became one of poker’s instantly recognizable players.
Rousso landed sponsorships for GoDaddy and PokerStars in 2006, as well as another big tournament score. Her win at the 2006 WPT Borgata Poker Open was another milestone on the way to more than $3.5 million in career tournament earnings for Rousso.
Let’s take a look at a memorable moment from Rousso’s career, pitting her in a verbal battle with Tony G:
Maria Ho is one of the most prominent female personalities in poker’s current era. Her roles as a host on PokerGO coverage of the Super High Roller Bowl, PokerMasters and other high-profile tournament series put Ho in the spotlight frequently on modern-era poker programs.
Ho also boasts an impressive resume at the poker table. Her career earnings total of more than 4 million includes numerous six-figure cashes.
Her biggest tournament score came at the 2011 WSOP, where Ho earned $540,020 for a second-place finish in a $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event.
Like Maria Ho, Liv Boeree owns an extensive resume of work in front of the camera, as well as at the poker table.
Boeree’s poker career took a massive upturn after her first major victory. That score came at the 2010 European Poker Tour Sanremo, in which Boeree cashed in for €1,250,000 in a first-place finsh.
For the past decade, Boeree has consistently held status as one of poker’s most famous female players, including a long stretch as a PokerStars Team Pro.
Here’s a look at Boeree clinching the win at the 2010 EPT Sanremo, still the biggest cash of her career:
Vanessa Selbst is the winningest female tournament poker player of all time, by a longshot.
A career of big scores for Selbst began in 2006, the beginning steps of a resume that includes nearly $12 million in career earnings as of 2020.
Selbst sustained that success throughout the better part of the next 15 years, adding a trio of seven-figure paydays in the 2010s. Her biggest career cash came at the 2010 Partouche Poker Tour Cannes Main Event, netting a €1,3000,000 payday for Selbst.
Selbst announced her retirement from poker in 2018, but she still makes the occasional tournament appearance. Retired or not, Selbst is one of the most famous poker players from the modern era, with an enviable list of accomplishments in the game.
Other players throughout poker history are certainly worthy of making this list, but these 10 players have cemented their status as some of the most famous poker players of all time.
Check out the article below for more on poker’s top players: