There is a lot of money to be made playing poker. Many of the game’s best players have climbed the ladder and made millions on the live and virtual felt.
Let’s take a look at the top ten best poker players of all time, based on tournament earnings.
First, a shout-out to numbers 11–20!
20. Jason Mercier (US): $18.9 million
19. Isaac Haxton (US): $19.3 million
18. Sam Trickett (UK): $20.8 million
17. Jake Schindler (US): $21.2 million
16. Brian Rast (US): $21.4 million
15. Jason Koon (US): $22.3 million
14. Phil Hellmuth, Jr. (US): $22.8 million
13. David Peters (US): $23.5 million
12. Scott Seiver (US): $23.5 million
11. Steve O’Dwyer (US): $23.8 million
And now, the top ten best poker players of all time (so far)
10. John Juanda (Indonesia): $24.1 million
John Juanda is a five-time WSOP bracelet winner who has been playing tournament poker since 1997. In the past six years, the 47-year-old has made the rounds on the international circuit, where he won his largest cash prize of nearly $2.9 million, in October 2017, at the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Main Event. In 2015, Juanda was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame alongside Jennifer Harman.
9. Dan Smith (US): $25.2 million
At just 29 years old, Dan Smith isn’t a vocal player, but he has been slowly and surely moving up the All-Time Money List. 2012 marked a turning point in Smith’s career, beginning with a victory in the Aussie Millions Poker Championship $100,000 NHLE event for a very respectable $1.04 million. Smith also did particularly well at the 2012 EPT-8 in Monte Carlo, where he won three NLHE events over a span of four days.
Most recently, Smith placed 3rd in the 2018 WSOP Big One for One Drop for $4 million.
Take a look at Smith playing the 2014 WSOP Main Event. He ultimately finished in 20th place, winning $286,900:
8. Bryn Kenney (US): $25.3 million
Bryn Kenney’s first live tournament cash was in 2007. Since then he has steadily added to his impressive winnings. The now-31-year-old Kenney won a WSOP bracelet in 2014 at the $1,500 10-Game Mix 6-Handed event, and, in total, he has made seven final WSOP tables and cashed 32 times, including a 28th place in the 2010 Main Event. His largest single cash of nearly $2 million came back in April 2017, at the PokerStars Championship €100,000 NLHE Super High Roller 8-Max in Barcelona. Since then, Kenney has had many top-five finishes across the globe.
Here’s Kenny with a tremendous bluff at the 2015 PCA Main Event.
7. Phil Ivey (US): $26.3 million
The young-looking 41-year-old Phil Ivey has been a poker superstar for a long time. He has won ten (!) WSOP bracelets, made 31 WSOP final tables, and cashed 59 times in WSOP events. Ivey’s best showing at the WSOP Main Event was 7th, in 2009. In fact, Ivey is tied with Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan with ten bracelets. Only Phil Hellmuth has won more with 15. Ivey is undoubtedly one of the best poker players of all time.
Here’s a nifty little compilation of Phil Ivey at his best.
6. Antonio Esfandiari (US): $27.7 million
Antonio “the Magician” Esfandiari has the distinction of winning the largest tournament cash prize ever—nearly $18.35 million—at the 2012 WSOP $1 million Big One for One Drop. With this win, the 39-year-old Esfandiari stood atop the all-time money list until Daniel Negreanu’s overtook him with a 2nd place finish in the 2014 Big One for One Drop. To date, Esfandiari has three WSOP bracelets and two WPT titles.
Esfandiari is close friends with Phil Laak and Jennifer Tilly. Here’s a humorous hand between him and Laak.
5. Daniel Colman (US): $29 million
28-year-old Daniel Colman climbed to his spot on this list by beating Negreanu in the 2014 $1 million Big One for One Drop, pocketing the $15.3 million 1st prize—the second largest payout in poker history.
Here’s the hugely entertaining final hand of that epic tournament:
4. Fedor Holz (Germany): $32.6 million
25-year-old Fedor Holz is, indeed, one of the best poker players in history. During 2016 and 2017 seasons Holz had one of the sickest runs ever, winning $21 million during this short span. Most recently, Holz finished in 2nd place behind Justin Bonomo in the 2018 WSOP $1 million Big One for One Drop, taking home the hefty $6 million consolation prize.
3. Erik Seidel (US): $34.6 million
The “old man” on this list, 58-year-old Erik Seidel is one of the original players from New York City’s Mayfair Clu0b, which includes the likes of Stu Ungar, Dan Harrington, and Howard Lederer. Seidel is an eight-time WSOP bracelet winner who has made an impressive 35 final tables and whopping 92 cashes, including his 2nd-place finish in the 1988 Main Event behind Johnny Chan.
Seidel won his largest cash payout of almost $2.5 million at the 2011 Aussie Millions Poker Championship $250,000 Super High Roller NLHE event. In 2010, he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
2. Daniel Negreanu (Canada): $39.8 million
Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu spent considerable time atop the all-time money list until the 2018 WSOP. But Negreanu’s career isn’t anything to scoff at. He has six WSOP bracelets, made 38 final tables, and has cashed 108 times, including as 11th place finish at both the 2001 and 2015 WSOP Main Events. Negreanu was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2014.
Negreanu’s uncanny ability to read his opponents with incredible accuracy has undoubtedly contributed to his impressive success and well-deserved place among the best poker players of all time.
1. Justin Bonomo (US): $43 million
Justin Bonomo recently took over the top spot with his win in the 2018 WSOP $1 million Big One for One Drop. The $10 million prize swiftly propelled him to #1 on the All Time Money List. But the 32-year-old Bonomo has otherwise had a crazy run in 2018, amassing wins seemingly wherever he plays. This three-time WSOP bracelet winner has managed an impressive ten wins in various high-roller events across the world this year, including the May Aria Super High Roller Bowl $300,000 NLHE event where he won $5 million and the Macau Super High Roller Bowl $HK 3 million NLHE event where he pocketed another $4.8 million (HK $37.8 million). Bonomo certainly shows no signs of slowing down.
There you have it, the best poker players in history, to date! Who is your favorite? And who do you anticipate to make their way on to this list? Comment below!
Until next time!
Read more from Upswing Poker:
- The Top 20 Female Poker Players of All Time
- Why Does Everyone Hate Howard Lederer?
- How Did Jungleman Dan Cates Become so Successful?
Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer/blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.