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 in the world of poker tournaments.
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. Phil Hellmuth, Jr. (US): $24.8 million
19. Christoph Vogelsang (US): $25 million
18. John Juanda (Indonesia): $25.2 million
17. Jake Schindler (US): $26 million
16. Isaac Haxton (US): $27.6 million
15. Antonio Esfandiari (US): $27.8 million
14. Mikita Bodziakouski (Belarus): $28.5 million
12. Steve O’Dwyer (US): $30.4 million
11. Cary Katz (US): $31.3 million
And now, the top ten best poker players of all time (so far)
10. Jason Koon (US): $31.4 million
The Triton Poker ambassador Jason Koon has had himself quite a year in 2019, adding more than $6 million in tournament winnings to his already impressive resume.
A fixture on the Triton high roller tournament scene, Koon’s two biggest career cashes came in a pair of short deck events on the Triton circuit. Koon won both events, cashing for more than $6.4 million in just those two tournaments alone.
Koon’s latest big score came at the 2021 U.S. Poker Open. The Triton Poker ambassador took a third-place finish in the $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em event for a $336,000 payday.
9. Phil Ivey (US): $31.7 million
A player that needs no introduction to even casual poker fans, Phil Ivey’s poker accomplishments span across both tournaments and cash games on the high-stakes circuit.
While Ivey’s presence is synonymous wth the “poker boom” era of the mid-2000s, four of his top ten biggest tournament scores have come since 2018. Interestingly enough, Ivey’s three top cashes all came in A$ 250,000 buy-in events at the Aussie Millions, in three different years.
Modern-era Phil Ivey frequently appears in the high roller tournaments and cash games presented by Triton Poker. Ivey’s Hendon Mob resume includes nine cashes of seven figures, including a seventh-place finish in the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event ($1,404,014).
8. Fedor Holz (Germany): $32.5 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.
7. David Peters (US): $34.5 million
Always a fixture on the high roller circuit, as well as a threat to win any tournament, David Peters has kept a steady climb up the all-time money list throughout the last few years.
Peters first cash came in 2007, when he was playing at much more modest stakes than the five, six and seven-figure plus buy-ins he plays now. He added two more seven-figure cashes to the resume in 2019.
COVID-19 forced a hiatus for the high-roller tournament circuit for most of 2020, but Peters is right back to his winning ways in 2021. Peters won three events at the 2021 U.S. Poker Open, winning the player of the series award for the second straight time.
6. Stephen Chidwick (England): $35.6 million
Stephen Chidwick is considered, even among his peers on the high roller tournament scene, to be quite possibly the best tournament poker player in the world.
The Englishman has spent considerable time at the top of the Global Poker Index player rankings, and broke through for his first World Series of Poker bracelet this summer at the 2019 WSOP.
Chidwick owns seven career cashes that top the $1 million mark. The biggest of those came at the £1,050,000 Triton Poker Million for Charity event, where Chidwick finished 4th for $5,368,947.
5. Dan Smith (US): $37 million
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 and scored his biggest career cash with a 3rd place finish for $8,765,628 at the Triton Million.
Take a look at Smith playing the 2016 WSOP $111,111 for One Drop. He ultimately finished in 2nd place, winning $3,078,974:
4. Erik Seidel (US): $37.8 million
The “old man” on this list, 61-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.
3. Daniel Negreanu (Canada): $42.2 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.
2. Justin Bonomo (US): $53.2 million
Justin Bonomo 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. Bonomo now sits at #2 on this list, but he’s always a threat to retake the top spot.
The 35-year-old Bonomo had a crazy run in 2018, amassing wins seemingly wherever he played. This three-time WSOP bracelet winner managed an impressive ten wins in various high-roller events across the world that 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.
1. Bryn Kenney (US): $56.4 million
Bryn Kenney’s incredible 2019 run has vaulted him to the top of this list, with his biggest career cash coming in August at the Triton Million. Kenney finished 3rd in that event for $20,563,324.
Kenney’s first live tournament cash was in 2007. Since then he has steadily added to his impressive winnings. 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 Kenney with a tremendous bluff at the 2015 PCA Main Event.
Learn more about Bryn and his rise to the top here.
Top Five Cash Game Players
While the Hendon Mob database stands as a definitive, comprehensive record of poker tournaments played around the world, nailing down the top five cash game players of all time presents a more difficult task.
A comprehensive online cash game database doesn’t exist in the poker world, and high-stakes cash game results from live poker rooms are impossible to track.
A select group of cash game players are considered among their peers as the most feared cash game players in the world. Let’s take a look at five names that being on any “world’s best poker cash game players list:
Linus “LLinusLLove” Loeliger
While a top-five cash game player rankings list is certainly a topic for debate, Linus “LLinusLLove” Loeliger would likely be considered a consensus pick by his fellow high-stakes opponents. Loeliger played in the 10NL online streets back in 2013, but he’s reached the pinnacle of high-stakes online games in the past four years.
The Statname database lists Loeliger with $2.1 million in career cash games winning at stakes of 50NL and up on PokerStars. The database includes hands played across No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha.
More than $2 million of that total comes from stakes of 2,000NL or higher for Loeliger. Those high stakes number likely represent just some of Loeliger’s true winning, as the Swiss poker crusher plays on multiple online poker sites.
Statname lists Swedish player “BERRI SWEET” as the No. 1 all-time online cash game winner at PokerStars. That resume includes $4.5 million in earnings on the world’s largest poker site.
The real-life identity of “BERRI SWEET” is unknown, making it difficult to truly gauge how much money this player has won in poker cash games. With a speciality of Pot-Limit Omaha, “BERRI SWEET” has won $2.4 million at 20,000NL stakes alone.
“BERRI SWEET” won $324,ooo in April 2021 on PokerStars according to Statname, not a bad haul for the modern-day online cash game economy.
Another PLO specialist with an unknown real-life identity, “ActionFreak” has earned $2.1 million in profit over their career on PokerStars. While the real name is still unclear, the screen name is a known PLO-crushing entity.
“ActionFreak” stepped up to take on Phil Galfond in the RunItOnce Galfond Challenge in the early months of 2020. Galfond came away from the 15,000-hand match as the winner, but Galfond’s victory has to be considered an upset against one of poker’s top modern-era PLO players.
Timofey “Trueteller” Kuznetsov
Upswing Poker founder Doug Polk produced a “Top 10 Cash Game Poker Players” video for his YouTube page in 2018. In the video, Polk and one-time Upswing coach Andres “educa-p0ker” Artinano discuss who they considered as the top ten cash game players at the time.
While that video is already three years old, the No. 1 name chosen by Artinano has to make our top-five cash game player list. Timofey “Truetller” Kuznetsov now appears somewhat regularly in high-stakes live cash games, with appearances at the formerly-named Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio Las Vegas, as well as Triton Poker cash games in the Asia-Pacific region.
Highstakes DB tracked Kuznetsov’s high-stakes online hands from 2011-2018. From that sample, “Trueteller” came away with $3,095,168 in profit.
Jonas “OtB_RedBaron” Mols
The player known by the online screen name “OtB_RedBaron” is a certified online poker legend. “OtB_RedBaron” was such a crusher that Andres “educa-p0ker” Artinano once made an Upswing Poker course called “Crush the Baron,” which focused entirely on the strategies employed and the database statistics put forth by “OtB_RedBaron.”
We now know that “OtB_RedBaron” is the PokerStars online handle belonging to Belgian poker pro Jonas Mols. According to Statname, Mols is up $1.7 million at PokerStars over the course of his career. Again though, that sample doesn’t represent all hands played by Mols at all stakes across all poker sites.
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!
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