Who are the best poker players? Our answer depends on what factors we use to determine our list. The poker players listed below are the most well-known and famous poker players. Some are big names known more for their brand as well as their skills and others have earned millions of dollars playing online poker. Here is a list of 12 of the best poker players in the world.
Known by his online moniker "Ziigmund" or the abbreviated "Ziggy", Finnish poker pro Ilari Sahamies gained a large online following due to his trash-talking at the tables and his fearless play at nosebleed stakes. Ziggy endured huge upswings and equally crazy downswings and was particularly dangerous at Pot Limit Omaha Poker.
Sahamies had a son in 2014 and this appears to have calmed him somewhat, however, whenever he sits down at a poker table you know that the action is about to begin. Ziggy played on busy poker websites where there was action to suit all bankrolls, much like those found on 888.com today.
If Ziggy’s swings cause you to have a nosebleed, Di Dang’s story is more considered and his steady success proves he is one of the best poker players in the world. During his third year at college Dang deposited $50 on a top online poker site and instantly had massive success.
By late 2011 he had won a massive $7.5 million playing online poker. He invested some of these winnings into opening a restaurant, which also became very successful. He is rarely seen at the highest stakes these days, but remains one of the biggest winners at online poker in history. Dang might prefer playing at sites like Coral these days, which offer freerolls as well as larger tournaments.
Isildur1 is an online poker phenomenon. Even before the age of 16 he was playing high stakes poker. He joined Full Tilt Poker in 2009 quickly running his bankroll up to $6 million in profits against online greats such as Patrik Antonius, Tom "Durrrr" Dwan and Brian Townsend. He then spectacularly lost it all. Seemingly undeterred, he pressed on winning millions and going broke over and over at a rate never before seen online.
Eventually revealing his identity, Blom later proved his live poker prowess by winning a HORSE tournament in the SCOOP online poker series in 2017 and in 2018, the Party Poker Germany Main Event, pocketing a cool 1 million euros. Isildur1 would suit playing at Guts Poker as he is fearless and often needing a variety of stake options.
After dropping out of college to become a professional poker player, Cates was a big winner online amassing $11m in online poker winnings by 2011 despite some huge losses to Isildur1 in 2009 which caused him to drop stakes, showing good bankroll management and discipline to rebuild his bankroll. He is perhaps best known for accepting the "Durrrr Challenge".
20,000 hands into the 50,000 hand challenge Cates was $1.1 million ahead with the promise of a $1.5 million win if he remained ahead even by $1 by 50,000 hands. Durrrr stopped playing. In recent years Cates has played most of his poker in Macau and reports suggest he has registered some big wins. He also plays lower stakes poker and you might find him sharking at a site like Party Poker.
Phil Hellmuth is one of the world’s most famous poker players. He is a live poker legend specialising in Texas Hold’em Poker tournaments, where he holds a record 15 WSOP bracelets. Phil is known for his short fuse at the table where his large ego which can often spill over into childish behaviour when he is outplayed, although he often plays to the cameras. His live poker tournament earnings exceed $23 million.
A regular on poker TV shows such as Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker, Phil remains one of the most recognisable and successful poker players of all time. His image would suit Paddy Power, who are always at the cutting edge of advertising creativity.
Johnny Chan was immortalised in the 1998 film "Rounders" and holds 10 WSOP bracelets. His biggest accomplishment was winning back-to-back WSOP Main Event bracelets in 1989 but what is not widely known is that he lost heads up to Phil Hellmuth in the 1989 Main Event, coming very close to a surely never to be repeated three wins in a row.
Chan is known for sniffing an orange during live play, which he says is more pleasant to smell than the smoky atmosphere of poker rooms and the occasional poor hygiene of some of his fellow players. Chan is known for his side bets as well as his poker play, he would suit a site like Bet365, where there is a poker room and sportsbook on offer.
Former tennis coach Patrik Antonius is a heads-up Texas Hold’em specialist and a regular in the highest stakes games both online and in live poker’s high stakes mecca, The Bellagio’s Bobby’s Room. With his steely demeanour and prolific success, Antonius has battled Durrrr, Isildur1 and all of the other high stakes poker player and can lay a strong claim to be one of the best poker players in the world.
There is no fear in Antonius’ game and he has played numerous pots over $800,000 and even a PL Omaha hand of $1.3m, which he won against Isildur1 in 2009. A steady winner over many years employing good bankroll management, Antonius has proven you have to be in it to win it, the slogan of Betsafe.com.
Daniel Negreanu burst onto the poker scene in 2003 when he won the US Championships. He has remained front and centre ever since. He is the biggest ever winner in tournaments with over $41 million. He holds 6 WSOP bracelets, 2 WPT bracelets and came within 1 card of winning the WSOPE Main Event in 2009, which would have given him the Triple Crown. Instead of a lucrative online poker sponsorship, Negreanu chose instead to launch his own website Full Contact Poker, which was later sold. He is also a prolific YouTuber and blogger.
Since then Negreanu has fronted a number of coaching websites and is famed for his "small-ball" poker strategy. Negreanu is known for his love of sports betting and prop bets. He was usually sponsored by sites like Ladbrokes rather than the largest websites so he could build their brand alongside his own.
"Durrrr" deposited $50 online and began playing Sit ‘N’ Go tournaments. He ran up his bankroll and began playing for millions of dollars in online cash games against the likes of Antonius, Ziigmund and Phil Ivey in 2009. It was rumoured Durrrr made around $14 million playing cash games online. He occasionally played poker tournaments but has still managed to cash for around $4 million from them.
Durrrr gained worldwide fame for his Durrrr challenge, where he played Patrik Antonius in a 50,000-hand challenge, winning comfortably. His second challenge proved less successful, playing Jungleman12, where it remains incomplete years later and left him subject to much criticism. Durrrr is rumoured to be playing nosebleed stakes in Macau. The timing of his emergence, his elusive character and his success makes Durrrr one of the most famous poker players in the world. Durrrr likes busy games at high stakes, like the ones you find at RedBet.
Ivey was so keen to play poker at the age of 15 that he used a fake name to play. His many hours logged playing earned him his first nickname "No Home Jerome". A terrifying presence at the tables, Ivey has over $26 million in live tournament cashes and has 10 WSOP bracelets. Ivey made the final table of the 2009 WSOP Main Event and he was fortunate enough to become the frontman of Full Tilt Poker, earning a reported $5 million a month from the site, though the true figure is not known.
Whatever that income, Phil enjoyed a high-roller lifestyle most of us can only dream of. Ivey admitted betting up to $1 million per hand on the casino dice game craps and he once admitted to being addicted to the buzz of both winning and losing. Ivey’s success in poker led others to name him "The Tiger Woods of Poker", a reflection of his abilities and dominance. If you love casino games and poker just like Phil Ivey, you’ll find your ideal home at Grosvenor Casinos.
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