12 Of The Best Poker Players In The World Today
It’s not easy to put together a list of the best poker players in the world that everyone would agree on.
What criteria do we base it on? What game are we even talking about, as there are so many different variants of the game of poker. Texas Hold’em may be the most popular of the poker variants nowadays, but Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo, Seven Card Stud, Razz and Irish are just a few of the many variants still being played.
There is also a distinction between cash game poker players and tournament poker players to consider. And of course, it’s not always live players we are talking about, as many of the world’s best poker players are predominantly online geniuses. All these distinctions are blurred, as many players participate in several different forms of poker.
Some of the top cash game players are also great tournament poker players; some online whizz kids are also very successful live; some dominating mixed game players are also pretty good at Texas Hold’em, and so on. While there are very few complete all-rounders when it comes to poker, many of the best players in the world have transferable skills and are feared competitors at any poker table, be it a cash game or tournament, Hold’em or Omaha, live or at online poker sites.
All the players on our list have performed at the highest levels in recent years, but only some have stood the test of time, with many of today’s most successful players just rising to the top in the last few years. There are several big poker names that you might have expected to see on this list, such as old-timers like Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, and Johnny Chan, who haven’t made the grade this time round.
There are also many famous poker players who missed out, but who deserved a place on this list, such is the great depth of poker talent today. But we will probably never know who the actual best poker player in the world is. Apart from being very hard to compare poker players across different disciplines, the most skillful cash game players like to keep very quiet about their successes.
This is the Gambling.com list of 12 of the best poker players in the world today, in no particular order:
1. Phil Ivey
Phil is a very famous poker player who is considered by many to be the best poker player ever. He was the most successful player of his generation during the 2000s, becoming the face of Full Tilt Poker and claiming ten WSOP bracelets, remarkably none of them for No Limit Texas Hold’em.
Phil had been relatively absent from the tables for a number of years, but a victory in the Poker Go Heads Up Championship in 2021 sparked a return to regular competition. His impressive string of recent results proves that he is still one of the best players around. Ivey cashed for nearly $6m in 2022 alone, including a Triton event victory and several final tables of super high roller events.
In addition to his considerable tournament success, Ivey is a feared cash game player, having possibly won more from cash games than the $38m he has won from tournaments. Away from the poker tables, Ivey is a high-stakes gambler and has made headlines with court cases against various casinos that had refused to pay him millions in Baccarat winnings.
These winnings were achieved using a controversial technique known as edge-sorting. Ivey and an associate requested (and were granted) favorable playing conditions that enabled them to successfully identify card values when face down. He lost two court cases against casinos who sued him, claiming the technique amounted to cheating.
2. Daniel ‘Jungleman’ Cates
After dropping out of college to become a professional poker player, Daniel “Jungleman” Cates became 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, through good bankroll management Cates was able to rebuild his bankroll. In 2010 he famously accepted the ‘Durrrr Challenge’, taking on Tom 'Durrrr’ Dwan in high-stakes online cash games.
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 after the 50,000 hands were completed. Durrrr stopped playing and the challenge remains incomplete to this day, although Dwan is said to be paying off the debt in irregular installments.
In recent years Cates has transferred his skills to the live environment, winning both his WSOP bracelets in the WSOP $50,000 Players Championship event, with back-to-back victories in 2021 and 2022. In total Cates has over $11m in live tournament cashes to his name.
3. Benny Glaser
Englishman Benny Glaser may not be a household name to all fans of poker, but this is because he is predominantly a mixed game specialist, rarely taking part in No Limit Hold’em Poker Tournaments.
Benny has had considerable success both online and live and is the leading British WSOP bracelet winner, with a record four such pieces of jewellery to his name. His first bracelet success came in 2015 when he landed a triple-draw lowball event for $136k.In 2016 he added a further two bracelets within a few days of each other, both in Omaha Hi-Lo tournaments. His fourth bracelet came in 2021 when he won the $10,000 Razz Championship event for $274k.
Glaser’s claim to be one of the best poker players in the world is backed up by his impressive online poker trophy cabinet, with eight World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOOP) titles and seven Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) titles to date. Four of his WCOOP titles were won within the space of a few weeks in 2022 on Poker Stars.
4. Stephen Chidwick
4th on the all-time money list, Englishman Chidwick is a player that often went under the radar, consistently getting great finishes, but staying out of the limelight. Chidwick has one bracelet, 22 top ten finishes, and has been in the money a total of 64 times at the WSOP.
In recent years Stephen has excelled in the various high-stakes series run by Triton and Poker Go, culminating in an amazing run in May 2022 in Cyprus at the Triton Poker Series. Within a space of 5 days, Chidwick finished 2nd, 3rd, and then 1st in €75,000, €50,000, and €100,000 buy-in tournaments, cashing for a combined total of €3,368,914. He tops the Poker Go Leaderboard with over $6m in winnings from the televised high-stakes tour.
5. Jason Koon
Jason is a highly accomplished American poker player. He is in 6th place in the all-time money list, with over $41m in winnings from live poker.
Formerly sponsored by Party Poker and now a GG Poker ambassador, Koon holds just one WSOP bracelet but is one of the most consistent performers in super high roller events.
With a remarkable 18 cashes and almost $8m in winnings in high roller events this year, Koon is 3rd on the 2022 money list. His most recent success came in December 2022 when he defeated Phil Hellmuth in Poker Go’s High Stakes Duel III for $1.6m. The Poker Brat had been the king of the hill, undefeated for several matches in a row before Koon dethroned him.
6. Adrian Mateos
In 2013, Adrian Mateos was only 19 years old when he won the €10,000 main event of the World Series of Poker Europe, for a €1m payday.
It was not even his first success, having taken down CNP and Estrellas Poker Tour titles in his native Spain as well as numerous final table finishes, before securing his first bracelet. He went on to be the youngest player to win three WSOP bracelets, achieving the feat at the age of 23 when he won the $10,000 Heads Up Championship.
In 2021 he secured his 4th bracelet to date when winning the WSOP $250k Super High Roller for a career biggest $3.2m cashout. With career tournament earnings of nearly $30m, Mateos is in 16th place on poker’s all-time money list.
7. Michael Addamo
Australian Michael Adammo is another top poker player of his generation, with four world series bracelets and over $20m in live poker earnings to date. His two most recent WSOP wins both came in 2021 when he secured the $50k and the $100k bracelet events for over $3m in prize money.
Addamo has a knack for securing more than one win in the same series, having done so on four other occasions. The first time he achieved this feat was at the Aria Summer Series in 2019, where he won two $10K buy-in tournaments. Next was at the Aussie Millions in January 2020, where Adamo won A$50k and A$100k buy-in events.
In 2021 he also won two events at the PokerGo Masters and in 2022 he secured double victory for the 5th time when he won €20k and €75k buy-in events at the Triton Series in Madrid. When you consider that Addamo also won his first two bracelets in 2018, albeit one in Vegas and one at the WSOPE in Rozvadov, he really is the two-time king of high-stakes tournament poker.
8. Dan Smith
8th on the all-time money list with over $39m in live tournament poker winnings is American Dan Smith.
Up until recently, Dan was often referred to as one of the best poker players in the world never to have won a WSOP bracelet. But he corrected that omission on his not-inconsiderable poker resume when he won the $25k No Limit Heads Up Poker Championship at the 2022 WSOP.
Dan has been a highly successful tournament pro for over a decade. His breakthrough year came in 2012 when he won several EPT tournaments in addition to a A$100k event at the Aussie Millions. His biggest cash to date in 2019 was incredibly not for actually winning a tournament. He pocketed a hefty £7.2m for 3rd place at the Triton Super High Roller Series in London.
9. Robert Cowen
Wild card entry for this list of the world’s best poker players goes to Welshman Robert Cowen.
Rob has been playing online and live poker since the mid-noughties when he was a regular on the UK live poker circuit. In his early days, his success was modest with a few minor cashes. He then switched his attention to Omaha Poker and for several more years continued to notch up several modest cashes every year, including a few WSOP cashes here and there.
Up until a year ago Cowen still hadn’t made much of a mark on the poker landscape, but then things changed, starting with a 39th-place finish in the WSOP main event for $160k. That was his 5th cash of the 2021 series and his 6th came just a few days later when he won his first bracelet in a $3000 Pot Limit Omaha event for $280k.
If 2021 had ended well for Rob, 2022 started off even better, with victory in the €10k No-Limit High Roller for €475k at the Prague EPT. His incredible journey was only just getting started though as the best was yet to come. In June 2022 he landed his second WSOP bracelet for almost $1.4m in the $50k PL Omaha High Roller.
Narrowly missing out on a couple more bracelets later in the series, Cowen is one to watch, a late-blooming rising star of poker. Will he become one of the best poker players of all time?
10. Sam Grafton
Poker Stars ambassador Sam Grafton is another UK poker player to make this list.
Like most of these players, Sam has also had an incredible year at the poker tables. In September 2022 he won a career-best $5.5m in the Coin Rivet Invitational, a $200k buy-in event in Cyprus. Just three days before this he had won almost $1m for 2nd place in a $50k high roller event at the same festival.
Grafton’s first title was in 2012 when he won the GUKPT Grand Final in his hometown of London. Since then, he has notched up an impressive series of results, but it was not until 2019 that he scored his first seven-figure payday, when he finished second in the 100k super high roller at EPT Barcelona.
A political activist who was prepared to tie himself to trees and lie down in front of bulldozers in protest against motorway expansion and such, Grafton is one of the more unlikely characters in the poker world. Very talkative and likable at the poker table, Sam is always willing to lend advice and give tips to new players coming into the game.
11. Koray Aldemir
Usually, the winner of the WSOP main event is a relatively unheard-of player prior to their victory. This cannot be said about German 2021 main event champ Koray Aldemir, who was already a successful high-stakes tournament player before he became world champion.
The Berliner started his poker career playing online freerolls on Poker Stars and by 2015 he had recorded his first in-the-money finish in the WSOP main event, a feat he repeated a year later.
His 2021 victory for $8m was not however his first appearance on a WSOP main event final table, as he had finished in 7th place at the WSOPE in 2018. In fact, 9 of his 15 cashes in 2018 were six-figure scores. Koray has not yet added a further bracelet since his win but did cash a remarkable 14 times at the 2022 WSOP, including going very deep in the main event once again, with a 75th-place finish.
12. Alex Foxen
High-stakes wizard Alex Foxen has been playing live since 2012, with his first recorded live result coming in a $355 WSOP Circuit event, which he won, for $22k.
He had several minor cashes for the next few years but first really started to achieve great things in 2017, when he cashed 14 times at WSOP in Las Vegas. This was just the start of great things for Alex and in 2018 he cashed for over $6m, saving the best for last when he pocketed $2.16m for second place in the $300k Super High Roller Bowl.
At the 2022 WSOP he won his first bracelet and over $4.5m in prize money when talking down the $250k Super High Roller. 2022 was a remarkable year for Foxen, cashing a huge 49 times, including 10 cashes at the WSOP and 11 in the online edition of the World Series, which takes place on GG Poker.
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