10 Best Poker Players of All Time

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Poker is one of the most classic card games there is, and you could make the argument that it is THE most popular card game in the world. Whether you're playing Texas Hold 'Em, Five Card Draw, or any of the other styles of poker, no one can deny the game's popularity. There is a reason that the World Series of Poker gets broadcast on CBS Sports for all to see.

Certain players have dominated the game more than the rest, whether it's through the number of games won or money earned. Here is our list of the 10 best poker players of all time.

1. Phil Ivey

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Country: America

Career Winnings: $30,000,000+

Phil Ivey is arguably one of the best poker players of all time.  The “Tiger Woods of Poker” began his poker journey playing with co-workers at a telemarketing firm in the ’90s.  From there, Ivey went as far as getting a fake ID before he became of legal age to play poker in Atlantic City, New Jersey as a teenager.  

A World Series of Poker bracelet is awarded to the winner of every World Series of Poker event and is considered one of the most prestigious awards one can receive in the poker world. Ivey has earned 10 World Series of Poker bracelets throughout his career which is tied for second of all-time.  In 2002, Ivey won 3 bracelets in one year tying the record that to this day has not been surpassed.  

Outside of the World Series of Poker, Ivey has seen enormous success on the World Poker Tour.  Reaching nine final tables and securing one first place prize, Ivey has cashed for nearly $3,000,000 on the World Poker Tour alone.

Elected to the Poker Hall of Fame in 2017, Ivey has solidified himself as one of the all-time greats in poker.

2. Phil Hellmuth Jr.

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Country: America

Career Winnings: $25,000,000+

The all-time record holder for World Series of Poker bracelets comes in second on this list.  Phil Hellmuth’s poker experience in the World Series of Poker dates back to 1988 where he finished in 33rd place.  However, just one year later in 1989, Hellmuth won the World Series of Poker main event against the same player who knocked him out of the tournament in 1988 and became the youngest World Series of Poker champion ever at 24 years of age. Hellmuth has picked up the nickname “Poker Brat”, for his erratic personality after taking bad beats. Check out this YouTube clip showing some of Hellmuth’s “brattiest” moments.

3. Daniel Negreanu

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Country: Canada

Career Winnings: $40,000,000+

Daniel Negreanu, otherwise known as “Kid Poker”, is the most well-known poker player on Earth.  Negreanu has had 6 first place finishes in the World Series of Poker as well as 2 championships on the World Poker tour.  With over $40,000,000 in live poker tournament cashes, Kid Poker ranks 3rd all time for live tournament cashes. 

Indicated into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2014, Negreanu will go down as one of the most successful players in the game of poker.

4. Doyle Brunson

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Country: America

Career Winnings: $6,000,000+

Doyle Brunson is a widely accomplished poker player who has been around the game longer than anyone else included on this list.  The Texas-born player began his career traveling around southern states looking for poker action.  Brunson says at the time, many tables he played at were illegal games ran by members of an organized crime group.  He has even recounted times he had a gun pulled on him while playing at one of these illegal games!

Brunson persevered through the early stages of poker in America and went on to win the World Series of Poker main event two times.  Tied for second all-time in World Series of Poker bracelets, Brunson is a legend in the poker world.

5. Doug Polk

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WSOP.com

Country: America

Career Winnings: $10,000,000+

My favorite poker player of all time had to be included on this list.  Doug Polk is one of the smartest people I have found since jumping into the world of poker.  His poker training website, upswing.com, has helped thousands of poker players improve their game and become a more successful player.  I personally have purchased the Post-Flop game plan as well as the monthly Upswing Lab and have seen IMMEDIATE improvements in all facets of my game and ROI.

A former UNC undergraduate before dropping out to pursue poker full-time, Polk started playing just .01/.02 online and turned a $20 deposit into over $10,000.  Within a couple years he was considered one of the best online cash players in the world.  

He came to notoriety in a heads-up no limit hold’em match against Ben Sulsky who is another professional poker player.  Polk dominated Sulsky over 15,000 hands and walked away with over $800,000.

Doug Polk had a long feud with another high-profile included in this article, Daniel Negreanu, related to Polk publicly criticizing Negreanu for how naïve he had become to the difficulty of today’s poker game.  In 2020 Polk and Negreanu agreed to a 25,000-hand heads-up match.  This high-profile duel drew a ton of attention from those in the poker community.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars in side bets were placed on who would be victorious.  It was rumored that the odds of Negreanu winning were set at 4 to 1, which is giving him just a 20% chance to win the match.  Even at these difficult odds, Polk won over $1,200,000 of Negreanu in the match in addition to over $500,000 he won from side-bets placed on himself to win.

Doug Polk’s intellect, success, and comedic personality put him atop my list of best poker players of all time.  But as a very polarizing figure in the poker community, you either love him or hate him. If you want to check out Doug Polk’s poker training website head to upswing.com where there is a ton of free content to improve your poker game, no matter what skill level you consider yourself.

6. Tony G

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Country: Lithuania

Career Winnings: $7,000,000+

Tony G, who’s real name is Antanas Guoga, a Lithuanian born player has one of the more interesting backgrounds of players on this list.  Tony G was the Rubik’s Cube champion of Lithuania before the age of 11.  Finding the game of poker at 18, Tony G’s path to poker fame was a bit slower.  About 12 years after starting the game of poker Tony G began placing in high-profile tournaments including the World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker.

In addition to his poker career, Tony G was elected to the national Parliament for Lithuania. Although his priorities have transferred from poker to politics, Tony G is a name that will hold weight in the poker community for a long time.

7. Antonio Esfandiari

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Country: Iran

Career Winnings: $25,000,000+

Esfandiari held the record for all-time tournament winnings until 2014 when Daniel Negreanu took over the title.  Esfandiari was on multiple poker television shows (including the Big Game), has won the World Poker Tour championship twice, and has 3 World Series of Poker bracelets over the course of his career.

In his early life, Esfandiari was a professional magician and flipped that magic over to the tables where he is now considered one of poker’s all-time greats.

8. Justin Bonomo

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WPT

Country: America

Career Winnings: $48,000,000+

One of the most successful high-stakes poker players of all time, Justin Bonomo could easily be ranked higher on this list.  Bonomo has cashed at the World Series of Poker over 50 times and has made 19 final tables!  His World Series of Poker success alone has led to over $14,000,000 in tournament cash.  In 2018 he was the number one ranked player in the world in live tournament cashes overtaking Daniel Negreanu.  This record was short-lived though, as the next player on our list is the current record holder for live tournament cash.

9. Bryn Kenney

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Country: America

Career Winnings: $55,000,000

Bryn Kenney really came to poker fame in 2014 after winning his first World Series of Poker bracelet, securing over $150,000 for the win of a $1,500 entry fee.  Kenney kept rolling over his poker winnings successfully.  In 2019 Kenney secured the largest recorded payout in poker history in which he hauled in over $20,000,000 after striking a deal while heads-up at the 2019 Triton Million for Charity tournament.

10. Dan Bilzerian

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Country: America

Career Winnings: $50,000,000+

Many people reading this article know who Dan Bilzerian is.  A social media mogul, actor, and businessman who flaunts his success online has many wondering where his wealth originated from.  Bilzerian claims his fortune was built on the felt.  Although these claims of poker success are wildly speculated, especially by our friend Doug Polk.

Although the exact whereabouts of Bilzerian’s wealth are disputed, if they are from poker, Bilzerian would be one of the most successful and prominent poker players of all-time.

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