Top Five Poker Players Of All Time
At Bodog Casino, poker enthusiasts have a secure and sophisticated platform to play poker, not just for real money, but for fun. Not every poker fiend is looking for fun, and for most elite players, poker is more than Saturday night entertainment. You’re about to meet five players who consider poker a very serious business, and with millions of dollars’ worth of tournament prize money sitting in their accounts, who could argue with them?
We can’t all be that fortunate at the table, but with the best poker players in the world leading the way, we can at least take away some inspiration, and perhaps even learn something from their winning strategies… if they’re willing to share them.
5. Dan Smith
Dan Smith’s first fiscal successes came at the tender age of 16, by way of playing poker online. Today, at the age of 33, Smith thrives in the live poker tournament environment, claiming over 74 cashes and more than $36,000,000 total winnings. And this wasn’t Dan’s only innate skillset.
The New Jersey-born member of the poker elite was a naturally gifted chess player before he etched his name onto the felt, with this prodigious ability, and mastery of the board, earning him a scholarship at the University of Maryland. Before long, though, Smith began leaning towards his more glamorous calling, and ultimately traded in his scholarship for a deck of cards.
Smith’s first big-time win was in 2008 at the Heartland Poker Tour Main Event at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in New York where he withstood a field of 250 to walk away with $101,960. The year 2012 would prove to be his most memorable, when the burgeoning poker professional won a total of six tournaments, including the $104 million in the Aussie Millions Poker Championship $100,000 NHLE event.
To date, Smith’s biggest cash win is $2,044,766 from the Bellagio Super High Roller $100,000 buy-in event in June 2014. Smith’s poker strategy is more of a boy scout philosophy, but it’s a sensible one nonetheless: managing his own expectations, always being prepared, and moving on from his mistakes.
4. Erik Seidel
With a formidable reputation in his back pocket, Erik Seidel’s long record of poker table prowess was honoured in 2010 by the Poker Hall of Fame. To date, his quiet achiever status at the felt belies a career that’s netted him $39 million in winnings.
Seidel’s legacy goes way back, being one of the first players to enter the basement to learn poker in the New York City Mayfair Club. His talent lay dormant as he pursued a more conventional path, albeit potentially as lucrative, on Wall Street, before the stock market crash of 1987 saw him return to the table with a fallback job that usually requires its own fallback job.
Unless, of course, your name is Erik Seidel. Since then, Seidel has won nine WSOP bracelets, and made 35 tables and 92 cashes. His 1988 tournament against Johnny Chan, where Seidel placed second at the Main Event, was immortalised when their famous final hand was later featured in the 1998 film Rounders.
Seidel’s biggest career win came in 2011 where he won a cash payout of nearly $2.5 million at the Aussie Millions Poker Championship Super High Roller NLHE event with its $250,000 buy-in.
3. Daniel Negreanu
Global Poker Index has recognized this 2014 Poker Hall of Fame inductee as the best poker player of the decade; WSOP named him the Player of the Year in both 2004 and 2013; he’s won six WSOP bracelets, two WPT championship titles, and over $42 million in cash. He is 47-year old Daniel Negreanu, the Canadian poker superstar otherwise known as “Kid Poker”.
Back in 1998, Negreanu was rising to fame at a $2,000 Hold’em event where he won $169,460, along with his first WSOP bracelet. He continued winning six-figure cash prizes until his big break in 2004 in the World Poker Tour $10,000 Borgata Poker Open where he won $1,009,100. Later in that same year, at the $15,000 Five Diamond World Poker Classic, Kid Poker scooped up another $1,795,218.
Negreanu’s deceptively simple poker strategy? Reading his opponents and observing their hands, and understanding how they play them. It’s a clear case of know thy enemy rather than just know thy game.
2. Justin Bonomo
Justin Bonomo is no stranger to the World Series of Poker, having amassed three WSOP bracelets and one circuit ring for $14,292,554 in winnings. Despite having made 19 World Series final tables and 55 cashes, the 36-year old offers minimal insight into his approach by vaguely attributing his success to online poker and the rise of the internet.
A sizeable win in 2014 finally snapped Bonomo’s frustrating bout of runner-up finishes, with a No-Limit Hold’em Six Handed Event alone reaping him $449,980. Fast forward some four years to 2018, and Bonomo was enjoying his most impressive year as a pro poker player. Some unstoppable inertia propelled him through ten high roller wins on the international stage, including a USD$4.8 million windfall in the Macau Super High Roller Bowl NLHE event.
Bonomo now sits at the #2 spot on the All-Time Money List, ahead of Daniel Negreanu by over ten million, and behind only Bryn Kenney.
1. Bryn Kenney
But there is one player to rule them all, and the numero uno spot on the list of best poker players in the world is held by American Bryn Kenney.
Kenney currently holds the record for the largest single payout in live poker tournament history, having won $20,563,324 in the 2019 £1,050,000 Triton Million for Charity Event for No-Limit Hold’em. Confusingly, Kenney played second fiddle in that event to a first-placed Aaron Zang, but Zang had struck a deal with Kenney to split the prize money based on the proportion of chips they each held, at which point Kenney dominated. So despite Zang’s shocking turnaround that clinched him the title, Kenney’s good faith agreement saw him claim the lion’s share, as well as the payout record.
As if more accolades were needed to cement his place at the top, Kenney has also made seven final WSOP tables and cashed 32 times, and he claimed his first bracelet in 2014. The year 2016 was another big one for Kenney when he defeated Joe McKeehen who had been the current holder of the WSOP championship title.
Just a year later in 2017 was when Kenney saw his largest single cash of $2 million at the PokerStars Championship €100,000 NLHE Super High Roller 8-Max in Barcelona.
As of August of 2020, this #4 Global Poker Index placeholder had live tournament winnings exceeding $55,000,000.
If you’re looking to level up your own poker game, take some time to read Bodog’s to sharpen those foundations, and maybe one day you’ll find yourself listed on the All-Time Money List like Negenauru, Bonomo, and Kenney.