The Best Poker Players of All Time: Masters of the Felt

Photo of author

Written by: Matt E.

Last Updated:

Poker is a game that combines skill, strategy, and luck in a unique and exciting way. Throughout history, there have been numerous players who have stood out from the rest due to their exceptional abilities at the poker table. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at some of the best poker players of all time, exploring their achievements, strategies, and contributions to the game.

1. Stu Ungar: The Gifted Genius

Stu Ungar is often regarded as one of the most naturally talented poker players to have ever lived. Born in 1953, Ungar quickly rose to prominence in the poker world due to his remarkable intuition, photographic memory, and ability to read opponents. Known as “The Kid,” Ungar's career was filled with remarkable wins and unforgettable moments.

World Series of Poker Success

Ungar's most significant achievements came at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), where he won the Main Event three times, in 1980, 1981, and 1997. He remains one of only two players to have won the prestigious tournament back-to-back, showcasing his undeniable talent and consistency.

A Tragic End

Unfortunately, Ungar's life was not without its struggles, and his personal demons eventually led to his untimely death in 1998. Despite his tragic end, Stu Ungar's legacy as one of the best poker players of all time remains intact, as his incredible natural talent and exceptional achievements continue to inspire players around the world.

2. Phil Ivey: The Modern Master

Phil Ivey is considered by many to be the best poker player of the modern era. Born in 1976, Ivey discovered his passion for poker at a young age, using a fake ID to gain access to Atlantic City's poker rooms. Ivey's dedication and skill quickly paid off, as he became a formidable force at the tables.

A Stellar Record at the WSOP

Ivey has had incredible success at the WSOP, with 10 gold bracelets to his name, putting him in a tie for the second-most bracelets ever won. Throughout his career, Ivey has also accumulated more than $30 million in live tournament earnings, making him one of the highest-earning poker players in history.

A Versatile and Adaptable Player

One of the most impressive aspects of Phil Ivey's game is his ability to excel in various poker formats. Ivey has demonstrated exceptional skill in both cash games and tournaments, as well as in different poker variants, from No-Limit Hold'em to Omaha and Seven-Card Stud. This adaptability and versatility have helped solidify Ivey's reputation as one of the best poker players of all time.

3. Doyle Brunson: The Living Legend

Doyle Brunson, born in 1933, is often referred to as the “Godfather of Poker” due to his immense influence on the game. A highly skilled player, Brunson has made significant contributions to poker strategy, penning the seminal book “Super/System,” which revolutionized the way the game was played and understood.

See also  Brad Owen Poker: A Look at the Popular YouTuber's Career

Unparalleled WSOP Success

Brunson is another player with an impressive WSOP record, having won the Main Event twice, in 1976 and 1977, as well as earning a total of 10 gold bracelets. With more than $6 million in live tournament earnings, Brunson's poker career has spanned over five decades, showcasing his incredible skill and longevity in the game.

A Lasting Legacy

Though Brunson officially retired from tournament poker in 2018, his impact on the game is still felt today. His strategic insights, competitive spirit, and unwavering dedication to poker have inspired generations of players, making him a true living legend and one of the best poker players of all time.

4. Daniel Negreanu: The Charismatic Ambassador

Daniel Negreanu, born in 1974, is one of the most recognizable and beloved figures in the world of poker. Known for his uncanny ability to read opponents and predict their hands, Negreanu has used his natural talent and hard work to become a titan of the game.

Impressive Tournament Record

With six WSOP gold bracelets and more than $42 million in live tournament earnings, Negreanu is one of the most successful poker players in history. His accomplishments include winning the WSOP Player of the Year award twice, in 2004 and 2013, and being inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2014.

A True Ambassador for Poker

Beyond his skill at the tables, Negreanu has also been a tireless advocate for poker, helping to popularize the game and bring it into the mainstream. His charisma, sportsmanship, and genuine passion for poker have made him one of the most respected and admired players in the game, solidifying his place among the best poker players of all time.

5. Phil Hellmuth: The Poker Brat

Phil Hellmuth, born in 1964, is a polarizing figure in the poker world. Known for his often brash and confrontational demeanor, Hellmuth has earned the nickname “The Poker Brat.” Despite his controversial reputation, there is no denying Hellmuth's incredible skill and accomplishments in the game of poker.

A Record-Breaking WSOP Career

Hellmuth holds the record for the most WSOP gold bracelets won, with an astounding 16 titles to his name. He also won the WSOP Main Event in 1989 and has earned more than $24 million in live tournament winnings. These achievements have solidified Hellmuth's place in poker history and demonstrated his immense talent.

Turning Controversy into Success

While some may criticize Hellmuth for his sometimes abrasive personality, it's impossible to ignore the impact he has had on the game. His fierce competitiveness and unmatched drive to succeed have propelled him to the top of the poker world, making him one of the best poker players of all time.

6. Johnny Chan: The Orient Express

Born in 1957 in Guangzhou, China, Johnny Chan moved to the United States in the 1960s and quickly found his calling in the world of poker. Known as “The Orient Express,” Chan has been a force to be reckoned with at the poker tables, earning a reputation for being a consistently strong player with an intimidating presence.

Back-to-Back WSOP Main Event Victories

Johnny Chan's most notable achievements include winning the WSOP Main Event in consecutive years, 1987 and 1988, a feat only accomplished by one other player, Stu Ungar. With a total of 10 WSOP gold bracelets and more than $9 million in live tournament earnings, Chan has solidified his place among the poker elite.

See also  Brad Owen Poker: A Look at the Popular YouTuber's Career

A Lasting Impact on the Game

Chan's success and longevity in the game have made him a respected figure in the poker community. His cool, calculated approach to poker and unwavering dedication to the game have served as an inspiration to many up-and-coming players, making him one of the best poker players of all time.

7. Vanessa Selbst: The Trailblazer

Born in 1984, Vanessa Selbst is widely regarded as one of the best female poker players in history. With a fierce competitive spirit and an aggressive style of play, Selbst has shattered stereotypes and made a name for herself in a male-dominated sport.

An Impressive Tournament Record

Selbst's poker accomplishments are truly impressive, with three WSOP gold bracelets and more than $11 million in live tournament earnings to her name. She has consistently demonstrated her ability to compete at the highest level, earning the respect of her peers and fans alike.

Inspiring a New Generation of Female Players

Vanessa Selbst's success in the poker world has helped pave the way for a new generation of female players. As a trailblazer and role model, Selbst has shown that gender is no barrier to success in the world of poker, making her one of the best poker players of all time.

8. Erik Seidel: The Quiet Assassin

Born in 1959, Erik Seidel is a player who has maintained a consistent presence at the top of the poker world for decades. Known for his quiet and unassuming demeanor, Seidel has been dubbed “The Quiet Assassin” for his ability to fly under the radar while accumulating impressive victories.

A Staggering Resume of Success

Seidel's poker resume is nothing short of astonishing. With eight WSOP gold bracelets and more than $37 million in live tournament earnings, Seidel is one of the most successful players in history. His accomplishments include a runner-up finish in the 1988 WSOP Main Event and numerous high roller tournament victories.

The Embodiment of Enduring Success

Erik Seidel's continued success and unwavering dedication to the game serve as a testament to his exceptional skill and talent. As one of the best poker players of all time, Seidel's legacy will endure as a reminder of the importance of persistence, patience, and consistent effort in the pursuit of poker greatness.

9. Fedor Holz: The Young Phenom

Born in 1993, Fedor Holz is one of the youngest and most successful poker players of the past decade. The German poker prodigy experienced a meteoric rise to prominence, amassing millions in tournament earnings in just a few short years and becoming a dominant force on the international poker scene.

Crushing High Roller Tournaments

Holz made a name for himself by consistently crushing high roller tournaments, earning his first WSOP gold bracelet in 2016 during the $111,111 High Roller for One Drop event. With over $32 million in live tournament earnings, Holz has proven that he can compete with the best and consistently come out on top.

A New Generation of Poker Talent

Fedor Holz represents a new generation of poker talent, utilizing advanced strategies and an aggressive, fearless approach to the game. His remarkable success at such a young age has earned him a spot among the best poker players of all time and serves as an inspiration for aspiring poker players everywhere.

10. Bryn Kenney: The High Roller Specialist

Born in 1986, Bryn Kenney is an American poker player who has made a name for himself as a high roller specialist. Known for his fearless and unorthodox playing style, Kenney has become one of the most exciting and successful poker players of the modern era.

See also  Brad Owen Poker: A Look at the Popular YouTuber's Career

Record-Breaking Tournament Winnings

Kenney has amassed over $56 million in live tournament earnings, making him one of the highest-earning poker players in history. In 2019, he secured the largest payout in poker history by finishing second in the Triton Million – A Helping Hand for Charity event, winning a staggering $20,563,324.

A Unique Approach to the Game

Bryn Kenney's unique approach to poker, which combines creativity, aggression, and a willingness to take risks, has made him a formidable force at the tables. As one of the best poker players of all time, Kenney demonstrates the importance of adapting to modern poker trends and staying ahead of the competition.

11. Stephen Chidwick: The British Poker Maestro

Born in 1989, Stephen Chidwick is a British poker player who has become a consistently dominant force in the world of high-stakes poker. Known for his calculated and disciplined approach to the game, Chidwick has earned the respect of his peers and has established himself as one of the best poker players of the modern era.

A Stellar Tournament Record

With over $34 million in live tournament earnings, Chidwick is one of the most successful poker players from the United Kingdom. His impressive resume includes a 2019 US Poker Open Championship title and multiple high roller event victories, showcasing his ability to compete with the best players in the world.

A Model of Dedication and Excellence

Stephen Chidwick's unwavering dedication to the game and his pursuit of excellence have earned him a spot among the best poker players of all time. As a role model for aspiring poker players, Chidwick demonstrates the importance of hard work, discipline, and continuous learning in order to succeed in the ever-evolving poker landscape.

12. Kristen Bicknell: The Canadian Poker Powerhouse

Born in 1986, Kristen Bicknell is a Canadian poker player who has quickly risen through the ranks to become one of the top female players in the game. Known for her aggressive and fearless style of play, Bicknell has proven that she can hold her own against the best players in the world.

A Growing List of Accomplishments

Bicknell has already accumulated over $5 million in live tournament earnings, including three WSOP gold bracelets. She has also been awarded the Global Poker Index's Female Player of the Year title for three consecutive years, from 2018 to 2020, highlighting her consistent success in the world of poker.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Poker Players

As one of the best poker players of all time, Kristen Bicknell serves as an inspiration for aspiring female poker players everywhere. Her achievements and tenacity at the poker table demonstrate that gender is no barrier to success in the world of poker, and that anyone with the right combination of skill, dedication, and determination can reach the top.

Conclusion

The best poker players of all time come from diverse backgrounds and generations, each leaving their unique mark on the game. From poker legends like Johnny Chan and Daniel Negreanu to newer stars like Fedor Holz and Kristen Bicknell, these players represent the pinnacle of poker excellence. They have demonstrated the importance of skill, dedication, adaptability, and passion in achieving success at the highest level of the game.

As the poker world continues to evolve and new talent emerges, it's exciting to see how these new players will shape the future of the game. With the continued growth of poker as a global sport, we can expect to see even more exceptional players join the ranks of the best poker players of all time.

Written by

Matt E.

I've been immersed in the world of poker since 2003. Poker is hard. It has undoubtedly been a roller coaster of experiences for me over the years. My poker journey spans from playing at .01/.02 NL tables to engaging in intense sessions at $5/$10. Poker isn't just a game to me—it's a passion. Outmaneuvering opponents in this test of mental strength and strategy offers an unparalleled thrill. To deepen my understanding of the game and to assist others, I initiated this blog. It aims to elucidate the ever-evolving technologies, strategies, and legal landscapes of poker, especially in the online realm. We're now in the age of solvers, but both online and live poker continue to thrive. A quick visit to a local $1/3 game would be ample evidence of its vitality. Regardless of your proficiency level, from novice to expert, I hope my blog posts offer you valuable insights. Feel free to engage with me through messages or by commenting on my posts. Cheers!

Leave a Comment