When trying to master a skill, it’s always a good idea to emulate those who’ve enjoyed the most success. However, in a game like poker, where there are skilled player everywhere, clocking up the cashes and World Series of Poker bracelets like nobodies’ business, it can be tricky to know whose game to study. To put you on the path to poker success, today we’re revealing the three most successful poker players (in terms of earnings) of all time. Counting you down from three to one…
3 – Erik Seidel (US): Total earnings – $34.6 million
In third place is Eric Seidel, or ‘Seiborg’ as he’s known on the circuit. Growing up in New York City, Seidel cut his teeth playing professional backgammon before moving on to poker, learning his craft at NYCs infamous Mayfair Club cardroom, a training ground for poker legends like Stu Ungar, Dan Harrington and Mickey Appleman. In his first ever World Series of Poker in 1988, Seidel was defeated in the final of the Main Event by Johnny Chan. The final hand of this game was so special – Hollywood chose to immortalise it in 1998 movie, Rounders, starring Matt Damon and John Malkovich.
Over the course of his impressive career, Seidel has become an eight-time WSOP bracelet winner, won 92 cashes and made 35 final tables. His career skyrocketed in 2011, when he won million-dollar prizes on two continents totalling $6.5 million. This included his biggest payday to date ($2.5 million) from the Super High Roller NLHE Event at the Aussie Millions Poker Championship. In 2010, Seidel was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
2 – Daniel Negreanu (Canada) – Total earnings – $34,151,327
Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu is another poker legend who started young – this time trying his luck at becoming a pro snooker player on the Toronto bar circuit. After discovering poker and realising he had quite the knack for its nuances, Negreanu went all in and dropped out of high school to pursue the game. Things didn’t go to plan right away…in fact after moving to Vegas at 22, Negreanu was forced to return less than six months later – completely bankrupt. Fortunately, his second attempt at Las Vegas greatness resulted in the most lucrative streak in the history of the game. At the 1998 WSOP, Negreanu became the youngest ever WSOP bracelet winner, and took home $169,460.
Since then he’s clocked up six cashes of $1 million or more, his largest being $8.28 million, and won six WSOP bracelets. He’s made 38 final tables and cashed a whopping 108 times. It’s not just his poker skills that have garnered admiration – Negreanu has become an inspirational figure after speaking openly about his struggles with alcohol and financial mismanagement. He’s also regularly cited as one of the friendliest players in the game. Negreanu was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2014.
1 – Justin Bonomo (US): $43 million
Negreanu was poker player number one right up until the 2018 WSOP $1 million Big One for One Drop, when Justin Bonomo won $10 million and was catapulted instantly to the #1 spot on the All Time Money List. In fact, 2018 was a big year for the 32-year-old, with him clocking up winnings in almost every competition he entered. Over the course of his relatively-short career, Bonomo has won three WSOP bracelets and he seized victory at 10 high-roller events across the world in 2018 alone! With a strong year behind him, the industry expects big things from this young gun in 2019.