Choosing the greatest poker players of all time is a difficult task. There have certainly been a plethora of players who have excelled both historically and in the modern game.
Because of the nature of the game, it may be difficult to determine what makes a great poker player. They can be ranked based on their winnings, but we believe that money is not the only factor that defines a good poker player.
The criteria could include a long list of bullet points, such as major titles, cash winnings, and longevity.
As a result, we compiled a list of the best poker players, in our opinion. We considered their playing style, personality, and accomplishments. Please keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive, and we would like to update it, so if you have any great players in mind that we should cover, please get in touch with us, and we will discuss it!
In no particular order, here are the top ten greatest poker players of all time.
ZeeJustin – Justin Bonomo
Bonomo, a dominant force in the modern game, leads all players in cash winnings with $44.6 million. His earnings come not only from high roller tournaments with the highest stakes in the game but also from playing against some of the best competition.
He won the $10,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in June 2018 for $185,965. His second WSOP bracelet came just days after he won the $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl for $5 million.
If those finishes weren’t enough, the 33-year-old poker pro followed up his bracelet victory with another. Bonomo won the $1 million Big One for One Drop at the World Series of Poker for $10 million.
As of April this year, his winnings have already surpassed $1.1 million as he continues to excel on the field.
Bonomo’s keen intellect for the game allows him to succeed against some of the world’s best players. He appears near-invincible in heads-up play, having won 18 major tournaments since 2016.
Numerous other final table appearances complement this winning streak. He’s not someone you want to go up against.
Texas Dolly – Doyle Brunson
This is the poker player who has withstood the test of time. Doyle Brunson, now 87, has been a professional poker player for over 50 years. Throughout his legendary career, he amassed a slew of victories, most notably his ten World Series of Poker bracelets, including the Main Event in both 1976 and 1977. He even made a WSOP final table at the age of 84 and set the record for the oldest Poker Tour winner at the age of 71 in 2004.
Brunson, a regular on televised cash games, is one of poker’s most well-known players. His career tournament earnings of $6.2 million may seem insignificant compared to his cash game earnings. His game instincts stem from a sharp mind, a natural feel for the game, and watching thousands of hands.
Brunson is an acclaimed author as well as a top-tier player, and his poker strategy book, Super/System: A Course in Power Poker, revolutionized the game. He is a frequent Twitter poster with a quick wit.
Brunson was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1988 as an idol for many and a gentleman at the table.
Johnny Moss – “Grandfather of Poker”
While poker has evolved significantly since the early days of the WSOP, Moss was clearly regarded as a top performer at the table. There were only seven players at the first event at Binion’s Horseshoe in 1970, but his peers voted Moss the champion.
The tournament format was introduced a year later. Moss won again that year and his third Main Event title in 1974. Moss completed his poker career with nine World Series of Poker bracelets and $1.25 million in tournament winnings.
Moss, like Brunson, was a Texas road gambler whose cash winnings are unknown. He made a name for himself at the tables when finding big-money action wasn’t as easy as it is now.
Moss was inducted in 1979 and died in 1995 at the age of 88. Some of the game’s forefathers and contemporaries remember him as a fierce competitor who was not afraid to use force.
Phil Hellmuth – The Poker Brat
Love him or hate him, winning 15 WSOP bracelets and nearly $23 million in tournament winnings requires considerable skill. Hellmuth is also the only person to have won a WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas (1989) and a WSOP Main Event in Europe (2012). Hellmuth had a spectacular summer in 1993, winning three bracelets.
Hellmuth has five WPT final table appearances. He has yet to be named to the Champions Cup, but he came close in 2017 when he finished runner-up at the Bicycle Casino’s Legends of Poker. A WPT title has recently become one of his objectives.
Hellmuth, in addition to his titles and winnings, is the author of several best-selling books and a regular in televised cash games. Aside from his table antics, the “Poker Brat” is not only one of the biggest names in poker but also one of the toughest players with a brilliant understanding of the game.
Phil Ivey – Poker’s Tiger Woods
Growing up on the Atlantic City poker scene, Ivey would spend up to 15 hours a day with a fake I.D. in games at the Taj Mahal and Tropicana. However, Ivey took the game seriously, keeping a journal on players, hands, and situations to fine-tune his game after being inspired by players who made a living at it.
At the age of 21, he won the first Jack Binion World Poker Open for $53,297. He went on to win his first WSOP bracelet in May 2000, at the age of 23, for $195,000. Over the next few years, there were more final tables and wins. Then, he had a monster summer at the WSOP in 2002, winning three bracelets and cementing his reputation as the game’s hottest young player.
Ivey found success on the World Poker Tour when it debuted in 2003. In the first WPT Championship, he finished second to poker legend Dave “Devilfish” Ulliot for $290,130. From 2002 to 2007, he made eight final table appearances, culminating in a $1.6 million win at the L.A. Poker Classic.
Ivey has more than $26 million in live tournament winnings, is a regular in high-stakes cash games, and has 10 WSOP bracelets after dominating the game for years.
He’s a fierce competitor who is well-liked and respected by his peers.
Stu Ungar – The Comeback Kid
Ungar’s story is one of the saddest ones in poker, as he was a tremendous talent at the table but struggled with demons in life. He was one of only two players, along with Moss, to win the WSOP Main Event three times. He was also one of only four players to win the title back to back, along with Moss, Brunson, and Johnny Chan.
He excelled at gin rummy before moving on to poker and was a natural on the felt. In 1980, he became the youngest player in history to win the Main Event.
Ungar won the Main Event once more in 1981 and once more in 1997. He was discovered dead in a cheap hotel in Las Vegas in November 1998. A heart condition caused by continued drug use was the cause of death. He had almost no money, so friends chipped in to pay for his funeral.
Ungar was posthumously inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2001 after finishing his career with $3.7 million in tournament winnings and five WSOP bracelets. Friends and contemporaries recall a player with the sixth sense for cards which ran over his opponents with ruthless aggression.
Daniel Negreanu – Kid Poker
Negreanu is the biggest name in poker and one of the winningest players in poker history, coming in second only to Bonomo on the career money list. “Kid Poker” has won nearly $40 million in live tournaments over the course of more than two decades on the field. This includes victories on some of the game’s most prestigious stages, including the WSOP, WPT, and major televised cash games.
Negreanu, who has a unique ability to deduce his opponents’ cards, has become a fan favorite for his skills at the table and his outgoing personality. Negreanu has several career highlights, including five WSOP bracelets and two WPT titles. In addition, he holds the distinction of being the 2004 WSOP Player of the Year, as well as the WPT Player of the Year in 2004-05. (Season III).
Negreanu has been one of the game’s most prominent voices, always quick with an opinion. This includes a strong multimedia presence via vlogs, podcasts, social media, writing, and other means.
Negreanu may be well-known in the media, but he is more than just a celebrity. His abilities at the table and skins on the wall place him among the best.
Sly Erik Seidel
After dominating poker for years prior to the poker boom, this New Yorker went on to play at the game’s highest stakes in the game’s new era. Seidel has always been interested in games and grew up playing backgammon. While working as a stock trader, Seidel began looking for action as a player at New York’s Mayfair Club. The famous club inspired the film Rounders and hosted famous players such as Howard Lederer, Stu Ungar, Dan Harrington, and others.
Seidel was even featured in Rounders, the final hand he played in the 1988 World Series of Poker Main Event, where he finished runner-up. That was his first major tournament, which was impressive for a newcomer and could be a precursor to future success. He won his first bracelet in a $2,500 NLHE event in 1992 for $168,000. His most recent bracelet came in 2007, when he took home $538,835 in the $5,000 No Limit 2-7 Lowball championship. Seidel added a WPT title in 2008 when he won the Foxwoods Poker Classic for $992,890.
Seidel continues to score on some of poker’s biggest stages and can be found in high roller events regularly. Seidel received additional media attention in 2020 after being featured in best-selling author Maria Konnikova’s book The Biggest Bluff. Before taking on the challenge of learning to play poker, the best-selling author knew nothing about the game. Seidel was her coach, and Konnikova quickly won a major title at the PCA. She referred to Seidel as a Renaissance man.
“He may be the only poker pro with membership in the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a willingness to fly across the country to see Dave Chappelle perform stand-up, or a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the latest in the culinary scene from Los Angeles to Manila,” Konnikova writes of her mentor. “His curiosity is genuine and boundless, and his zest for life is completely contagious.”
Bryn Kenney – Mega Crusher
By the spring of 2020, this New Yorker had not only made a list but had also topped the all-time money list with over $56 million. Kenney, who was born in 1986, grew up playing Magic: The Gathering, as did many other top pros. Then, in 2007, he switched to poker and competed in his first tournament. His first six-figure score came in the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event, where he finished 28th for $255,242. Many more massive wins on the EPT, Masters Classics of Poker, WPT high rollers, and other events would follow.
Kenney won his first WSOP bracelet in a $1,500 10-game event in 2014 for $153,220, and he came close to winning another a year later with a runner-up finish in Las Vegas. His first seven-figure win came at the PCA in 2016, when he took home a $100,000 Super High Roller for $1.7 million. Kenney is part of a new generation of players who are eager to compete in some of the world’s most prestigious events. He’s a regular on the Aria high roller scene with a history of big wins.
Following the PCA score, he added a $1.4 million score in a Triton Super High Roller the same year. In 2017, he won two PVA high rollers for a total of $1.4 million and then another $100,000 super high roller in Monaco for $1.9 million.
That level of consistency against some of the best in the game continued. He won a pair of Triton high roller events in 2019 for a total of $3.1 million. The following year, he finished second in a £1 million Triton event for a $20.5 million payday. Kenney is all about massive skills and massive paydays.
Stephen Chidwick – stevie444
This player hails from a fitting English hometown: Deal, located on the country’s southeast coast, where the North Sea and the English Channel meet. Chidwick has been among the most successful card players in recent years, ranking among the top ten all-time money winners. Chidwick, born in 1989, began his poker career at online tables, where he finished runner-up in a $142,000 event in 2009.
Chidwick also began playing live tournaments in 2008, winning $88,760 at a $1,000 PCA event. His first six-figure payday came in 2011 at the World Series of Poker, when he finished fourth in a $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em event for $198,927. More big wins would come in the coming years. Chidwick finished third in a €5,300 EPT event in 2013 for $517,992.
Big scores and final table appearances continued, and he has established himself as a regular on the high roller circuit. In 2017, he won a €25,500 event in Barcelona for $813,144, and a year later, he finished second and third for a total of $2.6 million in the same event. In 2019, he added another WSOP bracelet to his collection, winning a $25,000 high roller event for $1.6 million. Chidwick is still one of the best players in the world and is constantly working to improve his abilities.
“As a poker player, you always want to be emotion-free and just kind of calculate, think about hands, and play the best you can,” he told PokerNews before his WSOP victory. “But the closer you get to the bracelet, the more difficult it is to keep what you’re going to say in the winner interview, and all those other things, out of your mind. I just try to concentrate on the cards and each hand as it comes until I have all the chips.”
Dan Smith – Cowboy
This New Jersey native has become one of the most successful players in history. Smith, like many other players, dropped out of college in 2007 to pursue poker full-time. His first major tournament win was a $1,650 Heartland Poker Tour title for $101,960 in 2008. He added another Aussie Millions title in 2012 when he won the $100,000 Challenge for $1 million. He went on a massive tear at the EPT Monte Carlo that same year, winning three events for $521,580.
Smith won another EPT event in Barcelona for $1.2 million in August 2012. A year later, he added another massive feather to his cap by winning the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio for $1.2 million. Six- and seven-figure scores have become the norm for this Las Vegas-based player. Smith had $33 million in live tournament winnings as of June 2020. Aside from his talents and victories, Smith is involved in a number of charitable endeavors. He established the Double Up Drive to encourage poker players and other charitable organizations to donate to those in need.
“It’s really taken off,” Smith told WPT.com. “I believe poker players completely accept it, and I’ve received a lot of support.” This year, Stephen Chidwick is one of our major partners. Motivating someone is very special to me, and motivating people with their wallet is fantastic.”
Fedor Holz – CrownUpGuy
Million-dollar wins have become the norm for this German poker phenomenon. Holz was a dominant online player in the 2010s, winning a $1.3 million championship in an online tournament and being regarded as one of the best online players in the world.
Holz has also had a lot of success at live poker tables. This includes a $262,574 finish in the WSOP Main Event in 2015. Large buy-in events have also benefited Holz. In 2016, he won the Triton Super High Roller for $3.1 million, and the following year, he finished second in the Super High Roller Bowl for another $3.5 million. In 2016, he also received a WSOP bracelet. Holz took home $5 million after winning the $111,111 Big One for One Drop.
“I played a lot of online poker, so I think I understand the variance pretty well,” Holz said of his incredible 2016 run to Card Player magazine. “I think I’m on a heater that, at least for me, will only happen once, and I’m just trying to appreciate it and enjoy my time while it lasts.”
Holz even surpassed that Big One haul in 2019 when he finished second in the $1 million version of the tournament, earning a massive $6 million payout. Holz, a deeply analytical player with intense focus, is another modern player who transitioned from online success to live event success, winning nearly $33 million by 2020. CrownUpGuy has undoubtedly become a member of poker royalty.
Many poker fans are unfamiliar with David Peters. He is reserved and prefers to avoid the spotlight. Despite his preference for privacy, his long career in poker is evident on paper. On The Hendon Mob, he is consistently ranked in the top ten worldwide all-time rankings, with a net worth of nearly $39 million as of the end of March 2022.
Peters was inspired to play after watching Chris Moneymaker win the 2003 World Series of Poker. He began by participating in online freeroll tournaments and gradually increased his bankroll. He used this to launch a highly successful all-around poker career.
It all started with victories in low-buy-in WSOP Circuit and Heartland Poker Tour events. Three of his most notable victories came in the form of WSOP bracelets in 2016, 2020, and 2021. Today, Peters primarily competes in high-stakes tournaments and travels the world in search of the best opportunities.
Annie Duke, also known as the Duchess of Poker, has a $9 million net worth. She is a high-stakes poker player, author, and entrepreneur. Annie is well-known for her cash game abilities, but she also has an impressive tournament record, including a WSOP bracelet, first place in the WSOP Tournament of Champions in 2004, and the National Heads-Up Poker Championship in 2010. She was also the World Series of Poker’s top female player for several years. Annie has also co-founded the Epic Poker League, as well as written strategy books such as Decide to Play Great Poker and The Middle Zone.
Maria Ho is a $4 million net worth Taiwanese-American poker player. Her induction into the Poker Hall of Fame has recently boosted her poker career. During her poker career, Ho has earned $3 million in tournament earnings, including 54 World Series of Poker cashes. She was also the final female in the 2007 Main Event, finishing 38th. She has also reached five World Poker Tour final tables and won several minor events around the world. Ho has also hosted and broadcasted, and she is the first female strategic commentator and Super High Roller Bowl commentator.
Annette Obrestadt, also known as Annette 15 in online poker, has a net worth of $3.9 million. She won the World Series of Poker in 2007 and became the youngest player ever to do so. She rose to prominence after that event and went on to win numerous major tournaments. Annette Obrestadt is also well-known for her online poker accomplishments, such as winning a 180-player Sit N Go in which she didn’t look at her own hole cards unless she was facing an all-in bet.
Sandra Naujoks – Black Mamba
Sandra Naujoks, a German poker player, is also known as the Black Mamba in the poker world. Sandra primarily competes in live No-Limit Hold’em tournaments. Her poker accomplishments include:
- Reaching the final table of the Casinos Austria Poker Tour in 2008.
- Winning the GIGA Pokernight in 2008.
- Winning the European Poker Championship in 2008.
- Winning the European Poker Tour main event in 2009.
Sandra Naujoks has yet to win a poker bracelet.
We understand that the greatest players of all time are debatable, but we believe that these individuals would present a challenge to anyone they played against. This list of the world’s best poker players of all time will undoubtedly inspire many poker players to accomplish incredible things in the poker world. Are you in agreement with the list? Tell us in the comments who your favorite poker players are!