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The most popular US poker players of all time

Ethan Miller // Getty Images

The most popular US poker players of all time

Players stack their chips as they compete in the World Series of Poker.

Poker in the United States is booming—again.

Last year, the World Series of Poker accepted a record 10,043 entrants, who each had to fork over $10,000 to sit at the no-limit hold ’em tournament with a $93.4 million purse, including $12.1 million for the winner.

The event started in 1970 with seven participants, but it really took off in 2003 when Chris Moneymaker burst onto the scene, The Financial Times reported. The Tennessee accountant won $2.5 million after qualifying for the main event in an $86 online satellite tournament, and poker hasn’t been the same since.

The World Poker Tour, which arranges and hosts international tournaments, was launched the previous year. Additionally, the increased availability of broadband internet, plus unregulated online poker rooms and the entertainment value of televised events, helped foster a rise—until the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 prevented businesses from accepting payments from people participating in illegal gambling.

Online poker took another massive hit in 2011 on what is known as Black Friday when the Department of Justice seized the domains of super sites PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Cereus Poker Network (formed when Ultimate Bet merged with Absolute Poker)—and $34 million from players. It made a comeback, however, when the coronavirus pandemic led to the sprouting of new platforms, and subsequent developments and innovations made the game more attractive.

Still, it’s been a slow burn, and while poker has seen its share of ups and downs as the gambling industry ebbs and flows, more and more players are sitting down to ante up.

To see which players had the most eyes on them, Clubs Poker compiled a ranking of the most popular U.S. poker players of all time as of March 13, 2024, using data from The Hendon Mob. Players were ranked according to unique page views on the website starting from Jan. 1, 2008. Data about each player’s live cash earnings provides supplementary insights. 

Joe Raedle // Getty Images

#10. Dan Smith

A poker player holds a stack of his chips.

– Total live earnings: $52,861,568
– Best live cash: $8,765,628
– Unique hits: 313,228

Dan Smith made a breakthrough in 2012, winning $3.7 million in live tournaments and six titles. His two biggest scores came with third-place finishes at charity events in 2019 ($8.8 million) and 2018 ($4 million). He earned his first World Poker Tour title (and $1.2 million) in 2013 and first World Series of Poker bracelet in 2022.

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez // Getty Images

#9. Tom Dwan

Tom Dwan plays at the European Poker Tour 2011 in the Casino Gran Madrid.

– Total live earnings: $6,519,604
– Best live cash: $793,775
– Unique hits: 316,843

A New Jersey native like Smith, Tom Dwan has won eight European Poker Tour titles and reached seven final tables at the WSOP and WPT combined, cashing 12 times. In May, he won the largest televised hand in history at the time: $3.1 million. His biggest cashes came on back-to-back days in 2019 at the Triton Super High Roller Series London, totaling $1.4 million.

Jeff Bottari // Getty Images

#8. Jason Mercier

Jason Mercier laughs with players as he competes at the final table of the Epic Poker League Inaugural Season.

– Total live earnings: $20,826,886
– Best live cash: $1,622,181
– Unique hits: 346,222

Jason Mercier has six WSOP bracelets and 22 final tables to his name. He’s claimed over $1 million three times, including when he won the EPT main event in San Remo in 2008—just his second live tournament. He owns 28 tournament victories.

Dan Tuffs // Getty Images

#7. Daniel Colman

Final table and chip stacks at the World Series of Poker.

– Total live earnings: $28,925,058
– Best live cash: $15,306,668
– Unique hits: 411,663

By defeating legend Daniel Negreanu at the Big One for One Drop in 2014, Daniel Colman won $15.3 million, the second-largest payout ever at the time. He has one WSOP bracelet and 10 cashes for $17.4 million, plus five other tournament wins.

David Becker // Getty Images

#6. Antonio Esfandiari

Antonio Esfandiari present an award during the annual Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Award.

– Total live earnings: $27,810,802
– Best live cash: $18,346,673
– Unique hits: 417,848

Antonio Esfandiari set a record with an $18.3 million victory at the Big One for One Drop in 2012, and he tops the WSOP career earnings list with $21.9 million. “The Magician,” who moved to the U.S. from Iran as a child, has captured three WSOP bracelets, two WPT championships, and 11 tournament titles. His first big payday came in 2004 when he won $1.4 million at the L.A. Poker Classic.

Ethan Miller // Getty Images

#5. Erik Seidel

Erik Seidel competes on the fourth day of the first round of the World Series of Poker.

– Total live earnings: $45,723,570
– Best live cash: $2,472,555
– Unique hits: 567,343

Erik Seidel owns 10 WSOP bracelets along with Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, and Doyle Brunson. He has cashed 147 times and reached 49 final tables, earning $9.3 million at the WSOP. He also has a WPT championship and 32 tournament wins. The 1998 film “Rounders” featured the final hand Seidel lost to Johnny Chan at the WSOP main event in 1988.

Frazer Harrison // Getty Images

#4. Bryn Kenney

Cards and chips laid out on poker table at World Series.

– Total live earnings: $65,195,990
– Best live cash: $20,563,324
– Unique hits: 732,871

Despite finishing second to Aaron Zang at the Triton Million in 2019, Bryn Kenney broke Esfandiari’s record for the biggest pot with a $20.6 million haul in 2019. The Long Islander comes in second for all-time live earnings. He has one bracelet and 12 final tables from WSOP, WPT, and EPT events.

David Becker // Getty Images

#3. Phil Hellmuth Jr.

Phil Hellmuth arrives at the WME IME and Mayweather Promotions VIP Pre-Fight Party.

– Total live earnings: $29,967,254
– Best live cash: $2,645,333
– Unique hits: 740,058

Phil Hellmuth Jr. has claimed a record 17 WSOP bracelets, including three in three days in 1993. His dominance began in 1989, when he became the youngest champion at 24, and he has 202 cashes, 71 final tables, and earnings of $17.9 million at the WSOP. “The Poker Brat” won $2.6 million at the 2012 Big One for One Drop and has reached eight WPT final tables.

Ted Soqui/Corbis // Getty Images

#2. Justin Bonomo

The poker table at the World Poker Tour Invitational at the Commerce Casino.

– Total live earnings: $63,405,741
– Best live cash: $10,000,000
– Unique hits: 765,432

At age 19 in 2005, Justin Bonomo became the youngest player to reach the final table at a televised event. Six of his live cashes have exceeded $2.1 million, and he won $10 million, $5 million, and $4.8 million purses in a remarkable 2018 that catapulted him to #1 in all-time winnings, ahead of Negreanu. He’s won three bracelets, 69 cashes, 18 final tables, and $16.1 million from WSOP events.

Ethan Miller // Getty Images

#1. Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey competes in the World Series of Poker no-limit Texas Hold ’em main event,

– Total live earnings: $41,673,045
– Best live cash: $3,582,753
– Unique hits: 946,389

Nicknamed “The Phenom” and “No Home Jerome,” Phil Ivey is tied for second behind Hellmuth with 10 WSOP bracelets. He rose to fame in 2000 when he became the first person to beat Thomas Austin Preston Jr., aka Amarillo Slim, heads-up at a WSOP final table. He’s also won so much at baccarat that he was accused of cheating, and he sued. His case turned into a six-year legal saga, which ended in an undisclosed agreement. His four top cashes came from 2012 to 2018, and he won $16.6 million against billionaire Andy Beal over three days in 2006.

Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Kristen Wegrzyn. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.

This story originally appeared on Clubs Poker and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

Article Topic Follows: Entertainment - Stacker

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