Poker is a game that involves a bit of luck and a ton of skill. That makes it an ideal game for people who want to put the effort in and make it big. These are the biggest poker winnings ever.
Biggest Poker Winnings
Poker is easily the most recognizable card game in the world. And over time, its popularity just keeps increasing. Fans of poker can tune in and enjoy watching games online at any moment, and there are even popular vloggers that give people free poker tips.
That popularity, in turn, has led to an increase in rewards the winners of major tournaments can expect. So let’s take a look at the top list 10 incredible poker winnings.
10. $8.52 Million — Greg
Back in 2012, Greg Merson, a professional poker player, managed to win over $8.5 million by winning the World Series of Poker tournament against thousands of competitors. At the final table, Merson managed to bet out Jesse Sylvia for the win with a decent hand of king-five diamonds. But don’t feel too bad for Sylvia — the second place came with a nifty $5.29 million reward. However, what’s funny is the fact that you can notice that a lot of tournaments end with hands that many wouldn’t risk going all in for. After all, Merson won thanks to a king-high kicker (as there was a pair in the community cards).
9. $8.54 Million — Joe Cada
As you can imagine, almost every entry on this list will come from the WSOP main event. The event took place in November 2009, and it made Joe Cada the youngest poker player to have ever won the WSOP main event, taking the title away from the Poker Brat himself, Phil Hellmuth. To win this title, Cada had to prove his worth against a total of almost 6,500 other players. He took his time and managed to reach the final table of the event. And on that table, it took him a total of 87 hands to bust Darvin Moon, a fan favorite at the time. Cada went all in pre-flop with pocket nines, and Moon called with Jack-Queen of diamonds. The odds for those hands were as even as you could expect in a high-stakes poker tournament. Luckily for Cada, the community cards didn’t have anything for Moon.
8. $8.7 Million — Pius Heinz
When it comes to WSOP games, most titles go to players from the United States. But in 2011, for the first time, the title went to Germany, thanks to Pius Heinz. In 2011, he won the main event of WSOP. But when he got to the final table, his chip count wasn’t quite as glorious as he might’ve hoped. In fact, out of the 9 finalists, he was 7th in the stack size department. But he played the game masterfully and managed to take home an incredible winning of $8.7 million. The poker hand that brought him the win was ace-king offsuit. And luckily for him, Stazsko went all in with ten-seven suited. Which, to be fair, is not that good of a bet to make pre-flop.
7. $8.9 Million — Jonathan Duhamel
In 2010, WSOP was visited by over 7,300 players. And Jonathan Duhamel from Canada managed to get to the final table and win against the other top competitors to take home a prize of almost $9 million. In the final hand, only Duhamel and Racener were left to see who would be the one to take home the ultimate prize. Duhamel forced John Racener to go all in when Duhamel was sitting on Ace-Jack off-suit pre-flop. Racener put his hopes in his suited King-Eight, but the flop didn’t have anything for him, so Duhamel won with a pair of fours from the flop and an Ace kicker.
6. $9.1 Million — Peter Eastgate
One trend you can notice if you check the dates and birthdays of people on this list is that a lot of the biggest poker winners are young players. Some theorize that the reason for that is the fact that others don’t have good knowledge of their playstyle. After someone’s been active for a while, others get to know which hands they are willing to three-bet with and which hands they would rather let go.
Luckily for Peter Eastgate, that’s not easy to do against a player that is only 22 years old and is still relatively new to the scene. With a buy-in of $10,000, he managed to get to the final table, and he spent two days playing there over the course of 274 hands.
5. $10 Million — Martin Jacobsen
Now, we get to the top 5 of our list. In 2014, a Swedish player made it to the poker news by winning $10 million. However, what makes his win even more impressive is the fact that he had to fight to get back on the playing field. On the second day of the tournament, he was one of the shortest stacks around. In fact, he was in the bottom three out of the many players who participated. But over the course of the second day, he managed to turn his position around and get to the second place at his table. His bold playing style managed to get him a win against Stephensen in the last hand with pocket Tens which were snap-called by an Ace-Nine suited. The flop gave Jacobson a third Ten which had him jumping in ecstasy.
4. $12 Million — Jamie Gold
You might have heard about Jamie gold thanks to his entertainment company Buzznation. But he became a poker superstar when he won the WSOP Main Event in 2006. With the typical WSOP buy-in of $10,000, he had to beat 8772 other players to get to the top. The hand that allowed him to take the huge stack of money home was Queen-Nine unsuited vs. Wasicka’s pocket tens. But it was the flop that made all the difference. And this was the only hand so far where the “all-in” didn’t happen before the flop. Unfortunately for Wasicka, he didn’t have much choice, as Gold was starting to bully him with a larger stack.
3. $12.2 Million — Elton Tsang
The number three place on our list is the only entry so far that did not come from a World Series of Poker main event. Instead, it happened in 2016, at the Monte-Carlo One Drop Extravaganza. Elton Tsang managed to win the biggest poker tournament held outside of the United States. This tournament was much smaller than the WSOP Main Event, with only 26 players, but with an insane buy-in of $1 million.
2. $15.3 Million — Daniel Colman
Dan Colman is yet another young poker player that managed to make it big thanks to WSOP. In fact, he became a viral meme back in 2014 because he managed to win the second largest sum in a poker tournament ever while still keeping his poker face on. And no matter how good of a poker player you are, you would definitely jump for joy after winning over $15.3 million in a single tournament.
Colman honed his skill by playing online and making a name for himself in the internet gaming community. But he trusted his instincts, and it paid off big time. In the last hand of the tournament, he has squared off against the legendary Daniel Negreanu. Negreanu got Ace-Four unsuited and decided to go all in pre-flop. Colman instantly called with King-Queen offsuit, and they went into the flop. The flop gave Negreanu a second ace and put him at a serious advantage over Colman. But Colman also got two straight draws for the turn and the river. Luckily for him, he scored a ten on the turn and managed to get a straight. Negreanu needed either an Ace or a Four on the river to bounce back, but it simply didn’t happen.
1. $18.3 Million — Antonio Esfandiari
Finally, we are at the top spot on our list. Antonio Esfandiari has proven that he deserved his nickname “The Magician” by winning the biggest hand in poker ever. Well, to be fair, Antonio was also a professional magician that loved his poker chips. But the final hand of this tournament gave him a chance to claim a spot among the best of the best.
In the final hand, all he had was a Seven-Five offsuit before the flop against Trickett’s Queen-Six of Diamonds. The flop brought about two more fives and cemented his big win.
These are the biggest of the big wins that happened in poker, and if nothing, the number of young players on this list shows that you don’t have to go on dozens of poker tours to win at a WSOP main event. All you need is a solid strategy and a bit of luck.