The Top 50 Best Poker Players of All Time (Money List)

The Top 50 Best Poker Players of All-Time
Have you ever wondered who the best poker players of all-time are? Well, one way of trying to figure that out is by using the Hendon Mob's all-time tournament poker money earnings list.

Now, this list is a bit problematic because it only counts tournament winnings and does not (to my knowledge) include tournament losses. This is not even to mention stuff like travel expenses!

Also, even more glaringly, this list will only include tournament poker players. And this is because winnings from cash games (which are often much bigger over time) are not publicly known.

Most of the biggest cash games in the world in Las Vegas or Macau for example are invite only and winnings or losses are very rarely ever published.

Anyways, all of these issues aside, here are the top 50 best poker players of all time according to the all time tournament money winnings list.

By the way, if you haven't made at least $12 million dollars in career poker tournament winnings, you can't even get on this list!


The Top 50 Best Poker Players of All Time (Tournament Winnings List)


1st - Justin Bonomo (United States) $ 44,626,825

2nd - Daniel Negreanu (Canada) $ 39,830,195

3rd - Erik Seidel (United States) $ 34,782,419

4th - David Peters (United States) $ 32,628,532

5th - Fedor Holz (Germany) $ 32,556,379

6th - Bryn Kenney (United States) $ 30,654,182

7th - Daniel Colman (United States) $ 28,925,059

8th - Jason Koon (United States) $ 27,911,824

9th - Antonio Esfandiari (United States) $ 27,728,437

10th - Dan Smith (United States) $ 27,704,822

11th - Steve O'Dwyer (United States) $ 26,902,444

12th - Phil Ivey (United States) $ 26,267,283

13th - Isaac Haxton (United States) $ 24,795,909

14th - John Juanda (Indonesia) $ 24,639,913

15th - Jake Schindler (United States) $ 23,849,706

16th - Scott Seiver (United States) $ 23,502,071

17th - Stephen Chidwick (England) $ 23,130,813

18th - Phil Hellmuth Jr (United States) $ 22,866,828

19th - Brian Rast (United States) $ 21,506,086

20th - Nikita Bodyakovskiy (Belarus) $ 21,039,341

21st - Sam Trickett (England) $ 20,840,004

22nd - Rainer Kempe (Germany) $ 19,700,171

23rd - Christoph Vogelsang (Germany) $ 19,544,999

24th - Cary Katz (United States) $ 19,016,307

25th - Jason Mercier (United States) $ 18,852,157

26th - Dominik Nitsche (Germany) $ 18,016,135

27th - Jonathan Duhamel (Canada) $ 18,012,110

28th - Thomas Marchese (United States) $ 17,932,969

29th - Adrian Mateos (Spain) $ 17,301,912

30th - Igor Kurganov (Russia) $ 17,294,921

31st - Michael Mizrachi (United States) $ 16,938,806

32nd - Martin Jacobson (Sweden) $ 16,866,100

33rd - Nick Petrangelo (United States) $ 16,839,657

34th - Joseph McKeehen (United States) $ 15,750,225

35th - Sam Greenwood (Canada) $ 15,731,080

36th - Ole Schemion (Germany) $ 15,218,949

37th - Byron Kaverman (United States) $ 14,860,477

38th - Ryan Riess (United States) $ 14,213,173

39th - Timothy Adams (Canada) $ 14,132,442

40th - Joe Cada (United States) $ 13,662,042

41st - Bertrand Grospellier (France) $ 13,613,614

42nd - Mike McDonald (Canada) $ 13,267,686

43rd - Joseph Cheong (United States) $ 13,260,809

44th - Steffen Sontheimer (Germany) $ 13,205,686

45th - Justin Cuong Van Tran (United States) $ 13,028,138

46th - Elton Tsang (China) $ 12,752,988

47th - Sorel Mizzi (Canada) $ 12,649,187

48th - Scotty Nguyen (United States) $ 12,594,346

49th - Jamie Gold (United States) $ 12,588,364

50th - Joe Hachem (Australia) $ 12,386,078


Best Poker Players of All Time by Country


So drawing from the list above, let's also see how the biggest winning tournament poker players of all time stack up according to their respective countries.


United States - 28

Canada - 6

Germany - 6

England - 2

Australia - 1

Sweden - 1

France - 1

Spain - 1

Russia - 1

Belarus - 1

China - 1

Indonesia - 1


Now I must say that I am not overly shocked to see that players from the USA represent over half of this list!

After all, a lot of the biggest poker tournaments in the world including the World Series of Poker are held there.


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However, the United States is also the birthplace of poker and there is no question that many of the best poker players in the world are from America.

I am proud to see that my country of Canada came in tied for 2nd place with another poker powerhouse, Germany.

I was a bit surprised to see that there is only one Russian on this list and that Asia as a whole is not very well represented.

However, I think in future years, with the growth of the game in Asia in particular and more big time tournaments being hosted there, this will change.


Many of the Best Poker Players in the World are Young


Another thing that you might have noticed about this list of the top 50 best tournament poker players of all time is that many of them are young, 20's or 30's.

On the list above, 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 10th are all below 40 years of age. In some cases like Fedor Holz, mid 20's.

This is a huge change from say 10 or 20 years ago when this list would have been dominated by much older live poker pros.

The reason why so many of the best poker players in the world are in their 20's or 30's now is because tournament fields are much bigger these days and therefore the biggest events often stretch days or even a week in length.


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Let me tell you as a hardcore grinder myself, concentrating intently for 10+ hours a day on poker for upwards of a week is something that is much easier to do when you are younger.

The other major reason why so many of the best poker players of all time are younger now is very simple, online poker.

As I have contended for many years now on this blog, nearly all of the highest level thinking and the hardest games to beat these days are online.

And this is absolutely no secret to anyone in the know. Many of the biggest names from the past in poker for example get absolutely wrecked when they decide to play high stakes poker online.

Also, with the speed and the ability to multi-table online poker, many of the younger players of today have simply played far more hands of poker in their short lifetime than the older live pros of the past.


Final Thoughts


So who are the best poker players of all time? Well, unfortunately the best guess we can get is by looking at the Hendon Mob all time tournament poker winnings list.

In my opinion there are many well known (and not very well known) cash game players who would actually be on my personal list of the best poker players of all time.

However, this tournament list is dominated by American poker players and there is a very youthful flavour to it these days as well.

As the game grows I think we will see more players on this list from Europe and Asia. However, I think the all time poker tournament winnings list will continue to be dominated by younger poker players in the future.

When Justin Bonomo overtook Daniel Negreanu for first place last year (after Daniel held #1 for close to 10 years), I think this really signaled a changing of the guard.

And as mentioned, the top 10 now is absolutely dominated by poker players in their 20's or 30's. This was absolutely not the case even just 10 years ago.

If you want to know the strategy I used to become a poker pro and travel the world, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.


Let me know in the comments below who you think the best poker players of all time are. Did anything surprise you about this list?

The Top 50 Best Poker Players of All-Time

13 comments:

  1. Another thing to consider is, that a lot of tournament players these days sell pieces of their action, so they are not entirely playing for their own money. And if the list does not take losses into account, it is mainly a list over, who is most active in the high stakes tournament scene.

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    1. Good point about the selling pieces of action that is so common these days in tournament poker. It is true that many players on this list did not actually "win" as much as stated, their backers did.

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    2. The thing with using a tournament winning list is some of those players won a large field...any list that has Jamie Gold listed and not Brunson (both) Chip Reese or Phil Ivey is obviously flawed as all time best. Call list top 50 tournament money leaders.

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  2. so hard to rely on winnings when the super high rollers and One Drop can single handedly vault you on to an all time list w/ a single win.
    the other thing that Hendon Mob has never acccounted for is money spent on entering the tournaments. bricking 10ks, 25ks, 100ks, 250ks . . . is not free!

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    1. Yup good points. I do wish somebody would compile a list one day with tournament buyins subtracted.

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    2. That is a very important point. It is perhaps unlikely, but in theory some of those people on the list could actually have lost money playing tournaments.

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  3. Overall money list is cool, but we also have to consider the payout amounts. For example, twenty years ago, the top prize was $1 mil. I think last year it was $8.8 mil? So I could have won 5 titles back then, and you win one these days, but because you won $8.8 mil and I only won $5 mil, you're the better player?

    I'm not sure how to settle the debate (fields are definitely tougher these days and you have to go through a LOT more players to win), but I don't think we can look only at money when considering the best players of all time.

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    1. Good points about the payouts versus the tougher fields of today.

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  4. Historically, and even today to a large extent, the great cash game players and the great tournament players (however measured), are different breeds. I get it that it's not possible to account for cash game players by counting winnings, but that simply means the list is (a) skewed and (b) incomplete, particularly as it has no room for the true greats of the game (any list of "greatest" that can include Jamie Gold and not Doyle Brunson is absurd on its face). So I take it all with more than a single grain of salt.

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    1. I agree, and I am pretty sure Doyle has made far more in poker than Jamie.

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  5. I wonder where Stu Unger and Chip Reese would have come if they were 40 years old now?

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    1. Comparing different eras is tough. If they evolved with the game, as I am sure both of these players would have, they would probably be among the top.

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  6. I'm sorry, but I can not agree with that. A list of the best poker players without Stu Ungar content is not right.
    He was probably the best of times. At that time, however, there were not enough money to win. Unfortunately, there was the drug addiction. That does not change his incredible poker skills.

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