Top 100 Poker Stars: Self-made Millionaires Gone wrong
From success and fame to banters, shock, and controversies. We got them all! Dive into the most intriguing stories from poker players around the globe!
Disclaimer: ipoly.xyz doesn't condone gambling addiction. We recognize that gambling can have severe effects on both mental and physical health. The purpose of this article is always to raise awareness about the difficulties which will occur while playing this kind of game.
Australia’s Aces of Spades
Famous and infamous: we stacked up the most successful and controversial Australian poker players who ever lived.
Take a look!
1. Daniel Negreanu
Kid Poker, or Daniel Negreanu, has quickly risen to fame in the poker industry, with 6 WSOP bracelets, 2 WPT titles, and a WCOOP title.
Strongly opinionated, he made a presence on social networking through podcasts, interviews, vlogs linked to poker. Besides being truly a social media star, Daniel took up some roles in movies like X-Men Origins: Wolverine And Detention.
Yet, he made headlines when he was named in a $330 million lawsuit initiated by fellow poker pro Mike Postle and other poker stars, like Phil Galfond and even Doug Polk.
He was accused by Postle of defamation after Postle himself was accused of cheating in a live-streamed game.
2. Jonathan Duhamel
With $17.5 million earnings and the 2008 WSOP Main Event‘s winning title, Jonathan has ensured a second-place on Australia’s All-Time Money List.
Nonetheless, his life is not entirely devoid of controversy.
In 2011, he got attacked in a home invasion robbery and lost his Main Event bracelet, a Rolex watch and $150.000.
But the bad luck didn’t stop there!
He also received tax evasion allegations from The Australia Revenue in CA$1, 219, 114 federal taxes, stating that his poker playing constituted an actual business.
3. Mike McDonald
Mike McDonald has for sure established himself as a poker prodigy!
The Ontario – based player earned the youngest player‘s title to win a European Poker Tour at only 18 years old. With $13 million winnings gained in his entire career as an online and live poker player, he even ranked # 5 on the Global Poker Index.
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4. Sorel Mizzi
With $11.15 million earnings in live tournaments and 18 WSOP cash-ins, Sorel Mizzi secured himself a fourth place on Australia’s All-Time Money List.
But his casual gambling style made his fans and fellow poker pros give his success a second glance. Mizzi got caught purchasing somebody else’s account within a Full Tilt Poker tournament.
He repeated that scheme with PokerStars and got himself banned, this time using another account to fake his location. Even though he admitted the wrongdoings on Joey Ingram’s podcast, his reputation in the poker world was significantly damaged. It's going to probably never be the same again.
5. Guy Laliberté
Did you know that the co-founder of the renowned Cirque du Soleil is also an avid poker player?
Guy Laliberté, a live tournament regular, used big names in the industry, like Phil Hellmuth or Tom Dwan. Yet, he has made himself much more famous, not through his successful skills as a businessman but alternatively to be one of many biggest losers in poker history.
Fun fact: With over six active accounts, he lost a lot more than $30 million on online cash games in the span of 6 years.
6. Jaime Staples
If you’re a regular on Twitch, you surely heard of Jaime Staples.
The Australian poker player started with low-stakes poker games and made his way up to online multi-table tournaments, becoming a PartyPoker pro in 2019.
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He has over $1 million winnings in gambling and a pretty substantial online fan base, with more than 112,000 followers on Twitch.
7. Gavin Smith
Loved and respected by many, Gavin Smith started playing poker at 26.
His life, however, hasn’t always been easy.
He previously work as a taxi driver to be able to support himself while playing cards with his father financially. At 30, Smith were able to open his own poker club in Ontario. He gradually became much more successful and won 1 WSOP gold bracelet in 2010.
8. Kristen Bicknell
Considered one of the best female poker players in the world, Kristen Bicknell never ceases to amaze!
But despite having a lot more than $5 million in online poker earnings and 3 WSOP bracelets, she was still put through controversy.
Both her and her boyfriend, Alex Foxen, came under suspicion in the 2018 $5K DeepStack Championship NLHE tournament once they supposedly soft played against each other. They eventually finished in the top 3.
Tip: But what is soft play? It's a set agreement between two participants not to play big pots against each other. That way, at least one has higher chances to get as far up in the overall game that you can.
The American Red and Blue Chips
From Texas’s rough lands to the fabulous and extravagant Las Vegas, we gathered the good, the bad, and the Ugly of US poker players.
Shuffle the decks and see which stories you know!
9. Stu Ungar
A high roller’s free fall: what happened?
Baffling And unexpected! These are the two words that best describe Stu Ungar’s life.
Stu’s life would take a downturn following his mother’s death in 1979 when he started using cocaine. His addiction cost him the 1990 WSOP Main Event, finishing in 9th place after an overdose, without even taking a seat at the table.
As years went by, his prize money went to drugs and sports betting, which sooner or later lead him to spend the others of his days locked up in a variety of rooms in hotels. Upon his death, he was left without money, and his friends payed for his funeral. In 2003, A. W. Vidmer released the documentary: High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story, based on Stu Ungar’s life.
10. Doyle Brunson
When we say Doyle Brunson, we automatically think restless.
At 71, the Texas Dolly won Legends of Poker and broke the record as the oldest winner of a World Poker Tour. With 10 WSOP bracelets And $6.2 million earnings only from tournaments, he is deemed one of the best poker players of all time.
But life hasn’t always been good to him.
Brunson started his poker career playing in illegal games run by organized crime gangs with his friend Dwayne Hamilton. In many instances, he has been held at gunpoint and even beaten.
11. Johnny Moss
Originally from Texas, Johnny Moss delved into the gambling world at a young age, learning how to cheat in games from a group of scammers. However , he thought we would use his knowledge for the better instead and got a job at a nearby saloon where he made sure the games were played fairly.
The Grandfather of Poker has lots of myths and rumours attached to his name.
Through the years, he acquired 8 bracelets and 9 WSOP event wins. But some aspects of his life have always been speculated by his fans. It is known that, in his youth, Moss always carried a pistol with him. While handmade cards at a backroom game, he noticed a peephole from which somebody could spy on the players’ cards.
Johnny made it clear to cover the peephole, or else he would open the fire at the spy. No one took him seriously until he started firing at the ceiling, and the spy was injured.
Rumours or not, one thing was sure about Johnny Moss: he could not tolerate a cheater!
12. Phil Hellmuth
If we can name one master of poker controversy, then Phil Hellmuth has for sure won this title!
With 15 WSOP bracelets and $23 million in tournaments, Poker Brat sure knows steps to make himself present in a big way. While taking part in the NBC show: Poker In the evening, he asked his fellow poker players, among whom Gus Hansen and Huck Seed, to stop talking when it was his time for you to make his move. They agreed, nevertheless when he started talking, Seed addressed him jokingly: “please be quiet in order that I will talk”.
In a fit of anger, Hellmuth walked off the set, threatening not to reunite. And that wasn’t the only time when he let his temper get the better of him. At the 2008 WSOP, he insulted fellow player Cristian Dragomir, calling him an “idiot,” and received a penalty.
Quite a reaction!
13. Phil Ivey
The so-called Tiger Woods of Poker started young, frantically playing 15 hours a day with a fake ID.
His continuous strive paid off, earning him his first WSOP bracelet at age 23.
However, throughout his career, he has been subject to many scandals, including the Borgata Casino case.
What was that?
In 2014, Borgata Casino accused Ivey of cheating at baccarat using a defective deck of cards and sued him for $15.6 million. After numerous appeals, Ivey’s luck took a turn, and, in 2022, both he and the casino finally reached an agreement.
With 10 WSOP bracelets and over $26 million in tournaments, Phil Ivey has made himself in the Poker industry.
14. Chip Reese
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?
Well, in this case, it transforms you into the greatest cash game poker player ever!
Reese’s first encounter with the gambling world was during his elementary school when he'd to keep home for a year because of a severe rheumatic fever. With nothing else to accomplish, his mother taught him to play card games. And, therefore he won 3 WSOP gold bracelets and even got the HORSE championship trophy named after him.
Fun fact: Even though the acronym HORSE might make you believe of the mighty strong animal in terms of poker, it really is a totally different thing. It identifies a multi-game kind of poker which is commonly connected with high-stakes tables.
15. Ted Forrest
The five-time WSOP bracelet winner, Ted Forrest, has been relatively short of luck.
First, his first three bracelets got stolen, and then he got charged with two crimes by Las Vegas courts:
- Passing two checks with no funds at Wynn Las Vegas Casino.
Even though he initially made a settlement with the casino to pay the quarter of a million dollars in debt for 10 monthly payments, he failed to do so.
The case was taken to Court.
To add insults to injuries, he owed Wynn Vegas the fabulous sum of one fourth of a million dollars he was designed to pay back but never did.
16. Chris “Jesus” Ferguson
Long dark hair, thick beard, and a black cowboy hat on his head, Chris Jesus Ferguson sure knows how to make his presence felt.
He started playing poker at 10 years old and, over the years, won 6 WSOP bracelets and over $8 million in tournaments.
Unlike other players who dropped out of academy to pursue their poker career, he stuck to his education and earned both Bachelor’s Degree and the Ph.D. in Computer Science.
But he didn’t run that far away from controversy.
Ferguson was caught in the infamous Full Tilt scandal, allegedly being partially responsible for the players’ money loss. He admitted that he didn’t know of the wrongdoings until it absolutely was too late.
17. Dan Harrington
1995 WSOP Champion and two-time WSOP bracelet winner Dan Harrington is fabled for his three strategy most readily useful sellers and aggressive gameplay, which earned him the alias Action Dan.
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But before establishing himself as a professional poker player, he worked as a bankruptcy lawyer, proving to also be successful in his private life. Believe it or not, he even got the opportunity to play poker with Bill Gates in his days at Harvard. And no one can forget his Red Sox cap, which has already become a statement accessory for him.
18. Howard Lederer
Known in the poker industry as “The Professor”, Howard Lederer started playing card games with his father at a very young age.
Fueled by the competitive gameplay, he transformed this passion right into a career, winning 2 WSOP bracelets and over $6 million in live tournament earnings.
Besides grandiose winnings, his name is also mounted on probably one of the most famous poker scandals ever: the Full Tilt Poker controversy.
More Info about it!
Founder and board member of Tiltware, Lederer was sued by the United States Department of Justice for bank fraud And illegal gambling following a Full Tilt poker website power down. He sooner or later reached an agreement of over $2. 5 million in assets to be forfeited.
19. Jennifer Harman
Her talent was visible at a very young age, as she was using her father. Following her mother’s death, Harman became hooked on poker and started using fake IDs to play at local casinos.
Considered one of the best female poker players globally, Jennifer Harman holds 2 WSOP bracelets and over $2.5 million winnings in live tournaments.
In the course of time, she dropped out of a normal job and settled for a poker career, against her father’s wishes. She joined up with the Poker Hall of Fame in 2015.
20. Justin Bonomo
A devoted poker player, Bonomo started his gambling career at the young age of 9, participating in Magic: The Gathering competitions.
Fun fact: Did you know that Magic: The Gathering may be the first trading card game and has as a way to obtain inspiration the very popular game Dungeons & Dragons?
At 19, he came in fourth at the televised European Poker Tour, winning €31, 500. But his lucky days were soon to be over when he got banned on PartyPoker because he entered and won a tournament using 6 accounts simultaneously. This scandal got a lot of public attention within the poker industry. It went done ever sold as one of the most discussed problems ever.
21. Ryan Depaulo
The 2022 WSOP event was held entirely online. But that didn’t stop Ryan Depaulo from winning his first bracelet from a special location.
The brand new York-based poker player drove completely to Nj to be involved in the WSOP. And his effort paid, earning him his first WSOP bracelet right in the Whole Foods parking lot and quite a lot of online fame.
But Depaulo is no stranger to social media, posting regular vlogs on Youtube and having a fanbase of over 9000 followers on Twitch.
He mainly does vlogs, documenting poker events and his funny style keeps over 81.000 Youtube followers entertained.
22. Vanessa Selbst
Vanessa Selbst broke record after record in the poker world.
She is the only woman ranking first on the Global Poker Index and the only female with 3 WSOP bracelets in open field events. However, always being in the center of attention also meant constant criticism.
In the end, she's known on her behalf Twitter disputes, a famous one being with poker star Doyle Brunson over the Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump presidential election in 2016.
This made her quit poker entirely for two years. But she came back at the 2019 WPT Borgata Poker Open.
23. Annie Duke
Annie Duke could easily be crowned as the Queen of Controversy. Ultimate Bet, Epic Poker League, or Full Tilt scandal: you name it, she got them all!
But you will probably recognize her from Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice tv show, where she got into a spiteful fight with comedian Joan Rivers, comparing her to a lethal disease.
Duke continued to endorse the greatest Bet internet site even after the onset of the superuser cheating scandal and cashed in big checks from the Epic Poker League, even if it had been on the path to bankruptcy.
24. Christian Lusardi
If you have followed the 2014 Borgata Winter Open Big Stack scandal, then the name Christian Lusardi sure does ring a bell.
The poker player quickly became famous after using counterfeited chips and then attempting to flush them down the toilet of his hotel room.
This resulted in almost $500.000 losses for Borgata, and the hotel pipes were severely damaged and needed urgent repair. He in the course of time pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison and reimbursement to both Borgata and Harrah’s Hotel Casino.
25. Vanessa Rousso
A poker prodigy since she was 5 years old, Vanessa Rousso settled herself among the top 5 female poker players, money-wise.
But she made herself quite known even outside the poker world by participating in the 2015 Big Brother tv show, where she announced her engagement to her girlfriend, Melissa Ouellet.
And she even challenged her musical skills with the release of the song “Kiss Face”, while she worked as a music producer and DJ.
26. Erik Seidel
Erik Seidel is without a doubt one of the most reckoned poker players on the market. His love for games started when he was only 12 and gradually became a profession.
It soon began to wear him down, so he took a job as a stockbroker, only to lose it as a result of a stock exchange crash. But he returned to gambling. That’s how he won 8 WSOP bracelets and some sort of Poker Tour title.
However, he got caught up in a pretty nasty Ponzi Scheme He and his fellow poker players John Juanda, and Zachary Clark were tricked by Ali Fazeli into buying $1. 3 million worth of Super Bowl tickets. These tickets were supposed to be resold, and the profit shared, but that never happened.
Ali Fazeli was eventually sentenced to 18 months in jail.
27. Mike Matusow
If you always keep an eye on poker controversies, then you surely can’t miss Mike Matusow’s name.
Also known as The Mouth, he has clearly stood up among his fellow players as a trash-talker at the poker table.
But his problems don’t reside only in his career as a professional poker player.
He has been sentenced to 6 months in jail for providing ecstasy and prescription painkillers to an undercover officer. He even wrote an autobiography entitled Check Raising the Devil.
28. Greg Raymer
Coloured clothes and holographic reptile eyeglasses: you surely can’t miss Greg Fossilman Raymer at the poker table.
Interestingly enough, that is not the only thing controversial about him.
In 2013, he was arrested for getting associated with a prostitute. He admitted the wrongdoing and agreed to do voluntary work and view a therapist. But he added more fuel to the fire when he stated that the objective of his cheating was to actually repair the relationship between him and his wife, Cheryl.
Needless to say, he got more negative publicity after that.
29. Michael Sexton
American professional poker player Michael Sexton is best known as the voice behind World Poker Tour.
After 15 years to be the famous Tour commentator, he in the course of time won the World Poker Tour title and a WSOP bracelet.
The Poker Hall of Fame member also created a nonprofit organization and was a chairman for PartyPoker. And his determination to live a fantastic life didn’t stop even past his prime when he decided to have a son at age 61.
30. Gavin Griffin
Gavin Griffin broke the record and made history as the youngest player to win a WSOP tournament, with a total live winning amount of $5 million.
But his gambling lifestyle spiralled down into a heavy addiction, which ultimately made him broke. Since that time, he does not have any choice but to play low stakes, to keep himself afloat.
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31. Erik Lindgren – US
Erik E-dog Lindgren is ranked among the poker players with the most money winnings, amounting to more than $10 million in tournaments.
But the poker dream didn’t last long, and his life went quickly downwards into crippling gambling addiction. This led him to file for bankruptcy in 2015, which cost him a debt of over $10 million, including to Full Tilt Poker.
Lindgren eventually sought help within a rehab program for gambling addicts.
32. Daniel Colman
Gambling has become a full-time job for American professional poker player Daniel Colman.
However, his road to success was paved with many controversies.
First, the multi-accounting scandal was where he admitted having used multiple account in internet poker tournaments. Because of this, he even got banned by PokerStars for a year. And we can not forget about the infamous remarks about Phil Hellmuth. Colman threw shade at his fellow poker player, calling him a cancer after Hellmuth endorsed a controversial website.
33. Benny Binion
Poker player and organizer Benny Binion can easily be considered an icon in the crime world.
from cheating And smuggling To murder, he did them all!
Interestingly enough, as he got rich, he shared his money with the police. It was obviously a method to bribe what the law states enforcement into giving him lighter penalties, which they actually did. But he's probably most widely known for his illegal gambling network in Dallas, Texas.
Ultimately, he moved his gambling activities to Nevada and opened the well-known Binion’s Horseshoe casino, which was featured in many movies, such as the James Bond: Diamonds Are Forever or Last Vegas.
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34. Steve O’Dwyer
Stephen O’Dwyer earned an extraordinary amount of $30 million on online poker tournaments for the duration of his poker career.
Despite his rapid success, he was severely affected by the Full Tilt scandal And Black Friday and went bankrupt. With no earnings on his table, he even slept on the floor at the 2011 WSOP and borrowed money for food.
Now, he is back in the game, winning the 2022 online WPT Heads-Up Championship Event.
35. Jamie Gold
The 2006 WSOP Main Event winner, Jamie Gold, got sued by TV producer Bruce Crispin Leyser for half of his tournament winnings. He allegedly didn’t keep his promise to talk about the winnings with Leyser.
Leyser supported his case with a voice mail sent by Gold when the former tells Leyser that he will receive his half. While everything came down to only misunderstanding, $6 million earnings from Gold’s account were frozen. Sooner or later, he and Leyser settled the problem outside Court.
36. Humberto Brenes
With the reputation of a ranter, Humberto Brenes knows how to make his presence felt. Nicknamed The Shark, the poker star always carries a tiny shark figurine with him, which he often uses to mock other players in the midst of a game.
His loud personality has become his signature, and his commentaries aren’t always perceived as jokes.
But his extortionate competitive attitude stems from earlier times when he was only a son or daughter watching his father playing poker. Despite the fact that he used to earn plenty of cash against other players, Humberto’s father frequently gave his winnings back again to the less fortunate players.
The Shark saw this as other players using his father, which made him even more ambitious.
37. Ivan Freitez
Iven Freitez can easily be considered a master of deception in the poker world.
At the 2011 EPT Grand Final tournament, he put up a plan to trick opponent Eugene Yanayt. He first announced that he desired to make a raise however changed his mind to produce a call.
Despite the fact that that wasn’t allowed, he still chose to confuse his competitor. Sadly for him, Yanayt was warned that this was a signature angle shooting scheme that Freitez usually uses to distract his opponents.
This tactic gained him a lot of hate from both colleagues and fans.
38. Isaac Haxton
Similar to American Poker Player Justin Bonomo, Isaac Haxton delved into the world of games at an extremely young age with Magic: The Gathering.
Little by little, Haxton changed his game of choice to poker. He started at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona and moved up to on-line poker on Ultimate Bet. His total winnings currently total $3 million.
39. Jake Schindler
Jake Schindler is known to be unstoppable at gambling, even when it comes to breaking the rules.
He allegedly played on a remote desktop with a Australia VPN for six months, and the PokerStars Website got suspicious of his activity.
In 2013, PokerStars subtracted $250,000 of his earnings within the account and even banned him from playing on line and live tournaments. This demonstrably took a toll on his poker career, but he returned and won the $25, 000 Aria High Roller event five times.
40. Ernie Scherer
Besides being an enjoyable game, poker has its own dark side.
That is the case of poker pro Ernie Scherer, who got convicted for murdering both of his parents in 2008. He was designed to inherit over $2 million from his parents when he reached age 30 in just two months. But, being pressured by major debts, he decided to kill them for an earlier inheritance.
The Court concluded that he was guilty and charged him with two consecutive life terms.
41. Bryan Micon
If you are passionate about the ins and outs of bitcoin poker, then you surely heard of the name Bryan Micon. The poker player used to run the Seals With Clubs Website until it was discovered that it didn’t have a license.
And without a license in the state of Nevada, he could have faced a 10-year sentence in jail. Lucky enough, he accepted a deal and was put on probation and fined $25,000.
42. Cary Katz
Cary Katz will definitely go down in history as the poker player who sued his own company.
He filed a $20 million lawsuit against media company CRTV which also owns Poker Central. CRTV’s manager, Elizabeth Wood, decided to give him $10 million and 5% annual interest for his loaned sum of money.
However the company couldn’t stay glued to its word, so Katz made a decision to simply take what to Court. While this scandal generally seems to make little to no sense at the outer lining level, people speculate it is actually Katz’s make an effort to avoid paying a debt.
43. Dan Smith
Considered by Daniel Negreanu the best player in the world without a WSOP bracelet, Dan Smith has quickly made a name in the poker industry since the early age of 16.
However, his first love was not poker but chess.
He even got a chess scholarship at the Academy of Maryland. Smith ultimately dropped out of college and became playing poker professionally. This brought him a spot on the top 10 all-time poker tournament money list.
44. Carlos Mortensen
You might know him as the first South American winner of the WSOP Main Event.
Or maybe you’ve heard his name passing by in Episode 6, Season 3 of the TV show Gossip Girl.
Either way, Carlos Mortensen became famous worldwide for his intricate chip-stacking style, creating exquisite statues right at the table. And he even outran fellow professional poker player Daniel Negreanu and took first place on the all-time World Poker Tour money list.
45. Jack Straus
Have you ever heard the phrase “a chip and a chair“?
The word goes that regardless of just how much you lose in a game title, as long as you have one chip, you are able to turn things around and win it all!
Well, it was initially coined by none other than poker pro Jack Treetop Straus in the 1982 WSOP Main Event.
How exactly did he do it?
While at the poker table, he played all his chips in the pot and lost the hand. As he was waking up to leave, he noticed another chip hiding underneath the napkin available. So , the same as that, he got another $500 chip and won the entire WSOP event.
46. Bobby Baldwin
Legendary player Bobby Baldwin wowed the poker industry with 3 WSOP bracelets and the 1978 WSOP Main Event champion title.
More recently, however, he got involved in a quite disputed lawsuit between Leon Tsoukernik and Matt Kirk. Allegedly, Kirk loaned Tsoukernik some cash once they were playing high-stakes games at Aria Casino, but he never got it back. Tsoukernik wanted to reach an agreement, but, supposedly, Baldwin fueled Kirk against him.
Eventually, the lawsuit was dismissed.
Currently, Baldwin is the CEO of the Drew Las Vegas Casino.
47. Barbara Enright
Speaking of players who made history, Barbara Enright is for sure a force to be reckoned with in the poker industry.
She is the first female winner of three WSOP bracelets and of an open event at WSOP.
Her passion for poker play started at age four when she was playing cards with her older brother. In order to sustain herself and her family, she had to take up three jobs as a hairstylist, bartender, and cocktail waitress. But she started winning more from poker, so she fully dedicated herself to professional poker play.
Fun fact: Enright may be the only female player who got to the last table of WSOP US$10, 000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event.
48. Alex Foxen
A successful poker player from a young age?
Alex Foxen amazed everyone when he won the WSOP circuit event at 21.
That didn’t stop him from becoming involved in a $500.000 cryptocurrency lawsuit initiated by poker pro Ronit Chamani. Allegedly, Foxen solicited Chamani’s investment in the Quasar Mining Group Inc. Further on, Foxen’s company subtracted big sums from more than 17 investors but was abandoned, and therefore many lost their money.
49. Billy Baxter
With 7 WSOP bracelets and over $2 million in earnings from tournaments, Billy Baxter sure had his fair share of fame.
But his lavishing lifestyle took a turn with a fierce trial between him and the federal government. The story goes that Baxter classified his winnings from 1978 to 1981 as personal income. But the IRS wasn’t going to settle for only a 50% tax rate, so they considered his winnings an earned income, increasing the tax to 70%.
While, in the beginning, he decided to pay, then he sued the federal government for a tax refund. In the long run, the Nevada federal trial court was on Baxter’s side and, since that time, the taxation method for players’ income has changed.
50. Vincent Van Patten
Ever wondered what Baywatch and the World Series of Poker have in common?
The clear answer may be the American actor and commentator Vincent Van Patten. Initially playing Doctor Tom Morella’s role in the famous TELEVISION series Baywatch, he gradually started being enthusiastic about poker. Since 2003, he became the WPT commentator.
Van Pattern chose to express his passion for poker even in his movies, playing Jimmy D’s role in the biographical film High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story.
51. Michael Mizrachi
A 5-time WSOP gold bracelet winner and the winner of the $50, 000 Poker Players Championship event 3 times ultimately went broke.
The reason was, however, not gambling but real estate.
Michael Mizrachi lost almost all his capital due to the market crash in 2009. Things got so bad that he was indebted to the IRS with over $300.000.
He rebounced in 2010 when he won the WSOP Poker Players Championship.
52. Tom Dwan
You surely know him by the alias durrrr and his implication in Full Tilt Poker.
He were able to scare his fans when he disappeared from the public poker scene, they began to share conspiracy theories. Many thought he went away to Macau because he'd some issues with the American Government.
When Paul Phua was arrested for illegal betting, he was one of three people, among Phil Ivey and Andrew Robl, to bail him out. Fans initially thought that he was mixed up in scheme. Fortunately, the rumours were fake, and he returned safely to the poker world.
53. Hevad Khan
Loud And shocking!
These are the best two words to describe American poker pro Hevad Khan, also known as “RaiNKhaN“, after the Mortal Combat character Rain.
He is known to be an online tournament avid player, so much so that he once played 26 tournaments at exactly the same time, about the same computer, while being recorded for a Youtube video. Yet, probably his trademark remained even even today the “Bulldozer” scream at Rio.
His scream had such a big impact on everyone else that the WSOP initiated a rule under his name that banned any fervent celebrations during events.
54. Sam Soverel
Young poker pro Sam Soverel started making money from poker playing since college.
His father was mostly a no-show in his family life, and his mother left when he was only 15, but his sister helped him through a whole lot and got him into university.
Soon, he realized that he could win more income from poker, so he dropped out to become a poker player. He has been very vocal against professionals berating amateur players, saying that despite the fact that amateurs might not have the same experience as professionals and might have a bad day on occasion, they still are successful people outside poker and really should be treated respectfully.
55. Amarillo Slim
Have you ever wondered how Texas Hold’em got to Las Vegas? Well, we’ll have to thank Amarillo Slim for that!
The American poker player who won 4 WSOP gold bracelets is considered by many, World’s Greatest Gambler.
And he was pretty famous; we would say since he even played poker against US presidents Richard Nixon And Lyndon B. Johnson.
However, some incidents stained his reputation. In 2003, he was charged with accounts of indecency with a child and sentenced to a $4000 fine and two years probation.
56. Shannon Fadal
If you’re a fan of the movie American Pie, then you’ve definitely heard of the name Shannon Fadal.
The American actress and former fashion model has additionally established herself in the poker world, among other superstars. At the 2005 WSOP Main Event, she got herself the best coach one could get: Daniel Negreanu, one of the world’s best poker players.
One year later, she got to put her knowledge in to practice and won a special tournament at the Caesars Palace Hotel.
57. David Oppenheim
David Oppenheim inherited his poker skills from his parents, who used to play to be able to win some more money besides their day-to-day jobs.
At 16, he already played live cash games at the Bicycle Club, using a fake ID. Even though he generally was successful in his poker career, he lost almost $2 million in a personal game with adult magazine owner Larry Flynt.
That was undoubtedly the biggest failure of his life.
58. Gabe Kaplan
Actor, comedian, and poker player: Gabe Kaplan has it all!
The poker star even made it to Super Bowl Of Poker Main Event two times.
With the WSOP in bloom, drawing increasing numbers of people, poker player Amarillo Slim tossed the coin and came up with a brand new tournament.
And it didn’t take really miss the Super Plate of Poker to get momentum, as actor Gabe Kaplan won the first event, inspiring other amateurs to try their luck.
He is also a commentator at the most important poker events alongside his career as a poker player.
59. Jennifer Tilly
If you have seen the horror movie Child’s Play, you surely heard of Tiffany Valentine’s character.
The murderous puppet was voiced by none other than American actress and poker player Jennifer Tilly.
Her passion for poker started when she was young, once her father, who had been also a gambler, gave her the WSOP gaming. Even though her poker skills were questioned often times, she was able to become the first celebrity to win a WSOP bracelet. With the help of fellow poker pro Phil Laak, she won the annual WPT Ladies Night event.
60. Barry Greenstein
Many know him as the Robin Hood of Poker for his generosity. Yet, few people recall his courageous posture in an armed robbery alongside Phil Ivey.
Both poker players were attending a WPT event in Paris when a fierce gunman entered the casino. Every one went under the dining table, with the exception of Greenstein, who didn’t even flinch. He thought that the gunman’s target is the cashier, so he didn’t bother to hide.
Until someone forcefully got him under the table.
Phil Ivey even tried to pull a scheme on him and convince him that he was “on for doubles”, but in reality, Greenstein would definitely play to double his earnings within a hand. The specific situation resumed, and so they escaped safe and unharmed.
61. Jason Mercier
Jason Mercier, a former math student, dropped out of college to pursue a career in poker.
However, that wasn’t such an easy thing to do, and, at first, he took a job at a grocery store to manage to give himself. As months passed, he became better at poker, so he started initially to play professionally.
And he managed to rank among 26 players with 5 WSOP bracelets.
62. Mike Postle
If there would be an award for controversy, then Mike Postle surely knows how to cause a stir in the poker world.
He was accused of cheating in a poker game at Stones Gambling Hall. Even though he often kept his phone on his lap, Postle over and over looked downwards, making him appear to be he knew the cards beforehand.
After watching the live footage, commentator Veronica Brill decided to make the accusations public. Then was sued, but the charges were dropped.
But he wasn’t going to settle with that.
Postle filed a defamation lawsuit against several renowned poker players, like Daniel Negreanu or Todd Witteles.
63. Maurice Hawkins
He started out as a football pro, but an injury to his leg made him rethink his future career and chose poker instead.
Yet, Maurice Hawkins was no stranger to controversy either.
At the 2018 WSOP event, he and Italian poker player Sorin Lovin started throwing spiteful words at each other. The banter became so very bad that Lovin even called him the n-word, which is why he first received a penalty. As things digressed, Hawkins asked for a stricter punishment from the WSOP and, therefore , Lovin got disqualified from the tournament.
64. Chris Moneymaker
He is best known for sweeping Sam Farha’s win of the 2003 WSOP Main Event.
Then and there, the term Moneymaker Effect was born, giving amateur players a hope that they too could win against poker titans.
Starting with a career in accounting, he made his way up by playing in tournaments global. Although he is constantly competing and has gathered significant winnings through the years, Moneymaker is yet for a “chair” at the Poker Hall of Fame table.
65. Jason Koon
Koon tried his luck at poker in his days as a student at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Abused by his father as a child and becoming homeless at some point, Koon learned making it these days the hard way. He gradually transformed the bad events in to motivation.
And, in 2010, he even came in 4th in the WPT Main Event for $225.000.
Wild Cards of Europe
Iconic bluffs, strategic gameplays, and high-stakes controversies!
We’ve got the European players who had to face their cards in the poker world.
Danish poker player Peter Jepsen is no stranger to controversy.
The former military veteran of the Iraq War was convicted of three to four years of jail time for online theft.
How did he do it?
During international events, Jepsen hacked in to other players’ laptops and stole from their accounts. These thefts occurred in the span of six years and cost the players over €3.5 million.
67. Gus Hansen
From a successful poker player to a day-to-day job as an accountant, Gus Hansen’s life surely had its ups and downs.
His passion for poker started with a Texas Hold’em tournament, which he won, even though it was his first time playing the game. He won 1 WSOP bracelet and the first season of the Poker Celebrities Invitational Tournament.
But his game in live tournaments started going haywire and, without sufficient money to support himself, he gave up his poker career and took a job as an accountant instead.
68. Phil Laak
If there is someone who can take rule-breaking to another level, then Phil Laak is the one to make waves in the poker world.
The Irish player broke the world record for the longest uninterrupted poker cash game session, playing for 115 hours straight.
But that’s not all.
He even went that far as disguising himself as a vintage man at the 2008 WSOP Main Event. With several hours of professional makeup and the best attire, he was able to bamboozle his fellow poker colleagues.
non-etheless, something good in addition has emerge from his initiative. Ironic enough, ever since then, players aren't permitted to conceal their facial identity within a WSOP event.
69. Maria Konnikova
With a bachelor’s degree in psychology and creative writing at Harvard, Maria Konnikova remodelled her entire career objectives and chose poker instead.
And she proved to be quite a fast learner, winning $1,650 in the No-Limit Hold’em tournament in 2018.
Since then, she journaled her journey within the poker world in the book The Biggest Bluff.
What is remarkable about this New York Times bestseller is that she presents different poker schemes and strategies intertwined with various studies and examples from psychology and even philosophy.
70. Archie Karas
Poker player Archie Karas’s life is anything but easy!
He grew up in poverty, looking for new approaches to survive, everyday. After shooting marbles as a swap for money as a young child, he ran overseas and got hired as a waiter on a ship.
Then moved to Los Angeles, where he started gambling big money. But he quickly took place a losing streak when he lost all of his million-dollar winnings.
In recent years, Karas was caught marking cards at San Diego Casino, got arrested, and received a three-year probation sentence.
71. Annette Obrestad
Talking about playing at a young age, Annette Obrestad began her poker career when she was only 15, underneath the online alias Annette_15.
Initially, she asked her mother to deposit some money in her account, but since she refused, Annette had to take her chances in freeroll tournaments.
And doing so, she started to win as much as $500. 000 on Pokerstars, becoming one of many top on line players in the world.
72. Olivia Boeree
The only female player in the world with both a WSOP bracelet and a European Poker Tour win, Liv Boeree sure brings her A-Game when it comes to poker.
She made her first appearance in the poker universe as a contestant for the reality Television show Ultimatepoker. com Showdown, where she was couched by Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke and Dave Ulliott.
The show was very popular in 2005, and it featured many famous poker figures.
However, since then, she received harsh criticism for defending fellow poker player Annie Duke, who has become quite a controversial figure over the years.
Annie Duke wasn't only associated with several scandals like Full Tilt or Ultimate Bet, but she's also notoriously known on her appearance in Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice tv show.
73. Antanas Guoga
Professional poker player, politician and businessman, Tony G is best known for his aggressive style at the poker table.
From 2014 to 2019, he was a member of the European Parliament of the Lithuanian Liberal Party.
He didn’t get re-elected for a second term, and the Russian President Vladimir Putin even barred him from entering the nation as a result of some anti-Russian remarks.
Always speaking his mind rather than holding back, he frequently stacks up for the amateur players at the table if indeed they get trapped in the pros’ speech play.
We cannot forget the legendary confrontations with Phil Hellmuth, which amounts to a large number of views on the net. But, throwing shade and calling people out have now been a well-thought strategy of Tony’s that brought him both haters and fame.
74. Will Kassouf
If there was a special prize for strategic speech play in poker, Will Kassouf would be a multiple-winn
Along with his famous catchphrase 9-high like a boss!, the constant talking gained him many haters in the community.
Amid the 2016 WSOP Main Event, he found myself in a fight with fellow Australian poker player Griffin Benger who called him out for verbal abuse. And in 2018, he was even caught stealing a $100 chip from one of his friends.
Kassouf admitted the wrongdoing and apologized, but he lost his sponsorship with Grosvenor Casino.
75. Luke Schwartz
Luke Schwartz is undoubtedly known for his ongoing stamina, both in poker play and in verbal confrontations.
The young poker player, originally from the United Kingdom, never shies away from making bad commentaries about other players’ performances.
In 2022, he got into a fight with fellow poker player Phil Galfond, naming him a washed-up pro who are able to no further increase against top pros. His behaviour got called out often times in the poker industry, earning him a bad-mouth reputation.
76. Ivan Deyra
French poker player Ivan Deyra climbed the ladder to success, and then quickly go downwards because of a mistake.
Everything started with the Super High Roller event organized by Winamax, where he won over €83.000.
The issue was that he used both his father’s account under the alias MATIVANAO and his own to play. He admitted the wrongdoing and, as a result, Winamax banned both accounts. Eventually, Deyra lost all his money winnings to the affected players, and his contract with Winamax was terminated straight away.
77. Dave Ulliott
Orange sunglasses, an elegant suit, and golden rings inscribed with Devil and Fish (hence the nickname): Dave Ulliott was quite a presence in the poker industry.
And we dare say that his presence was deeply felt in the outside world, too.
Since 19, he became involved in a series of crimes, like a safe-cracking team, an armed robbery, and numerous fights. Ulliott got caught multiple times and was even put in isolation for 23 hours while in prison.
But his villain days were over when he met his second wife and decided to quit the criminal career and concentrate on poker instead.
78. Alexandru Papazian
With over $3 million winnings in his entire career, Alexandru Papazian ranks first on the Romanian poker leaderboard.
He impressed everyone with his excellent skills in more than 49 tournaments and managed to secure the 444 spot on the All Time Money List.
Fun fact: The peak of his career was the WSOP 2017 event, where he became the first Romanian poker player to win a WSOP bracelet.
79. David Benyamine
At first, he wanted to become an archeologist, then a professional tennis player.
A chronic shoulder pain cut his career short, and he ended up a successful poker player.
But his luck was about to change in 2004 when he got deported. While travelling from his country of origin, France, to attend several WSOP events, he was searched by the united states police and sent on his way back.
Rumours say that he was stopped because his name was somewhat similar to a suspected terrorist. However , he might have been deported because he didn’t have a work permit. It had been enough, though, for him to not come back to the usa for a year.
80. Dan Murariu
Experienced Romanian poker player Dan Murariu has been in this industry for over a decade.
His first win amounted to $184, 182 at the No Limit Hold’em Main Event in Varna. After tremendous success at the Unibet Open Main Event, he was awarded the title of Unibet Ambassador. Have a look at our review on Unibet Casino and see their game collection, special tools, payment methods and bonus codes!
81. Viktor Blom
If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings and are up-to-date with the poker world, you surely heard the name: Viktor Blom alias Isildur1.
He became famous after his match with fellow poker pro Phil Ivey, where he lost over $3 million.
Yet, his unpredictable nature and aggressive style at the dining table made him one of the toughest competitors to play against, even for Phil Ivey. Nevertheless , he left the poker field for nearly a year after Brian Townsend shared his hand history.
82. Ionel Anton
With 14 important tournaments in five years, Ionel Anton has quickly become a pro in the poker industry. The Romanian-born player won almost $2 million and came in second at the 2011 WSOP in Vegas.
Initially, he was an extremely talented soccer player until high school, when he'd to stop. But he added a new hobby, besides poker: mathematics. And he even uses it in poker games!
83. Victoria Coren Mitchell
Victoria Mitchell presents herself as a British professional poker player and writer.
And her life is nothing short of a fantastic story too.
Following her father’s death, one of her friends warned her of a supposed gang who was regularly checking the neighborhood death notices to crash at funerals, only for fun. So she considered to turn their scheme against them and orchestrated an entire intend to catch them. She placed a fake death notice and waited in order for them to respond.
Mitchell initially thought of putting laxatives in their canapés. Still, she in the course of time chose to the leader and inform him that she knows of their existence and they're not welcome.
84. Adrian Mateos
A poker prodigy along with his first WSOP Europe Main Event win at the age of 19, Adrian Mateos is going down ever among the most useful Spanish players.
He challenged the poker world, becoming the youngest player to win 3 WSOP bracelets among numerous live tournaments, of them costing only 22.
Fun fact: Spaniards are avid gamblers, spending more cash on games than most countries. While the most popular bets are made on lotteries, casinos as well as football, Spain is very stringent with regards to gambling and imposes a specific authorization to be legal.
85. Dario Sammartino
Dario Sammartino can easily be described as a sharply dressed man.
Dressed in a suit and a bowtie, the Italian poker player was so near winning the 2019 WSOP Main Event but came in second, following a scandal that still makes waves.
He was playing against Nick Marchington when yet another player at the table noticed that Marchington had more chips in the stack when he shoved. At that moment, Sammartino exploded in rage.
But, upon calling the WSOP Vice President Jack Effel, he concluded that the action was actually accepted, resulting in Sammartino finishing second place.
86. Narcis – Gabriel Nedelcu
Being ranked 16th on the Romanian poker player leaderboard, Narcis Nedelcu is quite a force to be reckoned with!
He participated in over 72 live tournaments, and his winnings add up to significantly more than $500. 000 from live poker tournaments.
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87. Andras Nemeth
Andras Nemeth alias probirs has definitely put his skills to the test together with his entire career as an expert poker player.
Trying to keep his personal life as private as you are able to, Nemeth makes himself heard in the poker world with 2 WCOOP and 3 SCOOP titles.
He overall participated in 59 tournaments over 11 years.
88. Lex Veldhuis
A well-known figure in the Twitch community, Veldhuis managed to gather over 260.000 followers through his online poker scores.
Originally a video gamer, his success includes, among others, 13 WSOP events cash-ins.
But since social media is sometimes a two-edged sword, he has been massively suffering from his continuous losing poker game while streaming. Veldhuis paid off the total amount of time used on social networking, hoping that they can lift himself up quicker.
Asian Poker Pros
Raids, robberies, and scandals: we got them all! Check out the best and worst Asian poker stories!
89. Scotty Nguyen
Drugs, alcohol, high stakes, and a unique personality: this is the rise and fall of Scotty Nguyen.
The five-time WSOP bracelet winner has taken the central spot in poker controversy often times. Cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, and gambling addictions made Scotty lose millions of dollars in tournaments, and he went broke.
Scotty went completely haywire at the 2008 World Series event, where he was heavily intoxicated with alcohol and lost his train of thought in front of live TV.
And his controversial nature didn’t stop there. In '09, the ESPN Magazine featured Scotty alongside fellow players Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Jennifer Harman in nude, sitting at a poker table.
90. Eli Elezra
Former lieutenant in the Israeli Defence Force, Eli Elezra, did a 180-degree turn and started pursuing a career in poker. A
fter three weeks in prison, following his refusal to follow along with military orders to enter the air force, he put his skills to test and succeeded in being a lieutenant in the Golani Brigade Force.
However, his military career didn’t last long due to a leg injury, so he started learning poker. And that will earn him near to $3 million in live tournaments and 4 bracelets.
91. Johnny Chan
If you’ve seen the 1998 movie Rounders, starring Matt Damon, then you will for sure remember Johnny Chan’s cameo.
With an archive of 10 WSOP bracelets, he's in tight competition with pro poker fellows Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey for second put on the all-time WSOP championship list. Besides poker playing and acting, Chan is the owner of a fast-food franchise in the Las Vas Stratosphere Hotel and offers consultancy to various casinos.
92. Danny Tang
His love for sports started during University.
FIRST Soccer, then martial arts, Danny Tang in the course of time entered a poker hall and found his full-time career. He started playing in tournaments and quickly gained his first WSOP bracelet and winnings amounting to more than $2 million.
His ambition to achieve success took a toll on the time spent with his dear ones. non-etheless, although he lost his father, he always has his mother’s and friends’ support when he was young.
93. Maria Ho
Maria Ho has positively established herself in the professional poker industry, ranking second on the very best female poker players leaderboard.
Besides poker, she appeared in several television shows, like American Idol as well as participating in the 15th season of the Amazing Race.
Buzzfeed’s Try Guys picked up on her talent and challenged her to a game: amateurs vs. pro players.
The video got nearly 7 million views on Youtube and 8000 comments from fans. Following this video, she stated that she would repeat this experience and shoot more videos made to teach beginners and poker amateurs how to play.
94. Antonio Esfandiari
The three-time WSOP bracelet winner Antonio Esfandiari actually started out as a magician.
He changed his name when he was 19 from Amir To Antonio and got a nose job to suit his new persona.
While performing magic tricks at several events, he got an invitation to the Texas Hold ’em tournament and learned to play poker. He became renowned for his 2012 “Big One for just one Drop” tournament, where he won the second-largest single payout in history.
Since fame can sometimes stir envy, Esfandiari lost over $1 million in a robbery orchestrated by a woman he knew.
95. Sam Farha
Sam Farha is best known for losing the 2003 WSOP Main Event against Chris Moneymaker.
The accountant turned an $80 ticket into a $2. five million prize and beat the high-stakes player Sam Farha. But his luck did come around ultimately. He won three WSOP bracelets along with the spokesman of Harrah’s Casino in Vegas.
96. John Juanda
With five WSOP bracelets and a well-thought-out strategy, John Juanda is without a doubt a name to be remembered in the poker world.
He continuously strived to progress. Ergo, he gradually earned the title of the very successful tournament player in the world among his fellow players. But, sometimes, the continuous battle to get better and better can become addictive. And Juanda knows it too well from his father, who suffered from a severe gambling addiction. However , he managed to find a balance as well as got named Card Player Magazine’s Player of the Year.
97. Paul Phua
You might know him from the Caesars Palace raid in 2014.
The Malaysian Chinese businessman and poker player Paul Phua was taken into custody and accused of operating an illegal betting operation linked to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, together with his son, fellow poker player Richard Young and others. Many colleagues pitched in to help, including Phil Ivey, who bailed him out. Eventually, the charges against Phua were dropped, and the case was dismissed.
98. Richard Yong
With over $11 million earned in live tournaments, Richard Yong can be viewed as probably one of the most prolific Asian players ever.
Yet Rochard Yong’s name is forever linked to his fellow player Paul Phua in a scandal that shook the entire poker world. He was arrested for being involved in illegal sports betting organization run by Phua.
Luckily for him, his colleagues came to the rescue and bailed him out for $1.5 million.
99. Elton Tsang
Elton Tsang made history when he decided to organize the first-ever live poker tournament in Macau.
With the help of the Grand Waldo Casino owner as well as Matt Savage and Poker Stars, he created the Asia Pacific Poker Tour.
The function is held in seven locations: Australia, China, Macau, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan, and it has run up to now for 13 seasons.
After winning the €1 million Monte-Carlo One Drop Extravaganza, he became even more famous, which sent him to the best Asian poker players leaderboard.
100. Kitty Kuo
Originally from Taiwan, professional player Kitty Kuo moved to Las Vegas to pursue her poker career.
From one win to another, she was determined to break her own records. She began with winning the PokerStars Macau Poker Cup. Then she even finished second in the WPT Tournament of Champions Festival.
Speaking of champions, have you ever wondered how men and women react to winning?
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We put the cards on the table
We gave you the good and the bad.
We have seen them strive to get to the top and become better and better. Almost perfect.
But we also witnessed them collapsing, losing everything they had, even themselves. With grandeur, fame, and a large amount of money comes enormous responsibility. Some understand how to manage it, while others spiral into a crippling addiction.
Either way, you must never forget to put your mental and physical health before anything else and not underestimate the consequences gambling may have upon your entire life.
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