While poker was once reserved for the populated rooms at bars and casinos where only the experienced player would dare enter, today’s online variant has opened it up too many. With over 100 billion poker players in the world currently, it’s never been easier for people to get involved in the game.
New players are encouraged by a variety of incentives, from free bonuses to live dealer games, in which there’s also an abundance of resources to help players learn strategy. For those that study hard, poker can bring in some serious wins with many pro players going on to win sums within the millions.
Below we’ll take a look at some of the biggest poker wins to date.
1. 2012 World Series of Poker – Big One for One Drop
The Big One for One drop is a buy in, no limit Texas Hold’em tournament hosted by the World Series of Poker. In 2012, this tournament became the highest buy-in poker tournament in history, as well as setting the record for the highest poker winnings payout at an eye watering $18.3 million.
The lucky player in this game was Antonio Esfandiari, who’s also known as ‘the Magician’. Esfandiari is a well-known poker player who was previously a magician in his former career, allowing him to perfect his bluffing skills and master his poker face.
In addition to winning the Big one for One Drop in 2012, Esfandiari has also won 2 other Word Series of Poker bracelets and is a name to be watched.
2. 2006 World Series of Poker – Main Event
In 2006, pro poker player Jamie Gold managed to walk away with a cool $12 million after winning the World Series of Poker main event. At the time, poker was considered to be going through a stage called the ‘money maker’s boom’, which was on the back of a surprising 2003 pickup.
At the time of this event, entries had risen from around 839 participants a year to a staggering 8,773. This was the largest prize pool to have been established in poker history, with $82.5 million being raised. Gold’s 2006 win put him on the poker players map of fame almost overnight, in which he’s the fourth biggest poker winner ever.
3. Wynn Resorts High Stakes Poker Room – 2006
In 2006, pro poker player Phil Ivey paid a visit to the high stakes poker room at Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas. His opponent was another highflyer Texas billionaire called Andy Beal; known to have a net worth of around $9.44 billion.
The stakes were so high in this game that defeat would not only bankrupt Phil Ivey but also 16 other players at the table. Other players included the likes of Ted Forrest, Jennifer Harman, and Todd Brunson. In this game, Beal surprisingly decided to quit early in the last game, however for this game he stuck around for stakes of $10 million dollars.
The corporation lost all of its initial capital, bankrupting some of the biggest players in poker history. However, Phil Ivey later carried the chance of redemption and it certainly seemed to pay off.
4. 2014 World Series of Poker – Main Event
The final tournament in the World Series of Poker 2014 lasted from July 5th to July 14th and again in November when 9 players returned to decide on a winner. The total prize pool for this game was a staggering $62.8 million, with a field of 6,683.
Swedish poker player Martin Jacobson was the lucky individual to walk away from this event with a Word Series of Poker bracelet and a cool $10 million. Originally from Stockholm, Sweden, Jacobson received the fifth largest payout in poker history that day.
Having originally started out as a Navy chef, he’d already been practicing playing poker since an early age during high school and picked up most of his key skills while playing in internet cafes as he travelled the world on board a Swedish Naval ship.
5. 2008 WPT Championship
In the 2008 World Poker Tour championships, David Chiu defied all odds by pulling off a heads-up comeback, taking home over $3 million in the process. Chiu was up against one of the most successful players in history, Gus Hansen, who was also the chip leader.
Hansen is a Danish professional player who has resided at the heart of the poker world in Monaco since 2003. Chiu, who was a restaurant owner in Colorado who took a second job as a poker dealer. He later became a poker tournament specialist.
One of Chiu’s secret weapons is his emotional intelligence and ability to read people’s facial expressions. Having been diagnosed as partially deaf in both ears, Chiu exclaimed that this has helped him to focus on games and home in on players body language and facial expressions, making him a rather lethal weapon.
6. 2015 High Roller Bowl
The 2015 Super High Roller Bowl featured a $500,000 buy in and had over 43 players participating. The event built up over $21 million in prize money and featured some of the most talented poker players in the world, including Erik Seidel, David Peters, and Tom Marchese.
Brian Rast was the star player in this tournament, in which he went head-to-head against the likes of Daniel Negreanu, Sam Trickett and Antonio Esfandiar. Rast, who was originally from Denver, Colorado, now resides in Las Vegas and is well known for his poker skills in both live games and online.
These six events featured some of the largest wins in poker history and helped to cement the careers of these poker playing pros. For those looking to get into professional poker, one thing is clear- there’s no lack of incentive to start learning. With hard work and dedication, anyone can be in with a chance of winning the jackpot.