Are you sure you picked the right career? After reading our list of the richest poker players, you might second guess yourself.
While most of us go into ‘traditional trades’, the 10 players on this list opted for a career path playing games – poker, that is. We’re sure their parents rolled their eyes at them at the time, but looking back, we’re sure no one on this list regrets their decision.
Poker is a tough game to navigate as for every one of the big winners on this list, there are thousands who came up short. Nonetheless, let’s celebrate poker’s best and see who are the richest players of all time in terms of career earnings.
10. Antonio Esfandiari
Career Earnings: $27 Million
Born in 1978, Antonio Esfandiari will be 42 by the end of 2020 (his birthday is December 8th). Our guess? He’ll won’t experience a mid-life crisis, as he has already made quite a name for himself in the poker community. He used to be a magician before his poker career took off, even writing a book titled The Magician’s Secrets for Winning Tournaments in 2012. So far, his poker career has been magical.
Esfandiari has managed to win three WSOP bracelets as well as three WPT titles too. His most notable win came back in 2004 at the Los Angeles Poker Classic. Doing a full tally, Esfandiari has compiled $27 million in his career, which is why he is No. 10 on our list.
His biggest recorded win was back in 2012 when he won the “Big One for One Drop” tournament. That’s, of course, one of the biggest poker payouts each year and it’s one of the biggest reasons for him being on this list. At the time, that first-place prize got him the record for the largest recorded prize ever with $18,346,673.
However, that number has now been passed by someone else. Esfandiari even held the number one spot on this list for a brief time before falling behind as of late. You can’t blame him for resting on his laurels a little bit.
9. Antanas ‘Tony G’ Guoga
Career Earnings: $36 Million
His full name is Antanas Guoga but you might recognize him better as Tony G. That’s how he’s known in the poker world. He’s quite an interesting person as he also happens to be the public Chief Information Officer to the Remigijus Simasius, who is the mayor of Vilnius – the capital of Lithuania. If that’s not enough, the man is even the chief executive officer of Cypherpunk Holdings.
Flipping over to his poker accomplishments, while he has never been able to win a WSOP bracelet, he has been able to cash out 15 different big paydays. When you do the full tally, he has won a total of $36 million throughout his career. How does he find time for all of it?
8. Justin Bonomo
Career Earnings: $49 Million
Bonomo is a big fish that’s well-known for his winnings. He frequently swims with sharks but usually comes out on top. His love for the game has attributed to his incredibly high success that he has had throughout his very young poker career so far – that includes both online and in person.
Bonomo has won three WSOP bracelets and has been able to win a cash prize over 50 times in various events. One of his most notable victories was in the Super High Roller Bowl Online that took place earlier this year. However, his biggest win was during the “Big One for One Drop” tournament in 2018, which saw him bring home around $10 million. He currently sits at $49 million total career earnings, but that number is sure to change as he continues collecting the wins.
7. Daniel Negreanu
Career Earnings: $50 Million
Daniel Negreanu has been in many spots on this list but nowadays, as he’s scaled back from the game a little bit, he’s at No. 7.
The Canadian was originally introduced to the poker world at a very young age and he’s thrived in it ever since. He used to play back in high school, which is where he started honing his craft. Those games in the halls of Canadian high schools have more than paid off – likely more than anything else he learned in the classrooms.
Nowadays, Negreanu has six World Series of Poker bracelets under his belt and is the only player in the poker community to be named the WSOP Player of the Year more than once. He’s already a member of the Poker Hall of Fame and has picked up about $50 million throughout his career with both his tournament earnings as well as sponsorship deals. He’s undoubtedly one of the most successful players of all time.
6. Bryn Kenney
Career Earnings: $56 Million
Kenney is one of the youngest players on this list in terms of active time in the game. Kenney was actually first introduced to online poker back in 2003, so when you compare him to some of the other people on this list, that’s not that long. That’s mostly because he originally was into a different card game growing up: Magic: The Gathering. Good thing he made the switch as poker has proven to be quite profitable.
Kenney is now a wildly successful poker player who has about $56 million in total career earnings. While he only has one WSOP bracelet in his portfolio, more are probably on the way. And don’t worry as he’s got so much in other earnings as he’s finished in the money in 32 other events.
One of the biggest was his haul at the 2019 Triton Million charity event, which took place in London, England. More than one-third of his career winnings came from that event as he picked up $20.5 million that night.
5. Doyle Brunson
Career Earnings: $75 Million
The ‘Texas Dolly’, Doyle Brunson is not only a legend in the poker community, he’s one of the pioneers who helped bring the game to new heights. He has over 60 years of poker experience, which is not something many players can say.
Originally, the Texas Dolly had his sights set on a basketball career and had hopes of playing professional basketball in the NBA. However, that didn’t pan out, so he began to ply his trade in another competition: poker. Needless to say, that was a good choice.
Brunson has 10 WSOP bracelets to his name, which includes two Main Event victories. That’s a tough tournament to win once, let alone twice. He’s also wrote a book titled Super System, which has been known as one of the best poker strategy books out there. As of right now, his total career earnings are around $75 million, which lands him at No. 5 on our list.
4. Chris Ferguson
Career Earnings: Over $80 Million
‘Jesus’ Chris Ferguson got his nickname because, well, with his long hair and beard, he bears a resemblance.
The California native began to playing poker with his father from a young age. Whenever he took a break from his schoolwork, his father would deal him in. Those bonding experiences were incredibly important to the success that Ferguson has had in professional poker.
Some of Ferguson’s big wins include the WSOP Main Event back in 2000, which saw him bring home $1.5 million in winnings. It’s interesting to note how small that prize looks nowadays for a main event. Nonetheless, he also happens 90 or so other events where he’s finished in the money. He’s won over $80 million in his career.
Unfortunately, Ferguson’s reputation took a huge hit when he was accused of being involved in the Ponzi scheme at Full Tilt Poker. This has put a sour note on the end of an illustrious career.
3. Sam Farha
Career Earnings: Over $100 Million
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Sammy Farha is one of the best poker players – if not the best – ever from the Middle East. He moved to the United States as a teenager years in order to escape from the Lebanese Civil War. As they say, this is the land of opportunity and Farha surely took advantage of it.
In his few years in the United States, Farha began playing poker here and there where he was able to pick up a few bucks. That first taste ended up being his welcome to the poker community and he never looked back.
So far, Farha has earned three WSOP bracelets and his largest recorded tournament win was in 2010 at the WSOP $10,000 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better Championship. That tournament led to him earning $488,241. Overall, his career earnings have surpassed $100 million.
2. Phil Ivey
Career Earnings: Over $100 Million
Ivey is a legend on the poker circuit but most of the recent things we’ve heard from him have been in the legal world – we’ll focus on the positives here, as he’s truly made a big mark on the game.
Ivey was interested in poker from a young age – maybe a little too young. He used to love poker so much that he was caught using a fake ID at a casino while he was a teenager. Nicknamed ‘The Phenom’, Ivey had won 10 World Series Of Poker bracelets throughout his career, which is second most in the world behind only Phil Hellmuth.
Ivey also owns one WPT title and has reached the final table nine times. Taking a look at his biggest win (in terms of dollar amount), that came in 2014 at the Aussie Millions LK Boutique AU$250,000 challenge, which saw him bring home AU$4 million. Not only has he produced a ton of success in live tournaments, he also happens to be an outstanding online player as well. He has gathered more than $100 million in total earnings.
1. Dan Bilzerian
Career Earnings: Over $200 Million
Is Dan Bilzerian more successful at poker or Instagram? The Instagram king has cleaned up in both communities, but it’s hard to say which one accepts him more. It’s rumored that he isn’t widely liked around the poker community, but he still holds high stakes games all the time.
He started off with some money he inherited from his parents due to his father being a corporate takeover specialist, but many wonder how much Bilzerian has actually won, because the exact amount of his trust fund is unknown. However, he still happens to be the richest poker player in the world — he even claims that he’s won over $50 million in the year of 2014, and that he’s won over $200 million in his career, earning him the #1 spot on our list.