1. Gus Hansen $ 1,805,876
Many people say that “anyone” can win a poker tournament once, and some are even lucky enough to win a couple. Gus Hansen has won THREE World Poker Tour events, and has made five final tables to date with his ultra-aggressive style. If you think poker doesn’t involve skill you are way off base. Gus Hansen, originally from Denmark, is not only a world class tournament player, but you can also find him playing the highest limit games in Las Vegas. Before you laugh at him playing 57 offsuit, pickup a book called Super System by Doyle Brunson, and learn why this can be a great strategy for advanced poker players.
2. Erick Lindgren $ 1,560,568
Erick is another example of the cream rising to the top. Crowned the “World Poker Tour Player of the Year” in 2004, Erick owned the tour, winning two WPT events and finishing on a final table in Paris. Erick is no fluke, he has worked as a proposition player at casinos for years (hired by casino to start games) and has been a profitable online poker player for a long time.
3. Barry Greenstein $ 1,473,133
If you ask me which poker player I respect the most, I would ask “Based on what criteria?” As an all-around player and human being, Barry wins my vote by a MILE. Not only is Barry one of our top World Poker tour millionaires, but he has given all of his poker winnings away to charitable causes. YES, you heard me right, 100% of his $1.5 million in WPT winnings was donated to charity. The major one being Children Incorporated, which sponsors 21,000 kids around the world. Wow!
4. Antonio Esfandiari $ 1,451,135
Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari is the player you love to hate. With his sinister sneer and Michael Jackson break dance moves, he almost drove Phil Hellmuth to the funny farm. Antonio has won a WPT event, and made the final table in two others. Originally from Iran, he was a magician by trade which has kept his opponents entertained at tables while he applies his trade between hands. Antonio brings aggressive poker to a whole new level, he’s not afraid to risk it all on stone cold bluffs. He has what it takes to win tournaments, but he’ll need to keep performing to prove he’s the real deal.
5. Paul Phillips $ 1,395,530
Paul Phillips is a rich guy getting richer story, and we all love that one don’t we…NOT. To add more salt to the wound, Paul made a fortune when he was in his 30’s as a CFO of an internet company during the big dot com boom. Well, my guess is the company is long gone, but Paul and his massive fortune are not. Paul has won a WPT event, and placed 2nd in another. Paul is about as smart as human’s get, and can play poker like the best of them. Trust me, you don’t want him at your table.
6. Alan Goehring $ 1,011,886
Alan is a former junk bond trader and analyst, so he is used to activities involving extreme stress you could say. Alan has made one WPT event and won it. Was it a fluke, I’m not so sure… Alan came in 2nd in the 1999 World Series of Poker Championship Event that was won by Noel Furlong, where he won almost $800,000. He is definitely an ultra-aggressive player who plays with no fear. The World Poker Tour Championship event he did win was probably the most exciting ever. Opponents included Phil Ivey, Ted Forrest, Doyle Brunson, and Kirill Gerasimov. He went heads up with Kirill in a spectacular battle, and eventually defeated the Russian poker prodigy.
7. Daniel Negreanu $ 896,389
Daniel Negreanu doesn’t just finish well in WPT events, he wins almost all poker tournaments these days. Next time I write this list, Daniel will be much higher up in the list because he is on fire this year. Daniel is originally from Canada, but is a well known pro that lives and plays high stakes games in Las Vegas. He combines aggressive play with spectacular opponent reading ability, he’s the real deal, a true poker superstar. If you can find tips from Daniel write them down and apply them to your game, because they quite clearly work. If he’s at your table hope you get pocket aces because no other hand looks good when you have Daniel on your left.
8. Phil Ivey $ 619,993
Phil Ivey is called the “Tiger Woods” of Poker for obvious reasons. Phil is probably the most famous poker player on WPT along with Gus Hanson. He’s a spectacular player to watch, and like Gus is a high limit cash game player in California and Vegas. It’s a bit surprising that Phil hasn’t won a WPT event yet, although he’s been on 3 final tables. He’s for real though, he won THREE gold bracelets in the 2002 WSOP, which is just ridiculous. The cash games he plays requires a bankroll of one million dollars. So, again, if you see Phil at a poker table, just walk away!
9. Howard Lederer $ 614,250
Howard is another WPT fixture, having won two WPT events and finishing 3rd on another final table. He’s called “The Professor”, because he’s real smart-like. He used to be a chess master (haven’t we all) and turned poker professional, which was clearly a smart move. Howard is a very cerebral player, always taking time to think about a play. He’s for real, and we’ll be seeing Howard many times in the future.
10. Phil Gordon $ 610,000
Phil is another rich guy getting richer story. Like Paul Phillips, Phil made $100 million during the dot com boom, and retired at 27, after graduating from college when he was 20…. Sigh! Oh well, at least Phil is a nice guy, and a great poker player. Phil has made two WPT final tables, and won them both! Are you starting to see the trend that many of these top players are all very smart, hmmm… maybe there is some skill in this game of poker!
11. Dave Ulliot $ 589,990
Dave “The Devilfish” Ulliot is nothing short of a poker icon in Europe. Dave is from Hull, England, and has been playing poker professionally for decades. Now, North America is familiar with Devilfish, after winning a WPT event. Just because he from the other side of the pond, doesn’t mean he’s not good. If he plays in more WPT events, you’ll see him appear in more WPT tournaments.
12. Dewey Tomko $ 567,503
Another one of the nice guys, Dewey is as good as a poker player as you can get. He used to play high stakes games in Las Vegas with Doyle Brunson and Chip Reese, and win! Before playing poker professionally, Dewey was a kindergarten teacher, which probably provided him with an amazing degree of patience. Dewey is always a force in a poker tournament. He came in 2nd in the 2001 WSOP Championship that Carlos Mortenson won, and took home over a million dollars. Dewey now lives in Costa Rica, and doesn’t play as much now, but when he does, he’s always one of the favourites.
13. Christer Johansson $ 539,950
Christer is professional poker player from Sweden, who plays both in tournaments and online. He won his WPT event in Paris, while being sponsored by ParadisePoker.com, where he plays as “Betong”. Christer is an aggressive player, and hopefully gets over to more WPT events so we can see him play more often.
14. Kirill Gerasimov $ 506,625
We described Kirill’s awesome final table at the WPT Championship event in Season One. He played alongside his mentor, Doyle Brunson, along with Phil Ivey, Ted Forrest, and Alan Goehring. He eventually went Heads up with Alan in a gruelling battle, and had to settle for a half a million dollars. Kirill is a member of the Team of Champions at ParadisePoker.com where he plays online as “Kirill”. We have Kirill as our top young online poker players for a reason, he’s one of the best in the world. Since Kirill is a young poker prodigy from Russia, it’s difficult for him to get to USA often, but the Europeans know all about him!
15. John Juanda $ 400,114
I wouldn’t call “JJ” an exciting player necessarily but he is definitely very good. John is fairly quiet when he plays, but this native Indonesian is no stranger to the poker circuit. He did have a bit of the Phil Mickelson complex, but like Phil he eventually won his major and is cashing in more and more, every year.