Poker is one of those gambling games that requires a certain amount of skill to play, as well as a bit of luck from the cards that are dealt out. Because of this, it’s an obvious outcome that some players can be considered better at poker than others. But just who is the best poker player in the world? And who else sits at the top of the rankings? That’s what we’re here to discover. So, if you’re interested in finding out more, come with us to take a look at the best poker player in the world.
What Determines the Best Poker Player?
Poker, being a game of skill, can never have a constant best player in the world. It’s like any other game. Just because Serena Williams is at the top of the tennis world right now doesn’t mean that she’ll always be considered the best tennis player in the world. Therefore, the best poker player in the world at the moment could just as easily not be considered as such within a month or two. Yet there is one certain accolade that determines who sits atop the poker rankings.
The biggest accolade that a professional poker player can boast is having a mass of winnings. The one who earns the most money from playing poker each year is likely to be “crowned” as the best in the world. This is why the rankings change on an annual basis – because whoever wins the most in one year for 2017 may not reach the same heights in 2018. Monetary amounts won in poker will see players ascend through the ranks. So, who sits at the top for the moment? Let’s take a look at the top 10, shall we?
Even though Steve is best known for his achievements on the European Poker Tour, as well as several other high-roller poker events, he is an American professional. Winning the European Poker Tour on two separate occasions, O’Dwyer has also soared to heights in competitions throughout America and Asia. Perhaps one of his most notable accolades came in 2014 when he won the 2014 Asia Champion of Poker Super High Roller tournament. Last year wasn’t such a great one for Steve, although he began firing back with the arrival of 2018, putting him 10th position with current winnings of $20,286,465.
Bryn Kenney didn’t actually begin his gambling life by playing poker. Instead, his original interest was in playing Magic: The Gathering – a trading card and digital collectible card game. However, in 2007, he transitioned over to be a poker player, and one who earned a great amount of success throughout the years to 2017. It was at this time that he won his first World Series of Poker bracelet, securing the first-place prize for $153,220 in winnings. A number of other high-profile wins – one of which saw him defeat the 2015 World Poker Main Event champion in 2016 for $1,687,800 – have seen him ascend up the rankings frequently.
This professional poker player actually earned half of his current $20,766,881 winnings from finishing in second place when participating in The Big One for One Drop, which brought him $10.1 million. While this is an impressive accolade, this British poker pro has competed in and won multiple other poker tournaments throughout his years as a player. He even claimed a seat at the final table of the World Poker Tour in Venice back in 2015.
John Juanda has amassed a great set of accomplishments over the years, and 2018 doesn’t look to be a year for him to begin stalling, either. He’s currently won over $25.4 million in winnings, and he’s quite often seen as someone that nobody else wants to have as a finalist on their table due to his impressive poker skills. This Indonesian professional has a great score of 35 cashes of $100,000 or above over the last 20 years. He is often found playing poker in Macau, which is also where he brought home his biggest win to date – $1.6 million back in 2012.
Phil Hellmuth Jr.
Phil remains as the highest-placed World Series of Poker Main Event winner, and judging by his record-setting 13 WSOP bracelets, there’s little wonder that he could point to himself as being the best in the world. Hellmuth actually holds more WSOP cashes than any other player in the tournament’s history. However, none has ever been bigger than the $2.65 million that he brought home when he finished in fourth position during The Big One for One Drop event.
This pro spent much of his younger days playing at New Jersey casinos, utilizing the nickname of “Jerome.” At this time, he was an underage player. Yet, over the years, he has grown to become one of the industry’s biggest and best talents. So much so that many people have come to mark him as being the Tiger Woods of the poker world. Ivey won his first World Series of Poker bracelet back in the year of 2000. Since that time, he has been the victor in eight more. Meanwhile, a seventh-place finish in the WSOP Main Event 2009 saw him ascend up the rankings even higher. Then, January of 2012 saw him take a first-place finish in the Aussie Millions $250,000 Challenge, earning $2 million.
Currently having amassed $26,746,838 in total, this German professional rose through the poker rankings, with 2016 providing him with a great year. Not only does he have a solid standing in live poker tournaments, but also in online poker gameplay. He was ranked as being the best online MTT player for the years of 2014 and 2015. As 2016 rolled around, though, he claimed his very first WSOP bracelet, which came just a few weeks after coming in second place during the Super High Roller bowl.
There’s little chance of seeking out a collection of the best poker players in the world without seeing Esfandiari on it. He’s one of the biggest and most popular players in the live tournament sector. It’s been ten years since he brought home his first million-dollar victory, winning the LA Poker Classic. Born in Iran, Esfandiari now resides in the US, and he’s gone on to make six-figure sums every year since 2004. He possesses two World Poker Tour accolades, as well as three WSOP bracelets. Alas, his 2012 achievement of winning The Big One for One Drop to rake in over $18.3 million still remains as his biggest victory.
Starting out with his professional poker career before the rise of the internet poker scene, he first made a name for himself by securing a second-place position in the 1988 WSOP Main Event. In fact, his winning knockout hand was brought to life on the big screen in the 1998 movie Rounders. He stayed bouncing around the top of the rankings throughout the years, but his career peak came in the year of 2011 when he claimed million-dollar rewards on two separate continents. It was at that time that he took home $6.5 million over 12 months.
If you want to know about a pro who has a string of consistently great performances, then look no further than the world’s best right now, Daniel Negreanu. He remains as the only player to win the World Series of Poker bracelets in Las Vegas, Australia, and Europe. Not only that, but he was named the Global Poker Index player of the decade, thanks to how frequently he comes out as a top-ranked player as far as live poker tournaments go. He has had six cashes for $1 million or more, although the largest came with an $8.28 million victory after winning the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop, which took place at the World Series of Poker. His current winnings stand at $34,151,327.
So, as you can see, there are some very high-profile and skilled poker players existing in the world – many of them taking home millions upon millions in winnings throughout the years. Daniel Negreanu sits atop the world rankings at the moment, but how long will he remain there? With so many adept poker professionals who are constantly on the up and up, his throne is always going to be in jeopardy of being overthrown. The poker gaming world is one of thrills, competition, and excitement, but Negreanu can very much be considered the best poker player in the world – for now.