In the past decade, Poker has risen to the top, becoming one of the most popular table games to date. From its humble roots as a recreational game, Poker has evolved into a competitive sport globally—with veteran players and regular high-rollers considering it as a profession.
The decade began with Chris Moneymaker’s glorious win of $2.5 million in the 2003 WSOP Main Event that instigated the worldwide Poker Boom. His success back in 2003 influenced thousands of players worldwide to play poker professionally. Tournament series like the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and World Poker Tour (WPT) saw their roster of participants increase in numbers for the next consecutive years. To date, WSOP gathered around 8,000 participants for the 2019 tournament—a staggering growth from Moneymaker’s field of 839 players.
Professional poker players now take to the table with millions of dollars on the line in an intense and full-blooded battle of skill, strategy and luck.
World renowned tournaments such as WSOP and WPT have been around since 1970 and 2002, respectively. These tournament series take Poker to a whole new level, creating instant millionaires in a single event table game.
Main events are held every year all around the world, mainly in Las Vegas, the world gambling capital. Thousands of entries and a million-dollars worth of pool prize are what you can expect. WSOP’s The Big One for One Drop is currently the highest buy-in tournament and the birthplace of some of the biggest poker wins in history.
Tournament events have gathered an impressive list of poker winners over the past decade. Take a look at the top 5 biggest Poker wins of all time starting from least to most won:
5. Sam Trickett in the 2012 Big One for One Drop: Won $10,112,001
Image from Casino Checking
English professional poker player Sam Trickett sits snuggly at number five with a $10,112,001 single event win. He placed second before Antonio Esfandiari in the first-ever edition of WSOP’s The Big One for One Drop $1,000,000 buy-in tournament back in 2012. Despite not being the biggest win in 2012, it remains the fifth biggest all-time win in poker.
Sam Trickett became a professional poker player in 2005 when his career as a footballer came to a halt after suffering a knee injury. Some would call the incident a blessing in disguise because currently Sam Trickett ranks as the 12th highest earner of all-time with more than $20,000,000 in tournament winnings. Following his famous poker match in 2012, he was also hailed as Great Britain’s all-time most successful player.
During the match that defined his poker career, Sam Trickett displayed incredible game sense and a ‘strong but silent’ playing style against Esfandiari. During the last moments of the game, Trickett turned over his cards for a flush draw while Esfandiari went for trips 5. In the end, the river card was revealed to be a 3-of-hearts and Sam Trickett was hailed the runner-up with $10,112,001 worth of winnings.
4. Jamie Gold‘s Legendary 2006 WSOP Main Event: Won $12,000,000
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Jamie Gold‘s legendary win with $12,000,000 in the 2006 WSOP Main Event—heralded as one of the biggest field and pool size in the tournament’s history—was one for the poker history books.
The tournament was gobsmacked in the middle of the poker boom initiated by Moneymaker’s win in 2003. When 2006 WSOP Main Event came around, entries grew from 839 to a total of 8,773 three years later, boasting the largest ever prize pool in Poker history with a staggering $82.5 million.
This success earned Jamie Gold instant world stardom, from being a non-professional player to the fourth biggest poker winner of all-time overnight. Gold won the event by eliminating seven of his eight opponents at the final table with unorthodox table strategies he was notorious for. Some of his antics on the table involved occasionally showing his opponents his cards or using mind games to convince his opponents to fold their better hands.
3. Elton Tsang in the 2016 Monte-Carlo One Drop Extravaganza: Won $12,248,912
Image from WSOP Website
Elton Tsang defeated 25 other players when he participated in the 2016 €1,000,000 Monte-Carlo One Drop Extravaganza, winning the 3rd highest single payout in poker history with $12,248,912.
Considered one of the best Asian poker players in the game, Elton Tsang is a professional player based in Hong Kong. A successful businessman by day and a world renowned player by night, Elton Tsang became more established in the poker scene when he founded the first live poker tournament in Macau
In his most famous game against Gurtovoy in Monte-Carlo, Elton Tsang displayed his high-roller disposition with an aggressive playing style as he consistently raised the bet and put pressure on his opponents to fold. The game with Gurtovoy ended on a turn of Q-3-4-2 when all chips went in and Gurtovoy turned in with an Ace-of-hearts that was beaten by Tsang’s 6-of-clovers and 5-of-hearts.
2. Daniel Colman in 2014 The Big One for One Drop: Won $15,306,668
Image from AnalyzePoker
Primarily an online poker player, Daniel Colman gained international fame in the live poker tournament scene when he won in The Big One for One Drop 2014, walking away from his match against Daniel Negreanu with a staggering $15,306,668.
The professional poker player primarily played online under the name “mrGR33N13” where he earned a reputation as the very first player to accomplish the hyper-turbo tournaments in just 9 months and won a total of $1,000,000. 2014 marked the year of his participation in live tournaments and he has since been considered one of the greatest poker players on the scene.
During his game with Negreanu, Colman displayed great game sensibility and read the table well. His playing style is mostly aggressive as seen when Colman used the pressure of his stack advantage against Negreanu to overbet the river 3x the pot with a straight on the table.
1. Antonio Esfandiari’s All-Time Biggest Win in 2012 WSOP
Image from PocketFives
Antonio Esfandiari takes the 1st place for the highest single payout in poker history with a whopping $18,346,67 when he won The Big One for One Drop in 2012. For the professional magician turned professional high-roller poker player, this crowning achievement of Esfandiari is his greatest magic trick yet and has earned him the nickname ‘The Magician’ across the poker industry.
Antonio Esfandiari played against Sam Trickett at the 2012 WSOP The Big One For One Drop event, where 48 millionaires participated and gathered a prize pool of $42.67 million. Despite being widely known for his tricks with the poker chips, Antonio Esfandiari proved he’s not just a magician but an incredibly smart poker player on the table. His playing style consisted mainly in keeping his ranges strong on the turn and river when pitted against aggressive opponents.
In the final moments of his game against Trickett, both players called all-in on a turn of 5-J-5 with Trickett going for a flush draw and Esfandiari going in with trips 5 with a 7-of-hearts and a 5-of-spades. The river card revealed a 2-of-hearts and Esfandiari won the largest cash prize ever for a single event. The legendary poker game that defined Antonio Esfandiari’s poker career is a magical moment not just for him but for the entire poker industry as records were broken and reset.
The Diverse World of Poker
There is no one strategy when it comes to playing Poker and winning big is possible across different playing styles. At the end of the day, the saying ‘practise makes perfect’ still holds true. With effort, practice and vigorous training, anyone can become the next biggest poker winner of all time, even you! You can start paving your way towards a professional poker career by first educating yourself on the different poker variants.
While Texas Hold ‘em is undoubtedly the most popular, there are several other variants of Poker for you to enjoy in Bitcasino.
There’s All American Poker where you can play multi-hand and experience the double or nothing Bonus Round. For more diverse poker variants, you can play Russian Poker and India’s version of Poker, Teen Patti.
Russian Poker is one of the most interesting poker variants around, where you must beat the dealer’s five-card hand with your own five-card hand. On the other hand, Teen Patti Live’s simple gameplay of forming a strong hand to trump your opponents offers a great starting platform for beginners and a thrilling and unique experience for veteran players of Poker.
Words by: Nicole Causapin