Poker is one of, if not the most popular table game in the world. You see them in movies with dashing men in suits donning poker faces while smoking cigarettes. With gorgeous ladies in fashionable dresses beside them, gentlemen peak at their cards and remain calm while taking a sip from their glasses of whiskey.
Enjoyed by millions of players around the world, poker grew to become a community composed of casual and professional players who compete with each other for pots that grow as big as $18,300,000. Due to its undeniable popularity, hundreds of international and local tournaments were conceived to cater to thousands of high-stakes up and coming players.
In Europe, there’s the European Poker Tour and the World Series Poker (WSOP). If you’re in Asia then you’ve probably heard of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour that is held in Macau. The Crown Australian Poker Championship, or Aussie Millions, reigns over the Pacific region. The most popular of all, however, is the World Series of Poker in the USA held in none other than Las Vegas.
Meet some of the best players all over the globe. If you’re a hardcore poker player or enthusiast, you’ve probably heard these names and watched them compete against each other on the table. Catch up on their biggest achievements below!
Image from The Hendon Mob
Hailing originally from Medan, Indonesia, John Juanda sits on the 17th spot in the All-Time Money List with $25,241,270 total live earnings to his name. He boasts (though quite humbly as he is a modest gentleman) sitting 16 times at the final table of World Series Poker. Born and raised in Indonesia, Juanda moved to the USA in 1990 to study. That’s when his career started and grew but recently he moved to Japan where he currently lives with his family.
Called JJ or Luckbox, Juanda’s been on tournaments since 1996 and what put him on the list was his win in the World Series of Poker in 2001 which earned him his first WSOP bracelet. At present, Juanda has 5 WSOP bracelets in his collection. The most memorable of these was his largest win in the main event at the WSOP Europe in 2008 which earned him $1,544,575.
That title was recently replaced in 2017, however, when he defeated Fedor Holz in the Triton Super High Roller Main Event. Juanda took home HK$22,410,400 which roughly converts to approximately US$2,870,000, marking the largest win in his career.
‘Quiet and unassuming yet deadly’ is what Bluff Europe calls John Juanda. Once he sits down at the table, he sports an amiable yet unreadable expression that gives meaning to the phrase ‘poker face.’
Image from The Hendon Mob
One of the youngest poker stars of today, 26-year old Fedor Holz is currently at the 8th spot of the All-Time Money List with total live earnings of $32,556,377. Born in Saarbrücken, Germany, Holz used the name CrownUpGuy when he first started playing online poker. Even at a young age, he holds 3 WSOP final tables and 1 bracelet to his name, which led to people calling him a prodigy.
He first joined the veterans at the WSOP final table in 2015 where he finished 3rd at the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed Championship and took home $268,463. In the following year, he won his first WSOP bracelet at 22 years old in the High Roller for One Drop No Limit Hold’em Event.
For a fledgeling poker star, nothing could top this moment except winning a larger pot, which is exactly what Holz did two years later. Though he didn’t finish as the champion in The Big One for One Drop 2018, he bagged his biggest win yet when he finished second to Justin Bonomo and took home $6,000,000.
Image from Card Player
Born in Deal, England, professional poker player Stephen Chidwick first ventured into the world of poker by joining online tournaments in 2006. Since then, Chidwick has amassed a total of $33,888,888, earning him 8th place on the All-Time Money List.
Playing as stevie444 on PokerStars and Full Tilt during the early days of his career, Chidwick only joined live tournaments in 2008 after successful bouts in the virtual green felt table. He hasn’t stopped competing online, however, and for good reason. In 2009, he won $142,155 in a $300 Full Tilt Online Poker Series event which stands as his biggest online tournament win to date.
Chidwick holds 1 WSOP bracelet after finishing at first place in the $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller event, taking home $1,618,417. That was his largest live tournament win until 2019 when he finished 4th place in the Triton Super High Roller Series London.
Sitting cosy at the top of the All-Time Money List with total earnings of $56,403,502 is Bryn Kenney. Hailing from New York, USA, Kenney began his poker career online just like Chidwick. There’s a huge gap between the total live earnings of Kenney, who only has one WSOP bracelet, and his runner-up Justin Bonomo who has a total earnings of $49 million and 3 WSOP bracelets.
Kenney’s career began in 2003 when he started playing on virtual felt tables and he remained under the radar for a long time. In 2014, he won a WSOP bracelet when he finished first in the $1,500 10-Game Mix Six-Handed event and took home $153,220. From then on, it has been a rewarding race to the top for this professional player.
In 2017, Kenney was recognized as the biggest live tournament winner of the year with a total $8,505,000 wins. After two years, he finished second in the HK$2 million Triton NLHE tournament in Jeju and bags over $3,000,000 in prize money.
2019 proved to be a generous year for the New Yorker because, in July, Kenney rose to the top of the All-Time Money List when he took home $20,563,324 at the end of the Triton London event.
There’s no secret formula when it comes to winning big in poker. Just like any other sport (or hobby), it takes time and arduous practice to hone your skills in poker.
Words by: Leann Padilla