Famous poker players

Similar to any popular sport, in the group of millions of poker players in the world you can find a wide range of outstanding, brilliant, legendary or somehow unique players.

Most of them are professionals – people who have dedicated their life to poker and gain impressive profits from it. Their life is a series of travels around the world and participation in prestigious tournaments as well as regular online playing when they have a break between live competitions.

At this point we should mention one thing which distinguishes poker from other widely popular sports. While playing golf with Tiger Woods and a few sets on the court with Maria Sharapova are only dreams of an ordinary man, the fight against the world’s poker champions can actually be real and possible. All you need to do is win the slot or make a contribution to the large and prestigious tournament and with suitable skills and a bit of luck you can face the world’s leaders. And there is just a small step ahead left to become part of this list.

Before it happens, it is advisable to get familiar with at least a few most famous names in the world of poker.

Doyle Brunson – a living legend of poker. Despite his advanced age (73 years of age), he still performs well and actively participates in competitions. A winner of 10 WSOP (World Series of Poker) championships – the result comparable only to one other player, Johnny Chan. A holder of own poker room on the Internet.

Do you know that…  A hand 10-2 is referred to as… „Doyle Brunson”. These are the cards which helped Doyle win the world championship twice in a row – in 1976 and 77.

Johnny Chan – A multiple WSOP tournaments winner, originally from Hong Kong, is one of the most frequent prize-winning poker players in the world. An idol of the protagonist in the popular film „Rounders”, nota bene casts in the film in relation to the real final of the world championship in 1988. Although he is considered as one of the most amiable and friendly players, his extremely aggressive style resembles a speeding train. 

Do you know that…  Johnny Chan is one of very superstitious players. In case of unfavorable deals, he often asks to change a pack or even a croupier!

Joe Hachem – a current world champion (WSOP 2005). Virtually anonymous in the world of poker, an Australian with Lebanese origins defeated over five thousand other players in the final tournament. A chiropractor by profession, he resigned from his job when he had his wrist injured and started playing poker online. Two years later he reached the top and earned 7,5 million dollars!

Do you know that…  Joe and his wife have four children who are taught how to play poker by the champion himself. In his opinion professional poker requires self-discipline and facing failures – and these are features that help on a daily basis.

Dan Harrington – the world champion from 1995. Before he got successful in poker, he had performed well in chess and backgammon too. He is highly known and valued in the world of poker for his best-selling book entitled „Harrington on Holdem” which is perceived as the Bible for every tournament poker player. He has been investing his millions in real estate for many years. He is famous for his very conservative and careful style of playing and ability to survive despite tournament storms – this is where his humorous nickname „Action Dan” comes from.

Do you know that…  Dan is considered as very reasonable when it comes to money. When in 1995 he was playing in the final world championship, he suggested other nine players that they should divide the pot equally. Nobody agreed and Dan had to eliminate them all to win the main prize in the amount of a million dollars…

Phil Ivey – a young 30-year-old player from Atlantic City who has recently been called the best poker player in the world by many experts. Due to his talent and skin color, he is often referred to as „Tiger Woods of poker”. What makes his stand out is complete concentration on the opponents’ behaviors and aggressive style. He remains very modest, avoids spotlight and eccentric behaviors. He is clearly a role model for a new wave of young poker players.

Do you know that… Phil started his adventure with poker in the childhood, when his grandfather wanted to warn him against dangerous gambling. Playing cards with him, he cheated on purpose but as we can see the result was different than intended…

Mike Matusow – probably the most colorful person in poker these days. His nickname „The Mouth” comes from constant monologues at the table, intended to provoke and put opponents off their stride. Repeatedly punished and reprimanded by organizers, Matusow is a camera and viewers’ favorite. Despite his controversial style, you cannot say he is not talented and successful, for example winning the prestigious tournament – Tournament of Champions.

Do you know that… As befits an enfant terrible of the poker world, Mike likes to party hard, is a risky gambler, and has a criminal record (assisting in getting drugs for the undercover FBI agent).

Chris Moneymaker – probably nobody else has ever managed to make so much fuss on the Internet for poker. A full-time accountant with a good university diploma used to play poker via the Internet as an amateur. One day, he casually took part in the satellite tournament for WSOP 2003. He won that one and another championship and eventually had a right to enter the grand final in Las Vegas. As a beginner, he did not worry about competing with aces of the poker world, which proved to be a ticket to the title of the World Champion!

Do you know that… „Moneymaker” is his real family name! It is very precise, especially that he won the record-breaking amount of 2,5 million dollars for winning the world championship. Interestingly his entry contribution was only… 39 dollars. There is no wonder that everyone wants to follow him now.

Maciek “Michael” Gracz – another prominent poker player whose family name suits his profession. Born in Warsaw in 1981, living permanently in the US, he managed to gain recognition of professionals and won a few important titles in large tournaments (among others a hold bracelet in WSOP). The value of his tournament prizes is a few million dollars, but he claims that it was good education that was more important in his life than poker. In spite of this, his distinctive name can be found on numerous websites in the group of poker legends, which proves that Polish people can be successful – and we should hope that it is just the beginning of our poker expansion to the top…

Jennifer Harman – one of the four women in the world who has won WSOP twice – in 2000 and 2002. She has reached WSOP finals twelve times and is a specialist in high-stake games. She is considered as one of the world’s best poker players, and until 2021 she had collected the total amount of over 2,7 million dollars for her wins. In 2015 she was entered into the list of Poker Hall of Fame. She is the only woman to regularly participate in Big Game in Bellagio.Do you know that… in 2004 Jennifer Harman had her second kidney transplanted, which forced her to take a break from playing? This event motivated her to establish a non-profit organization promoting organ donation. Thanks to this organization, charity poker tournaments are held.

Carlos Mortensen – an Ecuadorian who got into Poker Hall of Fame in 2016. A winner of two WSOP bracelets. He won the first one with 1,5 million dollars on the table, beating 613 players – incl. famous Phil Hellmut and Phil Gordon. He is known for his unique way of betting, brilliant bluffing and easy-going style of playing. He is the first player from South America who has won WSOP.Do you know that… people of poker call Carlos Mortensen „El Matador”, which means an „assassin”? When he took part in his first tournaments in the United States, he could not say a word in English.

Qui Nguyen – a WSOP bracelet winner in 2016. It is a Vietnamese and American poker player who entered  the „no-limit” world in a space of a few years of playing at low stakes. Winning in the main WSOP tournament brought him the prize of over 8 million dollars. It was a big surprise because before winning WSOP his top prize had been only 9 thousand dollars.Do you know that… Qui Nguyen had worked in a nail parlor in California before he became a poker star? At present he is living in Las Vegas.

John Hennigan – 6 WSOP bracelets, winning World Poker Tour and over 8,4 million dollars of wins in total – John Hennigan is a true legend of modern poker. His nickname „Johnny World” has been assigned to him because he courageously holds that there is nothing in this world he would spare when playing poker. Hennigan entered Poker Hall of Fame in 2018.

Do you know that… Daniel Negreanu and Gavin Smith say that John Hennigan is the best player they have ever faced in poker?

Daniel Negreanu – is a Canadian professional poker player who has won WSOP bracelet six times and WPT twice. In 2014 he was hailed as the best poker player of the decade. In 2019 Daniel collected the third largest prize in the poker tournament in the world – as many as 42 million dollars. It happened in the charity tournament. This player regularly participated in Big Game in Bellagio casino. His major strength is a perfect „mind-reading” skill.Do you know that… Daniel Negreanu was cast in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Lucky You films? He is also a PETA campaign ambassador.