Being good at poker is a skill that can take professional players many years to master. The interesting thing about poker is that it is a game that attracts people from all walks of life.
Anyone with the patience to practice and good knowledge of the game can build an effective poker strategy and even participate in professional tournaments.
A great poker player can be identified by the record of wins, particularly at big events such as the World Series of Poker (WSOP). They will also have a history of large cash prizes and a legacy of memorable moments in their career.
Here are just a few of the best poker players of all time. While there are many more player that have made it big on the poker scene, these five stand out because of their interesting backstories and the talent they have showcased in the poker career so far:
Chris Moneymaker is a classic poker success story. The American poker professional was the first person to win the main event at the World Series of Poker after qualifying on an online poker website.
Born in Georgia, US, Moneymaker is an Accounting graduate from the University of Tennessee. He first made headlines in 2003 when we won the WSOP tournament. This $2.5m win turned him into a millionaire almost overnight and was the start of his professional career.
Following his win, Moneymaker quit his day job and set up his own company, Moneymaker Gaming. In 2005, the player released his biography ‘Moneymaker: How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker’.
Since his WSOP win, more online poker players have managed to make their way into the live event with similarly small entry fees. However, as the first, he remains a legend in the poker community.
Phil Hellmuth is perhaps the most successful poker player in the world, having taken home a grand total of 15 World Series of Poker bracelets. Born in Wisconsin, Hellmuth is known for being a strong character and is well known in the community by his nickname ‘The Poker Brat’.
The player dropped out of his university degree in order to pursue his poker career on a full-time basis. By 2017, he had amassed a fortune of $21.7 million in live poker prize winnings. Hellmuth’s biggest ever win was $2.6 million.
His time of Poker After Dark is remembered for all the wrong reasons. Hullmuth demanded that the other pros stop talking during his turn and the confrontation ended with him storming off set.
He is also well known for his appearances in the cash game show High Stakes Poker, where is featured in series one, four and six on the Game Show Network channel. He also had a hand to play in the development of the Unibet software.
Vanessa Selbst has made great strides in making the professional poker circuit more accessible and encouraging for female players. Selbst is so far the only woman to ever rank first on the Global Poker Index.
Born in New York, Vanessa completed a degree in political science before going to law school. She eventually became a coach and producer at the online poker coaching website DeucesCracked.
As well as a coach, she is also a highly successful player. Selbst holds three World Series of Poker bracelets, having won large prizes in the 2008, 2012 and 2014 WSOP events. She also won $750,000 at the North American Poker Tour in 2010.
Her live tournament winnings total almost $12 million dollars. At the age of 36, she still has plenty of time to develop herself as an international player and continue to inspire others to join the community.
Erik Seidel has won an impressive eight bracelets at World Series of Poker events. In 2011, he also won over $2 million dollars at the Aussie Millions Poker Championship.
Before his poker career he was a stock trader based in New York city. On developing his poker skills, he came runner up to Johnny Chann his first WSOP event in 1988.
Since then he has gone on to win large prize sums at both the World Poker Tour and the European Poker Tour.
A decade ago Erik was inducted into the poker hall of fame.
Winner of ten World Series of Poker bracelets, Johnny Chan is a big name in the world of poker. Chan has won almost $9 million through live poker tournaments, with one of his biggest wins being $750,000 at one event.
Chan dropped out of college to move to Vegas, in the hopes of becoming a professional player. His risk clearly paid off as he soon won WSOP main events in both 1987 and 1988.
In the 2005 Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament, Chan beat 22 opponents and made it all the way to the finals. Once there he beat fellow pro player Todd Brunson and took home the $400,000 first prize.
Chan has made appearances in the casino themed film Rounders, starring Matt Damon, as well as the 2009 movie Poker King.
The success stories of these five pros, show us that those who have the right attitude, take calculated risks and work hard at their poker strategy can go on to make a name for themselves in the poker industry.
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