Ranking the 10 best poker players of all time: find out who is on the list

Ranking the 10 best poker players of all time: find out who is on the list

Kevin Omuya
updated at April 13, 2023 at 9:25 AM

Unquestionably, one of the most fascinating, enjoyable, and well-liked card games in the world is poker. High-stakes cash game players draw motivation from well-known players with a high net worth and success record. Due to the large number of outstanding players who have achieved success based on winning live tournaments, prestigious titles, longevity, and other factors, choosing the best poker players of all time is challenging.

best poker players of all time
Top ten best poker players. Photo: @philiey, @kingdan23, @dnegspoker on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Due to the nature of the game, it could be challenging to determine what constitutes a successful poker player. Although their winnings can be used to rate them, we believe that a strong player is defined by more than just their bankroll. Here is a list of the top 10 best poker players.

10. Dan Smith

top 10 best poker players of all time
Dan Smith in Jeju Shinhwa World. Photo: @kingdan23 on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Young Dan Smith's game of choice was chess, and he even received a college scholarship for playing chess. However, Smith had already started playing online and was doing well, so he dropped out and never returned.

On the Heartland Tour, Smith achieved his first victory. However, he swiftly moved on to more significant levels, even participating in the $100K Challenge at the 2012 Aussie Millions Championship, which he won for more than $1M. He has triumphed in competitions worldwide and still follows the action wherever it leads.

9. David Peters

best poker players of all time
David Peters earns back-to-back US poker open championship in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: @ dpeters17 (modified by author)
Source: UGC

David Peters is not a household name among game enthusiasts, and he does not like the spotlight and generally avoids speaking in public. Although he prefers to keep his personal life under wraps, his successful profession is plain. Until the end of March 2022, he has amassed nearly $39M on The Hendon Mob, putting him in the top 10 worldwide all-time rankings.

Peters decided to play after hearing about Chris Moneymaker's 2003 World Series win. Online freeroll tournaments were his stepping stone to a larger bankroll, and he rode that accomplishment into an overall prosperous career.

8. Justin Bonomo

best poker players of all time ranker
Justin Bonomo when he became the first teenager ever to be on TV for poker. Photo: @zeejustin on Instagram
Source: UGC

During the internet poker boom, ZeeJustin became a household name. However, Justin Bonomo committed several rookie blunders in his career by multi-accounting. Since then, he has made great strides to redeem himself and demonstrate his moral evolution.

Quickly, Bonomo became a household name in live events, reaching the final tables in Europe in 2005 and 2006. In 2014, he won his first bracelet at the World Series; in 2018, he won two more. His record-high payoff of $10,000 came from the 2018 WSOP Big One for One Drop.

7. Bryn Kenney

best poker players of all time list
Bryne Kenney after winning a poker game. Photo: @brynkenney on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Bryn Kenney was one of many players who initially started playing Magic: The Gathering but eventually shifted their focus to poker. He started playing online and in small East Coast live tournaments.

Kenney did not take long to rise to the top of the high-stakes world. He competed in tournaments worldwide and proved adept at games other than Texas Hold Em and Omaha. He has picked up titles in Europe and America, and in 2014 he won his first World Series bracelet.

The High Roller tournaments he has won in recent years have propelled him to prominence. In 2019, coming in second place in the Triton Million London series won him $20.5 million, his most fantastic payout. Earning more than $57M to this point, he is now the world's highest-paid actor. He is one of the best poker players of all time from the United States.

6. Stu Ungar

best online poker players of all time
Stu Ungar is one of two people in poker history to have won the World Series of Poker Main Event three times. Photo: @StuUnger on Twitter (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Due to his youthful appearance, Stu Ungar earned the nickname "The Kid." He was a legend and one of the most excellent gins and players ever. Ungar picked up gin, rummy and poker at a young age. In the late '70s, he began his career, and by the time he was ten years old, he had already won his first gin event.

Ungar participated in his first World Series of Poker in 1980. That year, Ungar won the No Limit World Championship (also known as the WSOP Main Event). Still another victory for him followed this success in 1981. His success in future tournaments and at the final table attests to his mastery of various formats.

5. Daniel Negreanu

best female poker players of all time
Dniel Negreanu wins the $15k High Roller at the Wynn for $216k. Photo: @dnegspoker on Instagram
Source: UGC

Kid Poker, or Daniel Negreanu, is among the best and most famous players. The Canadian player has reached the final table of the World Tour twice and won twice. He also has six World Series of Poker bracelets and over $42 million in live event cash (third all-time).

The thing that makes Negreanu so remarkable is that he has been winning consistently for over 20 years. Moreover, he is a creative thinker. He pioneered the "little ball" tactic that dominated the field in the new millennium. With "little ball," you stake less yet play more riskily. The idea is that you can win a lot by risking a little.

4. Doyle Brunson

best online poker players of all time
Doyle Brunson, the "Godfather of Poker" Photo: @texdolly on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Doyle Brunson is considered by many to be the game's de facto head honcho, earning him the nickname "The Godfather of Poker." No other player has maintained such a high level of play for decades. The Texas poker great still plays in the most significant games in Las Vegas 50 years after his heyday as a collegiate basketball star and NBA possibility.

Doyle has won 12 WSOP bracelets, including two Main Event crowns, making him one of just four players in history to accomplish this feat. The others are Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan, and Phil Ivey (1976 and 1977). Oddly, he has traditionally been more of a cash game expert, so their victories do not make much sense.

He has never been a regular at tournaments, but he had a lot of success when he entered. In addition to being a Poker Hall of Famer himself, Brunson is the author of the best-selling poker strategy book of all time, "Super System," with his son Todd Brunson. That timeless work of literature.

3. Erik Seidel

top 10 poker players all time
Erik Seidel on "Keeping up with the game". Photo: @Erik Seidel on Twitter. (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The New Yorker's 30-year reign as the undisputed champion has been marked by a relatively low profile. Nothing else seems to matter to him but winning, and he has been doing it for a long time.

Regarding live tournament earnings, Seidel is in fourth place for all-time with $38 million. He has also maintained a high level of performance on the high roller circuit for quite some time. Seidel is one of the few surviving old-school pros with a winning record well into his 60s. An eight-time bracelet winner, including the 1988 runner-up to Johnny Chan in the WSOP Main Event, he currently sits at No. 5 among the top 10 poker players of all time.

Among the top five players, only Chan, who has won ten bracelets, was left off this list. His lack of success can be traced back to the fact that, compared to Negreanu, his total body of work was worse.

2. Phil Hellmuth

best poker players of all time ranked
Jim Harbaugh! NFL/NCAA - only coach to win both AP NFL Coach of Year (2011) and Woody Hayes Coach of Year. Photo: @philhellmuthpositivity on Instagram
Source: UGC

Phil Hellmuth is among the best professional poker players in the world. His spoiled demeanour on the felt makes people either love him or despise him. However, criticizing his game is childish despite his arrogant behaviour. Despite this, many players, especially young, money-grubbing professionals, engage in such behaviour. Despite the jokes, "the Poker Brat" is unquestionably one of the best poker players in history.

Hellmuth has utterly conquered the World Series of Poker, the pinnacle of competition. Other players have won fewer than ten bracelets at the WSOP. The number of Hellmuth's aces is 15. And when it comes to bracelet events, he has the record for most cash ever (162).

Also, in 1989, he won the world championship by defeating the defending champion, Johnny Chan, in a head-to-head match. He is one of the best poker players of all time ranked.

1. Phil Ivey

best professional poker players in world
The winner of ten world series of poker titles Phil Ivey. Photo: @philivey on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

People have compared Phil Ivey to Tiger Woods since he is considered the best online poker player. During the 2000s poker boom, he was the game's most feared competitor, and it was a landslide victory over the competition. Ten World Series of Poker titles were already under his belt when he was finally nominated to the Poker Hall of Fame (age 40). However, his achievements go far beyond the accumulation of trophies and medals, and he is the first in the list of best poker players of all time.

Ivey is the first player to annihilate the highest-stakes live cash games, tournaments, and internet cash games. His winnings on Full Tilt were over $20 million; to my knowledge, that sum is the largest ever deposited into a single online account. Despite his lack of regular tournament participation over the previous few years, he has amassed over $21 million in live event cashes. If Ivey rediscovers his drive to go after bracelets, he has a decent shot at beating Phil Hellmuth's record.

Who is the best female poker players of all time?

The first is Vanessa Selbst. Though Foxen is among the best female poker players today, Vanessa Selbst is still the best of all time.

We recognize that the list of the best poker players of all time is up for debate, but we believe these individuals would provide a formidable obstacle to anyone they face. Phil Ivey is still considered the most phenomenal all-rounded poker.

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Kevin Omuya photo
Kevin Omuya
Kevin Omuya is a Content Writer with 4 years of experience who joined Sports Brief in 2022. In 2019 he held a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Digital Media from KCA University.