Poker is one of the most popular gambling games to date. Its unique gameplay gives players many options in how to play their cards using knowledge in math and guile and a bit of luck, and all these attract millions of people to the game. Since the game has achieved mainstream popularity for quite a while now, it means that there is a large number of players that have managed to make a name for themselves playing poker.
And they are quite the characters, at that. Poker has some of the most noteworthy, fun, charismatic, and quirky players that we’ve ever seen. And you can see these characters frequenting some of the biggest poker tournaments in the world. If you can’t enter the tournaments and play yourself due to any restrictions, you can bet that you can watch live streams of the top poker players online or on TV easily. That being said, below, you can read our list of the best poker players of all time.
Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson
Doyle Brunson is arguably the most beloved player in the diverse world of poker. One of the things that single out this man is that he’s still maintained an extremely sharp mind well into his age. At the time of writing, he’s 87 years old and is still quite active on Twitter, sharing his thoughts and wisdom on poker and many other subjects.
Brunson is known for having a successful poker career that spanned more than 50 years. It’s only recently, back in 2018, that he announced his retirement from professional poker for reasons of wanting to dedicate more time to his private life and his wife. As you can imagine, a lot tends to happen during 50 years of a professional poker career. And so is the case with Brunson’s career. He’s seen it all. He’s been playing in some shady, back-alley poker tournaments back in the day – he was even held at gunpoint a few times during his career. But he's also seen the best of poker, competing in some of the biggest poker tournaments in the world, like the WSOP.
Back in the day, at the beginning of Brunson’s career, almost everyone thought of poker as a lighthearted gambling game. Only a few people like Brunson were able to break through the superficial view of poker and began to take a strategic, mathematical approach to the game. Brunson did this for years, and it showed in a string of successes in small and large poker tournaments. At the time, this led to Brunson writing his book on poker and calling it “The Super System.” This book became so popular in poker circles that it was eventually dubbed the “Bible of Poker.”
Over his long-lasting career, Brunson has won more than $6,000,000 in poker tournaments. Also, he holds a record for being the oldest player that won the WSOP back in 2004 when he was 71 years old. He also managed to get to the final table at the WSOP when he was 84.
As he gets older and after retiring from professional poker, as mentioned, Brunson is very active on Twitter. He doesn't take too well to online poker, saying that the system ruins poker for him. Brunson is also known for his support of fellow poker player Phil Hellmuth who many people believe is a subpar player compared to top poker players.
Daniel Negreanu – Kid Poker
Daniel Negreanu is one of poker’s best-known faces, and he’s an ambassador for the game. When there are many poker players who believe the way to win is by intimidating the other players by yelling cuss words and implementing some such tactics, Negreanu takes the exact opposite approach. He’s the friendliest and the kindest poker player who will apologize to you for taking your money at the poker table –and you will still walk out of the game thinking about the good impression he made on you. Moreover, it was Negreanu who created a proven and tested system that has never been implemented so successfully by any other player.
Furthermore, Negreanu stated that he is against rough players and that he has had great success showing calmness and kindness at the poker table because it makes other players let their guard down. Negreanu is also known for his incredible “mind-reading” abilities, as he has guessed a player's exact cards many times.
Negreanu has had a long poker career, too, and he’s no way near stopping. He’s been in the top echelon of poker competitions even before 2000. One of the many advantages he has gained over his successful career is that he has been named the best player in the world by the WSOP not once but twice. In addition, he’s won the WSOP 6 times, which means that he has acquired 6 WSOP bracelets. Also, he’s won 2 WPT titles, as well. And his total winnings over his entire poker career amount to more than $33 million, which, when you think about it, is an insane amount of money to be won at poker.
Phil Hellmuth – The Poker Brat
Phil Hellmuth is known as one of the most notorious poker players in the game’s history. He has had a very active, long-lasting career that continues to this day. And he’s also quite the last name, corresponding with his unique playstyle in poker, where he blasts his opponents every time they get lucky with subpar cards. As such, he’s a joy to be watched playing, and many poker fans are drawn to him for his personality.
That being said, the naysayers about him claim that his skill level is not that great, a far cry from the skills that some of poker’s top players wield. If you’ve read our entry about another top poker player, Dan Brunson, you know that he supports Hellmuth in the face of opposition. The naysayers claim that Phil Hellmuth has a lot of success with his game plan when he tries to tilt the average players and take their money, but when it comes to playing poker against the top players, he’s not that good, to begin with.
The fact that Hellmuth has won 15 WSOP bracelets in his career should prove to be enough to shut his critics up once and for all. That being said, he still hasn’t succeeded in winning a WTP title yet. He’s also won about $23 in earnings from poker alone, so Phil Hellmuth is definitely a name to be reckoned with. His current objective is to get his name etched on the coveted WPT Champions Cup.
Daniel Colman – mrGR33N13
The top poker players that we’ve talked about above are known for land-based, face-to-face poker play in the biggest poker tournaments. And while Daniel Colman is also known for his successes in the land-based poker events, he’s predominantly known for playing online poker, where he appears under the name mrGR33N13.
The best thing about Daniel is that he’s only 30 years old, which means that he’s just getting started in his poker career. There’s great room for many more successes that will inevitably come down the line, given his incredible talent for the game. After all, Daniel Colman managed to beat his namesake, Daniel Negreanu – also one of the best poker players in the world, in the Big One for One Drop tournament, in a heated heads-up match. As a result, Colman managed to win a staggering $15.3 million for his efforts at the Big One for One Drop. And this was the second-biggest payout in the history of poker.
The total career winnings that Colman has had during his career are nearing the $30 million mark. And this is incredible, as, as we’ve mentioned before, he’s just 30 years of age. And as successful as he’s been in the land-based poker tournaments, his biggest successes come in the field of online poker. For example, he won $1,000,000 in 9 months on online hyper-turbo tournaments. With this achievement, he earned the distinction of being the first player to earn a million on online hyper-turbo tournaments in a single year.
But like the other player on our list, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Coleman has yet to win a WPT event and get his name in the WPT Champions Cup. So we think that's something he intends to do shortly.
Phil Ivey – Tiger Woods of Poker
Stemming from his uncanny similarity in terms of looks with Tiger Woods, Phil Ivey is also known as the Tiger Woods of Poker and one of the best all-around poker players in the world. He was born in Riverside, California, back in 1977 and took to poker as he worked in a telemarketing firm in the 1990s. He played poker against his coworkers and eventually got the impression that he was getting a lot better.
A few more years went by, and Phil Ivey won 10 different WSOP bracelets as well as the WPT Champions Cup. He originally started gaining momentum in poker when he was just over 20 years old, winning his first WSOP bracelet at age 23. He was known then as a prodigy and as a hot young prospect, attracting the attention of true poker fans from around the world.
His cumulative poker winnings total about $26 million. However, Phil Ivey's stellar career has not been without some controversy. In particular, he has been accused of cheating in baccarat and punto banco. Despite this, there is no denying that Phil Ivey is one of the best poker players in the world, and he has been recognized in the Poker Hall of Fame since 2017 when he was inducted into the list. In addition, Phil Ivey is known for his charitable work, as he has donated a lot of money to numerous charities during his career.
Fedor Holz – CrownUpGuy
Fedor Holz is a German poker sensation and is one of the hottest current prospects in the world of poker. He’s known for frequenting hard-to-get-in poker tournaments that are held around the world. But he made his bones, so to speak, in online poker, having won numerous hard-boiled tournaments and earning huge prizes while at it.
However, Fedor was not content with his online poker winnings alone. So, he made a switch to live poker where, surprisingly, he’s managed his bankroll successfully and achieved even bigger success. So few and rare are the players that make seamless transitions between online and live poker that Fedor Holz seems like an anomaly. That being said, the winnings that Fedor has earned winning some of the biggest poker tournaments, both in a live and an online format, amount to around $33 million.
Despite his young age, Holz has managed to win a WSOP bracelet by winning the High Roller for One Drop. In addition, he continues to attract the attention of poker fans and players with his solid, analytical style of playing poker. Fedor Holz was born in Saarbrücken, Germany, but now resides in the country of Austria.
It’s an ungrateful job to create a list of the best poker players of all time. After all, different people have different criteria according to which they judge who’s the best poker player of all time. So, our list may not be identical to the list that can be made by someone else. That being said, there’s no argument that the poker players that we’ve talked about above are some of the best in the entire world. With their unique poker style of play, their poker bracelets, and million-dollar tournaments that they’ve won, as well as with their unique, charismatic characters – the players on our list above are some of the best, most beloved poker players of all time.