Who are the wealthiest poker players in the world?
First, full disclosure: lists like these are necessarily speculative. Few players make their bank statements or tax returns public.
Lists like these are also subjective. Where one draws the line on who counts as a poker player is always a personal choice.
Most people have played a home game here or there, but that hardly makes them players. Equally, it seems unfair to discount non-pros like Andy Beal and Kevin Hart. The first played one of the most famous poker games ever, and the latter has been a sponsored player for PokerStars.
With those caveats in place, away we go…
1. Andy Beal – $9 billion
This is hardly fair. Andy Beal outstrips any other contender by an alphabetical factor — his wealth is measured in B’s, not M’s.
Beal is a mathematician (with a conjecture named after him), a banker (owner of Beal Bank), and was the whale in a heads-up challenge that makes Polk/Negreanu look like a penny-ante kaffeeklatsch game.
Between 2001 and 2004, Beal played a group of top players known as The Corporation at limits that ranged from $30k/$60k to $100k/$200k.
During this time he won what might be the largest hand on public record. $11.7 million. This high-stakes match had a book written about it, The Professor, The Banker, and The Suicide King by Michael Craig. This game alone justifies him a place in the poker firmament, and his billions of banking dollars put him at the top of this list.
2. Kevin Hart – ~$200 million
Kevin Hart is, according to Forbes, the best paid comedian in the world.
He is also a tolerable good poker player, a regular at charity poker tourneys, and has been patched up from time to time by PokerStars.
3. Phil Ivey – ~$100 million
From edge spotting to the big game to Macanese backrooms, Phil Ivey plays for millions. And he mostly wins.
Widely considered to be poker’s G.O.A.T. he’d probably be higher up this list if he weren’t also a fan of table games and high stakes sports betting.
With ten WSOP bracelets and a spotty attendance record he may also have one of the best entry/bracelet records of any player.
4. Sammy Farha – ~$100 million
Sammy Farha became poker’s savior when he lost heads up to Chris Moneymaker and started the poker boom.
The business man and amateur poker player was also one of the big hitters on the early seasons of High Stakes Poker. With his trademark unlit cigarette in his mouth, he’s been responsible for some of the best poker hands on TV.
Away from the felt, he’s also a murderously sharp businessman, which is how he found his way onto this list.
5. Chris Ferguson – $80 million
Chris Ferguson was one of the first to turn highly theoretical approaches into piles of hard cash at the table. The MIT grad was known for his almost computer-like play until that was superseded by his role in the Full Tilt scandal.
$10 million of his fortune came from tournament winnings. The rest from business ventures, including his stake in Full Tilt.
He might be unpopular at the table, but there’s no arguing with his bank balance.
6. Bryn Kenney – ~$56 million
Kenney is the first player on the list whose estimated worth comes entirely from poker. He made over fifty million by targeting the highest stakes tournaments out there.
While the number above doesn’t account for stakers and the cost of travel and buy-ins, it also doesn’t account for winning sessions at cash games and prop bets. So it probably all comes out in the wash.
7. Justin Bonomo – $55 million
Here is another high-stakes crusher whose main income stream is at the felt both digital and live.
Bonomo is undoubtedly one of the richest players when ATM, online, and cash games are combined.
8. Daniel Negreanu – ~$50 million
Though he may have given $1.2 million away to Doug Polk in 2020/2021, that hardly scratches the surface.
As well as his huge poker bankroll, he also has income streams from sponsorship deals. He was the biggest name on PokerStars’s, and more recently, GGPoker’s roster.
9. Phil Hellmuth – $24 million
Hellmuth is probably the most speculative entry on the list. While Phil’s tourney winnings are rather lower than the other pros on this list, he is also tireless in the role of self-pimp.
He’s invested in clothes and vodka. He wears logos from a half dozen sponsors. And he doesn’t show up for TV shows without collecting an appearance fee.
Coupled with his poker and self-help books, video courses, and compound interest on his 1988 WSOP win, Phil’s probably got more under the mattress than most of us suspect.
10. Dan Bilzerian – $???
It’s hard to tell whether Dan Bilzerian should be near the top of this list, or absent from it entirely. He certainly inherited a large amount of money from his father. We don’t know how much of that money he’s actually allowed to use as one prevailing theory is that he is simply holding the money to keep it out of the hands of the S.E.C.
He claims to have made hundreds of millions at poker, but many dispute those claims. So he can have a spot on the list until the wave function collapses along with either his businesses or his haters.
Featured image source: Flickr