Top 15 richest poker players by net worth

Jon Pill
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Posted on February 23, 2021 3:00 pm EST

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 – $12.2 billion

Image source: Twitter

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

Image by WestConn source: Flickr

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.

Kevin continues to play regularly in high-stakes games in Las Vegas and Los Angeles when he’s not acting, producing, or writing. Rob Yong called him the highest-stakes amateur poker player in the world. And as a partypoker global ambassador, he represents the poker platform in occasional endorsements.

Hart’s message is to make poker fun for amateur players and bring new players to the game.

3. Dan Bilzerian – $200 million

Image source: Twitter

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.

Even if that money was truly Dan’s, much of that seems to have been squandered on failed businesses and funding his extravagant lifestyle.

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.

4. Phil Ivey – ~$100 million

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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.

5. Sammy Farha – ~$100 million

Image source: Twitter

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.

6. Chris Ferguson – $80 million

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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.

7. Doyle Brunson – $75 million

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Most poker players of all stripes know about the American Godfather of Poker. Some also refer to Brunson as Texas Dolly, a nickname from his early days of roaming Texas to find poker games. He began traveling with the likes of Amarillo Slim and Sailor Roberts before finally settling down in Las Vegas.

Doyle was one of the first players in the World Series of Poker in 1970. He won the WSOP Main Event in 1976 and 1977 and collected eight more World Series of Poker bracelets in other events in the decades since.

Brunson is also the author of the most famous book in poker history, Super/System, first published in 1978.

Most of Tex Dolly’s wealth, though, reportedly came from his participation in $4,000/8,000 high-stakes poker games in Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio.

8. Daniel Negreanu – ~$50 million

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Negreanu has been in poker longer than anyone else on this list. He plays in the highest stakes cash games online and off. He has over $44 million in tournament winnings.

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. Bryn Kenney – ~$57 million

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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.

10. Justin Bonomo – ~$57 million

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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.

11. Jennifer Tilly – $30 million

Image source: Twitter

From film to theater, American-born and Canadian-raised actress Jennifer Tilly eventually made Hollywood (California) her home and her life for many years. And it was through celebrity poker tournaments for charity that she met poker pro Phil Laak. They embarked on a relationship together, which led her to play even more poker.

In 2005, she won a WSOP Ladies Event bracelet. Jen never stopped playing and eventually became an experienced professional poker player

She appeared on celebrity poker television shows but made a name for herself as a talented contender. Jennifer still plays poker semi-regularly but continues to act in film and TV projects.

12. Phil Hellmuth – $26 million

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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.

13. Antonio Esfandiari – $25 million

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First known in poker as the Magician, Antonio Esfandiari did work as a magician before discovering poker and becoming a professional poker player. He made his way through the poker boom and turned heads with his numerous card and chip tricks. 

Esfandiari won a World Poker Tour title and one of the tour’s first big prizes of $1.4M. He also took down two WPT titles and three WSOP bracelets through the years. One of those wins came in 2012, when Antonio played the $1M buy-in Big One for One Drop, made the final table, and won it for $18.3M.

In total, Antonio shows more than $27.8M in live tournament winnings in his poker career. He used some of that to settle down and start a family.

14. Tom Dwan – ~$10 million

Image source: Twitter

“Durrrr” was once a unique screen name for an equally unique young American poker pro who stormed the online poker tables on Full Tilt Poker. Under that online name, Tom Dwan played in some of the highest-stakes hold’em and Omaha online tournaments during the poker boom.

Swings of millions of dollars were nothing for the self-assured young pro. He regularly won and lost millions, both online and in private games. Tom has accepted almost any poker challenge and many a prop bet through the years.

Eventually, Tom spent years in Asia, particularly Macau, among high-stakes poker players and businessmen with money to lose. He also played online poker in Macau. Only in 2020 did he begin to show his face more often in Las Vegas.

15. Antanas Guoga (aka Tony G) – $1 million

Image source: Twitter

Most poker fans only know Antanas Guoga as Tony G, an ever-confident poker player who is never afraid to speak his mind. 

The Lithuanian-born and Australia-raised Tony G won his earliest tournament playing Rubik’s Cube but graduated to card games as an adult.

Many years of poker play led him to become the top Lithuanian player of all time with his $8.8M in live tournament earnings. Some of his wealth, though, came from founding poker information companies like PokerNews.

Back in Lithuania as Antanas, he got involved in politics. He served in the European Parliament for years with various political parties.

How do poker players get rich?

Some of the best poker players begin their road to riches by winning a large tournament. A six-figure or seven-figure score allows them to play more often and in higher-stakes games, which tend to have smaller fields.

Most often, poker players work their way up the stakes ladder. They start online or in-person at the low-stakes games and move up over time. With solid bankroll management, they can build a strong financial foundation.

Through the years, the poker players who make the most money and keep it are the ones who invest portions of their poker winnings. With the help of a financial background or a professional accountant, they invest some of the funds from their big wins. Some choose real estate, others start business ventures, and some even play the stock market.

Wise investments are the keys to a successful poker player’s long-term wealth.

Is it possible to get rich playing poker?

It is possible to get rich playing poker. Some poker players do very well indeed. Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, Sammy Farha, and Daniel Negreanu are all poker pros who made the bulk of their money through poker. Many of them, however, also invested and saved wisely along the way.

Poker can be a profitable game. With proper bankroll management and study, players can increase their winnings and stakes, which go hand in hand. They must keep up with trends and evolutions in poker. Players must be able to detect the latest strategies and combat them.

Sometimes, players will take calculated risks. This may involve playing higher than normal, following instincts or simply “taking their shot.” This can pay off during a streak or upswing, but winning players always leave something behind for safety. And though some poker players do get rich, success is far from guaranteed.

Conclusion

The list of the wealthiest poker players by net worth shows two things. 

First, it highlights that some of the richest poker players in the world are not poker pros. They often bring money to the game from other sources. They are career businessmen, actors, comedians, and musicians. Some of their money stays in the poker community as they play for fun.

Second, the richest players in poker often invest their money well. They take portions of their winnings and buy real estate and businesses, or they start their own businesses. Those players stay in the game and keep a healthy bankroll to play with. However, they rarely risk it all on one tournament or one cash-game session. 

Poker can be a lucrative career for many players. It’s what you do with the profits that determines longevity and long-term wealth.

Featured image source: Flickr