Real money poker is a sport that takes minutes to learn but a lifetime to master. Aside from knowing the rules, it also involves psychology to understand the motivation behind a player’s behavior. Knowing statistics and probability also helps in figuring out the card that competitors have. Some acting skills also help in playing mind games with opponents.
There are limitless ways to hone the skill, from joining face-to-face tournaments or going online to play real money poker. Once they master the sport’s nuances, they get fame and fortune. They build a following that they can leverage into sponsorship deals and investments. Money will also come in droves, just like what the featured players in this article took home from a single event.
5. Jamie Gold – 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event
Television producer and talent agent Jamie Gold outlasted 8,773 players to win $12 million in the 2006 WSOP Main Event held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the final table, he defeated professional poker player Paul Wasicka, who took home $6.1 million. Gold won the tournament when his queen-nine off-suit made a pair with a queen-8-5 flop. Wasicka had a couple of tens at hand.
While Gold became the first person to win over $10 million in tournament poker, his victory came with controversy because he had an agreement with British television producer Crispin Leyser. He will give half his winnings in exchange for a seat in the tournament while playing under the Bodog.com brand. Leyser filed a lawsuit against Gold, but they’ve settled the matter off-court for an undisclosed amount.
4. Elton Tsang – 2016 Monte Carlo One-Drop Extravaganza
Tsang wears many hats as an investor, entrepreneur, and poker player. He established the first live real money poker tournament in Macau and is widely considered one of the best players from Asia. His victory in the 2016 Monte Carlo One-Drop Extravaganza solidified the latter. Tsang defeated 25 players to win $12,248,912 in the said event. Russia’s Anatoly Gurtovoy finished second.
The One Drop foundation, created by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, receives the player’s buy-in as the event’s beneficiary. They use the funds to provide safe drinking water in crisis areas. In 2019, Charity Intelligence recognized One Drop as one of their Top 10 International Impact Charities. At present, they have projects in Africa, Canada, India, and Latin America.
3. Dan Colman – 2014 The Big One for One Drop
Unsurprisingly, players who participated in One Drop tournaments dominate this list. After all, the $1 million buy-in should yield big financial rewards. That’s what happened to Colman when he won in 2014. He defeated Daniel Negreanu heads-up to become $15,306,668 richer. Aside from this win, he has nine WSOP money finishes and three World Poker Tour final tables on his resume.
2. Antonio Esfandiari – 2012 The Big One for One Drop
“The Magician” pulled off a fantastic trick by winning $18,346,673 in one tournament. He outlasted a pool of 48 players and edged Sam Trickett heads-up in the final table. This victory is just one of his three WSOP bracelets, ten final tables, and 46 money finishes. The California-based real money poker player also has two World Poker Tour titles and eight final tables.
1. Bryn Kenny and Aaron Zang – 2019 Triton Super High Roller Series - Triton Million
Discussing them as one entry would be better because they became a part of this list by winning the same event. How did that happen? They were the final two of the 54 players in this tournament held at the London Hilton on Park Lane. But in the tournament’s final hand, Kenney had an ace-high flush draw while Zang had a pair of eights.
Instead of playing, they agreed to split the first-place prize. The New York-based Kenney took the more significant share of $20,563,324 because he had a bigger stack than Zang. That amount gives him the biggest single-event poker win of all time. Meanwhile, the Macau-based Zang earned $16,775,820, putting him third on this list. While Kenney got the lion’s share, Zang was declared the first-place winner.