Find out all the essential facts and stories about the world’s crème de la crème poker players. Learn what it was like climbing the rankings and reaching the top. Learn about different personalities, playing styles, and great achievements these world-class aces managed to amass at the peaks of their careers.
World’s Most Famous Professional Poker Players — 2019’s Brightest Aces
The best of the best aces of today are charming but mysterious, they are brilliant but never brash, they are quick to react, but they never do so without thinking. Every poker enthusiast knows how important it is to control your emotions at the table and to observe opponents and read them. Discipline, psychology, and analytical thinking — these are all the strengths of poker gaming giants. That’s what playing poker is about — outwitting the rest. These giants compete for various cash and non-cash awards, and their rankings can fluctuate since every high-stake tournament can shuffle the top places quite easily. That’s where it is easy to spot the difference between the good and the best. Come take a look at the ones that managed to stay on top positions for some time now, and see what sets them apart from the rest.
Justin Bonomo, or ‘ZeeJustin,’ is a 33-year-old poker ace. This Virginian was a huge fan of the game Magic the Gathering, just like many other poker pros. At the age of 16, he took his talents to another game. Yes, you guessed it. He used his knowledge and skills to start playing poker. The same year, he turned a $500 deposit into a $10,000 bankroll on Paradise Poker. In 2005, he started climbing the list of top players when he became the youngest player to have ever appeared at a televised final table at the European Poker Tour’s French Open in Deauville. He walked away from that poker table in Deauville as a fourth-placed ace, with total earnings of €31,500 ($40,815).
From that point on, he became a regular on the High Roller circuit. He also cashed major buck in events such as the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and Super High Roller Bowls around the world. Nowadays, he is a true legend of the game. Some online media outlets even claim that he is the best of all the players in the world. He is on top of the ‘All-Time Money List,’ with the staggering amount of $43,463,089 in total live poker earnings. Justin is a three-time WSOP bracelet winner who hasn’t missed a single high roller poker event in the last ten years. It’s easy to realize that Justin will always be there in the WSOP main events. ZeeJustin also stated once that he has a ritual before his poker tournaments. They involve yoga and meditation sessions. That’s how he manages to keep his cool during intense games.
Daniel Negreanu, or ‘KidPoker,’ as he often refers to himself, is a Canadian that’s been playing since 1997. Many poker enthusiasts claim that Negreanu is probably the most famous player in the world. On top of that, almost every single person that met him says that he is a loveable guy. At the moment, he is the holder of the second place on the ‘All-Time Money List.’ Yes, he’s right there behind Justin Bonomo. Negreanu’s roots are in the European country called Romania. His folks fled the Communist regime in 1967. They went to Canada, even though they first wanted to settle in the land of opportunity.
Daniel dreamed of becoming an actor when he was a schoolboy. As his parents claim, he always thought that he’d have a career in acting or comedy. However, when he was 15, he learned to play a little poker. It didn’t take him much time to become a well-known face in the city’s reputable and not-so-reputable pool halls. By the age of 16, he had already started playing cash games, and slowly but surely, he got introduced to high-stakes poker games. One thing led to another, and Negreanu soon dropped out of school.
Fortunately for him, he has won the World Series of Poker six times ever since. He even landed a proper achievement in 2014, when he was pronounced the Best Poker Player of the Decade. People also recognize Negreanu for his unconventional playing technique and prominent social media presence. He also runs a YouTube channel and a blog dedicated to poker. On top of that, he shares tips and strategies from his live tournaments with his fans and viewers. At the moment, his total live earnings stand at $39,830,194, and it is inevitable that he will soon shoot for the first place once again.
It’s time to mention a lady! Kathy Liebert is one of the best female poker players in the world. Kathy was born in 1967 in Nashville, Tennessee. However, she grew up in Long Island, NY. Her first steps in this game occurred when she was only 12 years old. One could safely say that blood is thicker than water and that this saying goes so well with her story. Her folks used to play nickel-and-dime home games around the kitchen table. They would even invite their friends and gather around together to play various games.
Liebert then pursued a degree at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. She became a bachelor of business and finance. Soon enough, she landed a job thanks to her degree with Dun & Bradstreet. She used to be a business analyst. Fortunately for Kathy, she didn’t like that job much, and she soon took her mother’s advice to pursue a position where she would do what she enjoyed doing and earn decent money. At one point, she found herself in Las Vegas, where she played casino poker for the first time. Of course, it was love at first sight.
Long story short, Kathy has been a World Series of Poker regular for almost twenty years. She made her first WSOP final table in 1997. Moreover, she raked in four separate amounts of cash for more than $250,000 from the World Poker Tour. However, the absolute highlight of her career was her $1 million first prize in the Party Poker Million in 2002. The year of 2017 was remarkable for this player too. She finished in the top 50 of the 2017 World Series of Poker Event Nr. 19.
Fedor Holz hails from Germany, and he is an intriguing young prospect in the world of poker. He was born in 1993 in Saarbrucken, and he is better known as the CrownUpGuy. This lad now lives in Vienna, and he mainly plays high roller tournaments. Being only 25 years old, he has already cashed in some serious money. Therefore, he is definitely a guy to look out for in the coming years.
Fedor holds the fourth place in the All-Time Money List. He is charming, and many people claim that he might be the most beautiful male poker player in the world. However, what sets this guy apart from the rest is the fact that he is also a successful entrepreneur. Yes, Holz knows how to run a business. He is the founder and the CEO of Primed Group. It is a company all about motivation and psychology.
Moving on to his considerable wins in poker, Fedor always states how none of it would have been possible without solid discipline, deep thinking, and the ability to accept losses and move on. Even though Holz finished as a runner-up to Bonomo at the $1,000,000 No-Limit Hold’em — The Big One for One Drop in 2018, he earned a lot of money. Well, that $6,000,000-check pushed him towards the top of the best poker players list. And his IQ of 155 helped him reach the stage he is at right now.
People believe that this guy is a Magician of poker. Esfandiari is originally from Iran. He was born in Tehran in 1978. However, his folks moved to the USA in 1988. It’s safe to say that he spent most of his childhood in the land of opportunity. Of course, when he had the chance to learn how to play poker, he took it.
Esfandiari used to be a magician when he was young. Before he started his magical adventures at the poker tables, he practiced magic tricks. Antonio soon realized that magic tricks weren’t exciting enough, so he tried to take that skill to the poker table. Years after that, it was safe to say that he had succeeded. He stepped up on the poker tournament scene and never left ever since. He was the youngest player ever to win a million-dollar prize.
Esfandiari received his biggest live cash award in 2012. He won $18,346,673 in the 43rd WSOP in Las Vegas. Now that’s a staggering amount of money right there. Antonio’s playing style keeps people’s eyes glued to the screen, and he is known as a player who will almost always scoop a big win and bag another trophy.
These individuals surely belong to a category such as the top 5 famous and smart poker players in recent times. Some of them had harsh childhoods, some of them never even thought that they would become so good at poker, but that’s just how life works. Life is a relative, exciting, and unpredictable thing. Just like a game of poker.