There arent too many characters around like Amarillo Slim. You can easily pick him out of a crowd. Hes the tall, skinny guy wearing the cowboy hat, ostrich boots, and emerald buttons on his Western style shirt. Amarillo Slim is one of the most famous gamblers in the world and he helped bring high stakes poker from the seedy, smoke-filled, dangerous backrooms of Texas to respectability at the glitzy and glamorous casinos of Las Vegas.
For all of her life, Annie Duke was known as Howard Lederer's sister. Recently, she's been making a name for herself. Phil Hellmuth dubbed her, "The best all around female player in the world." She has proven in the last few years that she is not just the best female player in the world, but one of the top poker players... period.
Antonio Esfandiari is one of the rising stars in poker today. The former magician has made a huge splash onto the tournament scene with his stellar performances on the World Poker Tour. At that time he won his first WPT event, Antonio was the youngest player to ever win a televised poker tournament. Antonio Esfandiari will eventually become one of the best players in the world. He has all the skills since hes fearless at the tables and has an uncanny ability to read people.
Barry Greenstein is known as the Robin Hood of Poker. Without a doubt he has a big heart and donates all his tournament earnings to charity. He has raised over $1.5 million for Children, Incorporated , which is a charity that provides food, clothing, medical and school supplies for children all over the world. He also donates some of his prize money to Guyana Watch , a charity that sends medical supplies to Guyana. What makes Barry a unique person is that hes truly humble and doesnt see himself as a hero. Hes just doing what he thinks is the right thing to do. Barry is also one of the best players poker in the world and regularly plays in the Big Game with Doyle Brunson , Johnny Chan , Chau Giang, Phil Ivey , Lyle Berman, and Bobby Baldwin.
Carlos Mortensen is one of the best European poker players of all time. No other European has won more money at the World Series of Poker than Carlos Mortensen. Known as El Matador, he is one of two players (the other is Doyle Brunson) to win a World Poker Tour title and the WSOP Main Event. With almost $4 million in career earnings and 16 cashes in events on the WPT and at the WSOP, the soft-spoken Carlos Mortensen is one of the most dangerous No Limit Holdem players on the tournament circuit today.
David Chip Reese is the best high stakes cash game player in the world. Period. If you ask some of the top professionals to name the best players around, Chip Reese will always be mentioned at the top of the list. Doyle Brunson once said that Chips the best Seven-card Stud player I've ever played with. Chip began playing Stud and evolved into one of the most successful all-around players in the history of poker. In 1991, at the age of forty, Chip became the youngest person to ever be elected to the Poker Hall of Fame . He regularly plays in the Big Game which features Doyle Brunson, Bobby Baldwin, Lyle Berman, and Johnny Chan .
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson is one of the most recognizable professional poker players in the world. He's the guy with the long black hair, sunglasses, and a wide rimmed black cowboy hat. Obviously, the origin of his nickname is due to his resemblance to Jesus. Without a doubt, Chris Ferguson is considered one of the nicest and most respected players around today.
Chris Moneymaker might not be the best poker player in the world. He might not have the best statistics. And he might not have the impressive resume that other professional poker players can boast. But without a doubt, Chris Moneymaker is easily one of the most recognizable faces and names in poker. He definitely has the best last name in poker. Yes, Moneymaker is really his last name and the best writers in Hollywood could not have come up with a more appropriate story than what happened at the 2003 World Series of Poker.
Clonie Gowen is never overlooked at the poker table. You cant help but notice her as soon as she walks into the poker room. The tall blonde is a deadly combination of devastating good looks and excellent poker skills. With any famous poker player, theres a great story behind her name. She was supposedly born during a cyclone and her mother decided to name her Cyclona.
Cyndy Violette's poker game usually gets less attention than her looks. Her name often gets mentioned in debates about the "best looking female poker player." However, her skills at the poker table equally match her remarkable beauty. For over twenty years, those who have played against Cyndy Violette know that she's not just a pretty face, but one of the best poker players around today... male or female. Indeed, Cyndy Violette is a triple threat -- she's smart, good looking, and is an excellent poker player.
Dan Harrington is one of the most consistent players in the world today. If he sits down at your table, beware! He is a former World Series of Poker Champion (1995) and in the last two years, he has made the final table at the World Series of Poker. He has three final table appearances in the last decade, which is a rare accomplishment in poker. He has proven over the years that he is one of the toughest competitors on the tournament circuit.
Daniel Negreanu is one of the best cash game and tournament players in the world today. 2004 was the brightest year of his career. He won over $4 million in major tournaments and ranked second on the 2004 Money List. He won the World Series of Poker's Player of the Year and collected his third bracelet. He was also named Player of the Year by Card Player Magazine . Going into the last major tournament of 2004, he was ranked 2nd by Card Player Magazine . He had to win the entire event in order to jump ahead of David Pham in the standings. Of course, he won the event and was awarded Player of the Year for his magnificent run in 2004.
Dave "Devilfish" Ulliottt might be one of the best players ever to come from Great Britain. Over the last decade, he has proven that he is one of the most feared players in the world. He has won tournaments all over Europe and is regarded as one of the best Pot Limit Omaha players of all time. He's a fierce No Limit tournament player as well. Devilfish is one of the few players to have won a WPT championship and a WSoP bracelet.
Doyle Brunson has been called the Babe Ruth of Poker, and that is a fair comparison. Very few people ever live up to their reputation, but Doyle Brunson is one of the rare exceptions. He is the most famous poker player in the world and for the last six decades, Doyle Brunson has been one of the toughest men to beat at the poker table. He is a two-time World Series of Poker champion and a true legend. He wrote the most sought after poker book, Super System . He once won a $1 million bet by losing 100 pounds. He also faked a heart attack to thwart two men who tried to rob his home.
Erick Lindgren is one of the rising stars in the world of poker. Known as E-Dogg to his friends, he first made a splash in 2003 when he won a World Poker Tour event and since then has drawn the attention of both poker pros and fans alike, especially after amassing over $3 million in tournament winnings in a very short span.
Erik Seidel is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet in the poker world. He's become infamous for his scene in the popular poker film Rounders , when he was beat by Johnny Chan heads up at the 1988 World Series of Poker. But Erik Seidel has also proven that he's not only one of the best cash game players of all time, but that he's an excellent tournament player, too.
At the 2004 World Series of Poker, Greg Raymer was first known as the guy with wacky sunglasses, which he had purchased on a trip to Disney World with his family. By the time it was all over, he had outlasted 2,575 other players in the largest field ever to play in the main event. He took home his first WSoP bracelet and won $5 million, the biggest first place cash prize in the history of tournament poker . Greg Raymer worked his way up the ranks and began playing $3/$6 limit. These days, he plays in the biggest No Limit tournaments all over the world.
I am often asked who my favorite player to watch is. In my opinion there is nobody better than Gus Hanson. It amazes me how he reads his opponents. There is no way he would be able to get away with the way he plays if he did not have the uncanny ability to tell just how strong a players hand is. He is often wild and always unpredictable, but where most other players lose with this style of play, Gus excels.
Richard Lederer never expected that two of his children, Howard and Annie, would grow up to become professional poker players. Little did he know that raising his children in an ultra competitive and academic environment would prepare them for the difficulties of high stakes poker.
Humberto Brenes is considered the best poker player from Central America and is known as the Godfather of Costa Rican players. Hes also an established tournament veteran and is one of the premiere poker players in the world. In his personal life, the jovial and charming Brenes is a successful businessmen in his home country of Costa Rica. He owns an Univision television station, a construction company, several restaurants, and at one point in his life was involved in the export business of chocolate, nuts, and other fruits and vegetables.
At the poker table, Jen Harman is fierce and intimidating. She sits in the largest cash games in the world and regularly plays against Johnny Chan , Doyle Brunson , and Chip Reese. Most recently, she has been making a name for herself on the tournament circuit. Despite some serious health problems, she survived a kidney transplant and is now at the top of her game both mentally and physically. Daniel Negreanu described her as one of the best all-around players in the world. Period.
Joe Hachem is the current World Series of Poker Champion after winning the 2005 WSOP main event. He will always be remembered as the last player ever to win a bracelet and championship in Bennys Bullpen at Binions Horseshoe. Next years final table will be held at the Rio. As of today, Joe Hachem has won the most prize money in any single poker tournament ($7.5 million US) and survived the toughest and largest field (5,619 players). Both achievements make him the celebrity du jour in poker and theres not a single poker player in the world today who does not know his name. Over the next year, everyone who sits at his table will be cowering in fear or gunning to take down a World Champion.
John Juanda is one of most competitive poker players you will ever be up against. Hes won over $4.2 million playing tournaments in a very short amount of time playing a variety of different games. Hes also a generous and compassionate person. Thats what makes John Juanda one of the exceptional poker pros around today.
For the last twenty years, Johnny Chan has been one of the most feared men at the poker table. With nine World Series of Poker bracelets including back to back wins in the main event in 1987 and 1988, he is near the top in career WSoP winnings. Hes married with six children and lives in Las Vegas where he is a cash game specialist, playing in the infamous Big Game with the likes of poker legends Doyle Brunson and Chip Reese.
Johnny Moss is one of the greatest poker players of all time. He is one of two people (besides Stu Ungar ) to ever win the World Series of Poker on three separate occasions. He also played in the most infamous heads-up poker game of all time against Nick the Greek. In 1979, he was one of the charter members of the Poker Hall Fame at Binion's Horseshoe Casino. If they had started the World Series of Poker ten years earlier, there is no doubt that Johnny Moss could have easily won five or six more World Championships. He even has a starting poker hand named after him - the Ace-Ten.
Josh Arieh has the reputation of being one of the bad boys of poker. Although he is an excellent player, he likes to talk smack and trash at the tables. Unfortunately, the trash talking is what gets recognized and discussed the most when you mention the name Josh Arieh. In the 2004 World Series of Poker, Arieh finished in 3rd place and was portrayed poorly by ESPN as their villain. Although Arieh can be brash and arrogant, what you see on television and at the poker tables does not fully indicate the type of person he is outside of poker. Hes a devoted husband and father, and the prototypical family man. Its hard to overcome a reputation of being a bad boy when ESPN replays some of your worst moments.
Kathy Liebert is one of the most successful female players of all time. Shes also one of the best NL tournament players currently on the pro circuit. Shes proven her skills at the table especially in the Game Show Networks series The Battle of the Sexes. She beat out every male and female contestant to win $100,000 first place prize which finally got her some well-deserved recognition. Shes also the first female ever to win $1 million in a poker tournament. During her career, Kathy has won over $2.5 million of the tournament circuit which ranks her in the top 40 all time in tournament earnings.
Layne Flack is one of the most dangerous pros to be playing against. Seriously. If you asked me to name a few players that I did not want sitting at my table, Layne Flack would be at the top of that list. Hes the last player you would ever want to have sit down to your immediate left. Hes reckless and dangerous and if you make one passive move, hell put you all in for your entire stack. You can never put him on a hand and he will destroy you with his post-flop play. Layne Flack is not just one of the best No Limit Holdem players of all time. Hes also skilled in other games and has won WSOP bracelets in Pot-Limit, Omaha Hi/Lo and Limit Holdem. In total, Flack has earned over $3 million in career poker winnings.
Marcel Luske is considered the best player in Europe. In 2001 and 2003 he was named Europe's Player of the Year. In 2004, he managed a 10th place finish at the World Series of Poker main event in Las Vegas, improving upon his 14th place performance the year before. In the last two years, he has won over $420,000 in prize money at the World Series. The former Amsterdam pub owner has proven over the years that he is not only one of the best players in the world, but also the most liked player on the pro circuit.
Max Pescatori is one of the best up and coming players in poker today. He had an impressive showing at the 2005 World Series of Poker and you should be hearing great things about him in the future. Known as The Italian Pirate, Max Pescatori was born in Milan, Italy. He has been living in Las Vegas for over a decade. When he first arrived, he didnt know anyone. He studied English but he never spoke it on a daily basis. He adapted quickly and became enamored with poker. He started playing Seven-card Stud until someone suggested that he should be playing Texas Holdem.
The debonair Mel Judah is one of the most respected players on the tournament circuit. He also one of the most likeable players you will ever meet. He has a profound passion for the game of poker which has helped propel him to being on of the best poker players in the world. These days hes winning at No Limit tournaments but hes also one of the best Seven-card Stud players around. With over $2.2 million in career tournament earnings, hes on the Top 50 list of all-time winners. He also won two WSOP bracelets and made 13 final table appearances at the WSOP, which is why hes often considered the best poker player ever to come from Australia.
Men The Master Nguyen is one of the most colorful professional poker players you will ever come across. He started out as a Seven-card Stud player but has transformed into one of the best No Limit tournament players in the world. Hes friendly and will often be found talking non-stop at the tables. Hes usually spotted with his trademark beer, a Corona, near his stack of chips. In one infamous episode of the World Series of Poker, Men the Master snarfed on his Corona when it went down the wrong pipe. He spit the beer out all over his jacket and on the table in one of the funniest moments of the WSOP ever captured on TV.
Michael The Grinder Mizrachi not only has a catchy nickname, but hes also proving to everyone in the poker world that hes one of the rising stars in poker and not a flash in the pan. 2005 will go down in history as the Year of The Grinder. He won almost $3 million in prize money playing in various tournaments on both the World Poker Tour and at the World Series of Poker. And only a few weeks into the 2006 calendar year, The Grinder has already picked up another major tournament victory and is on his way towards his goal of winning the coveted World Poker Tours Player of the Year award.
When you hear the name Mike Matusow, you almost always think about his nickname, The Mouth. Indeed, theres not a more fitting description for Mike Matusow whos been known to talk incessantly at the tables and berate his opponents in a verbal tirade. Aside from being one of the more controversial figures in poker, Matusow has proven that hes one of the best all-around poker players around with deft skills in both No Limit Holdem and Omaha Hi/Lo.
Mike Sexton is the ambassador and the voice of poker. When I think of televised poker and the World Poker Tour, I cant help but also hear Mike Sextons commentary going along with it. So many times I sat at the poker table and imagined what Mike Sexton would be saying to his co-host Vince Van Patten as I played out my hand. But Mike Sexton is not just a famous poker announcer, hes also an excellent poker writer and an exceptional poker player with over $1 million in career earnings. He has made 15 World Series of Poker final tables and cashed 37 times. Only a handful of players have more at the WSOP cashed than Mike Sexton. Without a doubt, hes one of the most influential people in poker.
Phil Gordon is one of the most recognizable faces in poker today. Its not because he stands at a towering six feet and nine inches tall. Its mostly due to the fact that hes the host of the popular television show Celebrity Poker Showdown , where Hollywoods brightest stars play a series of tournaments. Phil Gordon provides excellent color commentary and often gives some of the celebrities a crash course in how to play tournament poker. Celebrity Poker Showdown has helped make Phil Gordon a household name.
Phil Hellmuth made poker history in 1989, when the 24-year old became the youngest player to win the World Series of Poker. He beat out Johnny Chan, who was on his way to winning his third straight WSoP Championship.
Phil Ivey is one of the best players under 30 in the poker universe. He is an excellent all-around player with World Series of Poker titles in four separate events (Pot Limit Omaha, Stud, Stud Hi/Lo, and S.H.O.E.). Phil Ivey is also one of the most feared No Limit players on the tournament circuit today. He has over $3 million in career tournament winnings since 2002 and shows no signs of slowing up.
Phil The Unabomber Laak is one of the most eccentric people youll ever meet. Hes been given the nickname The Unabomber after he showed up to play in a poker tournament wearing sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt. It ended up becoming his trademark. As the story goes, he had had too much to drink the night before and was hungover. He wore sunglasses to hide his eyes from the bright lights and pulled a hooded sweatshirt over his head so no one could see how sick he was.
Sam Farha exemplifies cool. He looks like an old school gambler sporting slicked back hair, a dress shirt, and dinner jacket while an unlit cigarette dangles from his mouth. And he also backs up his appearance with an excellent poker game. If Chris Moneymaker didnt bluff him out of a pot at the final table, the cash game specialist and gambler might have been the 2003 WSOP Champion. Although Sam Farha only took home second place, he gained the respect of all of his peers and ended up making a name for himself along the way.
Scotty Nguyen is one of the toughest and most aggressive tournament players on the pro circuit. He expects to win every event he plays. He's relentless at the table and it's impossible to put him on a specific hand. He's also one of the most jovial poker players you will ever come across. He's well-liked and respected among his peers. Scotty is always having a good time at the table. He's constantly smiling, laughing, and enjoying a cold beer.
At the final table of the 2005 World Series of Poker main event, one player emerged as the aw shucks guy. That was Steve Dannenmann, the guy with the big smile on his face. He was so happy to be at the final table in Bennys Bullpen, that you couldnt see the stress on his face like you could on the other eight players. He was shocked that he made it so deep into the main event.
Stu Ungar is a gambling legend. The story of his life is extraordinary and filled with spectacular highs and devastating lows. He was the best card player of all time and a three-time World Series of Poker champion. Unfortunately, his inner demons destroyed all his talent and ability. After years of drug abuse, his life ended tragically in a cheap Las Vegas motel room in 1998.
T.J. Cloutier is one of the greatest tournament poker players of all time. He is considered the best poker player never to have won the World Series of Poker with two second place finishes. Prior to 2003, he was the all-time money leader in tournament poker with close to $8 million in career winnings. The key to T.J.'s success is his amazing poker memory of recalling individual playing styles. He might not remember your name, but he'll remember how you play, even if it happened a decade ago. That tremendous ability to read players is why T.J. Cloutier has close to 60 major tournament wins, more than any other player in history.
One of the quietest guys in poker is also one of the most dangerous. Ted Forrest looks like an ordinary guy and thats what makes him so deceptive. Over the last decade, Forrest has emerged as one of the premiere Seven-card Stud players in addition to being one of the most successful high stakes games players. He has over $3.3 million in career tournament earnings and leads the life of a true gambler. There are hundreds of crazy Ted Forrest stories where he was engaged in prop bets with his fellow poker players. Whether its betting on running a marathon or playing in the World Series of Poker, Ted Forrest will more than likely come out ahead.
Love him or hate him, the outspoken and brash Tony G is certainly one of the most colorful players in poker. Hes frequently asked to appear on TV tables because you never know what the unpredictable Tony G is going to say or do next. Hes not just one of the bad boys of poker and a former professional basketball player, but hes also one of the best tournament players in the world winning over $1.3 million in his career.