The following players have been fortunate enough to earn life changing amounts in tournament prize money and make our top ten list of poker Tournament Victories in history to date.
10. Stanley Choi
Stanley Choi won $6,465,560 at the Macau High Stakes Poker Challenge last August after beating 73 other players. The tournament buy in was $2 million (Hong Kong dollars that is), the equivalent of $257,854 USD. This is the only win on the top 10 list that did not take place on U.S. soil.
9. Joe Hachem
The former chiropractor became the first Australian to win the WSOP Main Event in 2005 winning a cool $7.5 million after he flopped a straight in the final hand of play. That was enough to get his to stop cracking people’s backs. Hachem has a total of $11.6 million in live tournament wins to his credit.
8. Jerry Yang
The former psychotherapist used his science to help him study his opponents very carefully to gain an advantage. Yang was involved in the longest heads-up battle in Main Event history against Canadian Tuan Lam which lasted 12 hours. In the final hand of the match, Yang rivered a straight to beat Lam’s two-pairs to capture the 2007 WSOP Main Event title and $8,250,000 in prize money.
7. Greg Merson
The 2012 WSOP Main Event winner Greg Merson pocketed $8,527,982 in this week’s WSOP Finale but the 24-year old actually earned 2 WSOP bracelets this year, both events just days apart. The first one paid him $1,136,197 in the $10K NLHE Six-Handed, making him a millionaire prior to even starting the Main Event. Merson started his poker career travelling to Europe, where he didn’t have to be 21 to play in a casino.
6. Joe Cada
At 21, Cada won the 2009 Main Event replacing Peter Eastgate as the youngest player to ever win the title and placing him at number six for all time single prize tournament winnings. The Detroit-area native would cross the border into Canada to play when he was 19, and still too young to play in the US casinos. Cada’s WSOP victory earned him $8,547,042.
5. Pius Heinz
No relation to the ketchup brand we all love, Heinz became the first German to ever win the Main Event in 2011 amidst a year of poker affected by Black Friday where even the WSOP suffered a slight reduction in attendance for the main event.
4. Jonathan Duhamel
Jonathan Duhamel became the first Canadian to win the WSOP Main Event in 2010 by defeating John Racener for an $8,944,310 payout. Fame follows Jonathan everywhere he goes and he continues to impress the poker world having earned almost $2 million in live tournament money since his WSOP victory.
3. Peter Eastgate
In 2008, Eastgate became the youngest player to ever win the WSOP before Joe Cada broke that record a year later. The player from Denmark won $9,152,416 by besting a field of 6,844 players. A year later, he announced he was retiring from poker and went on to auction his WSOP bracelet for charity on ebay. His retirement lasted only a few months before returning to the game professionally again.
2. Jamie Gold
The 2006 WSOP Main Event has attracted the largest player field to date with 8,772 players and an unprecedented prize pool of $82,512,162. Jamie Gold shipped this event to earn an astonishing $12 million pay day only to be followed by controversy.
Apparently he reneged on a deal to split his winnings with a poker coach who then filed a lawsuit which lead to a judge freezing half of his winnings.
1. Antonio Esfandiari
At this year’s WSOP, The Big One for One Drop was showcased for the first time which would be a record setting $1 million buy-in per player tournament. The Big One was capped at 48 players and attracted only those rich enough to play. The winner Antonio Esfandiari, AKA “The Magician”, scored his ultimate magic act by walking away with a top prize of $18,346,673 that would set him in the record books not only as the top tournament prize but also all-time tournament money leader.
Here is a summary of the top ten tournament payouts:
|Event||Top Prize||Winner||Buy-In (USD)||Prizepool (USD)|
|2012 WSOP The Big One for One Drop||$18,346,673||Antonio Esfandiari||$1,000,000||$42,666,672|
|2006 WSOP Main Event||$12,000,000||Jamie Gold||$10,000||$82,512,162|
|2008 WSOP Main Event||$9,152,416||Peter Eastgate||$10,000||$64,333,600|
|2010 WSOP Main Event||$8,944,310||Jonathan Duhamel||$10,000||$68,799,059|
|2011 WSOP Main Event||$8,711,956||Pius Heinz||$10,000||$64,531,000|
|2009 WSOP Main Event||$8,547,042||Joe Cada||$10,000||$61,043,600|
|2012 WSOP Main Event||$8,527,982||Greg Merson||$10,000||$62,021,200|
|2007 WSOP Main Event||$8,250,000||Jerry Yang||$10,000||$59,784,954|
|2005 WSOP Main Event||$7,500,000||Joe Hachem||$10,000||$52,818,610|
|2012 Macau High Stakes Challenge||$6,465,560||Stanley Choi||$257,854||$23,511,128|