Our good friend Josef Rantamäki over at PokerBlog decided here in a guest post that it was high time he told us just who we he thought were the Top 5 High Stakes Poker Players:
1) Phil Ivey:
Now granted his legacy, of late, has been tarnished with his sabbatical from the scene. Some wonder if his gambling so high like he had a bottomless pit of money behind him finally caught up to him. Let’s not forget, one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact he’s still Phil Ivey. It’s true, stories of epic craps rolls by Ivy have gone the way of the dingo and now sightings of the great one is instant news, but… he’s still Phil Ivey.
The naysayers may ask these last couple of years, if he’s so great where’s he been, and why hasn’t he still been dominating? That’s silliness or contrived retrospective analysis, and perhaps ignorance of everything Ivey has gone through. Not just the upheaval in the industry but personal conflicts. Embroiled in a still simmering divorce, Ivey’s been distracted, that will change soon enough. His peers almost universally named him as the best, and in a game where it’s so difficult to separate yourself he makes that separation look easy.
He’s earned his accolades it by being the best in the world. The face of the glory years of poker will always be Phil Ivey. He won live, he won online, he won tournaments, and he won cash games basically excelling in every aspect of the new world of poker.
2) Tom Dwan:
The Durrrr Challenge, his internet fan boys, and his savvy, contemplative, aggressive, fearless style of play consumed the poker media recently. Touted as an amalgam of past greats, Dwan in a short time elevated himself to their equal. He is unflappable. Granted as a tournament player, arguably hundreds are better, but as a high stakes cash game player he rarely leaves a loser. He might get an escort out of Macau if he keeps winning multi-million dollar pots there.
The Moneymaker effect transformed online poker and Dwan perhaps more than anybody else rose up through this new form of poker to dominate as no one had before him. If Ivey is the face of the era, Dwan is a close second.
Viktor Blom rose to prominence as a screen name: Isildur1. He destroyed players in a meteoric rise that transfixed the world. “Who is Isildur1?” was the question every poker fan, writer, and player was asking at the end of this era. When Viktor Blom admitted, as many people suspected, he was the mysterious high stakes player capable of punting new found millions as easily as he earned them, not many were surprised, but legions of fans now had a face to root for.
Blom’s placement on this list, is likely the most debatable, as his accomplishments pale compared to the other four. What can’t be questioned is the fact he is living proof of the meritocracy of online poker, and talent having a short wait for success during poker’s heyday.
The Finnish professional poker player started to make news with results in 2005 and continued to be a star all the way through 2011. He battled Tom Dwan in a high stakes online challenge that never completed but transfixed observers. Antonius, like Ivey, played almost as competently in the nosebleed cash games, be it live, or online as he did in tournaments.
He has the good fortune and misfortune to be a part of some of the biggest pots of all time. Winning or losing his ever stoic face never changes
5) Erik Seidel:
The only player on this list to not been a part of, or express an interest in being a part of a huge online poker heads up challenge. His loss to Johnny Chan in the Main Event was immortalized in the movie Rounders but since then, it’s been him and not Chan that has dominated High Stakes Poker tournaments.
Seidel’s run of success in recent years has him sitting atop the all time money winners list. He also is just a few bracelets shy of Phil Hellmuth’s record 11. Seidel, no matter the stakes, wins. He has a track record of excellence that is second to none.
6+: Jason Mercier, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, John Juada, Gus Hansen, Bertrand Grospellier, Jonathan Duhamel, Michael Mizrachi… All great players, but not quite great enough for this list. For more on high stakes players and high stakes news head on over to PokerBlog.