They made a lot of money by playing poker and Doyle Brunson rightly says that, “Poker is war. People pretend it is a game.” One needs to consider a player’s ability to read his/her opponent, their capacity to remain patient under pressure, ability to manipulate their opponents, and of course the required skills are all that makes a player stand out from the crowd. The criteria for the best poker player could cover numerous bullet points like major titles, cash winnings, longevity and the list could only go on and on. So, we have penned a few names in no particular order who have played a significant role in the industry. Let’s check out 4 legend…wait for it!
The greatest cash game poker player of all time David Edward or Chip Reese whom Doyle Brunson described as “one of the two finest young… poker players in the world.” Reese planned to get a law degree at Stanford. It was when he along with his friend stopped over in Las Vegas with $400 each and entered a poker tournament and won $60,000! “I can bet $100,000 and feel nothing,” he said in an interview with People magazine in 2003. “If you think about the money and what it means, you’re gone.” In 1991, Reese got inducted in Poker Hall of Fame being the youngest player to receive this honor.
The first cash that appears on his Hendon profile is from the 1977 WSOP where he finished second in $400 Seven-Card Razz and the following year, Reese claimed his first ever WSOP gold bracelet in Seven-Card Stud Split for $19,200. His live tournaments winnings are over $3.5 million and the legend captured 3 WSOP bracelets in his lifetime!
Upon learning of Reese’s death, Doyle Brunson said, “He’s certainly the best poker player that ever lived.” WSOP commissioner Jeffrey Pollack said upon his death that many consider Chip “the greatest cash game player who ever lived, but he was also a World Series of Poker legend.”
Quote – “I had to make a choice between being a lawyer or a professional gambler. I chose the more honorable of the two.”
Born in 1953, the legendary player known for his blackjack, rummy, poker and gin was exposed to the world of gambling while running a bar/social club at a young age. A prodigy in the truest sense, the young boy won a local gin tournament at the age of 10 and dropped out of school to play rummy and gin in the 1960s to support his family after the demise of the father.
Widely known as ‘the comeback kid’, Ungar was considered best in Texas Hold’em. Looking for high-stakes action, he entered the WSOP in 1980 and finished second in 7 Card Stud. The very next year he picked up his first coveted WSOP gold bracelet which wasn’t enough that he won another two in 1981.
His finest moment came in 1997 when he secured $1 million in the WSOP Main Event after borrowing $10k buy-in with seconds left in the registration period. He is one of two people in poker history to have won the World Series of Poker Main Event three times. The Super Bowl of Poker was the only other major $10K Hold’em tournament in the 1980’s and Ungar won that three times too!
Quote – “There’s no one that ever beat me playing cards, the only one that ever beat me was myself.”
Widely known as ‘Poker Brat’, Phil Helmuth has won a record 15 WSOP bracelets! As of the year 2020, his live winning exceeds $23 million and is ranked 22 in all-time money list. In the year 1987, Hellmuth first stepped into the world of live poker and finished 5th in Pot of Gold NLH. After several first place finishes, it was in the year 1989 that the talented player took home his first-ever WSOP bracelet for a whopping $755K!
He earned $7.5 million last year, playing various tournaments and cash games. He is currently ranked 4th in the WSOP all time money list that includes Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari and Daniel Colman.
Quote – “No matter how much you may want to think of Holdém as a card game played by people, in many respects it is even more valid to think of it as a game about people that happens to be played with cards.”
Remember Doyle Brunson who carried Casper, a black rock for lucky charm? The Godfather of poker spent 50 years of his life in this industry. Texas Dolly became the first person to earn $1 million in poker tournament and owned 10 WSOP bracelets becoming a true definition of ‘poker legend’. Brunson has seen poker grow over many years, adapting his game and persona to each new passing generation. He is also one of only three players, along with Bill Boyd and Loren Klein, to have won WSOP tournaments in four consecutive years.
A Poker Hall of Fame inductee has authored several books on poker. His ‘Super/System’, popularized the game of poker upon being published than any other book before. On his last day of playing, after announcing his retirement from poker in 2018, Brunson entered a $10,000 play and won $43,963 when he came in sixth place!
Quote – “Show me your eyes and you may as well show me your cards.”
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