5 Of The Deadliest High-Stakes Poker Players In The World
High-stakes poker is only for a select few. The name already says it all — players must be willing to invest heavily to participate in the game.
For most, taking part in a high-stakes game online or on land is just a pipe dream, as one just doesn’t get to sit at the table with the greats like Ivey, Negreanu, Dawn, and Antonius.
You need a lot of skill, talent, and years of grinding at lower-level tournaments before you can even consider playing.
However, the elite few who make it are ranked among the best players ever. In this piece, we wanted to put a few of them under the spotlight since they are some of the deadliest high-stakes players in the world.
Their games are a delight to watch due to the stimulating and action-packed atmosphere. However, before we focus on the players, we should take a closer look at what high-stakes poker is, how it works, and how one gets to that level.
High-Stakes Poker Games ExplainedMany people are familiar with high-stakes poker thanks to the TV show of the same name, which has been on air since 2006. GSN broadcasted it for years, but in 2020, the online platform PokerGO took on that role.
If you’ve ever watched an episode of High Stakes Poker, you know that games are filmed at large casinos and bring together pro players who invest tens of thousands of dollars in each showdown. Some tournaments even feature buy-ins of $1 million or more.
Naturally, the term goes beyond the famous TV program, and almost any poker game with stakes of $20,000 or more is considered high stakes. There is no set rule, but this is typically the minimum amount, while most games with the biggest pros feature buy-ins from $200,000 up to $300,000.
High-stakes poker is played live and online, with significant differences between the two. Most online games include much more affordable buy-ins. This makes them available to a broader audience, but it takes away the excitement. It’s mainly because live poker has the human factor, requiring players to read others, making it more of an art than a regular game.
Naturally, this doesn’t mean regular players should avoid online high-stakes poker, as they are an excellent chance to get more experience. Aside from that, even the greats play them. In time, you might even accumulate the necessary bankroll to participate in a live high-stakes poker game.
Everything Players Need to Get to the High-Stakes LevelBecoming a high-stakes poker player is not easy, so let’s take a look at what it takes to be one:
- Massive bankroll — It’s crucial to have enough money, of course. Average high-stakes players keep at least $500,000 in their bankroll, and they usually reach those amounts after years of playing in smaller tournaments, constantly upping their game and stakes.
- Unshakeable discipline and confidence — No one can become a poker pro overnight, and you can’t get to the top level without discipline. You need to study, practice, play, and remain confident in your abilities, especially while at the table.
- Different way of thinking — This is hard to define, but all pro players know that they have to learn how to anticipate their next moves intuitively and how other players react to specific actions. This level of thinking comes after years of experience and with advice and assistance from other pros.
- Motivation for improvement — You may enjoy playing for years, but you still need to want to improve. Poker is not a game that tolerates stagnation, so you must keep trying out new strategies, playing new poker variations, and more.
List of the Deadliest High-Stakes Poker PlayersNow that you’ve learned the basics of high-stakes poker and how players get to this stage, it’s time to take a closer look at those at the very top. Many have played at the highest level, but only a few carry the title of the deadliest.
Ivey wasn’t active for a while, but he made a big comeback in 2022 when he almost got his 11th bracelet in the $100,000 No-Limit Hold’em event at the World Series of Poker. He played against 61 entrants for a prize pool of $5,998,500 but eventually made it to second place, just behind Aleksejs Ponakovs, taking home $1,172,659.
Such high-stakes games are not a novelty for Phil Ivey, who’s played them all over the world. We’ve seen him in the WSOP, World Poker Tour, European Poker Tour, and online games. He’s won millions and has become synonymous with outstanding poker skills.
In one game, he staked up to $100,000 against the Texan billionaire Andy Beale and made $16 million after three days of poker.
“Kid Poker” is a household name in the poker world and is a keen environmentalist. He is also a formidable high-stakes player who kick-started his career in the late nineties after a $2k Pot-Limit Holdem event where he managed to win $169,000.
After that, he had nowhere to go but up, and that’s what he did. Negreanu has played numerous high-stakes games since, winning around $50 million in total.
His biggest win was in July 2014 at the $1 Million No-Limit Hold’em Big One for One Drop event of the WSOP, during which he ended as a runner-up taking home more than $8.2 million.
Tom Dwan, or the “Durrrr Challenge” as he is known online, is one of the deadliest high-stakes players with a highly aggressive and fearless style.
Due to this, he rose to fame very quickly and continues to surprise everyone to this day. In 2022, he managed to win two tournaments.
Many are well aware of his bold bluffs during high-stakes poker, showing that no one’s money is safe while he’s in play.
He started with just 50 bucks but now regularly plays games with $10,000 buy-ins and more.
Even though Dwan hasn’t made as many millions as the greats like Negreanu, Kenney, and Chidwick, he’s an ideal candidate for this list, as he’s left so many high-stakes games with a lot more than he entered with.
Viktor “Isildur1” Blom is one of the most famous online names, and many consider him a legend. He came out of nowhere in 2009, and his career soared.
He started in high school but reached the top almost overnight, managing to garner $275k after depositing his first $100 at a poker site.
However, Blom is famous for winning staggering figures only to lose them instantly, which is what he did with the $275 he accumulated.
Isildur1 went all in afterward and started playing both online and in the real world. He even holds the record for the biggest loss in online poker — $1.3 million.
Patrik Antonius, the former Finnish tennis player, coach, and model, is mostly known for his professional poker career.
With his never-changing stoic face, he has gone through numerous games since his start in 2005.
Known as “Fake Love888“, he has played both online and offline, in various cash games and tournaments, just like Ivey. He has done more than well in PLO and NHLE games, competing in 60k and 100k games multiple times.
He is a self-learned player relying on his instincts, which certainly haven’t failed him. 2022 has been especially good for him, as he’s won almost $2 million in several live high-stakes events across the world.
Antonius’ biggest win was in the HKD 2,120,000 No-Limit Hold’em event of the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl China, where he won $3,151,734 as a runner-up.