Poker as an online game has taken off massively over the years, with websites like PowerPlay offering online poker games in Canada. It takes guts and skill to be a top poker player. You are against some of the most skilled players and attempting to fool them into betting big and then calling them out at exactly the right time. On one level, the game requires a skilled understanding of the hands available, and the many combinations made from the cards you can see. On another level, it is a game of dare – and knowing when to pull back and call it a day.
The best players have the intelligence to read up on the strategies and apply these to improve their game. While you can be a student of the game, you also need good instincts and the ability to reflect on your errors quickly. Having the resilience to deal with bad runs and work out what you are doing wrong is probably the strongest indicator of a great player—finally, discipline both with your money and when you try to pull off the killer hand. Patience is a virtue in the game of poker.
As poker requires such a depth of ability, who has made it to the top ranks of the professionals in this game? And, how?
The top earner of all time is Bryn Kenney. He was not really a student of the game; Kenney learned his trade through trial and error and watched the top players make their moves. He had his first tournament in 2007 and has only steadily risen through the ranks. Yet, in 2019, he had one of those years that transformed his career, and he was vaulted to the top of the earner’s list.
His single largest win of $2 million came in April 2017 in Barcelona. The PokerStars Championship €100,000 NLHE Super High Roller 8-max gave him a top-five finish.
Probably the great move he made was buff in a 2015 PCA Main Event that proved he had the makings of one of the best. His reading of the table and understanding of the hands around him gave him a brutal win over his opponents. It was an exhibition of the discipline, patience, and courage it requires to be one of the best in the world.
After a single $10 million prize haul in the 2018 WSOP $1 million Big One for One Drop tournament, Bonomo was propelled to the top of the all-time money list. This win was part of an insane run of big wins in 2018, which saw him unbeatable for the year. He managed ten big wins this year, taking part in some of the top high-roller events.
Bonomo is a three-time WSOP bracelet winner and currently shows no signs of slowing down. He may have fallen to number 2 in the list of all-time earners, but he is still a force to be reckoned with when he pulls up a chair at a poker table.
Without the earnings of Bonomo and Kenney, it is hard to argue that Negreanu is the best poker player in the world. He is a good $10 million behind in the money rankings to his two fellow superstars of the game. However, when you list the accolades he has achieved, you realise that he is probably the best. He has 6 WSOP bracelets, has made 38 final tables, cashed 108 times, and was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2014. He is the god of the game!
What makes him so good? The one secret ingredient that lifts the best to the top is the uncanny ability to read opponents and accurately assess their hand and their intent. In poker, you don’t play the cards; you play the players. His ability to look around the table is second to none, so he should be considered the best of all time.
When you get into a discussion about the best of the game and focus wholly on winnings, you will provoke arguments. While reaching the top of money rankings is one assessment of a great player – there are many others. Seidel might be short of $20 million on some of his younger competitors; he is a legend of the game. He is one of the original New York City’s Mayfair Club players. Equally, the quiet and determined play of Dan Smith needs some recognition. His most recent wins are setting him on course to be a top earner sometime soon – as with anything in poker – it is just a matter of time.