Most of us can only dream of what it might feel like to win millions of dollars at the poker table, although there are some exceptionally talented players who have demonstrated such skill and guile during tournaments, the dream has become a reality.
Of course, the best poker players are drawn to the biggest tournaments like moths to a flame, eager to put both their buy-in funds and reputations on the line. These are high rollers who know their fortunes can change with every card turned, unafraid of taking their chances.
One of the great things about poker is that at many tournaments, pretty much anyone can walk away with the top prizes on offer, even becoming millionaires in some cases. However, the high roller tournaments are the ones which have offered the biggest rewards.
For those with the funds and the confidence to enter, such tournaments have offered stratospheric prize funds in the tens of millions, producing some of the biggest ever tournament winners. Let’s take a look at those who have scooped the highest ever poker wins.
The first ever Big One for One Drop
When it was created by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté in 2012, the Big One for One Drop tournament instantly made history. The $1,000,000 buy-in was huge, which meant this was a poker tournament geared for high rollers, with more than 10% going to charity.
Hosted initially as a side event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, the prize pool up for grabs was a whopping $42, 666, 672 in total, with ESPN reporting that some of the biggest names in poker amongst the 48 entries, including Laliberté joining the competitors.
At the final table, British player Sam Trickett scooped $10,112,001 of the prize fund for himself, and that in itself remains one of the biggest cash wins of all-time. However, he wasn’t even the tournament winner and was eventually beaten heads-up in a tense finale.
The man who took down Trickett and everyone else was Antonio Esfandiari, an American former magician turned poker professional, landing the gigantic $18,346,673 top prize which he understandably celebrated with great euphoria.
Dan Colman keeps his cool to win big
Given the huge interest and popularity of the very first Big One for One Drop tournament in 2012, after a similar $100,000 buy-in tournament was held in 2013 and featured some 166 players, in 2014 it was time for another massive high roller event.
The 2014 Big One for One Drop tournament required a $1,000,000 buy-in once again, which narrowed the field down to 42 entries and a prize pool of $37,333,338 in total. Heads-up games with some amazing poker hands were observed, as the field of players was narrowed.
Eight players reached the final table and took a share of the total prize funds. Canadian poker star Daniel Negreanu was amongst the biggest winners, taking an impressive $8,288,01 in cash, thanks to his typically fearless approach of calling out rival players.
Nevertheless, even Negreanu couldn’t beat young American winner Dan Colman heads-up, who wrapped his arms around a huge stack of $15,305,668 in cash, having reigned supreme as the tournament winner at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
The titanic Triton cash grab of 2019
As if those Big One for One Drop winners were impressive enough, the best was yet to come and when the biggest cash win in poker history arrived, it came far away from the casino capital of Las Vegas. Indeed, it came in the English capital of London in August 2019.
When the 2019 Triton Super High Roller Series was hosted at the Marriott Hotel, the $65,660,000 prize fund attracted all the big-name players, although the buy-in at just over $1,200,000 was not for the feint hearted.
In the end, it all came down to just two players and one of them was American professional poker icon Bryn Kenney. While his performance and winnings at Triton tournament would place him top of the All-Time Money List, the pro was beaten by an unlikely amateur in the end.
Aaron Zang, remember the name, because right now the Chinese amateur is the biggest individual tournament cash winner there’s ever been. This calm and introverted poker player won the $20,606,421 top prize at the Triton tournament in London.
Prior to his remarkable 2019 triumph, Zang had staked millions over the years but hadn’t even broken into the top 100 poker players in China. Now he has become a name who few professional players will forget in a hurry.
Of course, to win big money, you don’t have to attend a glamourous event. Chris Moorman is an 888 poker ambassador and the all-time leader in career online poker tournament earnings, amassing an impressive $14.8 million, proving that anyone can achieve success!
Anyone can win big at poker
While it’s fair to say that not many of us have the funds to enter high roller tournaments, especially given the huge buy-in fee required by the most famous events, it doesn’t mean to say we can’t aspire to reach that kind of level someday. Meanwhile, it’s all about honing your talents and gradually building up the funds.
With his massive 2019 London win, Chinese poker afficionado Zang’s remarkable story just goes to show that with time and patience, plus the desire to keep learning and improving their game, anyone is capable of winning big if they’re willing to follow their dream.