Who are the Best Poker Players of All-Time?

For several decades now, the debate has been raging on about who are the best poker players of all-time. While there is plenty of support for experts who could make such a determination subjectively, we live in a place and time when stats rule the universe.

To that end, the World Series of Poker organization has been keeping stats dating back to when the organization was formed. They have enough data to create an analysis that could be used to objectively assign all-time player rankings, using several different criteria to make said determinations.

The following analysis will point out who the top players of all-time are based on three criteria: WSOP bracelets, WSOP tournament cashes and WSOP purse monies put in the bank. This list includes some very familiar names and a few names who might actually surprise even the most avid poker fans. These are not the kinds of players who are trolling online sites to score free bets to pad their bankroll.

WSOP Bracelets

Money is money but the real prestige in modern day poker goes to players who win the coveted WSOP gold bracelets. Leading the pack in none other than Phil Helmuth with 15 career WSOP bracelets. His bracelets were earned while cashing in 138 tournaments, a number that puts him at 4th on the all-time list in that category.

Coming in at number two is a trio of poker legends that includes the incomparable Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan and the wily old retired veteran Doyle Brunson, all of whom have earned 10 bracelets each. Sitting in 3rd place on the all-time list is Johnny Moss with 9 bracelets. It’s worth noting Moss has won 9 bracelets while cashing in only 27 tournaments. His 33% strike rate of wins versus cashes is quite impressive.

WSOP Tournament Cashes

Tournament cashes refers to the number of times a player sticks around long enough in a given WSOP tournament to earn at least one dollar of prize money. Leading the way to the top with 195 WSOP tournament cashes to date is Douglas Carli. While Carli has never won a bracelet and has only a little over $1.2 million in WSOP earnings, he has made of habit of playing consistently around the fringes. He has won three WSOP rings during his career.

The next 10 players on the list include Roland Israelashvili - 169, Allen Kessler - 149, Hellmuth, Chris Ferguson - 126, Christopher Conrad - 123, Charles Moore - 119, Ari Engel - 115, Mike Leah - 111 and a two-way tie at 110 bwtween Daniel Negreanu and Maurice Hawkins.

WSOP Purse Monies

With purse monies always on the rise, purse monies won is somewhat of an odd category. As a case in point, Antonio Esfandiari is the all-time WSOP earner with $22,283,326. That's almost $5.0 million higher than Dan Coleman with $17,413,782. It's noteworthy that Esfandiari earned his bankroll while winning only 3 WSOP bracelets. Even more impressive is Coleman's huge number, which was earned while winning only 1 WSOP bracelet and 10 total cashes. It didn't hurt that $15,306,668 of his career earnings came from winning the $1,000,000 buy-in Big One for One Drop at the 2014 World Series of Poker.


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