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The Biggest Poker Wins in History



Biggest Poker

Poker is a global phenomenon but, even in the days before online casinos and televised tournaments, this was the most popular card game in the world. It’s like a traditional sport, in the sense that it requires high levels of skill, and it provides great drama as the hands are revealed.

The growing popularity of poker has led to some significant financial backing and the major tournaments now provide some serious prize money. As 2023 draws to a close, here are the biggest poker wins in history.

2019 Triton Super High Roller Series: The Triton Million

The biggest prize purse in poker history is something of an oddity as it provided two winners. The final stages of the 2019 Triton Million saw two players left in contention. Aaron Zang and Bryn Kenney faced off at the London Hilton hotel as the final hand was dealt.

Kenney looked to have the advantage with an ace-high poker flush while Zang held a pair of eights. It was all set for a fascinating finale but, instead of playing on, they agreed to split the first prize.

With a stronger hand, Bryn Kenney claimed a higher percentage and walked away from the table with $20,563,324. Zang, with his pair of eights, had to settle for $16,775,820.

Even with a split pot, Kenney’s win remains the biggest individual prize in poker, four years after the tournament. Zang is in third place on the current list.

2012: The Big One for One Drop

The Big One for One Drop was the highlight of the World Series of Poker, and the prize winner set a record that stood for seven years. The man known as ‘The Magician,’ Antonio Esfandiari, rose to the top of the pile and claimed a stunning top prize of $18,346,673.

He wasn’t the only winner in an event that declared an overall prize pot in excess of $42 million. There were several happy players that night but The Magician’s win at just over $18 million means that Antonio Esfandiari remains in second place in the overall list of biggest individual poker wins.

2014: The Big One for One Drop

The 2014 edition of the Big One for One Drop came close to providing the biggest poker win. It was held at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and the eye-watering $1 million buy in ensured that there would be big rewards at stake.

Just 42 players took up the challenge and, after some intense competition, Dan Colman came away with a top prize in excess of $15 million. The win marked the highlight of an incredible career which has seen Colman win nine WSOP finishes while reaching three World Poker Tour finals.

2016: Monte Carlo One Drop Extravaganza

The event in Monte Carlo saw 28 players take to the tables with the opportunity to claim up to two rebuys. It featured the cream of poker and it was a competition that saw Elton Tsang rise to the top.

The Chinese pro has reached icon status on the circuit, and he has landed some serious wins, but this was his biggest coup. At the 2016 Monte Carlo One Drop Extravaganza, Tsang claimed the top prize of $12,248,912. Seven years on from his career best, Elton Tsang’s cash win remains the fifth biggest in the history of poker.

2006 World Series of Poker Main Event

The WSOP set the benchmark for poker prize funds in the first decade of the new millennium. In 2006, the main event of the series saw Jamie Gold set a new world record for an individual win.

Unlike some of the players on this list, Gold had to overcome thousands of challengers to get to the top. As he took to the tables, an entry list of 8,773 players assembled. As a semi-regular poker player who worked as a talent agent and TV producer, Gold was something of a celebrity and would have been given little chance at the start of the event, especially in the final stages as he faced professional challenger Paul Wasicka.

Against all the odds, Jamie Gold won the overall main event to claim a record win of $12 million. Second placed Wasicka had to settle for his cash prize of $6.1 million as the runner up.

While all of these sums are significant, it’s interesting to note that some of the records here have stood for several years. With greater interest in poker and more live tournaments being broadcast, we might have expected to see 2019’s landmark win exceeded in the years that have followed.

Perhaps the records will start tumbling in the years to come, but the prize money remains significant and none of the top earners will have any complaints. For now, these are the biggest wins in poker history.

I enjoy writing about sports news, business, scholarship programs, and movies, among other topics. When I'm not creating content, I'm most often playing chess.