The goal of most poker pros is to win as much money as humanly possible and play the highest stakes on the planet. For many, reality sits in and they realize that there is a limit on how high their ability will allow them to play.
A select few talented poker pros defy the odds and have both the talent and bankroll to play the largest games on the planet. Over the years, online poker has been host to some of the largest cash games in history.
Those that can consistently win become superstars while others slink back to lower limits to rebuild or give up the game entirely. Today, we will take a look at five legends of high stakes online poker. Each has made their mark on the game, with some making their mark for reasons other than winning.
For years, Phil Ivey was #1 on the online poker All-Time Money List. As part of Full Tilt Poker, Ivey put together a staggering $19.24 million in online earnings prior to Black Friday. Looking at his long-term stats, Ivey never experienced that long-term downswing that some online poker players have endured.
However, his play since the Full Tilt relaunch has been a different story. Playing as Polarizing, Ivey has dropped over $6.3 million on Full Tilt. Over on PokerStars, Ivey has dropped another $2.48 million as RaiseOnce.
However, even with these large losses, Ivey is still currently #3 on online poker’s All-Time Money List. He’s yet to log any sessions in 2016 but when he does play, Ivey still competes in some of the highest stakes possible. Presently, he focuses more on the live game and other business ventures than online poker.
No player in online poker history has performed as consistently in the last decade as Patrik Antonius. Prior to Black Friday, he was #2 behind Phil Ivey on the Online Poker All-Time Money List with $11.31 million on Full Tilt and another $2.4 million under his old moniker FinddaGrind.
After Black Friday, Patrik took up where he left off playing under the name FinddaGrind. He hit heights of just over $6 million before stopping at $5.71 million. Just to emphasize how strong his performance was as Finddagrind, he #6 on the OPATML as FinddaGrind. He is the only player in history to achieve such a feat.
Combining his stats under both accounts, Patrik Antonius is the biggest winner in online poker history.
Patrik used to play the largest limits in online poker and took on all challengers. Many of his sessions resulted in insane pots and he has been involved in the majority of the largest pots in online poker history. In fact, on November 21, 2009, Antonius won the largest pot in online poker history off of Isildur1, a PLO pot worth $1.35 million.
Antonius quit playing high stakes online poker about mid-2015 due to his claims that the games were unbeatable due to third party software applications. With online poker sites cracking down on these applications, we may see him return to the game in the future.
No player in online poker history has captured the imagination of poker fans like Viktor Blom, known worldwide as Isildur1. Blom exploded onto the poker scene in 2009 when he took over $5 million off of Tom Dwan.
Then began the epic swings that Isildur1 is known for. The first of those swings was a $4.2 million loss to Brian Hastings in a single day. Granted, that came as the result of shared hand histories between Hastings and Brian Townsend.
However, even after the massive loss, Blom took on all challengers and set records for the largest pots in online poker history. In fact, Isildur1 is part of each of the top 10 pots in online poker history, including the aforementioned pot against Patrik Antonius.
Blom’s career on Full Tilt ultimately ended with losses totaling $4.74 million. However, Blom signed with PokerStars in 2010 and has enjoyed varied success on the site over the years.
Isildur1 is still prone to massive swings due to his style but he is at least showing a profit on the site. Presently, Blom is up $1.2 million but that total could change dramatically in a few short days. Poker fans around the world regularly rail the dynamic Swede and he is expected to be a staple of high stakes online poker games for years to come.
Tom Dwan, aka durrrr, was one of the first young legends of the online poker world during the Poker Boom. In 2004, the 17-year-old Dwan deposited $50 on Paradise Poker and proceeded to build a bankroll that would eventually land him in some of the largest games in the world.
By 2007, Dwan was playing high stakes poker on Full Tilt Poker and he hit the ground running. By early 2008, he was over the $2 million mark in earnings and by mid 2009, he went over the $7 million mark.
However, a massive downswing from July 2009 through Nov 2009 saw all of that profit erased. From that point, he made an epic comeback and by April 2010, he had won a career high of $8 million online. Over time, most of that money went back to the poker community and he currently is listed as having just over $2.16 million in online poker earnings.
Dwan is perhaps most well known for his Million Dollar Challenge that he issued to the entire online poker world (except Phil Galfond). He and an opponent were supposed to play for 50,000 hands and if Dwan won, he would receive $500,000 from the loser plus whatever he won during the games. However, if he lost, he would pay the winner a total of $1.5 million. Patrik Antonius and Dan Cates both began a challenge but neither was finished.
Dwan hasn’t been seen online since late 2013 and currently plays live high stake cash games in Macau. It is uncertain whether we will see Dwan again in the future since the days of the insane pots that he was used to playing have long since passed.
Gus Hansen is one of the most well-known online poker players in history, but for an entirely different reason. His unorthodox style resulted in wild fluctuations in his bankroll and kept high stakes players coming back time and again to challenge him.
At one point in 2009, Hansen was up over $2 million online. Unfortunately, that is the last time he was in the black – ever.
Sometime during April 2009, Hansen dipped into the red and steadily spiraled out of control. By October 2010, he was down $10 million online. After hitting what seemed rock bottom, he began an incredible comeback that saw him erase over $7 million of that deficit.
Then Black Friday hit and Hansen didn’t play online until late 2012 (at least that we’re aware of). Once Full Tilt relaunced, Hansen picked up where he left off but in the wrong direction. From November 2012 until March 2015, Hansen dropped over $17 million online to bring his career losses to $20.7 million. That’s #1 on the list of biggest losers in online poker history. Furthermore, his total is more than the combined losses of 2nd through 4th place.
While Hansen is considered a genius of live poker and a legend of the live game, his legendary status in online poker is for an entirely different reason.