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Recently we took a look at poker’s biggest losers of 2016. While negative stories tend to garner the majority of the attention in the poker world, we still shouldn’t overlook those that had an awesome 2016.

Below are the five biggest winners in 2016. Note that being the biggest winner is always about winning the most money at the poker table – although that certainly doesn’t hurt.

Fedor Holz

Fedor Holz had arguably the best year ever in live poker tournament with earnings of $16.48 million. Only Dan Colman has more earnings in a single year but those results are a bit skewed due to his win in the 2014 Big One for One Drop.

Holz cashed in 24 live events in 2016, making 15 final tables and winning six events. The biggest of those wins was in the $111,111 One Drop High Roller at the World Series of Poker. Holz won $4.98 million and claimed he was “retiring from poker.”

He then proceeded to win another $3 million between live and online events.

Poker Central

When Poker Central was launched in 2015, I said that this was going to be something special and they proved it in 2016. They became the premier poker channel to watch live or online and continued to produce high-quality poker programming such as Pokerography, Live at the Bike! and the Super High Roller Bowl.

Speaking of the Super High Roller Bowl, many agree that the broadcasts of this year’s event actually surpassed that of 2015. That didn’t seem possible at the time. In a market that’s beginning to become oversaturated with High Roller events, the Super High Roller Bowl has quickly become one of the premier High Roller events that pros are looking forward to.

In addition, Poker Central announced their new media team including well-known poker media members Paul Oresteen, Remko Rinkema and Sam Simmons. They are positioning themselves for great things in 2017 and it will be fun to see what develops.

Jason Mercier and Natasha Barbour

Jason Mercier has another seven-figure year in live poker, winning $1.5 million along with two WSOP bracelets this summer. He also reportedly won enough in prop bets connected to those bracelet wins to be “freerolling for the next few years.”

Natasha Barbour had a career year with $439k in earnings and a third place finish in the $5k NL Event at the WSOP. It was during that event her life changed forever when Jason proposed to her.

The pair got married in November and are now the premier power couple in the game. Who had the better year? We call this one a chop.

William Kassouf

It’s not often that someone with about $450k in single-year earnings (at the time of this writing) qualifies for a list of “biggest winners” but one could argue that William Kassouf may have been one of the biggest winners during the 2016 WSOP Main Event based simply on exposure.

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Kassouf had several episodes dedicated to his antics and there have been countless articles written about his play. The catchphrase “9 high like a boss” has become a part of the poker lexicon. Even if he never wins another dollar in poker (unlikely), he is easily one of the most recognizable poker personalities of the last few years.

Alexander “joiso” Kostritsyn

Alexander Kostritsyn is one of the most prolific high stakes mixed game players online. He added a massive chunk to his online bankroll in 2016 after winning $1.47 million in high stakes cash games.

“Joiso” started off 2016 on a losing streak, down as much as $150k. However, he started a massive run at the end of March that saw him go from $150k down to a $1 million profit. By the beginning of the WSOP, he was up to $1.5 million in earnings.

Since that time, joiso has tread water. He’s been up as much as $1.63 million while not dropping below $1.36 million.

Looking closer at his stats, he has won $1.34 million in 8-Game and $225k in HORSE this year. He also has small wins in NL and FL Hold’em. If not for $225k in losses in Omaha games, Kostritsyn would be approaching $2 million in earnings for the year.

While there are still a few days left in 2016, joiso would have to go on an Isildur1 type swing to fall out of the top spot. SamRostan is present second overall with $882,473 in earnings.

Note: Stats for high stakes earnings are courtesy HighStakesDB.com and only include players that have chosen not to “opt-out” of tracking.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.

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