It has often been said that money is how you keep score in poker. While that may be true for cash games, in tournament poker there a good deal of weight placed upon winning major titles. Many pros are judged by how many WSOP bracelets, WPT titles and how many other major event titles they have on their resume.
Today we will take a look at nine poker pros who are all phenomenal players but have yet to break through with a major poker title. All of these players rank in the top 100 of Poker’s All-Time Money List and most are considered among the best of the best in this modern era of poker.
Please note that for the sake of this piece we are focusing on pro players that have been playing at least five years. Also, our focus on major titles does not include the majority of high roller events.
Despite being 27th on Poker’s All-Time Money List with $11.31 in live tournament earnings, Haxton has yet to take down a major poker title. He does have two runner-up finishes in major tournaments. The first came in 2007 when he finished runner-up to Ryan Daut in the PCA Main Event.
In 2009, Haxton finished runner-up to Vitaly Lunkin in the 40th Anniversary $40k NL Event at the World Series of Poker. That was the first of three career seven-figure scores. His last was in 2014 when he finished runner-up to Phil Ivey in the $250k Challenge at Aussie Millions.
After a decade in the game and $11.14 million in earnings, placing him fourth on Canada’s All Time Money List, one would surely expect Sorel Mizzi to have at least one major poker title on his resume. He does have a nice string of near-misses. First, he finished 3rd in the 2007 Irish Open.
*Though, while not exactly poker-related, he did take down Brian Rast in their charity boxing match December 30, 2015.
He has a pair of runner-up finishes in WSOP Event, finishing 2nd in the £5,000 PLO at the 2008 WSOP Europe and runner-up in $5k PLO at the 2009 WSOP. In 2014, he finished runner-up to Amichai Barer in the Aussie Millions Main Event.
Mizzi is just as comfortable playing in a $2k Turbo as in a $100,000 High Roller so we expect him to break through at some point in the near future.
Joseph Cheong finished 3rd in the 2010 WSOP Main Event for over $4.13 million, still his largest single payday in his career. However, he proved he wasn’t a fluke as he has amassed over $11 million in career earnings. Unfortunately, he’s still searching for that first major title.
Cheong has had his opportunities. In 2012, he finished runner-up in the $5,000 NL Mixed-Max at the World Series of Poker. He also finished 4th in the 2012 WSOP Europe Main Event. In 2013, he finished runner-up to Philipp Gruissem in the A$ 50,000 NL High Roller at WSOP Asia-Pacific. His last deep run in a major event was the $1,500 NL 2-7 Lowball Event at the 2014 WSOP. He finished 2nd to Steven Wolansky.
Cheong doesn’t frequent the high roller events like other players on this list, so he will have a few more shots at winning a major title. We expect him to break through at some point in the future, and most likely at the World Series of Poker.
David Peters has been dominant over the last four years, pocketing $8 million of his career $10.8 million during that time. His dominance has failed to produce any major poker titles.
He does have two mid-major titles. He won both a WSOP Circuit ring and took down the HPT Mount Pleasant in 2008. Since that time, he has several deep runs in major tournaments but no victories.
In 2010, he finished runner-up to Marcel Vonk in a $1k NL at the WSOP and later that year finished 4th in a £2,500 NL at WSOP Europe. In 2013, he finished 4th in the €25,000 High Roller at WSOP Europe.
Peters plays tournaments at all buy-in levels, so it more a matter of when rather than if he will eventually take down a major title.
This is Reinkemeir’s tenth year on the live tournament circuit but he’s still devoid a major title. The closest that he’s come was in 2014 when he finished 5th in the $100,000 ONE DROP High Roller at the World Series of Poker. He also made a WPT final table that year, finishing 6th at the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic.
In recent years, Reinkemeir has excelled in high roller events and has fewer standard event cashes. This will reduce the number of chances that he has to pick up a major title, but we still expect him to be competitive in major tournament sets such as the World Series of Poker and take down a major high roller event in the future.
If you’re a casual poker fan, you may not have heard the name Igor Kurganov. Since 2009, he has risen to #1 on Russia’s All-Time Money List and 40th overall with earnings of $10.21 million.
Kurganov’s resume is littered with deep runs in high roller events, one of the reasons that casual poker fans may not have heard of him. As such, he’s yet to win a major title. His best deep run in a major tournament is an 11th place fun in the $25,000 NL Six-Max during the 2013 WSOP.
However, on the high stakes circuit, Kurganov is a superstar. He has three seven-figure scores and in 2013 he hit a trifecta of high roller final tables at Aussie Millions. He won the $25,000 Challenge, finished 2nd in the $100k Challenge and 4th in the $250k Challenge.
Kurganov’s ability to win a major title is going to depend on him running well during the few major events he does play. Otherwise, he will probably have to take down a High Roller bracelet to finally win his major title.
Australian poker pro Fabian Quoss has established himself as one of the elite high stakes tournament players in the world but has yet to win a major title in the standard ranks. Earlier this year, he won the $100k Challenge at Aussie Millions for just over $1 million. This was his second career seven-figure score.
Quoss has been in position to win a major title on a couple of occasions but fell short. His best opportunity came at the 2009 WSOP when he made the final table of the $5,000 NL Event. He ultimately finished runner-up Brian Lemke.
Quoss has a pair of deep WPT runs. He bubbled the WPT London final table in 2010, finishing 7th. In 2012, he made his first WPT final and finished 6th in the WPT Rendez-Vous à Paris.
Quoss has established himself as a premier high roller with victory in several major events. He won the $100k Super High Roller at the 2014 PCA for $1.62 million and later in the year won the HK$ 250k ACOP High Roller. He presently has over $8.53 million in earnings and is 56 on the All-Time Money List.
Quoss does presently play a solid mix of high roller events and standard events. If he continues this mix, we expect to see him take down a title sooner rather than later. Otherwise, he will continue to dominate the high stakes world for many years to come.
Connor Drinan barely makes this list as this is his 6th year on the tournament circuit. However, in that time he has amassed $8.68 million in earnings which is good for 50th on the All-Time Money List.
While best being known for his monster bad beat during the 2014 $1 Million Big One for ONE DROP, he has an impressive resume in both standard and high roller events. While he hasn’t broken through for that first major title, he’s come close on multiple occasions.
In 2013, he finished 4th in the $5,000 NL Six-Max at the World Series of Poker and then 11th in the ONE DROP High Roller. Last summer, he finished 16th in the $10k PLO Championship at the WSOP and 4th in the $1,500 PL Omaha Hi-Lo Event. He closed out the year with a 5th place finish in the APPT Asia Championship of Poker Main Event.
Drinan is off to a hot start this year. He finished 4th in the $100k Challenge at Aussie Millions and 3rd in the $250k Challenge. Drinan is still a young gun in the game and at this pace we expect him to take his first major poker title within the next two to three years.
We’re as shocked as you are to see this name on this list. Andrew “LuckyChewy” Lichtenberger has yet to win a major live poker title despite being in the live game close to a decade. He does have one major high roller title, winning the WPT Alpha 8 Las Vegas in 2014.
Lichtenberger has put together quite a list of deep runs and a few of them are listed below:
- 2015 WSOP – $111,111 One Drop High Roller – 9th
- 2014 WSOP – $5,000 NL Six-Max – 3rd
- 2012 – WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event – 5th
- 2012 WSOP-E – €1,500 PLO Six-Max – 5th
- 2012 WSOP – $10k NL Six-Max – 6th
- 2012 WSOP – $1,500 NL 2-7 Lowball – 3rd
- 2012 WSP – $3k NL Six-Max – 8th
- 2011 – WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond world Poker Classic – 4th
- 2009 WSOP – WSOP Main Event – 18th
- 2009 WSOP – $5,000 NL Shootout – 2nd
LuckyChewy keeps putting himself into a position to win. He’ll eventually get his “ONE TIME” to work and take down his first major poker title.