Top 10 Influential Figures in US Poker History

Top 10 Influential Figures in US Poker History

As one of the most passionate poker countries in the world, the United States has more than its fair share of poker heroes, and it’s because of that we’ve seen such a rise in the number of USA poker sites. We count down the top ten American poker stars who’ve left their mark on the game. From heroic players to those changing the games, we’ve got them all covered here!

Doyle Brunson

Potentially the most well-known poker player, Doyle Brunson played poker professionally for over 50 years and was celebrated by poker fans as a pioneer of the sport up until his death in 2023. Remembered fondly as an influence on poker, ‘Texas Dolly’ wrote numerous books on poker. Where else to start on a top 10 list than with a man who’s won an incredible 10 WSOP bracelets, and he’s certainly someone who players look to emulate on these top 10 usa poker sites when it comes to playing personally?

Chris Moneymaker

Before 2003, Chris Moneymaker was just your average guy playing online poker in his spare time. His pastime soon paid off however as he participated in multiple WSOP online events. Having done so well in those events, he qualified to play at a live event and won the Main Event in 2003. The average American had beaten the pros at their own game. This was one of the events contributing to the 2000s poker boom which saw poker enter the mainstream.

Stu Ungar

Stu Ungar was undoubtedly taken away before his time, having passed at the young age of 45. Known affectionately as the ‘comeback kid’, Ungar is one of the very few people to win the Main Event three times! That includes his consecutive wins in 1980 and 1981. He was a man of many talents however as he would often compete in blackjack and gin rummy tournaments. He also had great character having overcome adversity with his parents dying young and his own addictions to various substances.

Phil Hellmuth

Longevity is definitely a word that belongs to Phil Hellmuth. He’s made his name as a big tournament player having famously performed better at large-scale events. 17 WSOP bracelets wins and he’s still in the public eye with a very active social media presence. While all people in poker know him, not all poker fans like him. Sometimes known as the ‘Poker Brat’, he has been known to overreact or cause a fuss when he loses.

Jennifer Harman

Jennifer Harman is a real trailblazer in poker, as one the most active women during the 2000s American Poker Boom. Her two WSOP bracelet wins and multiple high-money finishes make her one of the most successful female players of all time.

Top 10 Influential Figures in US Poker History

Johnny Moss

Potentially the original gambler, Johnny Moss took an unconventional route into poker as a small boy he was employed to monitor poker tables to ensure nobody was cheating. Needless to say, he soaked up a lot of poker strategy along the way. He won a lot of the early pro poker tournaments, including the inaugural WSOP events. He also played a significant role in the establishment of the WSOP, allowing the game to be what it is today. He has since been affectionately referred to as ‘The Grand Old Man of Poker’.

Daniel Negreanu

Despite being born in Canada to Romanian parents, Daniel Negreanu’s success story is still intertwined with America. His narrative is built on hard work and gradual improvement, even after his first failed attempt at becoming a pro poker player forced him to move back in with his parents at the age of 22. Yet this wasn’t going to deter him as he rebuilt his bankroll and tried again. As such he became the first (and only) person to be named the WSOP player of the year on two separate occasions. If that’s not enough of an accolade his crisp $40m+ in winnings should be ample to help him sleep better at night.

Vanessa Selbst

Vanessa Selbst holds the distinction of being the only woman to ever reach the number one ranking on the Global Poker Index. Meaning at one time, she was considered the greatest poker player on the planet. She is celebrated as an LGBTQ+ icon within poker as a gay woman in a predominantly male-orientated sport. Three bracelets and over $11m in winnings, do sharply address anyone thinking: ‘Can women even play poker?’ Selbst retired from poker for some time to take a job as a financial trader on Wall Street, however in 2023 returned to the WSOP for a few events per year.

Phil Ivey

The GOAT of Poker? Phil Ivey seems to be unwavering in his poker success. Affectionately known as the Tiger Woods of Poker, the 10-time WSOP bracelet winner consistently walks out of tournaments with more money than he entered with. He was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame back in 2017 but has far from retired, as he is still only in his 40s.

Barbara Enright

The first woman to reach the WSOP Main Event final table? That’s Barbara Enright. She’s one of the most successful women in the game and most important. Enright is more than a good poker player, she stood up for women to ensure they were taken with the same respect as the men. Even into her 70s, Enright continues to play poker at a good level, 30 years after her big bracelet wins.

Author: Gus Barge

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