Here’s an overview of some of the most iconic figures in poker, spanning various styles and eras, from trailblazers who helped popularize the game to current stars dominating the highest stakes.
Doyle Brunson

1. Doyle Brunson

  • Nickname: “Texas Dolly”
  • Achievements: Brunson is a two-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event champion and has ten WSOP bracelets. He’s known for his pioneering role in poker and for his seminal poker strategy book, “Super/System”.
  • Career Span: More than five decades, effectively bridging the gap between poker’s past and present.
  • Notable Qualities: Brunson’s longevity in the game and his ability to adapt to the evolving landscape of poker have made him a revered figure.

Phil Ivey

2. Phil Ivey

  • Nickname: “The Tiger Woods of Poker”
  • Achievements: Ivey has won ten WSOP bracelets and has numerous appearances at final tables across the world. He is also known for his high-stakes cash game play.
  • Career Span: Since the late 1990s, continuing to compete at the highest levels.
  • Notable Qualities: Ivey’s all-around game is considered one of the best, with proficiency in virtually all forms of poker.

Daniel Negreanu

3. Daniel Negreanu

  • Nickname: “Kid Poker”
  • Achievements: Six WSOP bracelets and two World Poker Tour (WPT) titles. Negreanu has been one of poker’s most recognizable faces for over two decades, known for his exceptional reading abilities and communicative approach at the table.
  • Career Span: Has been a prominent figure since the late 1990s.
  • Notable Qualities: His approachability and charisma have made him a fan favorite and an ambassador of the game.

Stu Ungar

4. Stu Ungar

  • Nickname: “The Kid”
  • Achievements: A three-time WSOP Main Event winner (one of only two players to achieve this), Ungar is often remembered for his unparalleled talent and tragic life story, marked by struggles with addiction.
  • Career Span: Late 1970s through the late 1990s.
  • Notable Qualities: Ungar’s raw talent for card games was unmatched, with an instinctual understanding of odds and opponent tendencies.

Phil Hellmuth

5. Phil Hellmuth

  • Nickname: “The Poker Brat”
  • Achievements: Holds a record 15 WSOP bracelets and has made numerous WSOP final tables. Hellmuth is known for his exceptional tournament play and his fiery temperament.
  • Career Span: Since the mid-1980s.
  • Notable Qualities: Beyond his poker skills, Hellmuth’s personality has made him one of the most polarizing and recognized figures in the game.

Johnny Chan

6. Johnny Chan

  • Nickname: “The Orient Express”
  • Achievements: Chan has won 10 WSOP bracelets, including back-to-back Main Event titles in 1987 and 1988. He has been a consistent performer in the world of poker for decades.
  • Career Span: Since the early 1980s.
  • Notable Qualities: Chan’s calm demeanor and relentless focus have made him a formidable opponent at the poker table.

Vanessa Selbst

7. Vanessa Selbst

  • Achievements: The most successful female poker player in history, with over $11.8 million in live tournament earnings, including three WSOP bracelets.
  • Career Span: Mid-1600s to present, with some breaks for personal and professional pursuits outside of poker.
  • Notable Qualities: Selbst is known for her aggressive playing style and her ability to navigate complex strategic situations.

Erik Seidel

8. Erik Seidel

  • Achievements: Eight WSOP bracelets and a World Poker Tour title. Seidel has been a consistent presence in the poker world since the 1980s and has amassed significant earnings.
  • Career Span: Since the late 1980s.
  • Notable Qualities: Known for his quiet and analytical approach to the game, Seidel’s longevity and success are a testament to his skills and adaptability.