Machine vs. Machine Texas Hold ‘Em Matches

[SS] “Even if computers have no problem defeating the best humans in the future, they’ll still be able to compete against each other to see who’s best”, Stan the Stat segued. “The first major machine vs. machine poker contest was held in the summer of 2004 at the International Conference on Cognitive Modeling. The not-so-serious World Poker Robot Championship followed in 2005, then the Annual Computer Poker Competition, the de facto world championship, began in 2006.”

Machine vs. Machine Texas Hold ‘Em Tournaments

Dates Tournament Winning Program Second Place Third Place Format Notes
2004/07/30 to 2004/08/01 International Conference on Cognitive Modeling PokerBot Competition Ace Gruber
(Univ. of Toronto)
44 wins in 104 tournaments (42%)
(Terrence C. Stewart & Robert West, Carleton Univ.)
28 wins (27%)
(Dan Bothell, Carnegie Mellon Univ.)
14 wins (13%)
5-Player No Limit Hold ‘Em Tournament
Starting Stacks: 10,000 chips
Blinds: 10/20, Doubling every 100 hands
Each bot had only 100 seconds per 100 actions.
DumbBot (Richard Carter, University of Edinburgh) was only one game out of third place, while YesterdaySushi (Maxim Makatchev, Univ. of Pittsburgh) brought up the rear.
2005/07/12 to 2005/07/14 World Poker Robot Championship1 PokerProbot
(Hilton Givens)
(Roger Gabriel)
(the other competitors were Benbot, BlackShark, gobot, and HoldemMemory)
6-Player Limit Hold ‘Em Tournament PokerProbot, which won $100,000, then stacked Poki-X in 886 hands in a heads-up exhibition match with 15,000-chip starting stacks and escalating blinds starting at 100/200.2
2006 to present AAAI3 Annual Computer Poker Competition Various
(see next table)
(see next table)
(see next table)
Limit and No Limit Hold ‘Em The competition, which has been held annually except for 2015, began when Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Alberta wanted to test their bots against each other and found three others for the first event in Boston in 2006.

AAAI Annual Computer Poker Competition

Year Format4 Entries Winner5 Second Place Third Place Notes
2006 HU LHE Total Bankroll 4 Hyperborean06 BluffBot Monash-BPP 7 seconds per hand. Teddy 4th.
2006 HU LHE Series Competition 4 Hyperborean06 BluffBot GS2 60 seconds per hand. Teddy 4th.
2007 HU LHE Online 33 Hyperborean07 Online2 Hyperborean07 Online1 GS3
2007 HU LHE Equilibrium 33 Hyperborean07 Online2 IanBot GS3
2007 HU NLHE Bankroll Competition 10 BluffBot2.0 GS3 Hyperborean07
2008 HU LHE Bankroll 9 GS4-Beta Hyperborean08-Online Hyperborean08-Equilibrium 60,000-hand matches. Fell Omen 2 4th.
2008 HU LHE Wins 9 Hyperborean08-Equilibrium Hyperborean08-online
Fell Omen 2
Hyperborean went 8-0; the other three medalists tied at 6-2.
2008 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 4 Hyperborean08 BluffBot 3.0 Tartanian2-Beta 100,000-hand matches; Ballarat 4th.
2008 6-Player LHE Ring Game 6 Poki0 AKI-RealBot DCU CMURing-Prototype 4th.
2009 HU LHE Bankroll 13 MANZANA Hyperborean-BR GGValuta 75 3,000-hand matches between each bot (then another 45 as tiebreakers). Hyperborean-Eqm 4th (by a tiny amount).
2009 HU LHE Runoff 13 GGValuta Hyperborean-Eqm MANZANA Rockhopper 4th.
2009 HU NLHE Bankroll 5 HyperboreanNL-BR HyperboreanNL-Eqm BluffBot4 60 3,000-hand matches between each bot. Tartanian3RM 4th.
2009 HU NLHE Runoff 5 Hyperborean-Eqm Hyperborean-BR BluffBot4 Tartanian3RM 4th, Tartanian3 5th
2009 3-Player LHE Bankroll 7 Hyperborean3p.TBR.2009 HyperboreanRing-BR akuma 110 1,000-hand matches without two bots from the same team; 40 1,000-hand matches with teammates.
2009 3-Player LHE Runoff 7 Hyperborean3p.IRO.2009 HyperboreanRing-BR dpp
2010 HU LHE Total Bankroll 13 PULPO Hyperborean.tbr Sartre Rockhopper 4th.
2010 HU LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 13 Rockhopper GGValuta Hyperborean.iro Slumbot 4th.
2010 HU NLHE Total Bankroll 5 Tartanian4.tbr PokerBotSLO Hyperborean.tbr SartreNL 4th.
2010 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 5 Hyperborean.iro SartreNL Tartanian4.iro PokerBotSLO 4th.
2010 3-Player LHE Total Bankroll 5 Hyperborean3p.TBR.2010 Little.Rock Bender
2010 3-Player LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 5 Hyperborean3p.IRO.2010 dcu3pl.iro Little.Rock
2011 HU LHE Total Bankroll 19 Calamari Sartre Hyperborean-2011-2p-limit-tbr
2011 HU LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 19 Hyperborean-2011-2p-limit-iro Slumbot Calamari Sartre 4th.
2011 HU NLHE Total Bankroll 7 Lucky7 SartreNL Hyperborean-2011-2p-nolimit-tbr
2011 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 7 Hyperborean-2011-2p-nolimit-iro SartreNL Hugh
2011 3-Player LHE Total Bankroll 9 Sartre3p Hyperborean-2011-3p-limit-tbr AAIMontybot
2011 3-Player LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 8 Hyperborean-2011-3p-limit-iro Sartre3p Little.Rock
2012 HU LHE Total Bankroll 13 Slumbot Little.Rock
3,000-hand matches. Yperborean.tb4 4th, basically tied with patience.
2012 HU LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 13 Slumbot Hyperborean Zbot Little.Rock 4th.
2012 HU NLHE Total Bankroll 11 Little.Rock Hyperborean Tartanian5 4th.
2012 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 11 Hyperborean Tartanian5 Neo Poker Bot little.rock 4th.
2012 3-Player LHE Total Bankroll 5 Hyperborean Little.Rock Neo Poker Bot
2012 3-Player LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 5 Hyperborean Little.Rock Neo Poker Bot
2013 HU LHE Total Bankroll 13 Marv Feste
zbot 4th.
2013 HU LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 11 Neo Poker Lab Hyperborean Zbot
2013 HU NLHE Total Bankroll 13 Slumbot
nyx 4th, basically tied with koypetition.
2013 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 13 Hyperborean Slumbot Tartanian6
2013 3-Player LHE Total Bankroll 6 Hyperborean Little.Rock Neo Poker Bot HITSZ_CS_13 4th.
2013 3-Player LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 6 Hyperborean Little.Rock Neo Poker Bot kempfer 4th.
2014 HU LHE Total Bankroll 10 Escabeche SmooCT Hyperborean
HU LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff not held.
2014 HU NLHE Total Bankroll 14 Tartanian7 Nyx
Slumbot 4th.
2014 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 14 Tartanian7 Prelude
Slumbot 4th.
2014 3-Player LHE Total Bankroll 5 Hyperborean SmooCT KEmpfer HITSZ_CS_14 4th.
2014 3-Player LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 5 Hyperborean SmooCT KEmpfer HITSZ_CS_14 4th.
2016 HU NLHE Total Bankroll 11 Baby Tartanian8 Slumbot
HU LHE and 3-Player LHE weren’t held. Nyx TBR 4th.
2016 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 11 Baby Tartanian8 Slumbot Act1 Nyx IRO 4th.


  1. The event was originally called the World Series of Poker Robots but had to be changed due to trademark issues.
  2. The match was very close, however. On three separate occasions, Poki-X, which was deemed too strong to play in the tournament, was up by more big blinds than the final margin of the game.
  3. AAAI is short for the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.
  4. The two current ACPC formats are:
    • Total Bankroll: place determined by total chips after all matches have been played
    • Instant Runoff: the bot with the lowest total bankroll is eliminated after each round

    Early contests also included a “series” competition, which was a round robin.

    Most events have been heads-up (HU) or 3-Player, but a 6-Player event was included in 2008 and seems likely to return in 2017. Only Limit Hold ‘Em (LHE) and No Limit Hold ‘Em (NLHE) events are included in the table. A Kuhn Poker (simplified game) has also been played a few times.

  5. Here is the complete list of developers sorted by bot and developer name. Variations on bot names are not listed.

    Bots that have medaled:

    • AAIMontybot: Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic)
    • Act1: Unfold Poker (U.S.)
    • AKI-RealBot: Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany)
    • akuma: Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany)
    • Bender: Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany)
    • BluffBot: Teppo Salonen
    • Calamari: Marv Anderson (U.K.)
    • DCU: Dublin City University (Ireland)
    • dpp: Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany)
    • Escabeche: Marv Anderson (U.K.)
    • Feste: Francois Pays (France)
    • GGValuta: University of Bucharest (Romania)
    • GS2: Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
    • Hugh: anonymous famous mathematician and top online heads-up player (U.S. and Canada)
    • Hyperborean: University of Alberta (Canada)
    • KEmpfer: Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany)
    • Little.Rock: Rod Byrnes (Australia)
    • MANZANA: Marv Anderson (U.K.)
    • mcBotUltra: Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany)
    • Neo Poker Bot: Alexander Lee (Spain)
    • Nyx: Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic)
    • Poki0: University of Alberta (Canada)
    • Prelude: Unfold Poker (U.S.)
    • Rockhopper: David Lin (New York)
    • Sartre: University of Auckland (New Zealand)
    • Slumbot: Eric Jackson (U.S.; former Google engineer)
    • SmooCT: Johannes Heinrich (U.K.)
    • Tartanian: Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
    • Teddy: Morten Lynge (Ikast, Denmark)
    • Zbot: Ilkka Rajala (Finland)

    Developers who have medaled [other bots by the same developer in brackets]:

    • Alexander Lee (Spain): Neo Poker Bot
    • anonymous famous mathematician and top online heads-up player (U.S. and Canada): Hugh
    • Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA): [Claudico], GS2, [Libratus], Tartanian
    • Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic): AAIMontybot, Nyx
    • David Lin (New York): Rockhopper
    • Dublin City University (Ireland): DCU
    • Eric Jackson (U.S.; former Google engineer): Slumbot
    • Francois Pays (France): Feste
    • Ilkka Rajala (Finland): Zbot
    • Johannes Heinrich (U.K.): SmooCT
    • Marv Anderson (U.K.): Calamari, Escabeche, MANZANA
    • Mikrospin d.o.o. (Slovenia): Lucky7
    • Monash University (Melbourne, Australia): Monash
    • Morten Lynge (Ikast, Denmark): Teddy
    • Rod Byrnes (Australia): Little.Rock
    • Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany): AKI-RealBot, akuma, Bender, dpp, KEmpfer, mcBotUltra
    • Teppo Salonen: BluffBot
    • Unfold Poker (U.S.): Act1, Prelude
    • University of Alberta (Canada): [Cepheus], Hyperborean, [Loki], Poki0, [Polaris], [PSOpti], [Sparbot], [Vexbot]
    • University of Auckland (New Zealand): [Casper], Sartre
    • University of Bucharest (Romania): GGValuta

    Also of note: Allen Cunningham finished 5th with CleverPiggy in the 2014 Heads-Up Limit Hold ‘Em competition.

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Man vs. Machine Texas Hold ‘Em Matches

[SS] “In the last couple of years,” Stan the Stat continued, “Cepheus, Claudico, and Libratus have famously been in the news, and not just on poker sites. But the history of computers playing poker goes back many decades. Here are the major matches against top human competition:”

Man vs. Machine Heads-Up Texas Hold ‘Em Matches

Date Computer Program
Opponent[s] Limit Winner Match Result Notes
1984/05/13 Orac
(Mike Caro)
Tom McEvoy and Doyle Brunson No Limit Humans 3-1 (McEvoy 2-0, Brunson 1-1)1 Starting Stacks: 100 chips
Blinds: 1/2
Orac ran on an Apple II.
19842 Orac
(Mike Caro)
Bob Stupak No Limit Human Ended up with more chips after 5 hours Orac mysteriously crashed while it was ahead in a hand where Stupak was all-in.3 Stupak collected $250,000 for winning the match.4
2003 PsOpti-1
(Univ. of Alberta)
Gautam Rao Limit Human +150 BB (approx.) Over 7,000 hands, Rao won by a statistically insignificant margin. PsOpti-1 even had the lead midway through the match.
2005/07/15 Poki-X
(Univ. of Alberta)5
Phil Laak No Limit Human Small victory Laak was paid $10,000 for the 3-hour demonstration event.
2005/07/15 PokerProbot
(Hilton Givens)
Phil Laak No Limit Human Won all the chips in 399 hands Starting Stacks: 15,000 chips
Blinds: 250/500
The demonstration event took over three and a half hours, with the match nearly tied halfway through.
2007/07/23 to 2007/07/24 Polaris
(Univ. of Alberta)
Phil Laak and Ali Eslami Limit Humans 2-1 with one virtual draw “Man vs. Machine Poker Championship”
Blinds: 5/10
Limits: 10/20
Polaris won both 500-hand games the first day, one by a tiny amount, but the humans were able to adjust their strategy successfully and collect $7,500.
2008/07/03 to 2008/07/066 Polaris 2.0
(Univ. of Alberta)
Nick Grudzien, Matt Hawrilenko, IJay Palansky, Kyle Hendon, Bryce Paradis Limit Computer 3-2 with one virtual draw “Man vs. Machine Poker Championship II”
Blinds: 500/1,000
Limits: 1,000/2,000
Six 500-hand duplicate sessions
2015/04/24 to 2015/05/08 Claudico
(Carnegie Mellon Univ.)
Bjorn Li, Doug Polk, Dong Kim, Jason Les No Limit Humans -7,327.13 BB over 80,000 hands (-9.2 BB/100) “Brains vs. AI”
Claudico only beat Les in the duplicate matches.
2017/01/11 to 2017/01/31 Libratus
(Carnegie Mellon Univ.)
Dong Kim, Jason Les, Daniel McAulay, Jimmy Chou No Limit Computer +17,662.5 BB over 120,000 hands (+14.7 BB/100) “Brains vs. AI: Upping the Ante”
Libratus beat all four humans in the duplicate matches.


  1. The first Brunson game lasted only one hand when Brunson shoved with Ace-Queen, and Orac called with Ace-Jack and got no help. Brunson conceded the last game because time was up, but he still had a third of the chips.
  2. The match was featured in the December 9, 1984 episode of ABC’s “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” between segments on triskaidekaphobia and a tower for bats.
  3. Orac had three-of-a-kind against Stupak’s two pairs. The rules of the match stipulated that the hand had to be replayed even though there were no more decisions to be made.
  4. Caro’s friend Jackie Gaughn put up $250,000 for the computer, while Stupak covered his own bet.
  5. Poki-X was an experimental cross-breed of Sparbot and Vexbot.
  6. Prior to the live portion of the competition, two remote matches were held.

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Libratus Demoralizes Poker Pros in Heads-Up No Limit Hold ‘Em

[SS] “Oh, the humanity!” Stan the Stat moaned.

[LL] “Destruction of the Hindenburg zeppelin, 1937”,1 Leroy the Lion filled in.

[SS] “Destruction of the human poker player, 2017. Libratus just carved its name in the history books.”

Games Conquered by Computer Programs

Year Game Computer Program Human Champion[s]
1994 Checkers Chinook Martin Tinsley
1997 Othello Logistello Takeshi Murakami
1997 Chess Deep Blue Garry Kasparov
2011 Jeopardy! Watson Ken Jennings & Brad Rutter
2016 Go DeepMind several top players
2017 Heads-Up No Limit Hold ‘Em Libratus several top players

[RR] “And less than two years after we beat Claudico, right?” Roderick the Rock enjoined.

[SS] “Yes, a slightly different human team this time, but I don’t think it would have made a huge difference. Could have reduced the winning margin some, but Libratus was simply that much better than its dad.”

[LL] “I don’t know. The two best players from last time didn’t play this time.”

[SS] “The humans lost nearly 15% of a big blind per hand!2 Congratulations to the Carnegie Mellon programmers, Tuomas Sandholm and Noam Brown.”

Claudico and Libratus Results

Player vs. Claudico
April 24 to
May 8, 2015
(20,000 hands)
vs. Libratus
January 11 to
January 31, 2017
(30,000 hands)
Bjorn Li +529,033
Doug Polk +213,671
Dong Kim +70,491 -85,649
Jason Les -80,482 -880,087
Daniel McAulay -277,657
Jimmy Chou -522,857

[RR] “At least it was just heads-up No Limit Hold ‘Em. Maybe we can hang on for another decade in full-table Hold ‘Em.”

[SS] “I doubt it. I’m guessing we’ll be underwater by 2020.”3

[LL] “It may only depend on how much effort programmers put into the task. Their research has much broader utility.”4

[RR] “Watson went on to more useful work in lung cancer treatment, for example. Hopefully Libratus, or at least its algorithms, will too.”

[SS] “And help save humanity.”


  1. Radio broadcaster Herbert Morrison uttered those immortal words on WLS Chicago.
  2. The big blind was a constant 100 chips. Chip stacks were reset to 20,000 for each hand, so in theory, humans might still be better with bigger stacks (on the other side, small stacks are simpler for both sides).
  3. For those of you who missed it, and that would be almost all of you, Sealab 2020 was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon about living in the ocean that only lasted for a single season in 1972.
  4. On February 13, 2017, CMU Ph.D. student Noam Brown, who helped develop Libratus, conjectured, “I think that with some minor improvements to Libratus, you’d be able to see it beating humans at six-max within two years.”

Related Links:

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“Kill Everyone” Review

[DD] “The last of the three books I got was Kill Everyone, the sequel to Lee Nelson and Steven Heston’s1 2006 Kill Phil: The Fast Track to Success in No-Limit Hold ’em Poker Tournaments. The older book presented a simplified long-ball tournament strategy to use against better opponents, which the newer book expands to all types of opponents and all games.”2

[LL] “I hope these weren’t as violent as Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and Kill Bill, Vol. 2“, Leroy the Lion remarked.

[DD] “Well, I suppose you’re taking your opponents’ tournament lives, but the range is more like petty larceny to grand theft.”

[RR] “And sometimes you’re simply goading your opponents into committing suicide”, Roderick the Rock added.

[DD] “Indeed. To segue from the last two books I read, Kill Everyone does have a short chapter on tells. The authors concur with Joe Navarro that the micro-expressions are key with good players, since they won’t have any Oreo-obvious tells. Then these fourteen pages focus on the blatant tells that beginners have, where beginners include veteran online players transitioning to the live game (and hence are less accustomed to handling real cards and chips). The short section also mentions verbal tells, with the best line being Alan Goehring’s response to Ted Forrest’s request for help as he pondered calling the former’s all-in bet: ‘I’d like to help you, Ted, but I’m involved in a hand now.’ Forrest folded to his nonchalance, which was what Goehring wanted.”

[DD] “But the main thrust of Kill Everyone is aggression. Your betting is rewarded by fold equity, since the authors felt that tournament players folded too often. To take advantage of that, you should make bigger and more frequent bets, even and especially all-in. What’s more, once you’ve shown a penchant for big bets, you’ll gain fear equity from your opponents who will now fold to your earlier, smaller bets because of the perceived threat of a bigger bet later in the hand.”

[LL] “That’s the ‘hammer of future bets’ from Sklansky and Miller’s No Limit Hold’em: Theory and Practice“.

[DD] “Right, except that Nelson, Streib, and Heston push the aggression much further, like trying to steal the blinds from under the gun, restealing, and re-restealing. They also suggest more frequent limp-raising preflop and check-raising postflop. The latter is particularly effective out of position against players who continuation bet too often.

They also do a nice job of exploring ICM, the Independent Chip Model for converting chips to prize money, even including an appendix on its limitations. One piece of math I’d never seen before though…, the authors present the bubble factor, which determines how tight each player should be playing based on the relative stack sizes of everyone left in the tournament. Unfortunately, they don’t tell you how to calculate the bubble factor but instead present some tables from which you can get a general idea.

Once you know your bubble factor though, you divide your pot odds by it to get your tournament odds. Since the bubble factor is always at least one, you need better pot odds than you would in heads up, winner-take-all, or cash game situations.”

[LL] “Like reverse implied odds but without the need for any future bets?”

[DD] “Same effect but applicable on every hand.”

Title Kill Everyone
Author Lee Nelson, Tysen Streib, and Steven Heston
Year 2009 (expanded from original 2007 version)
Skill Level Advanced
Pros A fairly simple but effective tournament strategy. Builds nicely on Kill Phil: The Fast Track to Success in No-Limit Hold ’em Poker Tournaments.
Cons Great against weaker and tighter players but may be too aggressive against players who are willing to call expecting to only be slightly ahead in a race. A bit muddled with multiple authors, including occasional contradictory comments by one person during another’s chapter.
Rating 4.0


  1. Tysen Streib replaced Blair Rodman as the third author. Mark Vos also contributed a chapter.
  2. The book still mostly covers tournaments, but Vos’s chapter is on cash games.

“Verbal Poker Tells” Review

[DD] “The second book was also about tells,” Deb the Duchess continued, “specifically Verbal Poker Tells, Zachary Elwood’s sequel to his 2012 Reading Poker Tells.”

[LL] “Actions speak louder than words though”, Leroy the Lion contested.

[DD] “Maybe. But sometimes all you have to work with is what you hear at the table.”

[RR] “Or read in an online chat box”, Roderick the Rock contributed.

[DD] “Not covered in the book but not nearly as common as live table talk anyway.”

[LL] “I’ve had online opponents keep up a running monologue, I concede that was very unusual. I personally almost never typed in the chat box except at the end of an event.”

[RR] “We’re pretty much stuck with live games right for now anyway.”

[DD] “And Elwood does an amazing job with them. He’s spent half a decade collecting enough live examples to get a significant sample size, and then he went through literally hundreds of hours of televised poker to build his database.

For something that has always been more of an art than a science, this book makes a noble effort to sort out the meaningful statements from the meaningless.”

[LL] “Isn’t that what every book on poker tells has tried to do?”

[DD] “Maybe, but even from the beginning, Caro firmly planted the idea that every tell could be real or fake. Elwood presents evidence for what each tell usually means.

In particular, people (yes, even poker players) don’t like to lie. Talk when the pot is small is usually from weaker hands and isn’t as meaningful as talk when the pot is big, which usually comes from stronger hands. Elwood also covers other audio signals like coughs, timing, attitude, and common statements like ‘I’ve got a good hand’, ‘I’ll show you’, and ‘How much is it?'”

[RR] “So, how much is it?”

[DD] “$26.95 list, and I didn’t save much on that. But I thought it was worth the price, since as much as I liked Elwood’s first book, I thought this one was better.”

Title Verbal Poker Tells
Author Zachary Elwood
Year 2014
Skill Level Any
Pros A master’s thesis on tells based on a lot of real-word research.
Cons A fair amount of repetition, especially with some of the televised examples.
Rating 4.5

“Beyond Poker Tells” Review

[RR] “Did you get any new poker books for Christmas?” Roderick the Rock asked Deb the Duchess.

[DD] “No, but I got myself a few old ones. I like to browse the used book stores, and I find a decent poker book every once in a while.”

[LL] “The poker world moves pretty fast. Are you going to be playing like it’s 1999 tonight?” Leroy the Lion wondered.

[DD] “Better than that… 2005. And the first of the three books I read is about psychology and poker tells, neither of which has changed much recently.”

[RR] “What was the book?”

[DD] “Beyond Poker Tells. The author, James McKenna, is a psychologist, so he has a different perspective, which is good. Less than half the book is specifically about tells. He spends most of his time psychoanalyzing the various types of personalities and how that effects how they play poker.

The most interesting part of the book is when McKenna divides people psychologically into four quadrants based on Responsiveness and Assertiveness. He splits two of the quadrants into two subtypes, ending up with these six types:

  • The Boss: Reserved and Aggressive
  • System Player: Reserved and Receptive
  • Loner: Very Reserved and Receptive
  • High Roller: Responsive and Aggressive
  • Party Hardy: Very Responsive and Aggressive
  • Hunch Player: Responsive and Receptive

For each of these types, he lists their perception, playing attitude, playing style, strengths, body language, percentage of the U.S. population, needs, traits, preferences, and chips/play space. This was by far my favorite part of the book, although he also splits people two other ways: winners, losers, and nonwinners; and ‘always’, ‘almost’, ‘never’, ‘until’, ‘after’, and ‘over and over’ players.

A few other interesting sections of note:

  • Analysis of fourteen common poker sayings like ‘All in wins again’ (usually true), ‘Deuces never loses’ (usually false), and ‘You won’t be a winner if you don’t leave when you are winning’ (statistically true to maximize your winning sessions, but I’d say it’s bad for your bankroll overall).
  • Analysis of fifteen frequent comments like ‘One more time’ (he says this usually means the player already has a hand, but I don’t agree), ‘I’ll let you have it this time’ (usually when folding a weak hand), and ‘Loose call’ (usually the truth).
  • Comparison of each of Mike Caro’s 25 tells to a pair of contrasting playing styles. Although these tells are referenced throughout the book, this appendix systematically helps explain why each of them can have different meanings.

Although you’ll learn a fair amount about poker tells in this book, the biggest benefit may be in improving your own play by rectifying the weaknesses your game has based on what categories you fall into.

Title Beyond Poker Tells
Author James A. McKenna, Ph.D.
Year 2005
Skill Level Intermediate+
Pros Some very good nuggets of wisdom, especially the Responsibility/Assertiveness chapter. The sections that aren’t about tells are very good.
Cons Slow build up to provide background. Examples are mostly Seven Card Stud.
Rating 3.0

Related Links


Card Player POY: David Peters

[RR] “Happy 2017, guys!” Roderick the Rock greeted.

[LL] “More importantly, good riddance to 2016!” Leroy the Lion reflected.

[SS] “It wasn’t all bad,” Stan the Stat suggested, “and I know at least a couple people who didn’t want it to end too soon.

Fedor Holz had a year for the ages. His $16,288,714 in live tournament winnings were the third highest ever.1 In mid-December, Holz led the 2016 Card Player Player of the Year race by 157 points and would have been a worthy champion. But David Peters ended the year on a tear with a third place finish to pass the German and a win at the wire to ice the title.

Peters won less than half as much money (only $7,370,255), but the Player of the Year award isn’t just about the money. The Ohio native reached a record-tying 22 final tables,2 won five events,3 and amassed an impressive 8,601 points; Holz’s 7,058 points would have won the award every other year except 20044. Most of Peters’s points came from High Rollers (eight finishes worth over 100 points), but his third place finish in the EPT Prague €5,300 Main Event and victory in the WSOP $1,500 No-Limit Hold ‘Em were his two best results (over 1,000 points each).”

Card Player Player of the Year – 1997 to 2003

Year Winner
1997 Men Nguyen
1998 T.J. Cloutier
1999 Tony Ma
2000 David Pham
2001 Men Nguyen
2002 T.J. Cloutier
2003 Men Nguyen

Card Player Player of the Year – 2004 to Present

Year Winner Points Runner-Up Points Margin
2004 Daniel Negreanu 8,764 David Pham 7,068 19.4%
2005 Men Nguyen 5,204 John Phan 4,428 14.9%
2006 Michael Mizrachi 5,989 Nam Le 5,215 12.9%
2007 David Pham 6,562 J.C. Tran 5,748 12.4%
2008 John Phan 6,704 David Pham 6,022 10.2%
2009 Eric Baldwin 6,994 Cornel Cimpan 5,934 15.2%
2010 Tom Marchese 6,738 Dwyte Pilgrim 5,576 17.2%
2011 Ben Lamb 6,036 Chris Moorman 5,875 2.7%
2012 Greg Merson 5,100 Dan Smith 5,040 1.2%
2013 Daniel Negreanu 5,140 Paul Volpe 4,298 16.4%
2014 Daniel Colman 5,498 Ami Barer 5,042 8.3%
2015 Anthony Zinno 6,632 Joe Kuether 6,070 8.5%
2016 David Peters 8,601 Fedor Holz 7,058 17.9%

Most Player of the Year Points5

Rank Year Player Points Titles Final Tables Winnings
1 2004 Daniel Negreanu 8,764 4 11 $4,420,221
2 2016 David Peters 8,601 5 22 $7,370,255
3 2004 David Pham 7,068 5 15 $1,533,268
4 2016 Fedor Holz 7,058 6 15 $16,288,714
5 2009 Eric Baldwin 6,994 4 17 $1,494,494
6 2010 Tom Marchese 6,738 2 11 $2,068,658
7 2008 John Phan 6,704 3 8 $2,075,323
8 2015 Anthony Zinno 6,632 5 11 $3,442,769
9 2004 John Juanda 6,596 2 15 $1,204,389
10 2007 David Pham 6,562 4 11 $1,764,143

Most Titles5

Rank Year Player Points Titles Final Tables Winnings
1 2005 John Hoang 3,267 6 17 $492,817
2008 Men Nguyen 3,662 10 $776,832
2012 Dan Smith 5,040 9 $3,673,806
4 2016 David Peters 8,601 5 22 $7,370,255
2005 Men Nguyen 5,204 17 $1,004,718
2004 David Pham 7,068 15 $1,533,268
2010 Dwyte Pilgrim 5,576 13 $1,074,997
2004 Can Kim Hua 4,495 12 $785,779
2015 Anthony Zinno 6,632 11 $3,442,769
2014 Joseph Mckeehen 3,266 11 $1,223,852
2004 John Phan 3,080 10 $677,045
2009 Jason Mercier 4,130 9 $1,245,876

Most Final Tables5

Rank Year Player Points Titles Final Tables Winnings
1 2016 David Peters 8,601 5 22 $7,370,255
2004 Gioi Luong 5,006 4 $504,004
3 2004 John Cernuto 3,631 3 19 $460,789
4 2005 John Hoang 3,267 6 17 $492,817
2005 Men Nguyen 5,204 5 $1,004,718
2009 Eric Baldwin 6,994 4 $1,494,494
7 2010 Sorel Mizzi 4,851 4 16 $1,524,371
8 2004 David Pham 7,068 5 15 $1,533,268
2015 Byron Kaverman 5,342 4 $3,008,957
2004 John Juanda 6,596 2 $1,204,389
2005 Max Pescatori 3,381 1 $410,109


  1. The two biggest years were both fueled by the Big One for One Drop: Daniel Colman’s $22,319,279 in 2014 and Antonio Esfandiari’s $18,992,281 in 2012. Peters is the only player in the top ten who didn’t win the Big One or the WSOP Main Event.
  2. Gioli Luong also reached 22 final tables in 2004.
  3. Three players have won six events: John Hoang in 2005, Men Nguyen in 2008, and Dan Smith in 2012.
  4. Percentagewise, Peters beat runner-up Holz by the largest margin besides Negreanu over David Pham in 2004.
  5. The all-time records for Points, Titles, and Final Tables date back to the rule changes of 2004.

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Straight Names

[SS] “You always hear poker players refer to Broadway and the Wheel1…”, Stan the Stat ventured. “How come none of the other straights have good nicknames?”

[LL] “That’s a good question. And I’ll bet you have some suggestions”, Leroy the Lion remarked.

[RR] “It’s Stan, so he has a complete list, I’m sure”, Roderick the Rock concurred.

[SS] “You know me pretty well, but I actually have two nicknames for each of them. Consider this my holiday gift to you and the rest of the poker world.”

Straight Nicknames

Straight Nickname 1 Nickname 2
AKQJT Royal Straight [includes the Ace, Ten, and three royal cards] Johnny Moss Straight [The Ace-Ten is already nicknamed for him]2
KQJT9 Fido Straight [K9 = “canine”] Sawmill Straight [Cowboy Wolford’s nickname for the King-Nine]
QJT98 Amazon Straight [because the Queen is high] Kuwait Straight [Q8 = “Kuwait”]
JT987 Houdini Straight [for the straightjacket he was famous for escaping] Straight Whiskey [Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 whiskey]
T9876 Countdown Straight [10, 9, 8,…] Ambassador Straight [Six-Ten sounds like last name of The Ambassador of Poker, Mike Sexton]
98765 Dolly Parton Straight [“9 to 5” movie and song] I-95 Straight [the major highway on the U.S.’s East Coast]
87654 Orwell Straight [“1984” novel] Polonium Straight [for the 84th element, discovered in 1898 by Marie and Pierre Curie]
76543 Hachem Straight [the winning hand he flopped to win the 2005 WSOP Main Event]3 Prime Straight [76,543 is a prime number and, even more specially, a twin prime with 76,541]
65432 Virginia Beach Straight [Virginia’s most populous city’s zip code is 23456] Alphabet Straight [26 letters]
5432A High Five Straight [The Five is the high card, not the Ace] Cribbage Straight [cards sum to 15]


  1. Broadway is the Ace through Ten straight, while the Wheel is the Five through Ace straight.
  2. See the list of Texas Hold ‘Em Starting Hand Nicknames.
  3. Straights have won the World Series of Poker Main Event nine times, so these would all be good nicknames:
    • King-High Straight: Carlos Mortensen (2001)
    • Queen-High Straight: Johnny Chan (1988)
    • 9-High Straight: Jerry Yang (2007)
    • 8-High Straight: Hamid Dastmalchi (1992)
    • 7-High Straight: Hal Fowler (1979) and Joe Hachem (2005)
    • 5-High Straight: Stu Ungar (1980 & 1997; perhaps the most deserved nickname, since he did it twice then died at his lowest) and Peter Eastgate (2008)

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Hendon’s Heroes – Winningest Players by Country

[SS] “Naturally, I also wondered what the winningest countries were,” Stan the Stat continued, “besides the U.S., of course.”

[RR] “Canada”, Roderick the Rock claimed. “Especially after the Black Friday migration from the U.S.”

[SS] “We’re talking about live poker, not online, but yes, Canada is high on the list.”

[LL] “Russia and the U.K.” Leroy the Lion added.

[SS] “Hendon splits the U.K. into England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, but England is still second, safely ahead of Canada.”

[RR] “I’d say the other biggest countries, but I don’t think either China or India has a lot of poker players.”

[SS] “Currently true, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes over the next couple decades.”

[LL] “Absolutely. The world is getting more connected every day. You’ll be able to play online poker from the middle of the Gobi Desert soon if you can’t already.”

[SS] “I might have gotten carried away a little, but here are six views of the poker millionaire data: millionaires per country, population per millionaire and the same for $5 million and $10 million cutoffs.”1

Poker Tournament Millionaires by Country

Rank Millionaires Country
1 815 United States
2 101 England
3 70 Canada
4 52 France
4 52 Germany
6 43 Russia
7 31 Australia
8 28 Sweden
9 23 Italy
10 20 Denmark
11 16 Finland
12 15 Netherlands
13 12 Ireland
13 12 Norway
15 11 Austria
15 11 Spain
17 10 Lebanon
17 10 Ukraine
19 7 Argentina
19 7 China
19 7 Greece
19 7 Hungary
19 7 Israel
19 7 Poland
19 7 Switzerland
26 5 Belgium
26 5 Wales
28 4 Bulgaria
28 4 Costa Rica
28 4 Czech Republic
28 4 Iran
28 4 Portugal
28 4 Romania
34 3 Lithuania
34 3 Malaysia
34 3 Mexico
37 2 Colombia
37 2 India
37 2 Japan
37 2 New Zealand
37 2 Scotland
37 2 Serbia
37 2 South Africa
37 2 South Korea
37 2 Venezuela
46 1 Brazil
46 1 Croatia
46 1 Cyprus
46 1 Indonesia
46 1 Latvia
46 1 Pakistan
46 1 Panama
46 1 Philippines
46 1 Singapore
46 1 Slovakia
46 1 Slovenia
46 1 Uruguay

Poker Tournament Millionaires by Density2

Rank People per Millionaire Country
1 287,276 Denmark
2 343,893 Finland
3 355,974 Sweden
4 396,498 Ireland
5 398,974 United States
6 437,681 Norway
7 519,911 Canada
8 542,439 England
9 598,800 Lebanon
10 613,000 Wales
11 783,890 Australia
12 797,084 Austria
13 847,000 Cyprus
14 951,167 Lithuania
15 1,138,073 Netherlands
16 1,198,853 Switzerland
17 1,222,595 Costa Rica
18 1,232,089 Israel
19 1,285,423 France
20 1,404,355 Hungary
21 1,551,145 Greece
22 1,580,302 Germany
23 1,788,446 Bulgaria
24 1,955,700 Latvia
25 2,064,241 Slovenia
26 2,268,567 Belgium
27 2,370,820 New Zealand
28 2,585,333 Portugal
29 2,634,289 Italy
30 2,641,217 Czech Republic
31 2,686,500 Scotland
32 3,412,265 Russia
33 3,480,222 Uruguay
34 3,538,186 Serbia
35 3,814,672 Panama
36 4,190,669 Croatia
37 4,255,636 Spain
38 4,263,510 Ukraine
39 4,940,000 Romania
40 5,426,252 Slovakia
41 5,489,544 Poland
42 5,607,300 Singapore
43 6,264,286 Argentina
44 10,624,833 Malaysia
45 15,514,350 Venezuela
46 19,941,225 Iran
47 24,486,300 Colombia
48 25,400,703 South Korea
49 27,954,000 South Africa
50 40,757,667 Mexico
51 63,475,000 Japan
52 103,476,000 Philippines
53 195,110,000 Pakistan
54 197,208,571 China
55 206,839,000 Brazil
56 260,581,000 Indonesia
57 654,670,000 India

Poker Tournament $5 Millionaires by Country

Rank $5 Millionaires Country
1 104 United States
2 11 Germany
3 8 Canada
4 5 England
4 5 France
4 5 Russia
7 3 Australia
8 2 Sweden
8 2 Denmark
8 2 Finland
8 2 Spain
8 2 Ukraine
8 2 China
14 1 Italy
14 1 Norway
14 1 Lebanon
14 1 Israel
14 1 Belgium
14 1 Costa Rica
14 1 Czech Republic
14 1 Malaysia
14 1 Indonesia

Poker Tournament $5 Millionaires by Density2

Rank People per $5 Millionaire Country
1 2,751,142 Finland
2 2,872,763 Denmark
3 3,126,577 United States
4 4,549,225 Canada
5 4,890,379 Costa Rica
6 4,983,637 Sweden
7 5,252,166 Norway
8 5,988,000 Lebanon
9 7,470,518 Germany
10 8,100,200 Australia
11 8,624,620 Israel
12 10,564,866 Czech Republic
13 10,957,260 England
14 11,342,835 Belgium
15 13,368,400 France
16 21,317,549 Ukraine
17 23,406,000 Spain
18 29,345,481 Russia
19 31,874,500 Malaysia
20 60,588,658 Italy
21 260,581,000 Indonesia
22 690,230,000 China

Poker Tournament $10 Millionaires by Country

Rank $10 Millionaires Country
1 30 United States
2 4 Germany
2 4 Canada
4 2 Denmark
5 1 England
5 1 France
5 1 Russia
5 1 Australia
5 1 Sweden
5 1 Spain
5 1 China
5 1 Indonesia

Poker Tournament $10 Millionaires by Density2

Rank People per $10 Millionaire Country
1 2,872,763 Denmark
2 9,098,450 Canada
3 9,967,274 Sweden
4 10,838,800 United States
5 20,543,925 Germany
6 24,300,600 Australia
7 46,812,000 Spain
8 54,786,300 England
9 66,842,000 France
10 146,727,405 Russia
11 260,581,000 Indonesia
12 1,380,460,000 China

[LL] “Wow, Scandanavia for the win.”

[SS] “And Canada… the countries with the highest average latitude and, I assume, the coldest weather.

Lastly, here are the leading earners in each country.”

Winningest Live Tournament Player by Country

Country Top Player Winnings
Afghanistan Sherkhan Farnood $627,647
Albania Muhamet Perati $443,785
Algeria Omar Lakhdari $767,150
Angola Loutfi Charmonkly $49,273
Argentina Ivan Luca $4,053,047
Armenia Aram Sargsyan $235,752
Aruba Victor Ng $16,130
Australia Joe Hachem $12,168,048
Austria Thomas Muehloecker $2,916,064
Bahamas Michael Garraway $85,831
Belgium Davidi Kitai $7,665,844
Bosnia & Herzegovina Alen Bilic $619,471
Brazil Alexandre Gomes $3,442,586
Bulgaria Dimitar Danchev $4,173,662
Canada Daniel Negreanu $32,619,169
China Elton Tsang $12,752,988
Colombia Farid Jattin $2,151,393
Costa Rica Humberto Brenes $6,131,270
Croatia Dragan Galic $1,343,798
Cyprus Charalambos Xanthos $1,140,494
Czech Republic Martin Staszko $6,167,340
Denmark Peter Eastgate $11,131,450
Ecuador Jessica Bedoya $90,088
Egypt Ahmed Abd El Fatah $338,307
England Sam Trickett $20,581,462
Estonia Madis Muur $759,756
Finland Juha Helppi $6,931,063
France Bertrand Grospellier $10,999,795
French Polynesia Souny Frederic $8,768
Georgia Revaz Gudzhabidze $188,752
Germany Fedor Holz $20,321,186
Greece Sotirios Koutoupas $2,048,944
Hungary Andras Koroknai $3,604,640
Iceland Runar Runarsson $337,300
India Vivek Rajkumar $4,427,667
Indonesia John Juanda $18,814,862
Iran Amir Vahedi $3,276,428
Iraq Mohamed Namir $111,522
Ireland Andy Black $4,676,143
Isle of Man Baard Dahl $150,225
Israel Amir Lehavot $5,677,933
Italy Mustapha Kanit $7,760,605
Jamaica Alexander Haber $183,735
Japan Masaaki Kagawa $1,522,450
Jersey George Clyde-Smith $181,422
Jordan Fuad Serhan $592,291
Kuwait Salah Alsayegh $81,863
Latvia Mihails Morozovs $1,656,573
Lebanon Kassem Deeb $8,578,258
Lithuania Antanas Guoga $4,826,338
Luxembourg Jimmy De Barros Livramento $140,863
Malaysia Richard Yong $5,973,913
Malta Alan James Brincat $134,225
Mexico Juan Carlos Alvarado $3,178,127
Monaco Ivan Barbuto $174,189
Morocco William Kakon $887,968
Netherlands Marcel Luske $4,417,615
Netherlands Antilles Steven Massa $45,023
New Zealand David Yan $3,399,270
Nigeria Emmanuel Arokodare $24,048
Northern Ireland Conor Tate $774,495
Norway Felix Vincent Stephensen $5,700,681
Pakistan Aurangzeb Sheikh $421,356
Panama Bolivar Palacios $1,041,774
Philippines Noli Francisco $1,348,630
Poland Dzmitry Urbanovich $4,963,835
Portugal Joao Barbosa $1,792,572
Puerto Rico Karlo Lopez $741,637
Romania Mihai Manole $2,169,720
Russia Igor Kurganov $12,042,541
Scotland David Vamplew $3,853,588
Serbia Andjelko Andrejevic $3,409,869
Singapore Diwei Huang $1,102,378
Slovakia Jan Bendik $3,220,669
Slovenia Casey Kastle $1,858,113
South Africa Raymond Rahme $3,546,347
South Korea Sunny Jung $1,306,308
Spain Carlos Mortensen $11,974,739
Sweden Martin Jacobson $15,211,709
Switzerland Claudio Rinaldi $1,693,288
Thailand Pakinai Lisawad $952,067
Turkey Onur Unsal $827,733
Turks and Caicos Islands Rhynie Campbell $638,769
Ukraine Eugene Katchalov $8,893,438
United Arab Emirates Shams Ahmad $168,139
United States Erik Seidel $30,963,853
Uruguay Fabrizio Javier Gonzalez Cataldi $1,224,690
Vanuatu Hoel Douaglin $17,665
Venezuela Ivan Freitez-Rosales $2,647,663
Vietnam Linh Tran $775,051
Wales Roberto Romanello $3,357,367

[SS] “Interesting to note the most populous countries without a poker millionaire:

  1. Nigeria: #7 with 186,987,000 people
  2. Bangladesh: #8, 161,626,000
  3. Ethiopia: #13, 101,853,000
  4. Vietnam: #14, 95,261,000 (despite more than a few very successful Vietnamese-Americans)
  5. Egypt: #15, 92,131,700

Bangladesh and Ethiopia don’t even have any players in the Hendon database, while Emmanuel Arokodare is the solitary Nigerian.”

[LL] “We should encourage Arokodare to teach his countrymen how to play poker. Maybe that would cut down on all those scam emails.”


  1. Most of these are countries, anyway. The Hendon Mob database includes French Polynesia, Netherlands Antilles, and Turks and Caicos Islands for a total of 91 ‘countries’.

    Note: all tables are sortable by tapping the column headers (second tap to reverse the order).

  2. Population data retrieved from Wikipedia on December 19, 2016.


Hendon’s Heroes – Winningest U.S. Players by State

[SS] “I was just perusing Hendon Mob’s list of the top U.S. players”, Stan the Stat began, “and that got me wondering how many players have won a million dollars in their careers in tournaments.”

[RR] “I feel like a few more are minted every year just at the World Series of Poker”, Roderick the Rock contributed.

[LL] “Yeah, I also think the number is pretty high,” Leroy the Lion opined, “but since that doesn’t count entry fees, traveling expenses, and whatnot, that doesn’t even mean these players are making any money.”

[SS] “So, how many would you guess?”

[LL] “Over a thousand.”

[RR] “A few thousand. You don’t even need to be a poker pro to make the list.”

[SS] “Well, I hope the real number doesn’t depress you then. It’s just 800.1

Which U.S. states do you think have the most players on the list?”

[LL] “The top two states are probably Nevada and California, but I don’t know in what order”, Leroy the Lion guessed. “New York has to be up there too.”

[RR] “The most populous states”, Roderick the Rock suggested, “have a bit of an advantage, so I’d also expect Texas, Florida, and Illinois (and maybe Pennsylvania and Ohio) in the top ten.”

[LL] “Oh, and New Jersey because of Atlantic City.”

[SS] “That’s all pretty much on the money:

Poker Tournament Millionaires by State

Rank Millionaires State
1 162 California
2 131 Nevada
3 86 New York
4 64 Florida
5 46 Texas
6 40 New Jersey
7 30 Pennsylvania
8 25 Illinois
9 19 Massachusetts
10 14 Ohio
11 14 Washington
12 13 Arizona
13 12 Colorado
14 12 Michigan
15 11 Minnesota
16 11 North Carolina
17 10 Georgia
18 10 Maryland
19 9 Connecticut
20 8 Missouri
21 8 Tennessee
22 7 Wisconsin
23 6 Kansas
24 5 Oklahoma
25 4 Iowa
26 4 Oregon
27 4 Virginia
28 3 Louisiana
29 3 Mississippi
30 3 Nebraska
28 3 West Virginia
39 2 Alabama
37 2 Arkansas
34 2 Hawaii
35 2 Idaho
40 2 Indiana
38 2 Kentucky
33 2 Maine
36 2 New Mexico
32 2 North Dakota
41 1 Alaska
42 1 Delaware
43 1 Montana
44 1 Rhode Island
45 1 Utah
46 0 New Hampshire
47 0 South Carolina
48 0 South Dakota
49 0 Vermont
50 0 Wyoming

No real surprise to see California at the top.”

[LL] “But almost one-eighth of the U.S. lives in California. They’re at the top of a lot of lists.”

[SS] “So true. It’s more interesting if you look at the density of poker millionaires.”

[RR] “Show me the money!”

Poker Tournament Millionaires by Density2

Rank People per Millionaire State
1 22,067.5 Nevada
2 223,950.3 New Jersey
3 230,183.6 New York
4 241,634.7 California
5 316,738.6 Florida
6 357,601.2 Massachusetts
7 378,463.5 North Dakota
8 398,987.3 Connecticut
9 426,750.1 Pennsylvania
10 454,714.5 Colorado
11 485,273.5 Kansas
12 499,054.0 Minnesota
13 512,167.9 Washington
14 514,399.8 Illinois
15 525,235.8 Arizona
16 597,154.7 Texas
17 600,640.1 Maryland
18 614,709.3 West Virginia
19 632,063.3 Nebraska
20 664,664.0 Maine
21 715,801.5 Hawaii
22 738,432.0 Alaska
23 760,459.0 Missouri
24 780,974.8 Iowa
25 782,267.6 Oklahoma
26 824,476.7 Wisconsin
27 825,037.4 Tennessee
28 826,881.3 Michigan
29 827,465.0 Idaho
30 829,530.2 Ohio
31 912,982.0 North Carolina
32 945,934.0 Delaware
33 997,444.3 Mississippi
34 1,007,244.3 Oregon
35 1,021,486.0 Georgia
36 1,032,949.0 Montana
37 1,042,554.5 New Mexico
38 1,056,298.0 Rhode Island
39 1,489,102.0 Arkansas
40 1,556,908.0 Louisiana
41 2,095,748.3 Virginia
42 2,212,546.0 Kentucky
43 2,429,489.5 Alabama
44 2,995,919.0 Utah
45 3,309,840.0 Indiana

The list changes a bit, with Nevada number one by an incredible if unsurprising margin.”

[LL] “Sure. Las Vegas. But that’s quite a jump for North Dakota. Just needed one millionaire to get into the Top Ten?”

[SS] “Two, actually. Tom McCormick and Mitch Schock. That’s the same number that leaves Indiana, which is 16th in population, at the bottom here only ahead of the five states with no poker millionaires.

Which leads to my third and last list today:

Winningest Live Tournament Player by State

State Top Player Winnings
Alabama Shannon Shorr $6,102,046
Alaska Perry Green $1,120,247
Arizona Jacob Balsiger $4,772,877
Arkansas Michael Sanders $1,153,248
California Antonio Esfandiari $27,321,224
Colorado Steve O’Dwyer $15,801,849
Connecticut Paul Darden $2,225,991
Delaware Abraham Korotki $1,377,683
Florida Jason Mercier $17,410,497
Georgia Josh Arieh $6,840,713
Hawaii Michael Chow $1,286,348
Idaho Kevin MacPhee $5,473,546
Illinois Connor Drinan $10,162,523
Indiana Mike Sexton $6,212,008
Iowa William Reynolds $1,862,051
Kansas Kirk Morrison $3,127,260
Kentucky William Kopp $1,204,034
Louisiana Kevin Eyster $4,113,218
Maine Matt Woodward $2,311,059
Maryland Anthony Gregg $11,807,533
Massachusetts Daniel Colman $26,039,557
Michigan Joe Cada $10,460,840
Minnesota Lyle Berman $2,674,432
Mississippi Tom Franklin $3,216,893
Missouri Blair Hinkle $3,968,999
Montana David Sands $8,197,858
Nebraska Daniel Sindelar $2,026,461
Nevada Justin Bonomo $12,502,242
New Hampshire Michael Drummond $697,929
New Jersey Phil Ivey $23,856,035
New Mexico Joseph Serock $3,280,037
New York Erik Seidel $30,963,854
North Carolina Greg Raymer $7,656,864
North Dakota Tom McCormick $1,884,092
Ohio David Peters $14,134,910
Oklahoma Calvin Shane Anderson $1,805,834
Oregon Annie Duke $4,270,548
Pennsylvania Joseph McKeehen $12,904,303
Rhode Island Anna Wroblewski $1,028,208
South Carolina John Sitton III $720,394
South Dakota William Eichel $612,471
Tennessee Kathy Liebert $6,075,137
Texas T.J. Cloutier $10,315,389
Utah Devin Porter $1,023,696
Vermont Steve Landfish $822,777
Virginia Ryan D’Angelo $2,743,510
Washington Scott Clements $7,200,967
West Virginia Jason Koon $5,746,234
Wisconsin Phil Hellmuth Jr. $20,977,293
Wyoming Michael Harris $363,905

Three women lead their states. We all know Annie Duke (Oregon) and Kathy Liebert (Tennessee), but I had to look up Anna Wroblewski. Hendon categorizes her as a Rhode Islander, but it looks like she lives in Las Vegas now. I won’t quibble with how they determine which state each player belongs to though as it’s an enormous job.”3


  1. Data last updated on December 14, 2016.
  2. July 1, 2015 U.S. state population estimates used for calculations.
  3. New York also has the highest second-best player, Scott Seiver ($21,709,246), then California takes over from third to tenth except for eighth (Jamie Gold, J.C. Tran, Joseph Cheong, Nevada’s Johnny Chan, Men Nguyen, and David Pham). Many of these spots are quite close and could change even before the ink is dry on this post.

    California’s top 488 players, Nevada’s top 277 players, and New York’s top 214 players could all move to Wyoming and become the Cowboy State’s top winner.

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