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

Footnotes:

  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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