Category: Poker Player Stories

Doyle Brunson – Poker Player Story

Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson is known as the ‘Godfather of Poker’ and this living legend may very well be the biggest icon of the poker world. Through an entire lifetime of playing professional poker, Brunson has seen it all and his life is the stuff of Hollywood movies. This is the story of Doyle Brunson.

We’ve also made this blog post as a video, if you’d rather watch than read.

Early Life

Doyle F. Brunson was born on August 10, 1933 in Longworth, Fisher County of Texas –  a dirt poor, rural town smack in the middle of The Lone Star State.  The town had a population of less than 100, and almost all were farmers. His family lived on a cotton farm with no electricity or plumbing. Brunson was the youngest of 3 children and had a textbook Texas childhood, although often feeling like a bit of an outsider. 

Doyle Brunson

He was an active kid, and shaped into a natural athlete who received a spot on the All-State basketball team and also dominated in the statewide track community. This is especially impressive considering that Brunson never actually had a track coach or knew anything about running track. According to a 2018 podcast interview he did with ‘Poker Stories’, after baseball practice, Brunson would just go to the track, start running and never let anyone get past him. These performances led to him being offered college scholarships for both basketball and track.

Doyle Brunson was well on his way to realizing his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA. The then-Minneapolis Lakers wanted to sign him, but his basketball career would end before it really began. One faithful day, while working at a local gypsum factory, Brunson was in an accident that shattered his leg. His leg never fully healed, putting an abrupt end to his athletic dreams. To this day, he’s easily spotted around the poker table by the crutch standing nearby. 

But, as Doyle Brunson would prove again and again, no matter what you’re dealt in life, anything can be turned into a winning hand.

Doyle Brunson

Picking up poker

Doyle Brunson had always been an observer of people. Perhaps because he grew up feeling like an outsider looking in. Barely able to move around after shattering his leg, he would often just sit and watch people – which would only advance his skills of reading faces. Something that would become his ace in the hole later in life. 

Doyle Brunson got his bachelor’s degree in 1954 and a master’s degree split between administrative education and business administration the next year, with a new plan of perhaps becoming a school principal
But he found the pay scale to be too low, so straight out of college he went and got a job as a business machine salesman. Not a dream job to Brunson, but a place to start and a way to make a living. He wouldn’t stick around long though.

The young Brunson had always enjoyed poker, but played a lot more after his injury. So when his co-workers invited him to play with them after his first day, he went along. 
They played a game of seven-card stud, and Brunson absolutely cleaned up, winning more than a month’s salary that night.
Always eager to chase a goal, Brunson soon quit the job and started playing poker professionally. 

Calling Death’s bluff

In 1959 Brunson met his future wife, Louise. The two got married in August of 1962 and soon thereafter Louise became pregnant with a baby girl. Things were looking great, but then life took a turn for the worse when doctors found a tumor in Doyle’s neck.
When they tried to operate it, doctors found that the cancer had spread and Brunson was given just three months to live. 

Doyle Brunson

Doctors felt that a second operation might prolong his life enough for him to witness the birth of his daughter and so they went ahead. After the operation, doctors were stunned to see that the tumor had completely vanished. They found absolutely no trace of the cancer and so Doyle was healthy for the birth of his daughter and back on the road soon after. Like the true gambler he is. 
This wouldn’t be the last time death came looking for Doyle, but he would always call the bluff and see death fold his cards. 

Adventures with the Texas Rounders

After the birth of his daughter, Doyle Brunson  went to Fort Worth, Texas, where he and his friend Dwayne Hamilton would play in illegal games. But even Fort Worth soon proved too small for their appetite, and so they took to the road. They met fellow poker players  Amarillo Slim and Sailor Roberts and formed what became known as the legendary ‘Texas Rounders’. A team of truely elite poker players who completely cleaned Texas dry playing high-stakes poker in the 1950’s and 60’s. Probably poker’s closest thing to a team like ‘The Avengers’. 

These illegal games were often run by criminals and so things could get heated. Brunson remembers literally staring down the barrel of a gun more than a few times – and he has seen 2 players get shot in the head at the table.

Dwayne Hamilton headed back to Fort Worth while the rest of the gang expanded to Oklahoma and Louisiana, playing bigger and bigger games. They would pool their funds for gambling, participating in the biggest games around.

After six years of dominating the southern poker rooms like this, and outrunning the law and the hijackers who preyed on winners of illegal big-money card games, the Texas Rounders had amassed a massive pool of funds.
And now they arrived in Las Vegas.

Doyle Brunson

Las Vegas

The Texas Rounders arrived in Sin City as legends, but were about to get a harsh reality check.
In fact, they quickly lost everything they had – a six-figure amount. Which was a hell of a lot back in those days.

Vegas had chewed them up and spat them back out. They decided to stop playing as partners, but remained friends, always watching each other’s back. 

Doyle however, did just fine on his own and was quickly becoming one of the major attractions in Vegas, as audiences would literally gather to see him play

Brunson would settle down in Las Vegas, and has been a solid component at the World Series of Poker since it first started back in 1970. He would mostly play at the Bellagio, which to this day remains his favorite spot.  

Doyle Brunson

Why is Doyle Brunson called “the Texas Dolly”?

The poker scene is full of nicknames – and players love to name fellow players – probably because it is easier to remember than real names and because it adds an element of fun.
And, honestly, why call a guy Tomas Austin Preston, when “Amarillo Slim” sounds so much cooler? 
There are some legendary nicknames out there, but the most famous nickname in poker of course belongs to the game’s biggest icon. But exactly why is Doyle Brunson called “the Texas Dolly”? It’s actually a funny story. 

Back in 1973, Doyle Brunson had a well-established relationship with a guy called Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder. Jimmy would later become famous for his part in CBSs “The NFL Today” throughout the 1980s, but in 1973 he was still just a gambling columnist for the Las Vegas Sun. Jimmy was covering the WSOP and therefore frequently mentioned Doyle Brunson’s accomplishments. But at the time, gambling was still frowned upon in Texas, and for that reason Brunson asked Snyder to use an alias – and so he would call him “Texas Doyle”. 

A member of the Associated Press picked up on an exchange between Brunson and Snyder, but misunderstood the nickname to be “Texas Dolly”, which then made the report and has since then gone down in history as a legendary poker nickname. 

Doyle Brunson’s Poker Winnings

Doyle “Texas Dolly” Bruson is often referred to as the ‘Godfather of Poker’. And this title makes sense, as he’s been around since the very beginning and very much made the game what it is today. After an entire lifetime of playing professional poker, it’s really not possible to summarize his winnings in one blogpost. But let’s have a look at some of his major wins. 

Brunson is believed to have won more than $6,100,000 playing at live tournaments. More than $3,000,000 of those comes from his impressive 37 cashes at the WSOP. He even won the WSOP main event 2 years in a row, and has won a total of 10 bracelets, which puts him in the top 3 of all players ever playing in the tournament.
His 10 WSOP bracelets are: 

1976: $5,000 Deuce to Seven Draw

1976: $10,000 No Limit Hold’em World Championship

1977: $5,000 Seven-Card Stud

1977: $10,000 No Limit Hold’em World Championship

1978: $5,000 Seven-Card Stud

1979: $600 Mixed Doubles No Limit Hold’em

1991: $2,500 No Limit Hold’em

1998: $1,500 Seven-Card Razz

2003: $2,000 H.O.R.S.E

2005: $5,000 No Limit Shorthanded Texas Hold’em 

Doyle Brunson

Super System – The Poker Bible

Doyle Brunson has given poker so much, but perhaps his biggest contribution came back in 1978 when he changed the game forever by writing and publishing the book ‘Super System – How I made over $1,000,000 playing poker”.

This was right after his back to back WSOP win and the book was the first comprehensive book on strategies for various poker games. The book became a huge success and is largely considered the “Bible of Poker”.
Even today it sells about 14,000 copies a month
In October of 2004, a second version was published called “Super System 2 – A Course in Power Poker”. This version featured updated lingo, new games & strategies as well as insights from, not only Doyle Brunson, but also other players like Daniel Negreanu. 

Doyle Brunson also has an autobiography called “The Godfather of Poker”. Surely a life like the one Brunson has lived needed to be told in a book and one could easily imagine this becoming a movie at some point as well. 

Doyle Brunson

Doyle Brunson’s Recent years

Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson really is a living legend and perhaps the biggest icon of poker. At the age of 87 he’s still going strong, although he has scaled back on the amount of games he plays. Doyle and his wife Louise still live in Las Vegas and if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of this living legend in “Bobby’s Room” at the Bellagio. Although we wouldn’t recommend playing him. 

Doyle Brunson has no less than two hands in poker named after him.
One is the hand of a ten and a two, which was named after him because that’s the exact hand he had when winning both of his WSOP No Limit Hold’em Main Events in ‘76 and ‘77. In both cases giving him a full house.
The other one is when holding an ace and queen of any suit. This is because on page 519 of his book, Brunson famously wrote that he never plays this hand. 

Doyle Brunson

Brunson’s son, Todd Brunson, is also a professional poker player.
Doyle didn’t teach Todd to play, in fact Todd never knew how to play before going to Texas Tech University and learning on his own – perhaps from reading the Super System?
Todd left Texas Tech before his senior year and turned professional poker player.
In 2005, Todd won a WSOP bracelet in Omaha Hi-Lo, making Doyle and Todd the first father-son combination to win WSOP bracelets
.

The next Doyle Brunson?

Back in the day, Doyle Texas Dolly Brunson and the Texas Rounders had to pretty much risk their lives when playing poker in smoky back rooms against criminals and big time drug dealers.

Luckily though, things have changed today and if you and your friends want to play poker all you have to do is just download the free EasyPoker app. It’s by far the easiest way to play poker with friends, whether live or online. No chips or playing cards needed. 

It’s a digital version of a physical poker set. Create a private poker table with a single tap, and invite your friends to play by sharing the 4 digit game code. Poker with friends have never been easier. 

Doyle Brunson
Doyle Brunson

Want more poker player stories?

Here at Easypoker we really like talking to our users – and we really value your opinion.
If you have anything to add to this post, feel free to comment below. 

We also have a ton of other amazing poker stories, like the crazy story of Daniel Negeranu.
A highschool dropout that became what many believe to be the most successful and beloved poker players of all time.

Or perhaps the story of Mike Saxton,
“The Ambassador of Poker”. A professional poker player who became a commentator and was even inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. 

Doyle Brunson

If you have any specific story or topic you would like us to profile, please let us know in the comments or by reaching out to us


Maria Ho – Poker Player Story

Maria Ho’s poker story is one of how the black sheep of a traditional chinese family went against her parents and took a gamble on her passion. It’s the story of how a young role model won the heart of the poker industry and became a female ambassador of the game. This is the amazing poker story of Maria Ho.

Early life

Maria Ho was born on the 6th of March, 1983. She lived with her mom, dad and older sister  in the city of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. These were hard times in Taiwan, and her parents were struggling, just as their parents had struggled.
Wanting a better life for their two daughters, Ho’s mom and dad moved to America when she was just four years old. They bounced around for a while before settling down just outside of Los Angeles in Arcadia, California.

Maria Ho

Ho’s parents wanted their two daughters to remember where they came from and so the family only spoke Mandarin at home and the girls had to learn traditional chinese instruments, dances and more. In general, Maria’s childhood home was very traditional chinese with structure and order – something that was starting to irritate the young, rebellious ‘black sheep’ of the family. 

In middle school, Maria Ho began hanging with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble for no real reason. Her parents often had to come get her at the principal’s office – and even at the police station one time. When Ho topped it all by running away from home for a month, her parents decided to send her to an all girls catholic high school.
Surrounded by nothing but nuns, Ho was finally able to focus on her school and homework – and in a later interview she said that without this she probably wouldn’t have graduated highschool. 

Poker beginnings

With her life back on the right track, Maria Ho went to college. She attended the University of California San Diego where she studied psychology, wanting to go on to medical school.
One day she heard some of her male friends talking about hosting a poker night and sort of invited herself. She showed up that night, bringing beer, and was of course allowed in.
This being her first ever game of poker, she had little clue what she was doing. But she still managed to win the game and walked away with all the money – and a feeling of having found a new love. She was hooked. 

Maria kept playing with friends on campus, and on days when classes ended early, she would go down to the nearby indian casino and sharpen her skills. She played for just the fun of it but as the prize money started piling up, she had the feeling that this could be more than just a lucrative pastime. 

She didn’t dare tell her parents though, since traditional chinese culture expects you to take the secure path and utilize the opportunities your family has put out for you – not take a gamble. After finally getting her life back on track in the eyes of her family, she was afraid they wouldn’t approve her new plans.
She wanted to finish college and planned to maybe take a gap year between undergrad and grad school where she could travel the world playing poker and having fun.
First stop after graduating would be the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas.

Grinding

Maria Ho’s first appearance at the WSOP was not a huge success. Beating her college friends was one thing, but it seemed WSOP was still too big a mouthful for her.
So she went back to Los Angeles to sharpen her skills. 

Her parents still wanted her to finish her degree and when they asked her what she was going to do for money she finally came clean and told them how she’d been making good money playing poker. This allowed Ho to focus on playing poker and as her skills improved she became more and more convinced that this was the path for her. 

After a year and a half of playing poker professionally, Maria went back to WSOP in 2007.

Maria Ho

The WSOP breakthrough

This time Maria did very well, outlasting more than 6000 players. Though she didn’t quite reach the final table, she was the last woman standing and ended up caching over a quarter million dollars! And the respect and attention of the poker world. Suddenly everyone was talking about the new female phenomenon of poker – and Ho thought it was time to tell her parents that she wanted to pursue a career in poker. 

Her parents, however, thought it would be better for her to put the prize money into a savings account and continue her degree, quitting poker while being ahead. Luckily though, more people than her parents weighed in on her decision, with multiple poker sponsorships coming at her.

Maria Ho & Tiffany Michelle

Maria Ho kept playing and learning, and in the summer of 2011 she won her second ‘Last Woman Standing’ at the WSOP main event. She was quickly solidifying her place among the top female poker players of the world. On this prominent list we also find another rising star, Tiffany Michelle, who won ‘Last Woman Standing’ the year after.
The two really hit it off and became best friends – and the absolute female power couple on the poker scene. 

Although participating in many of the same tournaments, and both competing for the role of ‘Last Female Standing’, the two formed a strong friendship and would lean on each other through everything.
Quite a dynamic duo. 

In an industry heavily occupied by men, this was exactly what Ho had been wishing for. 

The duo also teamed up to participate in CBS’ show called “The Amazing Race” where teams of two reace around the world in 30 days with a first prize of one million dollars.
Ho and Michelle didn’t win the race, but the appearance alone helped further their brand in a big way, and Maria later said that this was the  best experience she’d ever had.
She would later appear in other popular TV shows such as American Idol and Deal or No Deal.

Maria Ho

The Amazing Race proved to Maria Ho that she could do anything she wanted and was able to feel comfortable well outside her comfort zone. At this time, Ho had been the last woman standing at 3 WSOPs and was now the top female ambassador to the game she once had to hide from her parents. Because of this, she was asked to be a female strategic analyst on the Heartland Poker Tour – an American TV show that first aired back in 2005.
She stayed on HPT for two seasons and really enjoyed the possibility of branching out.
Something she also had a change to do when asked to be the manager of ‘LA Sunset’ – a Los Angeles based team competing in the ‘Global Poker League’. According to interviews, Ho liked the idea of poker being more of a team sport and wanted to create a team that was as much of a melting pot as the city of LA. 

Female Poker Ambassador

Maria Ho is obviously a terrific poker player and a very intelligent person, but people who know her also say she’s truly a great person. Her friendly and very charismatic person has gotten a huge following and is probably what led to her branching out into media.
We’re all glad she chose to pursue a career in poker, but it seems Maria Ho would have been extremely successful in any job and industry. With her hard work and kind soul she’s truly a great ambassador for poker, and a role model for young players – both male and female. 

According to online sources, Maria Ho has won over $4,000,0000 playing poker in live tournaments. 

Maria Ho

Are you the next Maria Ho?

Maria Ho went against the wishes of her parents and took a gamble on herself – a gamble that took her from black sheep to multi millionaire poker icon and role model. And it all began when she invited herself to a friendly poker night in a college dorm room. 

Maybe you and your friends should test your skills as well, and for this we recommend using the free EasyPoker app. By far the easiest way to play poker with friends – no chips or playing cards needed. 

Create a private poker table with a single tap on your screen and share its 4 digit game code with your friends to have them join the table for hours of fun.
Whether live or online, EasyPoker is perfect for poker with friends. 

Maria Ho
Maria Ho

Want more poker player stories?

At EasyPoker we love interacting with our users and we really appreciate you.
If you have anything to add to this story, please let us know in the comments below.

We are constantly adding more poker player stories, like the one of poker legend Daniel Negreanu
A crazy story of how ‘Kid Poker’ went from highschool dropout to being one of the most beloved and successful poker players of all time. 
And that’s just one of our many poker player stories.

If you have a specific poker player you would like us to profile, please let us know in the comments.

Doyle Brunson

Doug Polk Poker Player Story

Doug Polk’s poker player story is the story of how a nerdy college dropout from California took what he learned from playing chess and Warcraft, and became the best online heads up no limit poker player – perhaps of all time.
Making millions of dollars in the process.

The Beginning

Douglas K. Polk was born on December 16 of 1988 in sunny Pasadena, California.
Growing up, Doug was a pretty average. Around the age of five, Doug was introduced to the world of chess by his father. The young boy quickly fell in love with the game, especially the strategic element of it. The two would play for hours and hours, and Doug became very skilled. 

A few years later, the Polk family packed their bags and moved from the West Coast to North Carolina on the East Coast. Doug Polk was enrolled at Wakefield High School and graduated in 2007. During his time in High School, he became a competitive player of the video game Warcraft 3 – a so-called real-time strategy game. Warcraft allowed Doug to dive deep into strategy like the time he played chess with his dad, and he took part in multiple World Cyber Games (WCG) tournaments.
This is actually where Doug Polk’s online poker alias, WCGRider, comes from.

After finishing high school, Polk attended the University of North Carolina (picture). Polk was a bright young man and often found himself bored during classes. He created an account on a digital poker platform, and made a small deposit of $20. For the first couple of months, Polk was stuck at 1 cent/2 cents tables but then realized he had an obvious talent, perhaps due to his long time love affair with real-time strategy games like chess and Warcraft.

Polk decided to test his skills at a bigger table, and after cashing out $10,000 there was no doubt in his mind that he was on to something.

He dropped out of college and began chasing his new dream of poker fame. Something that was waiting just around the corner.

Doug Polk University of North Carolina

Rise to Fame

It wouldn’t take more than a year or two for Doug Polk to make a name for himself among poker players. In 2013 most serious poker players knew who WCGRider was, and he was not playing at 1 cent/2 cents tables anymore. By now, Polk had already won hundreds of thousands of dollars at online poker tables and was now a high-roller. Primarily due to one niche of poker that he truly dominated; online heads up. 

Doug was so great at heads up poker, that he actually had a hard time finding players who wanted to go up against him. But in late 2013 Doug and Ben “Sauce123” Sulsky went toe-to-toe in a highly publicised poker game of 15,000 hands.
Polk won the exhausting game and cashed in a prize of $740,000 plus a bonus of another $100,000. Not a bad pay day, and definitely something that solidified Doug Polk’s place among the best of the best. 

Doug Polk - Poker Player Story

Poker Winnings

When people hear the name ‘Doug Polk’ many think of only HUNL poker. And for good reason. The game against Ben Sulsky certainly got a lot of attention, and Polk has played (and won) a lot at online tables.

But Polk is so much more than ‘just’ and an online HUNL player. He has done really well at the live poker tournaments as well, with a total prize pool estimated at around $10M.
Money is one thing, but Polk has also won a lot of respect at the live poker tournaments, namely by winning three WSOP bracelets:

– $1000Turbo No Limit Hold’em in 2014.
With a prize of $251,969.

– $1000 Tag Team No Limit Hold’em.
When he teamed up with Ryan Fee and collected a prize of $153,358.

– $111,111 High Roller for One Drop No Limit Hold’em in 2017.
Taking home a whopping $3,686,865.

The 2017 bracelet win was of course the biggest of his career, and Polk outlasted no less than 130 other poker players to get it. Very impressive for a guy with a strategic background in video games. 

Upswing Poker

Back in 2015 Doug started a poker training website with his good friend and fellow poker player Ryan Fee. The site is called Upswing Poker and contains a number of strategies and courses that claim to take your poker skills to the next level. The courses are brought to you by professional poker players and range in price and duration with both regular courses and something they call ‘advanced’ poker courses. And in case you’re wondering, yes, there is a course where Doug Polk himself teaches you heads up poker.

Poker retirement

Doug Polk’s rise to poker fame was like a rocket, and the young comet has often claimed to be growing weary of the game and the industry. And in a 2018 YouTube video, Doug formally announced his retirement from professional poker. See the video below.
He talked about how the spark just wasn’t there for him anymore and how all his poker friends had already left the poker scene to pursue personal growth in other fields like starting their own business.

At this point Doug Polk was coming up on his 30th birthday, and already had north of $10M in his bank account from dominating online heads up poker. Certainly not a bad situation to be in, and you could see why it made sense for him to take a step back and spend some time searching for a project thatto add meaning to his life. Polk said his focus would be centered around growing his company Upswing Poker, playing Warcraft and getting into the habit of creating more content for his social media. 

Popular on social media

Whether he’s at the poker table or not, people love Doug Polk. The guy has an outgoing personality and seems to have opinions on pretty much anything. 

At first, his social media of choice was Twitter, and he would tweet about anything from playing poker or Warcraft to US politics and economics.
In more recent years though, Polk seems to have focused more on his YouTube video content. His main channel is still called Doug Polk Poker, but videos are not just about poker but rather full of tips to make money or  his thoughts on current political issues. The channel currently has 494 videos and more than 100M views. 
He also has a channel called Doug Polk Crypto where he talks about – you guessed it – cryptocurrency. 

However, it seems that Doug Polk still hasn’t quite forgotten how to tweet, and so in July of 2020 a series of tweets at poker legend Daniel Negreanu set the online poker community on fire and pulled Polk out of poker retirement.

Doug Polk vs Daniel Negreanu

A Doug Polk poker player story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning his long standing, and very public, feud with Canadian poker legend Daniel Negreanu. It stretches back years and seems to have started on Twitter sometime back in 2014. Since then, Polk has consistently been taking jabs at Negreanu both online and to his face – and some of them have been absolutely legendary. Like the time he bought an entire hotel billboard outside of a tournament just to taunt Negreanu.
It seemed inevitable that the two would one day settle the score in a HUNL poker game, and in July of 2020, Negreanu finally accepted the challenge. 

The two poker legends agreed to play a total of 25.000 hands – with an option to quit after 12.500 hands. Stakes are $200 and $400. First 200 hands are played live, in-person. All remaining hands are played online on two tables at the same time.
It’s really a spectacular story, so we made a separate blog post devoted entirely to this feud – both the backstory and the current status.
You can find it here. 

Doug Polk - Poker Player Story

Are you the next Doug Polk?

Douglas K. Polk took his love of real-time strategy games and, in a matter of years, became the notorious WCGRider with a massive following and millions of dollars in the bank. What’s stopping you from copying the Doug Polk poker player story?

Whether you’re looking to play heads up poker or bigger tables of up to 12 players, the free EasyPoker app has got you covered.
By far the easiest way to play poker with friends – no chips or playing cards needed.

Create a social game og poker with a single tap on your phone and share the 4 digit game code with your friends to have them join in. Perfect for poker with friends – whether live or online.

Doug Polk - Poker Player Story
Doug Polk - Poker Player Story

Doug Polk – Poker Player Story

The Doug Polk poker player story is quite unique, and whether you love him or hate him, the guy is hard to ignore. What do you think, is he one of the greatest of his era? Let us know in the comments below.

We’d also like to hear from you if you have additions to this post, or if you have a specific poker player or topic you’d like us to address next.

Want more poker player stories? 

The world of poker is full of interesting players with fascinating stories. We’ve got a massive archive of the greatest stories, and are constantly adding more.

Like how ‘the Great Dane’, Gus Hansen, built a massive name and fortune playing poker, only to have it all ripped away in a record breaking $20.000.000 string of losses.

Or the story of how Chris Moneymaker, a complete amature, got inspired by the movie Rounders and went on to win the World Series of Poker.

If you have a specific player you’d like us to profile, please let is know in the comments below.

Doug Polk

Mike Sexton Poker Player Story

This year the poker community lost one of the big voices of poker. The professional poker player and commentator Mike Sexton died at the age of 72. His impressive career has earned him multiple wins, induction into the Poker Hall of Fame and is famously known as The ambassador of poker. This is the story of Mike Sexton.

Who is Mike Sexton?

Sexton was an american professional poker player and commentator. He was an entity in the poker community. Mike commentated The World Poker Tour with actor and former professional tennis player, Vince Van Patten. He got his first and only bracelet in 1998 in the $1.500 Seven card stud split event at the 1989 World Series of Poker.

His impact and achievements did not come unnoticed. Mike Sexton was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2009.

Mike Saxton

Early life of Mike Sexton

He was born Michael Richard Sexton, in september 22, 1947 in Shelbyville, Indiana. His parents got divorced when he was only four years old. When he was young he was actually far from a poker player. He was a gymnast. He earned a degree as public recreation after changing majors from business from The Ohio State University. He began playing poker during college. He often joked that he actually majored in poker due to the time he spent playing. Besides poker, he also played a bit of contract bridge.

Eventually he went on to join the U.S. Army as a paratrooper. He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division in the year of 1970. He never went on to see combat as the division had just returned from war in Vietnam. His past as a gymnast went on to become useful, when he taught himself ballroom dancing in the army. He began teaching it to people. One of ‘clients’ saw a future salesman in Mike and encouraged him to pursue a career as a salesman. This became relevant later on in his life. During this time he got married. Mike spent a short period working as a salesman before returning to his ‘major in poker’.

He took on poker in 1977 as he thought that he would make more money playing poker, then he would as a salesman. This took a toll on his marriage and they eventually got divorced. It took almost 10 years before he really went for it. In 1985 he moved to Nevada and advanced to a full-time poker player.

The ambassador of poker

Mike Sexton has proved himself at the poker table. He has got an astounding 17 career cashes in the World Poker Tour (WPT). He even won as late as the 2016 World Poker Tour in Montreal. His first prize amounted to $317,896.

His bracelet from the World Series of Poker is still one of his biggest achievements. His highest rank in The Global Poker Index is #212. His all time money amounts to a humongous $6,516,421.

Mike Saxton

His cashes aside, Mike also cemented himself as a known innovator and entrepreneur within the poker community. Mike Sexton used his wits within his business majors to co-found the Partypoker platform. Partypoker became a major player in the realm of online poker and even topped the list of the biggest poker sites in the United States. Although it had a rough patch with a $500k deficit after its launch in 2020. The former salesman sold his shares two and a half years later for $15 million a year. The company went public later on, after four year, for 9 billion dollars. Auch. Mike Sexton is estimated to have lost around half a billion dollars due to his early departure. He never regretted his decision.

Charity

Even though he lost a lot of ‘dough’, Mike donated a lot of money to charity. He has donated way
beyond $1,000,000.

In 2006 he donated his entire winnings and pledged to do so with all following prizes. In 2009, the same year he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, he went a bit further. Together with Linda Johnson, Jan Fisher and Lisa Tenner, he created PokerGives.org. The organization is non-profit and facilitates a way of making it easier for poker plates to donate to charity.

Mike Saxton Poker player

His wins, ability to commentate, entrepreneurship and heart for charity earned him the high honour of being recognized as the top poker ambassador at the Card Player of the Year Awards Gala in 2006.
Hence his nickname, The ambassador of poker.

Private life of Mike Sexton

Mike’s early divorce propelled him on to use all of his time on poker, but at the age of 60, he remarried. The lucky woman was a hostess at the Bellagio casino. Her name is Karen and they conceived a child. A boy.

His persona and work ethics has even made room for significant quotes from some of the biggest poker players around. Daniel Negreanu, the poker kid, said: “He’s always put a good face on poker. He’s always been someone who promotes the game in a very very positive way”.

Mike Saxton wife

The kind word seems to keep on as Phil Hellmuth once said that “Love Mike Sexton. He has been one of the biggest ambassadors for poker we’ve ever had”.

Sadly, Mike Sexton died on september 6th, 2020, at the age of 72 due to a long battle with prostate cancer. BUT Mike Sexton will continue to live on the Poker Hall of Fame and in history, as best described by Nolan Dalla. “Mike Sexton is simply one of the most important people in the history of the game.”

Are you the next Mike Sexton?

Want to test your skills against your friends in a free game of private digital poker? The EasyPoker app provides both chips, cards and an unlimited amount of games – for free. It’s a digital version of a physical poker set that takes care of everything. And so all you have to do is just play your cards. Get the poker app for Android and iPhone.  

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WANT MORE POKER PLAYER STORIES?

We’re constantly adding new stories of interesting poker players. You can find them all on our blog.
If you have a suggestion for a story you’d like to read, or something to add to this one, let us know in the comments below. Thank you.


Chris Moneymaker Poker Player Story

From racks to riches. This is the story of how an amature poker player got inspired by the movie Rounders and won the World Series Of Poker. This is the amazing story of Chris Bryan Moneymaker.

Who is Chris Moneymaker?

Chris Bryan Moneymaker is a professional american poker player. Chris is most famous for his road to poker fame. In 2003 Moneymaker was the first to qualify from a PokerStars online poker room and continue on to win The World Series of Pokers main event.

Since then, Chris has finished at several top 10 placements, and has even won some tournaments. In 2019 moneymaker was inducted in
the Poker Hall of Fame.

Chris Moneymaker

Early life of Chris Moneymaker

Chris was born november 21st, 1975 in Atlanta, Georgia. His last name
‘moneymaker’ derives from his german ancestor’s last name “Nurmacher”. The ancestors made silver and gold coins and hence, they coined the last name ‘Moneymaker’.

Chris’ father taught him to play BlackJack and moneymaker soon picked up a habit of gambling. He managed to control his gambling and instead focused on his degree in accounting. While working as a traveling accountant, Chris started to play a bit of poker. At this time Chris was already married with a baby on the way. In 2001, Chris lost his job due to 9/11. During this time, Moneymaker began to devote more time to playing online poker.

Beating the pros

At the age of 27, Chris got the best of the pros. Chris competed in a PokerStar $86 poker satellite tournament. The win gave him a seat at a bigger satellite tournament.

He ended up winning the tournament and received the grand prize, a seat at the 2003 World Series of Poker, Las Vegas, Nevada. Chris entered the tournament with 839 entrants. Moneymaker managed to finish at the final table and went on to win the main event. Chris won an astounding $2,500,000.

Chris Moneymaker

The Poker boom 

Moneymaker’s achievement was the cherry on the top of the early 2000s poker boom. An amature beating the pros, made a real impact on mainstream popularity with the introduction to televised poker in 2003.

The Chris Moneymaker Effect

Moneymaker’s achievement was the cherry on the top of the early 2000s poker boom. Together with the introduction to televised poker in 2003. Poker skyrocketed throughout the next three years.

The ‘Moneymaker Effect’ was coined as a term of amateurs making it. Although, it came to a halt in October of 2006, when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was voted in as a law in the U.S. It made a negative impact on the poker boom, as it also affected online poker.

Chris Moneymaker

Chris Moneymaker’s Poker winnings

With a total live earning of $3,908,482, Chris is currently listed as 361st all time money list. Besides his major win in 2003, Moneymaker has finished in the top 10 several times. In 2004 he finished second at the 2004 Shooting Stars event where he won $200,000. Chris took home $139,000 four years later at the 2008 World Championship of Online Poker. In 2009 he finished fifth at an event of a $215 Pot Limit Omaha. In 2011 he finished 11th at a Deep Stack Pot Limit Omaha event in the World Poker Open tournament. He has won prizes at other events, but still has not outdone his performance in 2003. Since then, his biggest achievement might be when he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.

Chris Moneymaker

Controversy

In 2005 authored a controversial book: Bet Big to Win Big. The National Council on Problem Gambling was not happy with the book as they thought it encouraged gambling and addiction. Chris made the book as a way to teach mathematics and the principles of life.

Private life of Chris Moneymaker

Chris Moneymaker has been married twice. He was divorced in 2004, but already remarried in 2005. He has a daughter from his first marriage and is still married to Christina Wren. They got married in Las Vegas. His daughter was born 3 month prior to his big win, making 2003
a year to remember 

Besides making a daughter, Chris also likes to make big donation to different causes.

Chris likes to donate to differen charities. He is known for donating to The Human Society, which provides protection for animals in need. He also donated to Autism Speaks. This is due to that his daughter is reportedly close to the Autism spectrum. He keeps close ends on how much does indeed donate.

Donation and charities have become a major part of poker. Newly passed Mike Sexton, an american professional poker player and commenter, even proclaimed that all his cash prizes (since 2006) would be donated to charities.

Mike was called ‘The ambassador of Poker’ as he was a innovative part of the game, but Chris Moneymaker will always be ‘The American Dream’. The man who had a daytime job. Who dared to dream and who eventually made the dream come true.

Chris Moneymaker has published autobiography titled ‘Moneymaker: How an Amature Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 million at the World Series of Poker. In it, he talks about his childhood and upbringing. Life before and after his major win. It has currently sold more than 40,000 copies world wide. Dreamers keep on dreaming.  

Want more?

Chris Moneymaker got hooked on poker and eventually fooled them all. Are you the next ‘Moneymaker’ in the making? Then try out EasyPoker. It’s free, fun and for friends. It you liked this story you might also like the story about danish pro Gus Hansen and his aggressiv style of playing.

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Dan Bilzerian Poker Player Story

Dan Bilzerian is perhaps the richest and most famous person associated with poker – but not for his poker.
Often referred to as ‘The King of Instagram’, Bilzerian is most famous for flaunting his luxurious playboy lifestyle of girls, guns and money. 

His life exists somewhere between ‘well documented’ and ‘infamous secrecy’ – and what you’re about to read is a summary of the different versions out there. This is the crazy story of poker’s biggest playboy.

We’ve also made this blog post as a video, if you’d rather watch than read.

Early life  

Daniel Brandon Bilzerian was born on December 7 of 1980 in Tampa, Florida. 
He is the son of Paul Bilzerian, an Armenian American businessman who amassed an immense fortune as a corporate takeover specialist. Dan and his brother Adam was born into wealth but didn’t see their father much, as he was often on business trips or stuck working late at the office.

Their life drastically changed however, when Paul was convicted of security and tax fraud. On top of serving 13 months in prison, Paul was ordered to disgorge his earnings and later declared bankruptcy. What exactly happened to Pauls Bilzerian’s enormous wealth is still unclear, but both Dan and Adam had trust funds, and many believe this to be the source of Dan Bilzerian’s fortune.

This all seemed to spill into Dan Bilzerian’s life, as he became somewhat of a problem child, often getting into fist fights and later being expelled from his school. He had a new start at a different school but was ordered to finish his senior year at home for bringing a machine gun to school.

Dan Bilzerian Poker Player Story

After finishing High School, Dan joined the navy in pursuit of becoming a Navy SEAL. 
He performed really well but was once again stopped right before the finish line as he was discharged for fighting with one of his officers and had to leave the program.

Dan Bilzerian then enrolled at the University of Florida where he spent 4 years studying Business and Criminology. Whether he graduated or not is still center of speculation, but it seems this is where Dan first picked up an interest in poker. He no longer had access to his trust fund, and after selling his collection of guns he turned to poker in order to finance his time at school.

Poker life and winnings

Although Dan Bilzerian is a famous poker player, he hasn’t appeared in a lot of public tournaments.
His first major appearance was back in 2009 where he took part in the World Series of Poker Main Event, playing against professional poker players like Phil Ivey.
Bilzerian finished 180th and collected a prize of $36,000.

His performance at the 2009 WSOP led to him signing a sponsorship with Victory Poker. An online card room that is no longer in operation. Dan Bilzerian allegedly received $1,000,000 from the company for wearing their name on a t-shirt for all the tournaments he competed in that year. He was also featured in the company’s numerous online videos

But Dan Bilzerian reportedly dedicates most of his time and focus to private, high stakes, cash games with billionaires and is alleged to have turned a $750 investment into more than $187,000 in a single game. Not a bad turnaround. He has also once claimed to have put all of his net worth into one game – and won big.

Back in 2013 he once again got people’s attention when posting a tweet saying he had just won 10.8 million in a private cash game.
This win still has not been verified and continues to be debated by many online.

In the year 2015, Dan hosted a poker tournament to raise money for brain research. The tournament took place in his Las Vegas home and had a buy-in of $1000. The tournament drew in a lot of famous people like Vin Diesel and raised over $100,000 for brain research.

According to Dan himself, the most he has ever lost in a single game of poker is 3,6 million dollars. There’s also stories about Bilzerian betting 2,3 million dollars worth of chips on a single coin toss – and losing.

Dan Bilzerian’s total net worth is reported to be a staggering 200 million dollars and according to himself, 50 million of that is from playing poker. 

Crazy lifestyle of Dan Bilzerian

Although Dan claims to be killing it at the private cash games, he is most known for everything outside the game of poker. Cars, guns, girls and parties – the crazy stories just keep coming. The man is still in his 30’s but has already had 3 heart attacks. This should be an indication of the crazy lifestyle of the multi millionaire poker playboy.

Bilzerian owns multiple real estate, but his price jewel is his 65 million dollar home in Bel Air, Los Angeles.
This 31,000 square feet party pad is no doubt the party pad of the 21st century (Sorry Playboy Mansion). The house was named ‘The Most Expensive House in the US’ back in 2017. For more details on Dan Bilzerian’s home, take a look at this video.

No doubt Bilzerian owns some impressive real estate, but he also needs a lot of space to store his massive collection of cars and guns.
And then there’s the girls. Dan Bilzerian’s life seems to be an endless sea of beautiful, half naked, women – dusins at the time. His instagram has more models than Playboy and Victoria’s Secret put together and this seems to be the biggest factor of his fame. 

There’s no doubt this aspect of the modern day Hugh Hefner raises controversy, and Dan has addressed it openly numerous times – like in this interview from 2019.

The many controversies

With a guy as controversial and famous as Dan Bilzerian, you would expect some controversy as well. And Dan’s life definitely isn’t lacking in this department either.
It’s pretty much an endless string of controversy, but let’s focus on just three of them.

Most people with an internet connection have probably heard the story (and seen the video) of Dan Bilzerian throwing a young porn actress off the roof of his house.
Back in 2014 Dan was a part of a photoshoot for the Hustler Magazine which also included the then 18 year old porn actress Janice Griffith. As part of the photoshoot, Dan picked up Janice Griffth and threw her off the roof, aiming for the pool beneath. But Dan’s throw was just a bit too short, so the young porn actress hit the edge of the pool before falling in the water. Griffith broke her foot and the whole thing ended in a lawsuit. 

Dan Bilzerian was also involved in quite a massive story back in 2011 alongside other celebrities like Toby Maguire, Ben Aflleck and Matt Damon. A series of private, high stakes poker games between the stars led to wins and loses of millions of dollars. The problem is that one of the losers of the games, Bradley Ruderman paid his loses with stolen money and was later convicted. This led to a pile of lawsuits as everyone attending these games tried to get their money. 

In October of 2017, Dan was present at the horrific Las Vegas shooting. In true fashion, he posted numerous videos to his instagram account – like the video where he’s seen searching a police car and asking the officers for a gun. Dan Bilzerian was widely criticised for his actions and the way he handled himself during this terrifying night. 

Ignite

Dan Bilzian moved away from poker and into business by creating ‘Ignite’ – a company which sells electronic cigarettes, CBD related products, water bottles and vodka, among other things. It began trading back in January of 2019 and has it’s official headquarters in Toronto, Canada. The company is probably best known for it’s over the top launch parties that obviously seek to give the attendees a glimpse into the lifestyle they see on Dan’s instagram. DJs, models, celebrities and enough alcohol to intoxicate a small country.

Perhaps for this reason, the company reportedly lost $50 million in 2019, mostly on marketing and office rental. 

But by the beginning of 2020 Ignite had a 52M dollar valuation.
This was because CBD products were on the rise, and investors thought the current pandemic would lead to a substantial increase in sales. And it did – but not for Ignite.
And to make matters worse, mid 2020 saw the release of a company report showing numbers from Ignite, that some claim proves that the company paid 67M dollars to ‘fund Dan Bilzerian’s lifestyle. Expenses such as $200.000 a month for his house, $15.000 on a ping pong table, $26.000k worth of Instagram promotions and a whopping $130.000 for a Bahamas photoshoot. Ignite’s money seems to come from issuing/selling stocks and from raising debt which had a lot of people saying  it’s internal finances made little sense. The company’s promotion budget alone was $22M, while revenue was less than half of that. 

Dan Bilzerian himself has famously downplayed this by comparing Ignite to the ride sharing service, Uber, which has operated under financial losses since day one.
But in October of 2020 CannMart, one of Ignite’s main partners and leading distributor in Canada, ended their partnership. This led to Ignite’s stock falling from $1.44 to $0.36 in no time and many analysts believe it’s just a matter of months before the company will go bankrupt – unless they find a way to turn things around.

Disputed wealth claims

Although Dan Bilzerian claims to have won his massive fortune in private poker games against billionaires, many believe the money is from his fathers business.
Paul Bilzerian was ordered to pay over 30 million dollars of his illegal profits to the SEC back in the 90s, but some say he never did. He did, however, set up a trust fund for both his sons. Many speculate that this to be the source of Dan’s fortune and that constant investigation is being conducted by the SEC and FBI.

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Dan Bilzerian Poker Player Story

Dan Bilzerian for President

Back in 2015 Dan Bilzerian announced his intention to run for President in the 2016 election. In classic Bilzerian fashion his “presidential campaign” featured five appearances at nightclubs. In december of 2015 Dan officially canceled his candidacy and instead endorsed Donal Trump who, as we all know, went on to become president.

However, the ‘King of Instagram’ has already said he’s considering running again for the 2024 election and hopes to utilize his massive following. From the looks of it though, the White House looks like a massive step down from his current housing situation.

What’s in store for Dan Bilzerian?

Well, according to Dan Bilzerian himself, he’s pretty much done playing professional poker.
He expects Ignite to gross billions of dollars and hope to donate a large portion of it to charity. It’s of course also going to be interesting to see if he actually runs for president in 2024, and whether his recent allegations of fraud and continuing controversy will put a stop to the ‘King of Instagram’.
Dan has an autobiography coming out soon and perhaps that will give us some answers.

On December 3rd 2020, Dan Bilzerian was announced as the newest brand ambassador for GGPoker, representing the brand both live and online. According to the brands own website, Blizerian will be working with GG to make cash games better for the average poker player out there.

Are you the next Bilzerian?

Want to test your skills against your friends in a free game of private digital poker? The EasyPoker app provides both chips, cards and an unlimited amount of games – for free.
It’s a digital version of a physical poker set that takes care of everything. And so all you have to do is just play your cards.

Dan Bilzerian Poker Player Story

Want more Poker Player Stories?

We’re constantly adding new stories of interesting poker players. Like the one of Daniel Negreanu who went from high school dropout to becoming Kid Poker, one of the best and most famous players of all times. 

Or the one about ‘the Great Dane’, Gus Hansen, who went from the top of the poker world to loosing a record breaking $20.000.000 and having to get a regular job as an accountant.

If you have a suggestion for a story you’d like to read, or something to add to this one, let us know in the comments below or by reaching out to us.
Thank you.

Doug Polk

Daniel Negreanu – Poker Player Story

Daniel Negreanu AKA Kid Poker, is one of the most well known and liked poker players in the world.
He is famous for his incredible ability to read players and his may wins and major titles.
His place in the official Poker Hall of Fame is a true testament to his poker-skills and achievements.

But how did a colorful, loudmouthed Canadian become perhaps the greatest poker player of all time?
This is the story of Daniel Negreanu.

We’ve also made this blog post into a video, if you prefer watching instead of reading. 

Who is Daniel Negreanu?

Daniel Negreanu is a talkative professional Canadian Texas Hold‘em poker player.

His aggressive style of playing, and flair for reading opponents, has earned him 2 World Poker Tour titles and 6 World Series of Poker bracelets (among numerous other wins). Negreanu has also been named The World Series of Poker – Player of the year, twice.

Daniel is currently placed third in all time poker earnings. His total live earnings are currently at a whopping $ 42.053,305.

Daniel Negreanu

Early life of Daniel Negreanu

Daniel Negreanu’s parents immigrated to Toronto, Canada from Romania, seven years prior to Daniels birth on july 26, 1974. They wished for a better future for their children.

By the age of four, Negreanu was hooked on The American Dream. He wanted to be rich. He is described as ‘bad-mannered’ in school and as the years went on and Daniel went to college, he was several credits short of graduating. He was failing.
But at the age of 15, he learned to play poker.

Daniel Negreanu

Daniel Negreanu is synonymous with ‘poker’. His funny wit, charismatic persona and unrivaled skill of reading players, has influenced the poker-scene like few other. Negreanu has appeared on numerous live transmitted poker-events and speaks freely about all things within the range of poker. He has even appeared in movies and made series and books about how to play and win poker.

By age 16, he was already ‘a regular’ at the local pool tables, and at one point he actually thought about becoming a professional snooker player. In the end though, his love of poker won, and Negreanu eventually dropped out of high school and began pursuing a career in poker.
He started off as a
rounder 
An expert player who travels to seek out high-stakes games – appearing at Casino Country and Fundtime. He’s even been rumored to sniff out illegal games.

Daniel began working on his reputation and his bankroll throughout his early twenties and headed to Las Vegas when he was 21. Things didn’t go as planned and he ended up losing more than he could afford.

He moved back to Toronto, and began rebuilding his bankroll.

In 1998, 24 year old Daniel won the $2,000 Pot Limit Hold’em at the World Series of Poker. The win added an astounding prize of $169,460 to his growing bankroll and his first bracelet – which is kind of a big deal within the poker community. He became the youngest to ever win a bracelet. Hence, Kid Poker.

From this point on, there was np turning back for young Negreanue.

Daniel Negreanu biggest win

Negreanu’s biggest win was in 2014, when he placed second in the Big One For One Drop $1 million buy-in event. Kid Poker battled 41 other poker players for the prize pool of $37,333,338.

Daniel Negreanu came in second only beated by Dan Colman. But Negreanu’s pity prize of $8,288,001 still remains his biggest earning. Negreanu later said that all he could think about after that was how much money he could have won, had he beat Colman.

Bracelets and titles

Daniel Negreanu began his impressive collection of bracelets in 1998, when he won the $2,000 Pot Limit Hold’em($169,460). In 2003 he went on to win the $2,000 S.H.O.E ($100,440) and followed that up in 2004 by winning the $2,000 Limit Hold’em ($169,100) again.
Four years later, in 2008, he took another bracelet from a $2,000 Limit Hold’em($204,874). In 2013 he won both a $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event ($1,038,825) and a €25,600 High Roller No Limit Hold’em (€725,000).

Negreanu won both his World Poker Tour Titles in 2004. One for his win in the $10,000 Borgata Poker Open ($1,117,400) and the second in $15,000 Five Diamond World Poker Classic ($1,795,218).

He has several more merits to his name, amongst these, Foxwoods’ World Poker finals in 1997 and British Columbia Poker Championships’ main event, which made him $299,951 richer.

Private life

On the home front, Daniel Negreanu has been married two times. In 2005 he got married to Lori Lin Weber. Lori is a known and accomplished professional poker player. They later separated in 2007 and got divorced later on.

Daniel remarried in 2019 to long-time girlfriend Amanda Leatherman. He had acually bought the rings 10 years prior to that, when they decided to get engaged. But he thought she was not ready to settle down at that point of time. They separated, but eventually got together again, when she returned to Las Vegas.

Daniel Negreanu wedding

Newer controversy

Kid Poker was banned from Twitch in July of this year, when he got caught in a bad mannered outburst at a viewer in the chat. The reason? The viewer had made rude remarks about Negreanu’s wife, Amanda Leatherman.

His wife defended the actions of her husband, stating that she was happy that her husband stood up for her. A month later Daniel / @realkidpoker was back on Twitch.

In 2019 Daniel Negreanu came into new controversy for writing a blog about the worst kind of poker players. He later had to apologize, as many thought he had lost touch with the poker-scene, as he does not grind as much anymore.

Daniel Negreanu Controversy

Daniel Negreanu vs. Doug Polk

For years, Daniel Negreanu has had an ongoing feud with Californian poker player Doug Polk. 
Like Negreanu, Doug Polk is a colorful and loudmouthed character of the poker scene – and we’ve actually also written a complete post about his story which you can find here.

The relationship between the two poker legends have been bad blooded for years, and reached it’s unavoidable peak in 2020 when Negreau surprised everyone by actually accepting a challenge from Doug Polk.

Negreanu and Polk agreed to play a total of 25000 hands – with the option to stop after just 12500 hands.
The game is Texas Hold’em HUNL and stakes are $200 and $400. The first 200 hands were played live, face to face. Later hands are played online on two simultanious tables.

This poker feud is really something, with a ton of small jabs going back and forth between the two.
If you’d like to dig deeper we’ve gathered everything in this one post. Truely a clash of poker titants.

Daniel Negreanu - Poker Player Story

Are you the Next Negreanu?

Want to test your skills in a game of free online poker with friends? The EasyPoker app provides both chips and cards for a digital private table poker game (both live and online). And it’s free.

The app takes care of everything, and so all you and your friends have to do is just play your cards.
Poker has with friends have never been easier!

Get started now – download and play for free.

Daniel Negreanu
DANIEL NEGREANU POKER STORY

Daniel Negreanu – Poker Player Story

What do you think – is Negreanu the best poker player of his era? Let us know in the comments below 👇

If you liked this post, maybe check out one of our other poker player stories – like the rise and fall of the ‘Great Dane’, Gus Hansen, who went from being one of the best poker players of all time to loosing more that $20,000,000, quitting poker and getting a job as an accoountant. 

Or how about the story of Dan Bilzerian, the poker playboy who claims to have won more than $50M playing high stakes poker against international billionaires. But is he really a legit poker player? 

Doug Polk

Gus Hansen – Poker Player Story

Gus Hansen has one of the craziest poker careers of all times.
This child prodigy went from the top of the world to losing over 20 million dollars and having to get a regular job as an accountant. A meteoric rise and an unreal fall.
This is the crazy story of an absolute legend, Gus Hansen.

We’ve also made this blog post into a video, if you’d rather watch than read. 
The text version continues beneath the video. 

EARLY LIFE

Gustav B. Hansen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on the 13th of February, 1974.
He was born an only child and showed great potential from an early age. For the majority of his time in elementary school, Gus was homeschooled by his mom and aunt. 

But Gus wasn’t just a bright mind, he also dominated the national youth ranks of tennis.
In fact he was well on his way to becoming a pro, when a serious injury put a stop to his plans.

Frustrated and eager to find a new outlet for his competitive spirit, Gus started playing backgammon. Something his dad had taught him.

Gus Hansen as a Child

He spent an entire summer perfecting his skills and learning various strategies.
Gus, once again, proved a natural and would beat every opponent that played him. And so he started organizing bigger and bigger tournaments that took place on school grounds and would bring in the best players from around the country.
But even they didn’t stand a chance against Gus who was playing at a World Champion level.

When Gus wasn’t playing backgammon, he could be found studying. His mom had instilled a hard working mentality in him, and he was especially skilled in mathematics. Since backgammon wasn’t a very lucrative profession Gus leveraged his mathematical skills to secure an academic scholarship – thinking a degree in accounting would suit him well.

Always eager to find new challenges, and having beaten every backgammon player in Denmark, Gus chose to enroll in the University of California, Santa Cruz.

INTRODUCTION TO POKER

Alright, so, Gus was now in the US, enjoying the sun and life of California.
One day, he was invited to a friend’s weekly poker tournament. The game was Texas Hold’em – something Gus had never played before. Perhaps for this reason, Gus’ friends thought we would be an easy win. But he quickly understood the game and began playing around with different strategies. By the end of the night, Gus was the last player standing, and was forever hooked.

Gus began playing more often, at the local Ocean View Card Room. Although he clearly had a talent for the game, he found that he still had a long way to go. Rather than discourage him though, this only added to his passion. 

Two years into college, Gus had to go back to Denmark to serve in the military. Back then, most young men in Denmark had to complete at least 9 months of basic military training. 

During his downtime, Gus would play poker against the other recruits. He kept experimenting with different strategies and even tried other forms of poker like Omaha, Razz and Seven-card stud. Hansen kept improving his skills and after finishing his military training, he was on the next flight back to the US.  

DEVELOPING THE ‘GUS HANSEN POKER STYLE’

After serving his time in the Danish military, Gus flew to New York to live out his dreams and follow his passion for gambling. But, the first couple of years would be hard on the young Dane. He would primarily play cash games but had his first appearance at the World Series of Poker in 1996. Gus was eliminated in the very beginning of the tournament, and although he is often described as an overnight success, people often forget his hard times during this period in New York.

But Gus didn’t stop.
He was determined to get better and decided on a bold new strategy.

He was going to switch it up and play his hands with a variety so crazy – it would make him impossible to read. He would see a lot of flops, with a variety of odd starting poker hands.Not afraid of big bluffs, this style would focus on confident, aggressive post flop play.

This was the birth of the Gus we know and love.
“I’ve raised with cards less attractive than what’s in my toilet after I took a dump in it”, Gus famously said. 

He would often fly to Las Vegas, to play bigger games and finally started getting some traction. Although he of course lost a lot of hands, he would more than make up for it on the hands he actually won. And the poker community took notice.

In 2002, Gus decided to test his loose, aggressive style of play, when he returned to tournament poker by attending the World Poker Tour’s Five-Diamond World Poker Classic. Gus absolutely cleaned up, beating all 146 opponents and taking home a cash prize of 550 thousand dollars!
Gus, and his new style of play was definitely on to something.

GUS HANSEN’S POKER CAREER

After his big win at the World Poker Tour, Gus was eager to prove that it wasn’t just beginners luck. He wanted to solidify his place amongst the greatest. And in 2003 he did just that. Gus won the WPT LA Poker Classics, collecting a cash prize of half a million dollars, and the respect of the poker world. 

Gus Hansen was really making a name for himself, and he was looking to diversify his brand and business. That same year, he started an online poker room called pokerchamps.com. The site quickly got a couple of thousand users, but Gus had a hard time balancing his time between running the site and traveling the world to play poker. 

He ended up selling the site to Betfair for around 15 million dollars. 
Not bad, for a 2 year business venture.

But Gus wasn’t about to slow down.
In December of 2003 he finished 3rd in the Five Diamonds World Poker Classics, and just a month later he took his 3rd WPT title after winning the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. His crazy style of play, impressive winnings and good looks had made him one of the world’s most famous poker players.

In 2004 he  was even voted one of the Sexiest Men Alive, by People Magazine.

In 2005, Gus was invited to play in the Poker SuperStarts Invitational Tournament. This tournament was a big deal,  with a buy-in of 400 thousand dollars. On top of that, Gus would be up against other poker legends like Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey. But Hansen was hungry, confident and eager to show off his style, and so he entered the tournament. 

This proved to be a great decision, as Gus took the tournament by storm and landed 1st place, taking home the grand prize of one million dollars. Watch this video to see how it happened. 

Gus continued playing in all the biggest tournaments, and in 2007 he flew to Australia, to attend the Aussie Millions Event. He placed in the top ten for most of their smaller tournaments, but ended up winning the main event collecting a massive cash prize of 1.5 million dollars. That’s not a bad payday, and Gus wrote a book about the experience titled ‘Every Hand Revealed’. The book also did really well, and sold thousands of copies in both Denmark and the US.

At this point, it seemed like everything Gus touched turned to gold. And he was about to take home the biggest cash prize of his career. In April of 2008 he played in the $25.000 WPT Championship Event, and despite finishing in second place he picked up a hefty prize of 1.7 million dollars on his way out.

Despiste having won more than 7 million dollars in live tournaments at this point, Gus still considered cash games his speciality. Most poker fans will remember his legendary showdown against Daniel Negreanu in the second season of the High Stakes Poker TV show. Both players had great hands, but Gus turned Quad 5’s against Negreanu’s full house and won the record breaking pot of 575 thousand dollars.

Despiste having won more than 7 million dollars in live tournaments at this point, Gus still considered cash games his speciality. Most poker fans will remember his legendary showdown against Daniel Negreanu in the second season of the High Stakes Poker TV show. Both players had great hands, but Gus turned Quad 5’s against Negreanu’s full house and won the record breaking pot of 575 thousand dollars.

Shortly after appearing on that show, Gus signed a sponsorship with Full Tilt Poker. He appeared in numerous videos for the brand and sported their logo on his shirts for every game he competed in. Full Tilt also agreed to provide his financial backing in exchange for him playing exclusively on their site.

2010 would prove to be a big year for Gus Hansen. He finally won his first World Series of Poker Bracelet after finishing first in the No Limit Hold’em High Roller Heads-Up event. He received a cash prize of more than 450 thousand dollars to go with his golden bracelet. And, as if that wasn’t enough, he topped the year off by winning 1 million dollars for finishing first at the Poker Million IX tournament.

GUS HANSEN’S DOWNFALL

Gus Hansen’s last major performance was at the 2012 Aussie Millions $250,000 No Limit Hold’em Challenge. He made it to the final table, but placed third after Patrik Antonius and Phil Ivey. Gus of course wanted to win, but wasn’t too disappointed as the cash prize for third place was 820 thousand dollars.

But this still seemed to mark a turning point in his career.
After that, Gus seemed to struggle. He would still win a couple of thousand dollars here and there, but was no longer making enough money to support himself financially. 

“I think every competitive player has to question himself at some point and ask ‘has the game surpassed me? Am I rusty? Am I not good enough in this game anymore?’
I’m asking myself questions and that keeps me up at night.” he told Poker News.

Gus Hansen downfall

And to make matters worse, Gus was losing a lot of money playing online poker. Without the financial backing of Full Tilt, Gus was quickly squandering his fortune away, reportedly losing more than 21 millions dollars on online poker. The most anyone has ever lost. 

“It’s the same game and the same opponents. But when you sit in front of a screen you cannot see your opponent, you just have to push some buttons. And apparently I’m not as great at that”, he told a Danish newspaper. 

No longer able to financially support himself through poker, Gus had to go and get a regular job as an accountant. Quite a massive change of pace.

WHERE IS GUS HANSEN NOW?

Working as an accountant has allowed Gus Hansen to stabilize his finances, and given him some much needed clarity and perspective. But the 9 to 5 lifestyle is very different from being a legendary poker player.

Perhaps for this reason, Gus stepped out of retirement a couple of years later. 
He started playing small tournaments and is now, once again, able to finance his life by playing poker. 
He currently lives in Monaco in the south of Europe and travels around the world playing poker. 
But he is looking for a new home in Denmark.

In October of 2020, Gus and his girlfriend Malan had a child. And it’s of course going to be interesting to see if the Great Dane can juggle both a massive poker comeback and his new life as a father.

But what a cool dad Gus must be.

Gus Hansen Kid

Want to test your skills?

Before losing everything, Gus Hansen built a massive brand and fortune playing poker.
No doubt the guy has a talent for the game.

If you and your friends are looking to test your skills in a social game of poker with friends, you should check out our free app, EasyPoker. 

It’s a digital version of a physical poker set, and by far the easiest way to play poker with friends – no chips or playing cards needed.

You create a table with just a single tap on your screen, and friends join in by typing the four digit game code on their phone.
Whether you’re playing live or online, the EasyPoker app is perfect for poker with friends.  

Doyle Brunson
Doyle Brunson

more poker player stories? 

We’re constantly adding to our library of awesome poker player stories.
Like this one, about the notorious poker playboy Dan Bilzerian. A guy whose number of girls is only rivaled by the zeroes in his bank account. But is it all legit?
There’s a lot of stories and opinions about him, so we collected them all into one easy read.

Daniel Negreanu vs Doug Polk

If you have anything to add to the Gus Hansen story, or have a wish for who we should profile next, please let us know in the comments below or by reaching out to us.