Poker has exploded into mainstream culture thanks to movies, television, and competitive poker events like the World Series of Poker (WSOP). Its ever-increasing popularity has also gifted poker fans with some incredible poker heroes to look up to, including the likes of Chris Moneymaker, Doyle Brunson, Justin Bonomo, and Bryn Kenney. These players made an absolute fortune playing in real-life and online poker tournaments and completely changed how people viewed the game.
However, unlike some of the most popular poker hand nicknames, the world has forgotten many of poker’s greatest players. Or, at the very least, they have disappeared from the headlines.
Here are five of the greatest forgotten poker players in history that you should know about.
5. Scotty Nguyen
Hendon Mob Total Live Earnings: $12,725,192
Hendon Mob Most Popular Players 2023 Ranking: 112
WSOP Bracelets: 5
Nguyen may not exactly be forgotten, but he doesn’t quite make the headlines like he used to — a pity, because he’s got a story with telling. Nguyen was a child in Vietnam when the Vietnam War broke out, but he escaped the war-torn country and built a life for himself in the U.S.
Nguyen’s relationship with gambling began as a dealer, but poker soon caught his eye. He began poker as a self-described “fish,” but his life changed in 1985 when he participated in a two-week event near Lake Tahoe. Nguyen started playing at Lake Tahoe with just $200, and not even a month later, after he’d returned to Las Vegas, he made himself into a millionaire.
He further cemented his reputation as one of poker’s greatest heroes when he became a household name by winning the 1998 WSOP Main Event, claiming another $1 million for his efforts in the world of poker. It has been 25 years since that first major win, but there’s no doubt that Nguyen is still an incredible poker pro who’s capable of wracking up impressive wins, and no one will ever forget his classic line: “If you call, it’s gonna be all over, baby.”
4. Allen Cunningham
Hendon Mob Total Live Earnings: $11,923,050
Hendon Mob Most Popular Players 2023 Ranking: 273
WSOP Bracelets: 5
Another incredible player who has slipped out of the spotlight is Allen Cunningham. Like so many other poker pros, Cunningham dropped out of college to pursue a career in poker. According to PokerNews.com’s profile on Cunningham, he formed a group with other young players hoping to make their mark on poker, including legends Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, and Layne Flack.
Over the years, Cunningham has demonstrated an incredible talent for the game, and even though he’s never managed a WSOP Main Event win, he’s made numerous final tables and taken home millions of dollars in winnings. His biggest win was the 37th World Series of Poker, where he managed 4th and earned $3.6 million for his efforts.
After taking a break from poker in the middle of 2019, he picked the game up again three years later. While he’s made some okay money since then, according to Hendon Mob, he hasn’t quite been able to reclaim the skills he once had.
3. Erick Lindgren
Hendon Mob Total Live Earnings: $10,775,131
Hendon Mob Most Popular Players 2023 Ranking: 299
WSOP Bracelets: 2
If there ever was a player who seemed to “disappear” despite once being a star of the poker world, it was Erick Lindgren. From riding the incredible highs of the early 2000s, during which he was not only a successful poker player but also an ambassador and investor in one of the biggest poker sites at the time, to stories coming out about his incredible debts to various individuals and even his former company that would also eventually be shut down, Lindgren was a player who, at one point, had it all, only to end up with nothing.
Or, at least, that’s what it looked like for a while.
Despite all his financial challenges and filing for bankruptcy, Lindgren never really left the poker world and has been quietly grinding away. He has had several quiet years where he seemed to be competing less, but 2023 seems to have been a pretty good year for him so far, with Lindgren racking up over $177,000 in winnings.
Perhaps this “once-forgotten” player can make a comeback into the mainstream poker scene — only time will tell.
2. Gus Hansen
Hendon Mob Total Live Earnings: $10,278,250
Hendon Mob Most Popular Players 2023 Ranking: 144
WSOP Bracelets: 1
Gus Hansen is another player who was once well-known in professional poker. However, he has stepped away from the poker scene, having played his last professional game in 2019. Before that, his last game was in 2014, so one might be forgiven for thinking that Hansen had retired almost a decade ago.
Hansen was no stranger to success before starting his poker career. He played backgammon at a world-class level and was a youth tennis champion before joining the poker world. At his peak, Hansen was tearing up the poker scene in the 2000s and early 2010s, winning events like the $10,000 Five Diamond World Poker Classic, the 2003 L.A. Poker Classic, and the Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament. His largest prize was a second-place finish in which he earned $1.7 million at the World Poker Tour World Championship in Las Vegas, but he has made $1 million or more on three separate occasions at other major events.
His career took a major hit in the middle of 2010. According to PokerTube.com’s article “Where Is Gus Hansen?” he was over $20 million in debt as of 2015. As a result, he took a step away from the world of poker in 2016 and got a day job.
1. Huckleberry Seed
Hendon Mob Total Live Earnings: $7,649,864
Hendon Mob Most Popular Players 2023 Ranking: 462
WSOP Bracelets: 4
This is a player who was, for all intents and purposes, actually forgotten because he has retired from the game. Huckleberry “Huck” Seed has not played professional poker for over five years. However, he was spotted at a poker tournament in early 2023, reminding players about this poker hero whose name hadn’t been seen in a long while.
According to a “PokerNews” article, Seed was spotted at the Hanoi Series of Poker (HSOP) Main Event in Vietnam. In a quick interview with Life of Poker, he revealed that he was visiting friends and was only taking part in the poker tournament because they wanted to play. When asked if he was making a comeback, he simply said, “I have no plans to play after this.”
Seed might not be a name recognized by many younger poker players today, and that’s because he was riding the peak of his career in the mid- to late-1990s before some of today’s youngest talents were even born. His most notable successes from his career were his 1996 WSOP Main Event win worth $1 million and his appearance at the final table in the 1999 WSOP Main Event, even though he only ended up placing sixth in that event. He played poker professionally until 2016, after which he entered unofficial retirement, as he never announced that he was quitting the game.
But he wasn’t bluffing like you might in Texas Hold’em. It seems after having made over $7.5 million, he may have decided that was enough, which would make sense when you consider another comment he made during his most recent interview in which he told the “Life of Poker” publication, “Life is short, and I don’t believe you should do one thing all your life.”
Make Your Mark on Poker History or Play for Fun at BetMGM
Whether you’re a competitive player hoping to make it into the records of poker history or just a gambler looking for a fun time playing poker, you can find what you’re looking for at BetMGM.
BetMGM offers an excellent range of online poker games, with Texas Hold’em, seven card stud, and Omaha games that players can enjoy in online cash games and online poker tournament formats. These poker games are available at various buy-ins, providing players with excellent low- and high-stakes options that suit their bankrolls.
When it’s time to take a break, you can also enjoy many other exciting online casino games like baccarat, blackjack, roulette, slots, and live dealer casino games. All this and more is available when you register at BetMGM.