Whether you play poker online or in-person, it is a game that can be played casually for chips or small amounts of money, but serious players know that it’s high stakes that make it an exciting game. In this article, we take a look at some of the highest stake official online poker tournaments, online and invite-only games in history.
Live poker games
The World Series Of Poker 2006 Main Event
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) was first started in 2004. Many variants are played as a part of this tournament, but the overwhelming majority of these are based on Texas Hold’em poker.
To this day, the 2006 WSOP Main Event retains the largest prize pool in the history of the tournament at $82,512,162, with a buy-in of $10,000. Bets were so high during this series that the tournament had to introduce a new mint-green token, which was valued at $100,000.
The Main Event started on July 28 with 8,773 players, but this was reduced to only nine over several days of play. The final game occurred on August 10, with American-born Jamie Gold taking home $12,000,000, which remains the highest ever payout in tournament history. Gold claimed first place prize with a pair of Queens, beating out second-place Paul Wasicka’s pocket 10s. Paul Wasicka took home a respectable $6,102,499.
The World Series of Poker 2019 Main Event
The second-highest tournament stakes for a WSOP Main Event would be recorded at WSOP 2019, coming in at $80,548,600. It’s unsurprising that this would also be the second-highest attended Main Event, with 8,569 players taking part. Buy-in for the Main Event remained unchanged at $10,000.
The Main Event began on July 3, with the top nine being decided nine days later on July 12. The final game was played on July 16, with Iranian-German player Hossein Ensan winning the first-place prize of $10,000,000. He beat professional Italian player Dario Sammartino with a pair of pocket Kings. Sammartino had hoped for a flush, but a Queen of Clubs denied him first place. Sammartino was rewarded with $6,000,000 for his efforts.
Since these privately run games are usually invite-only, it can be hard to know for certain if some claims about the money involved are actually true. That being said, there are definitely some very wealthy people involved in these games, so it’s very unlikely that they would be playing for peanuts.
Dan Bilzerian, the King of Instagram who made his millions through poker
Dan Bilzerian became a household name thanks to his Instagram page, which shows the millionaire playboy flaunting his lavish lifestyle and the beautiful women who are a part of it. He claims that his success was possible thanks to the millions he’s made playing at exclusive invite-only poker games.
However, he’s also admitted that he has a pretty sizable trust fund, thanks to his father’s questionable career as a corporate takeover specialist. Bilzerian is quick to dismiss these claims and has done numerous interviews where he discusses the games he’s been involved in. It’s at these extremely exclusive games where he’s apparently won as much as $54,000,000.
While most of us may be skeptical, one only has to continue reading to understand bets as high as $54,000,000 may not be that uncommon.
Games hosted by Molly Bloom, the infamous star of Molly’s Game
The games hosted by Molly Bloom were so high-stakes that they made a movie about it. Molly Bloom, the former ice-skater whose athletic career was ended by an accident during an Olympics qualifying run, began her “career” in poker accidentally. After being injured, Bloom found work as an executive assistant to real-estate entrepreneur and Viper Room co-owner Darin Feinstein, who one day asked her to help him run a game at the club.
Bloom talked to talk-show host Ellen about how she knew from the first game that this was an extremely rare opportunity. The players who attended included billionaires, A-list actors, politicians and powerful players on Wall Street. Buy-in started at $10,000 when Molly first hosted these games but grew to $250,000 towards the end. The players regularly walked away with millions of dollars, with Bloom stating that the biggest loss ever in any of her games was $100,000,000.
Bloom’s high-stakes games ended after the FBI caught wind of her taking a cut of the pot, which is against federal law. Bloom was arrested on April 16, 2013, and pleaded guilty to reduced charges which saw her receive one year of probation, a fine of $1,000 and 200 hours of community service. Despite being at the center of all the games, she only ever discussed people who were revealed by the Bradley Ruderman Ponzi scheme, which included Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Pete Sampras.
Online poker games
Online poker is extremely popular, with many sites offering their services to amateurs and professionals who want to play online. Sites like these provide players around the world the chance to take part in live online poker tournaments, which are easy to follow thanks to the schedules they provide.
Defining who offers the best online experience may differ depending on who you speak to, but there is undoubtedly one online tournament that stands out when it comes to stakes and winnings.
World Championship of Online Poker Main Event 2019 – the largest event of its kind
The World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) began in 2002 and was started when the organizers realized there was interest in a high-stakes online tournament and wanted to take the experience to the next level. They decided to create an online tournament that could rival WSOP, and so the WCOOP was born.
Much like WSOP, WCOOP consists of many tournaments running different rules, including Pot-Limit and Seven Card Stud. The Main Event for WCOOP 2019 was played according to No-Limit Texas Hold’em rules, had a buy-in of $5,200 and a total prize pool of $11,180,000.
Fraser “BigBlindBets” Russell walked away the winner of the tournament with $1,665,962. But it wasn’t easy for Russell at the final table, where he came up against online veterans, including the likes of Talal “raidalot” Shakerchi and Brazil’s Danilo “dans170′” de Lima Demetrio.
After some extremely intense play, Russell was left with only one opponent: de Lima Demetrio. Russell, who was holding an Ace and two of Spades, managed to clinch victory with a flush, defeating the much stronger Ace and King of Diamonds that de Lima Demetrio had in hand.
Viktor Blom vs. Patrik Antonius
The next biggest online pot was won by Patrik Antonius, who walked away with $1,375,999 in a game of Full Tilt Poker. In 2009, he was up against the incredible Viktor Blom in a Pot-Limit Omaha game with a starting pot of $500/$1,000. Viktor raised the pot to $3,000, and then there was a three-bet, a four-bet, and finally a five-bet that took it up to $81,000.
The two players went on to the flop, which ran out 4-5-2. Antonius led for $91,000 and Viktor raised to $435,000. Antonius went all in and got a snap-call. Blom ended with an open-ended straight draw, but Antonius had an A-3-K-K. The board ran out 5-9 and Antonius walked away with a massive $1,375,999.
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