There have been many popular players that have come along, or made their name, during the Poker Boom, but this two-part series is not simply a popularity contest; the 10 men I have chosen (sorry ladies) have had a lasting impact on the game of poker, leaving their mark on the game for the current and future generations of poker players. It’s safe to say that without these players the game of poker may be in a very different place.
The list is focused on their impact during the Poker Boom years of 2003-2012, which is why I have left off accomplishments prior to this. So without any further adieu, here are the final five players on the list:
#5: Phil Ivey
Ivey is something of a myth in poker, with his exploits being somewhere between fantasy and reality. Considered by many to be the best player in the game, Ivey only ranks #5 because he simply doesn’t promote himself, and is a relatively insulated star.
#4: Chris Moneymaker
Chris Moneymaker was the right man at the right time with the right story. In 2003 the idea of a young accountant from Tennessee winning the World Series of Poker Main Event after turning a $40 online satellite into a Main Event seat sent thousands of players to the online poker tables.
#3: Tom Dwan
Tom Dwan took the idea of an online poker superstar to a whole new level, and has become the first online player to reach true super-stardom status in the poker world. Not only did Dwan –under the screen-name durrrr—become a star, he did so by showcasing an ultra-loose, ultra-aggressive style of play that many that was impossible to maintain in the long-run. It’s crazy to think back and remember that Dwan was considered a luckbox when he was cleaning out all of the high-stakes pros.
#2: Phil Hellmuth
Hellmuth is the only “Made for TV” Poker player I have ever seen. The “Poker Brat” took the wrestling idea of the “heel” (the villain) and developed it into an art-form at the poker tables. There is no other player in poker who is as well-known or as polarizing as Phil Hellmuth –even amongst his peers Hellmuth is a polarizing figure.
#1: Daniel Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu has been one of the most prominent poker players of the past decade, and his jovial nature and approachability have made him one of the most popular players in the game. On top of this, Daniel has been pretty damn successful over the years, and he has also been outspoken on a number of issues in the poker world, and has managed to do so without being too controversial.
If the poker world could choose just one player to represent it, I’m fairly certain Daniel would win the popular vote.
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