POKER

The 5 biggest poker tournament wins in history

By Julia Krotova
April 04, 2024

Poker is without a doubt one of the most sophisticated and difficult gambling games on the planet. Requiring a captivating blend of skill, strategy, mathematical intelligence, a little luck, and, in many cases, sheer audacity, the age-old card game is synonymous with massive prize pools in major tournaments.

These competitions are high-brow and extremely polished events, so it’s almost impossible for absolute beginners to enter. Most players are well known on the poker circuit, although there have been upsets before.

Poker has become more widely available for players who don’t live nearby dedicated poker establishments, since those interested can join a local poker group hosted on one of the online casinos. These platforms provide a practical way to hone your skills and get a shot at some of the impressive prizes that make the game so alluring.

But accessing the highest poker tournament wins is impossible without entering high-level competitions, usually at in-person casinos or dedicated establishments. Read on for a breakdown of the five largest poker tournament wins in history.

1. The Triton Million (approx. $20,563,800)

The largest documented poker tournament win to date comes courtesy of the 2019 Triton Million, part of the Triton Super High Roller Series. This exclusive high-stakes, no-limit Texas Hold’em event had a staggering £1,050,000 buy-in, setting the stage for easily the most valuable poker competition ever held. It created an eye-catching £54 million prize pool (around $65,660,000), with around £2.7 million given to charity.

Aaron Zang was the eventual winner, after notable use of bluffing tactics on the last table brought him from the jaws of defeat to victory. The Chinese poker aficionado took home around $16,775,820, but due to a deal made with second-placed contestant Bryn Kenney earlier in the tournament, he didn’t win the largest prize. This went to the American, who walked away with $20,563,324.

2. The Big One for One Drop 2012 ($18,346,673)

Event 55 during the 2012 WSOP series was a particularly momentous occasion, with a $42,666,672 prize pool setting the record for the largest potential jackpot at the time. The no-limit Hold’em tournament was fittingly held in the gambling mecca of Las Vegas. It made over $11,000,000 for charity, demonstrating the positive impact that poker tournaments can have on society as a whole, not just the players.

The Iranian-American Antonio Esfandiari walked away with a gargantuan $18,346,673 after a particularly flamboyant and unconventional road to victory. Nicknamed “The Magician”, he was known for his flair and chip tricks, merging his former profession as a magician with his professional poker career to great effect.

3. The Big One for One Drop 2014 ($15,305,668)

Although it didn’t quite hit the heights of the 2012 edition, WSOP’s 2014 Big One for One Drop was responsible for another one of the largest-ever poker tournament wins. The overall prize pool reached an impressive $37,333,338, with more than a third reserved for the One Drop Foundation charity, helping to provide clean water for drinking and hygiene across the world.

The American Dan Colman won the grueling no-limits Hold’em tournament, securing the fourth-largest prize in history: $15,305,668. Colman notably defeated the far more experienced Daniel Negreanu at the final table, winning his first WSOP bracelet and establishing himself as a future poker star.

4. 2016 Monte-Carlo One Drop Extravaganza $12,248,912

The World Series of Poker’s partnership with the One Drop Foundation has spawned several huge poker wins over the past decade, and the Monte-Carlo One Drop Extravaganza in 2016 is another great example. Featuring a €1,000,000 buy-in, the event took place in one of the most sophisticated gambling hotspots, complete with yachts, bespoke hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants.

Elton Tsang emerged from the grueling three-day tournament as the winner, securing €11,111,111 (approximately $12,248,912). A relative outsider at the time, the victory catapulted Tsang to 21st on the all-time money list for poker players – an extraordinary feat, considering he was outside the top 3,000 at the time.

5. 2023 WSOP Main Event ($12,100,000)

Coming in at fifth on the all-time poker win rankings is the 2023 WSOP Main Event, which notably had a record-breaking overall prize pool of $93,399,900. The Las Vegas-based tournament attracted over 10,000 entries, making it the largest Main Event in history.

Daniel Weinman was the eventual winner, securing $12,100,000, which remains the largest poker win outside of a charity tournament.

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Julia Krotova poker author
Written By.

Julia Krotova

Julia is a freelance writer with an affinity for poker. She plays in the occasional home game in the UK with her gal pals for low stakes and is an avid fan of free-to-play online poker games.

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